Bushwalkers urged to prepare for the unexpected

Bushwalking enthusiasts who are intending to explore the outdoors this summer are being urged to prepare for the unexpected.

Each year a number of bushwalkers become lost and require the assistance of Search and Rescue personnel. This year to date Tasmania Police has conducted more than 100 search and rescue and rescue/recovery operations using the Helicopter Rescue Service.

While most lost walkers are found within 24/48 hours, there have been a number of cases that have ended in tragedy.

“We acknowledge that being well prepared cannot always prevent the inevitable, however we are seeing cases where some bushwalkers are ill-prepared and as a result are calling upon the rescue services of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter even though they may not genuinely require this sort of assistance,” said Inspector Grant from Marine Services.

Inspector Grant said that while bushwalking was popular all year-round in Tasmania, many walking enthusiasts took advantage of the Christmas holiday period to get outdoors.

“This is a timely reminder to plan ahead for your walks, no matter how short they may be,” Inspector Grant said.

“Tasmania Police will always respond to requests for assistance by bushwalkers. However, some of these rescue missions can be averted if people take time to plan and prepare for a bushwalk,” said Inspector Grant.

“Our search and rescue personnel are highly skilled and trained but they too can be subject to dangerous conditions, as can the volunteer walkers who also offer their assistance during these searches.”

Inspector Grant said that while cost was not a consideration when undertaking a rescue, there were considerable costs associated with sending out a search party and the rescue helicopter.

The Tasmanian Air Rescue Trust also supports the need for people venturing out into remote areas to ensure they adequately prepare for any eventuality.

“Whilst the rescue helicopter service is equipped with state of the art equipment and tehnology, its use in circumstances that could reasonably have been prevented potentially impacts on the availability of the service in more needy circumstances,” said the Chair of the Trust, Inspector Brett Smith.


  • Prior preparation in both equipment and personal fitness. Ensure that you have an adequate level of fitness for the bushwalk you intend to undertake; Take appropriate clothing and footwear and regardless of the season take a waterproof jacket; adequate food and water, first aid kit.
  • Research the intended trip – maps, guide books, Google earth, expected weather forecasts.

  • Let someone know before you go – route, expected return time, equipment etc.

  • Prepare emergency plans & escape routes.

  • Use of mobile phones and PLBs:  A mobile phone may not work in all areas. Personal Location Beacons should be carried as well and used in the case of an emergency. They can be purchased or hired from a number of outlets. When activated the PBL’s can direct rescue teams to the exact location.

Tasmania Police supports the carriage of Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) by bushwalkers and other adventurers.  The beacons should only be used in an emergency or distress situation when there is no other feasible option and help is urgently required.  They assist in minimising the search in search and rescue operations and have the potential to save your life.

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