Injured bushwalker found after 24 hour search

Local news sites have reported a man went missing after setting off on a bushwalk at Mt Barney National Park, west of Kingscliff, on Friday, 22 August 2014. PolAir spent over 24 hours searching for the man, locating him in thick bush along Mt Barney Creek, at 8:00pm the following night. Due to visibility issues rescuers were initially unable to remove the man from the rescue site, returning at first light on Sunday to remove him. The man suffered minor injuries but was otherwise well.

How to ensure you stay safe and avoid an injury

While bushwalking is a fun and healthy recreational activity enjoyed by many locals and tourists on the Gold Coast, the above incident highlights the hidden dangers of this activity for the unwary and unprepared bushwalker.

There are a number of common risks associated with bushwalking including:-

  • Bites or stings;
  • Blisters, splinters, and/or lacerations;
  • Rashes and/or sunburn;
  • Becoming separated from the group and/or becoming lost;
  • Soft tissue injuries, such as a sprain;
  • Skeletal injuries, such as a fracture or break;
  • Fatigue;
  • Hyperthermia;
  • Quadriplegia, paraplegia, or drowning as a result of jumping or diving into creeks and waterholes;
  • Becoming caught in a bushfire or other dangerous situation due to weather conditions, such as a severe thunderstorm, causing a risk of personal injury or death.

To ensure your bushwalking trip is both a safe and enjoyable experience, it is important for bushwalkers to be prepared. The following information provides a number of useful tips for walkers to utilise prior to, during, and following a bushwalk to remain safe and free from injury:-

Before You Leave

  • Thoroughly research the area you wish to explore to make sure it is suitable for your current level of experience and fitness level – allow about 15 to 20 minutes to walk 1 kilometre, however, if you are an inexperienced walker or walking with children allow yourself more time;
  • Prior to embarking on your walk, find out about current park conditions, track closures, and check the Bureau of Meteorology for weather conditions, and warnings;
  • Prepare a bushwalking plan for yourself and also provide this plan to a relative or other reliable person, in the event you become injured or lost. Ask your contact person to advise the police immediately if you do not return as planned;
  • Wear comfortable and appropriate clothing, including protective footwear, and pack plenty of drinking water. You should also carry a first-aid kit and a warm jumper/raincoat in the event of sudden weather changes;
  • Be sure to apply sunscreen prior to commencing your walk and pack a hat, sunglasses, and enough sunscreen for reapplication during your walk.

During The Walk

  • Always stay on the designated track;
  • Read all signage carefully;
  • Avoid walking on slippery surfaces;
  • Be aware of your surroundings and trip hazards;
  • Take particular care when walking nearby cliff edges or steep drops;
  • Carefully supervise any children walking with you;
  • Be respectful to wildlife – adhere to the “look but don’t touch” rule;
  • In the event of an emergency always be sure to call 000 (or 112 from your mobile) immediately. When connected, state the nature of your emergency and location (if known) and stay on the phone with the operator until you are advised to hang up.

After Your Walk

  • Let your contact person know you have completed your walk;
  • Check yourself and your walking companions for any leeches or tics.

Overall, bushwalking is a great activity and, when performed correctly, is a very enjoyable and enriching experience. The Gold Coast region is home to some of the most spectacular bushwalks in Australia which includes the Gold Coast Hinterland, Burleigh Ridge Park, Coombabah Lakelands, Elabana Falls, Apple Tree Park, and the Coomera Gorge.

In order to stay safe, bushwalkers should always be thoroughly prepared for their walk (including being prepared for any emergency or first-aid situations). All walkers should be respectful to the natural environment and make themselves aware of possible risks of this activity. Remember, preparation is key for a safe, successful, and enjoyable bushwalk.

The Gold Coast City Council, under the NaturallyGC program, also run a number of free and low cost workshops for anyone wanting to learn more about connecting with our city’s natural environment.