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Top safety tips for your next Tasmanian bushwalk

6th June, 2016

Tasmania boasts some of the world’s most breathtaking bushwalking trails, but it’s important to be prepared before you head into the wilderness. Follow our safety steps to help you plan the perfect hike.

The World Heritage Areas of Tasmania offer some of the most spectacular landscapes in Australia. The jagged peaks, pristine lakes and unique flora and fauna make the state a magnet for bushwalkers and hikers from across Australia and around the world.

But many popular wilderness treks are located far from roads and towns, and the unpredictable weather can bring on sudden blizzards even in the middle of summer.  So before you venture out into the wilderness, it’s important to be well prepared in case you need to take shelter overnight.

Here’s our guide to safe bushwalking in Tasmania.

Plan your walk

Always walk in a group and choose a route suitable for everyone’s fitness and experience level. Use comprehensive maps and know your route. Get extra advice and tips from National Parks staff, experienced walkers, guidebooks or the internet.

Finally, leave details of your trip, including your route, itinerary and the names of those in your group with a friend or relative,

Always change your plan based on the weather report

If the weather changes for the worse, you’ll need to be prepared to change your plans. This includes camping out overnight, postponing your walk, or changing your route. Remember, your safety is more important than a “selfie” at your destination.   

Take all-weather clothing

Because storms and blizzards are common even in the middle of summer, you’ll need to pack all-weather clothing for your bushwalk. You should also pack a tent, in case the mountain huts are full or bad weather stops you reaching the huts before nightfall.

Pack smart

It’s hard work carrying a heavy pack. It’s also dangerous, especially if the terrain is mountainous or unstable. So pack smart and only carry the bare essentials. These include a first aid kit (plus extra blister tape), a tent, warm clothing, a whistle, waterproof matches and a head torch.

HI-VIS

Take some Hi-Vis clothing and tent fly. Camouflage clothing is no help when Search and Rescue personnel are looking for you on the ground and from the air.

Take a communication service

PERSONAL LOCATOR BEACON (PLB)

If you get lost or injured you can activate your PLB to call for help from the emergency services. A PLB with an inbuilt GPS is great for bushwalkers because it can give searchers your accurate position, even in rugged and remote terrain.  EPIRB’s (Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon) transmit a coded message via satellite to the nearest rescue co-ordination centre.

Consider taking two PLB’s or a PLB and a Satellite Phone in two separate packs, there have been many times when the backpack with the PLB in it has been dropped and unable to be retrieved. Can you keep it on your person as you walk?

MOBILE PHONES

If you are taking your mobile phone turn it off or put it into flight mode when you are walking. Most of Tasmania’s highest mountains have coverage but that’s no food if your phone is flat. Resist the urge to check Social media…. It will still be on there when your walk is completed.

Complete the logbook entry

Signing the logbook before your walk, as well as along the route, will help authorities know where to start looking if you get lost or separated from your group. Don’t forget to sign out at the end of your trek!

Check bushfire service updates

Keep up to date with bushfire emergency warnings before and during your walk. The Tasmanian Fire Service lists alerts for all fire activity, while the Parks and Wildlife Service lists reserve and track closures.

Avoid flooded rivers

Even if a river crossing is on your route, don’t attempt it if the river is flooded. In summer the level of rivers can be very quick to rise and fall, so you may only need to wait a day before the river is safe to cross again.

If lost dial 000

In the event of an emergency, dial 000 and ask for Police, even if you are injured. Alternatively activate your PLB/EPIRB immediately. Emergency crews may call on the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to assist you, so make yourself as visible as possible. At night, activate a small light to help searchers with night-vision goggles to see your position more clearly. The light on your mobile phone can be seen for kilometres by the pilots.

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