26 September 2023

Winter weather hot for cold bushwalkers

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Canberrans are being reminded to take care bush walking in the winter season following a recent bushwalk behaviour incident that created problems.

Warned by both ACT Policing and ACT Parks and Conservation, the ACT Rural Patrol found itself responding to a call after two hikers failed to return to a carpark as they had scheduled.

According to the police, the hikers didn’t have a phone reception and lacked adequate resources to survive out in the open overnight.

“This incident is the second search and rescue of bushwalkers in the past month and police are urging the community to take rapidly changing weather conditions seriously,” said Senior Police Constable Angus Ferguson from ACT Policing Rural Patrol.

“With average day temperatures between 1° and 12° degrees and average night temperatures falling well below 0° we are urging Canberrans, now more than ever, to practice safe bushwalking behaviour,” he said.

“Despite police warnings, Canberrans are still finding themselves requiring police assistance,” he said.

Senior Constable Ferguson called on Canberrans to be aware of how dangerous the conditions can be when they factor in the actual temperature and then wind chill.

Sergeant Andrew Craig from AFP Search and Rescue said being stuck out in the cold can be deadly.

Executive Branch Manager of the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, Stephen Alegria said the conditions in parks and reserves can be unpredictable, and the risks associated with bushwalking increase as people attempt more remote or higher difficulty tracks,

“We love to see people enjoying ACT’s parks and reserves and know how important time outdoors is to physical and mental wellbeing,” Mr Alegria said, “but it is important to reduce the risks and stay safe.”

“Mobile phone reception can be unreliable so you must plan ahead,” Mr Alegria said.

He said that bushwalkers intending to head out when cold conditions are forecast should make sure they are reminded to:

* Wear appropriate clothing (including carrying additional clothes and wet weather gear);

* Take some form of shelter (even if you aren’t planning to stay overnight);

* Carry extra food and water;

* Let friends and family know where you are hiking and when you are due to return;

* Use the bushwalking registers available at the trail head of many popular walks;

* Download the “what three words” and “Emergency Plus +” app to assist in confirming your location;

* Carry a personal locator beacon (available for hire also through the Namadgi Visitor Centre); and

* Plan your trip (recognising your physical ability)

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