The Penguin to Cradle Mountain Track is not a bushwalk for the inexperienced. The walk is not one of the popular routes for tourists to Tasmania and Denis Ward, an experienced walker himself was in a party of 8 from Victoria.
Four days into the walk, the track makes a steep ascent out of the canyon to Griffiths Ridge on the Loongana Range. At the base of the ascent beside the river, a heavy fixed rope had been placed to assist walkers. As Denis was about to commence his ascent up the rope he was hit on the head by a small rock and fell to the ground, unconscious for a period of around two minutes.
Members of his party applied a bandage to the gash in his scalp to staunch the bleeding and although they tried to make him feel as comfortable as possible, he was quite dazed and soon went into shock. At this time, the party leader determined his injury was severe enough to call the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. He activated the group’s Personal Locator Beacon.
With a great deal of relief and in less than two hours, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter arrived and a paramedic and air crewman were winched down from the aircraft as the gorge was far too narrow for the chopperto land. The first thing Denis remembers about them were their reassuring smiles and how quickly and methodically they assessed his condition. They then worked out a rescue plan which they discussed with the walking party, the crew in the helicopter and Denis. They air lifted him to Launceston General Hospital.
Denis cannot praise all members of the crew highly enough, from the pilot, the winch operator and in particular those that were winched down to assist. These crew, although probably routine for them, put their lives on the line for others each time they hop into the chopper. Professional with compassion!
Denis and his party were very experienced walkers and were prepared for an emergency. Their advice to anyone walking in the rugged and remote parts of Tasmania is:
Research the walk and identify any potential risks/challenges
Take adequate equipment/food.
Take a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or satellite phone