‘Don’t drive on tracks that are closed due to floods!’

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Strzelecki Track, flooding, grey nomads
Two vehicles have recently got bogged on a track that has been closed by flooding. PIC: North West Star

With grey nomads and other travellers increasingly showing a willingness to venture into truly remote areas, the authorities are once again urging caution and care.

One of the absolute basics closures before heading out on dirt tracks is to check for road closures … but people are still being caught out.

There have been two incidents in recent days of vehicles becoming stuck on the Old Strzelecki Track in the Innamincka Regional Reserve, a track that has been closed by flooding. In both incidents, the vehicles became bogged in mud and needed to be retrieved.

Senior Ranger Simon Oster told the North West Star that one of the drivers was rescued by helicopter, while the other had walked 12 kilometres to the main Strzelecki Highway to seek help. Neither vehicle had been carrying extra food or water.

“Innamincka Regional Reserve has had two large flood events this year which have caused significant damage to tracks,” he said. “The section of Old Strzelecki Track in the reserve was closed due to rain, but both drivers took this route after being directed that way by Google Maps … they then found themselves stuck around 50 kilometres south-west of Innamincka.”

National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia has since worked with Google to ensure that the Old Strzelecki Track is now listed as suitable only for 4WD.

District Ranger Travis Gotch told the North West Star that within 24 hours of being notified of the problem, Google had changed the status of the Old Strez to ensure this couldn’t happen again using its app.

“Regardless of this great outcome, we’re asking people to make sure they check with rangers or our website for the latest information, as it’s possible other online maps or apps will not have this,” he said. “The drivers in these two cases were lucky, but there are great risks involved if people are trapped without adequate water and are unable to call for help, which has led to fatalities in other areas in the past.”

People driving in the Outback are always urged to: ensure vehicles are equipped for outback travel; carry extra water, food and fuel supplies; use either HF radio or a satellite phone, plus an EPIRB or PLB; check local conditions without relying solely on vehicle satellite navigation or navigation apps; tell a responsible person when you are expected to arrive at your destination.

  • Have you ever had a ‘scare’ while driving on Outback tracks? Would you ever rely solely on Google Maps to guide you on an Outback journey? Comment below.
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2 Responses to ‘Don’t drive on tracks that are closed due to floods!’

  1. The biggest obstacle to adequate communications in the vastness of Australia is the exorbitant cost of keeping a satellite phones. Many people who live in rural Australia have no Cellular network and unreliable at best landlines, whilst HF radio has too many regulations for the average GN’s to carry.

  2. Always carry extra extra food and lots lots lots water.
    When exploring, nothing wrong with exploring always be over prepared and have map and compass knife fire lighting gear
    Even just a drive for an hour to look at something can be fatalifnotprepared

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