Think Before You Trek is a bush safety initiative between the NSW Police Force and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. It aims to provide bushwalkers and adventurers in the Blue Mountains with a free loaned Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).
Every year around 130 bushwalkers get lost and/or require rescuing. Most walkers are found within 24hrs, but occasionally a weekend adventure can turn to tragedy. Between 2004 and 2007 nearly 400 people were reported missing in the Blue Mountains and surrounding area, which led to 200 search and rescue operations.
The Blue Mountains National Park covers over a quarter of a million hectares of land and has Australia's largest network of walking tracks covering over 250 kilometres. It is also NSW's busiest park with an estimated four million visitors a year. Much of the park is remote and difficult to access, except via foot, this makes it extremely attractive to bushwalkers from all over the world.
Think before you TREK promotes the benefits of planning ahead for your bushwalking trip by using an easy to remember acronym:
T - Take adequate supplies of food, water, navigation and first aid equipment.
R - Register your planned route and tell friends and family when you expect to return.
E - Emergency beacon (PLB's) are available free of charge from NSW Police Force and NPWS.
K - Keep to your planned route and follow the map and walking trails.
Personal Location Beacons (PLBs)
- The PLBs donated by Benbro Electronics are available from November 2008 on loan from the NPWS Blue Mountains Heritage Centre at Blackheath, and after hours at the Katoomba or Springwood Police Stations.
- The PLB units are part of the new digital system which sends more information when an emergency beacon is activated. This offers the advantage of precise location information from the inbuilt GPS as well a unique identifying number so rescue authorities can send the appropriate resources more quickly.
- Kosciusko National Park also hires out PLBs to bushwalkers for a small fee - contact the Tumut, Khancoban and Jindabyne NPWS offices for more information.
- Personal satellite tracking devices or PLB's (Personal Location Beacons) are for emergency situations only.
- Contact the park office or local visitor centre to ask about local conditions, tracks, creek or river water levels and fire danger. National parks offices and visitor centres throughout the Blue Mountains have experienced staff who have a wide knowledge of the local area.
- Leave full details of your planned walk with a relative or a responsible person. Include details about where you will be going, who is with you, what equipment you have, and when you expect to return. You can download a trip intention form to register your walk with the police or National Parks and Wildlife Services.
- Allow plenty of time to finish the activity in daylight, and pack extra food and water in case of unexpected delays.
- Weather can sometimes change quickly so walkers should be prepared for heat, rain and cold. Check the Bureau of Meteorology website for the latest weather forecast.
- At the very least, we advise that you carry:
- topographic map(s)
- a compass
- a space blanket
- a first aid kit
- raincoats for everyone in the group
- plenty of water
- If possible try to have at least four people in your group. If there is an emergency, two can go for help, while the other stays with the injured or ill person.
- Make sure there's at least one experienced person in the group who can guide and assist others.
- Make sure your activity is something which all participants in your group are able to do.