A 19 year-old British tourist who went for a walk in rugged terrain not far from where I live in the Blue Mountains ended up lost for 12 days.
He claims to have survived the freezing conditions by sleeping in a log and eating leaves and seed.
His story has resulted in lots of advice in mainstream media articles about how to survive in the bush with some experts commenting that he should have taken his mobile phone, four litres of water, eaten insects rather than plants, worn a beanie and the list goes on. But I’m yet to read a story that explains the value of a compass.
I regularly bushwalk in the area and always take my compass, tucked in my camera bag. I’ve been temporarily lost before, not in the Jamieson Valley, but regularly when I did field work in the riverine forests of south west Madagascar. Without reference to a compass it is difficult to maintain a direction in forested areas.
Media reports explain that the 17 year-old Australian bushwalker who died in the same region a few years ago didn’t have a map. But I haven’t been able to determine from these same reports whether or not he had a compass. It would seem to me that a map, without a compass, would be of limited use.
Notes and Links
The photograph shows Jennifer Marohasy running through heathland towards Lockleys Pylon which overlooks the Gross Valley in the Blue Mountains. The photograph was taken on Tuesday – the day before Jamie Neale was found alive in the Jamieson Valley.
Stories about Jamie Neale:
Police had expressed frustration Mr Neale did not register his plans with police or the National Parks and Wildlife Service before setting out on July 3. Police also urged bushwalkers to use personal locator beacons that are available free of charge from Springwood and Katoomba police stations and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Police had said finding Mr Neale was “like searching for a needle in a haystack”. http://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/news/local/news/general/lost-bushwalker-found-alive/1568799.aspx
Mr Neale, 19, from North London, had been missing since July 3, and was last seen above Ruined Castle, a rock formation in the Jamison Valley, about midday, police said. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/8150982.stm?ls
Jamie Neale, 19, of London was found by two “bushwalkers” about nine miles from where he had last been seen, New South Wales police said. He was taken to a hospital to be treated for dehydration and exposure, the BBC reported Wednesday. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/07/15/British-backpacker-found-safe-in-Australia/UPI-17691247638032/
10 ways to survive in the wild
A British teenager has survived a fortnight lost in the Australian bush. What are the dos and don’ts of staying alive in terrain like that?
National Parks and Wildlife Service regional manager Geoff Luscombe says he should have been carrying a minimum four litres of water. The essential items for a day walk also include clothing for all weather, a waterproof coat, warm jumpers, a beanie and socks.
Stories about David Iredale:
The NSW Ambulance Service has issued another apology over its handling of emergency calls, at a coronial inquest into the death of a teenage bushwalker. School boy David Iredale, 17, became lost while on a bushwalk with two friends west of Sydney in December 2006.
Soon afterwards, David made the first of three calls to Triple 0 saying he was lost. He was known to have four to five days of food with him and to have water-purification tablets, meaning he could fill up from creeks and drink safely. Superintendent Paroz had described David as “a keen bushwalker”.
He had left his companions, did not have a map with him and kept moving after making his phone calls for help to police.
Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad president Keith Maxwell told The Daily Telegraph that not having a map was a massive obstacle.
“The difficulty is that David would have had to have found the tracks that came through off Mount Solitary to link up to a fire road which would take him up out of the valley – and it appears he didn’t have a map,” he said.