Unless you have the training of the First Nation People to hunt for food, and water plus ways to make a shelter, your survival in the Australian Outback depends on what you have on hand.
As a general rule, a normal adult can survive for up to 3 days without water, and up to three weeks without food depending on heat and other circumstances. The Australian Outback can be a hostile environment to survive longer you will need to find a food and water source from the surroundings.
This is one of the main reasons people encourage you to pack extra water and inform others where you are heading. Even on well-sealed roads, traffic can be scarce and you may not see another soul for up to a week if you are not lucky.
How Do People Survive In The Australian Outback?
You can survive in the Australian outback by being prepared and cautious. While the most important thing to have is water, it is also important to know how to avoid getting killed by the elements. The Aboriginal people would spend months preparing for their Walkabout or Temporary Mobility ritual. Even they know the value of being prepared with the knowledge and layout of the land.
If you are serious about survival in the Australian Outback, there are many outback survival courses that teach you how to plan for emergencies, recognise edibles and locate water. All these are paramount in staying alive until help comes.
Otherwise, invest in a good satellite tracker with SOS to make sure that you are rescued as soon as possible. The phone signal in the Outback is infamous for being unreliable. Most travellers carry a satellite telephone for safety. You can hire one before you head off to the desert- they are a good value investment for your safety.
How Do You Survive Stranded In The Australian Outback?
Even if you are well prepared, your survival depends on the strength of your mind. To successfully survive, you need to stay calm and clear-headed. Hence, before you travel, leave a detailed plan with someone you trust. This can be the time and frequency that you check in and what should they do if you failed to check-in.
In Australia, the Emergency number is triple zero if your check-in contact is in the same country. If your contact is overseas, leave the contact numbers of the places that you will be in. As a last resort, they can call the embassy or consulate to seek help.
Things can be simpler if you become lost and stranded while driving across the outback in a campervan, caravan or a 4-wheel drive. This is because you can carry more items, which you might struggle with if you are going for a bushwalk.
However, most survivors have a calm mind and a plan to seek help when they are lost, so keep your wits about them. You can drive a car across the desert, and make sure you carry extra supplies like petrol and tools in case you can’t find the next petrol station.
What To Do If You’re Lost In The Outback?
The first thing to do if you are lost in the outback is to activate your SOS device if you have one. This will enable rescuers to come to find you and they will have the coordinates to where you are. Then you should assess your surroundings: is it safe enough to stay put?
Due to the roads being unsealed, it is not uncommon for heavy rain to turn the ground muddy and your vehicle gets stuck, hopefully, a good Samaritan will come along and pull you free. Although that might take a while. But if you are lost and you do not know where you are, it is time to check for phone signals or the map to determine where you could be.
If you have a vehicle with enough food and water, it makes more sense to stay near the car. Plus, the helicopter can spot a campervan or a car easier than a human being. Look for something shiny and reflective, because that will help draw attention to the searchers above. Plus, your car can offer shade from the harsh sun.
Even though you cannot afford to keep the engine running, you can stay in the car’s shadow. At night, the car can keep you safe from cold winds.
How Long Can You Survive In The Australian Outback Without Water?
A typical human being can survive up to 3 days without water, but if you are careless, you might not make it through the night. The main causes of dehydration are heat exposure, physical exertion and not drinking enough fluids when you need them.
An outback survivalist’s advice is to drink enough water at a time instead of sipping it. Sipping water when you are dehydrated might mean water goes to the kidneys and liver, leaving none for the head. When the brain detects that it does not have enough water, you will go into panic mode quickly.
Hence, when you realise you are lost, tally your supplies and check your surroundings. Travelling at night might be better if you do not have enough water, but you will need a light source like a torch, lamp or fire. Look for streams or walk downhill, because it is easier to go down than up, and water flows downwards.
There is a much better chance to live long enough to find water. This is where survival training will help: some native plants are edible and can provide some hydration. Common Lilly Pilly fruit is easily recognisable, and you can find wattle gum tree saps that provide sugar and nutrients to help you keep going.
What Are The Dangers Of The Australian Outback?
Aside from the dangers of exposure and dehydration, the most dangerous thing in the outback is snakes. During the warmer weather, snakes come out to hunt and breed, and can be more aggressive. You should keep wearing long protective clothing to reduce the risk of envenomation if a snake strikes.
Of course, staying away from a snake’s hiding place is a good idea as well. For other critters, these rarely come near you. But if you are worried, shaking your clothes before putting them on, or checking your bedding before sleeping will help. A dingo attack is unlikely as well, as you are bigger and you do not carry any food that interests them.
Getting Prepared For the Australian Outback
As they say: Failing to prepare is preparing to fail; a simple plan is all you need to stay safe and have a good time in the Australian Outback. Even veteran bushwalkers will have a plan before every trip. Check out the websites below to help you survive the Australian Outback:
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