The increasing number of people exploring the ACT’s great outdoors has prompted police and emergency services to urge people to plan ahead to avoid becoming lost, injured or finding themselves under-prepared if the weather turns.
Each year, police and specialist rescue services are called to assist hikers lost in the ACT’s numerous national parks that span more than 1,302 square kilometres.
Officer in Charge of Rural Patrol Detective Acting Inspector Simon Coady said that with so much ground to cover, large-scale search efforts divert a massive amount of emergency services resources away from core duties.
Det A/Insp Coady said Canberrans needed to make sure they were well prepared if they were heading out for the first time.
“They don’t call it the Bush Capital for nothing. Canberrans are lucky to be surrounded by many amazing national parks with no shortage of activities for lovers of the outdoors,” he said.
“If after a year of quarantine, isolation and COVID-19 restrictions, you are keen to escape the city for a breath of fresh air, make sure you pack enough supplies, download the Emergency+ app and make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be home.”
Det A/Insp said that having the proper equipment can make all the difference.
“You wouldn’t go skiing without all the proper equipment so why risk it when heading into the bush?
“While many people may be giving hiking a go for the first time, it is important everyone, including experienced hikers, ensure they are well prepared before setting off on an outdoor adventure.”
Executive branch manager of ACT Parks and Conservation Daniel Iglesias said while people are being encouraged to enjoy the many parks and reserves, hikers must be prepared and organised.
“There are some truly amazing walks and hikes Canberrans can enjoy over summer. But before you leave the house you need to be prepared, whether you are an experienced hiker or a novice,” Mr Iglesias said.
“Know the difficulty of your hike, check the weather forecast and let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back.
“Pack essentials such as a phone or locator beacon and dress to the conditions as the weather can change quickly if you’re in an alpine area. Water is the most important thing so bring plenty of it.
“Once you’re out in the bush, stay on the signposted tracks and keep an eye on the weather so you don’t get caught out.”
ACT Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said when exploring through the bush, always check weather conditions and the fire danger rating before you travel.
“Take caution when camping, driving or planning to light a cooking fire as small fires can quickly escalate into a major incident in hot and windy conditions,” Commissioner Whelan said.
In November, ACT Policing assisted in the search for two men who failed to return from a hike in Tidbinbilla. The men had no food and were not dressed for the conditions.
In September, police also assisted in the search for two separate pairs of hikers in Tidbinbilla across two separate incidences. Police responded to an emergency beacon from an experienced hiker who could not complete their walk and required assistance.