Hello Denise and birding-aus,
I have read with much interest the postings on not getting lost, and
the use of GPS instruments with or without a compass, and was starting to
wonder whether anyone these days simply relied on a sense of direction and
good bush sense. So I was pleased to read your note, Denise:
> I have spent much time in the remote bush, rarely using a GPS or compass
> and have never been lost.
Me too. I've used maps and compasses when I'm trying to find some
particular objective in unknown country, but not simply for not getting
lost. My only "hairy experience" of nearly getting lost was in a city:
Zurich, in Switzerland. The Queensland Tourist Bureau had booked my trip,
including accommodation, but somehow had messed up the name of the hotel.
At the airport the taxi driver said there's no such hotel, but he took a
guess at what it should have been, and luckily it was right. They had my
booking. But I didn't have the sense to write down the correct name. And
in wandering around the city ... Many Europeans speak English in addition
to their first language, but one does need to know the name of the hotel
before asking directions to it!
Admittedly, I've never tackled mallee country on a cloudy day. Reckon I'd
be glad of a compass then. Did tackle the McIlwraith Rrange (C. York
Peninsula), though, in the '60s. It's a rainforest-covered plateau sloping
very gently from south to north. I wanted to get to some impressive
waterfalls I'd seen from flying over, but they were on the eastern fall and
access was from the west. What I found was that a stream that started
flowing east would gradually turn and flow west. I spent a few unsuccessful
days and then some miners whose access track from the west I had used, and
who earlier had got 'temporarily bushed' and dumped some gear near the Falls
said they would take me there and retrieve their gear. We headed south away
from their camp (and away from the Falls) until they struck the right creek
and we followed its circuitous route down to the falls. Next day, they said
we'd take a short cut back to camp. I reckoned their direction to be wrong
(no-one had a compass) but couldn't very well just leave them, and I
reasoned that eventually in any direction one must come to the edge of the
plateau. So I stuck with them. Luckily the course they followed crossed
one of the creeks I checked out in the previous days, and I was able to say
quite definitely I know where we are, and this creek will get us back.
On such trips alone in unknown country one needs to be very, very careful,
though. A simple sprained ankle could be fatal.
A separate posting for my few tips on not getting lost.
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