What to do if you get lost hiking in Australia

Hiking in Australia is a great way to experience the country’s stunning natural beauty. Are you planning on heading out on a hike somewhere?  Plan your hike like your life depends on it – because it does. Correct planning, and the right navigation aids, will help you avoid getting lost. However, it’s also important to be prepared in case you get lost. Here are some tips on what to do if you find yourself lost hiking in Australia.

What to do if you get lost

  • Don’t panic! Panicking will only waste your energy and make it harder to think clearly. Take a deep breath and stay calm.
  • Stop, stay calm and think. Assess the situation and try to figure out how you got lost. Can you retrace your steps? Do you have a map and compass? Can you see any landmarks that might help you orient yourself?Separated from your group? If you’re separated from your group, don’t run blindly after them. Stay calm and shout out to see if they can hear you. If you don’t hear back, wait in one spot for them to find you.
  • Retrace your steps. If you can’t see any landmarks or orient yourself, try retracing your steps. Go back a short distance and see if you can find the trail. If you still can’t find the trail, stay put and wait for help.
  • Check your map and compass. If you have a map and compass, use them to try to figure out where you are. You may need to gain some height to get a better view of the surrounding area.
  • If you have no idea where you are, STAY WHERE YOU ARE! Don’t wander around aimlessly, as this will make it harder for rescuers to find you. Stay put and make yourself visible.
  • If you’re in a group, ALWAYS STAY TOGETHER! There is safety in numbers, and rescue teams won’t have to waste time searching for multiple groups.
  • If you have mobile reception, call 000 and ask for police. The international standard emergency number is 112, but in Australia, dialling 112 will connect you to 000. If you have marginal mobile reception, SMS may be more reliable than voice, but 000 does not accept SMS messages. If SMS is the only way you can seem to connect, then you will have to SMS a friend and get them to call 000 for you.
  • If you have a Spot, InReach or satellite communication device, activate your emergency response. These devices can send a distress signal to search and rescue teams.
  • Make a cuppa to help you relax. There’s a teabag in your survival kit!
  • Make your position visible to rescue teams. Place bright items, such as your pack cover or bright clothing, in an open and clearly visible area. You can also build a signal fire at night.
  • If you believe your life is at risk, activate your personal locator beacon (PLB). PLBs are powerful devices that can send a distress signal to search and rescue satellites.
  • Find shelter and keep warm and dry. It can take time for rescuers to reach you, so your priority is to find or build a shelter to keep warm and dry. Remember to remain visible.
  • Find a water source if it’s safe to do so and ration your food and water if necessary until help arrives.

Hiking in Australia can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to be prepared for anything. By following the tips above, you can reduce your chances of getting lost and increase your chances of being rescued if you do.

tips for staying safe

Here’s some tips for staying safe

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your hike is a safe and enjoyable experience.

15 thoughts on “What to do if you get lost hiking in Australia”

  1. One of my favourite lost hiker stories is the one about the guy missing for 24 hours on Mt Elbert, Colorado. He ignored several calls from the rescue party because he didn’t recognise the number.

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