Desert travel tips
Having read the article about the family stranded in the Simpson Desert, I was reminded of a similar experience (“Can anyone hear me? We’re in trouble”, Nov 24-25). In 1995, some friends and I set off to cross the Simpson in three 4WDs. Some 70km west of Birdsville my diesel 4WD would go no further after we had put water in the fuel tank by mistake. I spent the night there while the rest went on to celebrate the crossing at the Birdsville Hotel. Next morning Peter Barnes from Birdsville Motors, guided by my friend, arrived at 6.30 and towed me to Birdsville. The vehicle could not be repaired so I opted to have it taken to Port Augusta to be fixed. The only costs to us were meals and airfares as we were, and still are, members of the Royal Automobile Association of SA.
Tony Gwynn-Jones Clare, SA
How fortunate for the Shelton family that there are still people in the Australian outback prepared to go to the aid of others. My husband is a former police officer who served in a remote location in the late 1970s. We lost count of the number of tourists we provided assistance to who were stranded in brokendown, ill-equipped vehicles. They would run out of fuel, water, food, spare tyres, batteries and even dog food. We often had no choice but to give them a bed and shower in our home and even provide our own clothes to change into. Do you think we were thanked? Rarely. Reimbursed in any way? Never. Criticised for not doing enough? Often. I can understand why the Mt Dare and Birdsville folk are not inclined to go to rescues without payment. Robyn Mackenzie Stanthorpe, Qld
From the comfort of my lounge room it’s easy to criticise other folks’ outback travel plans. However, the itinerary and solo laden and ageing vehicle reads like “lambs to the slaughter” to me. The trip should have comprised at least three vehicles in convoy, preferably four; and an HF radio, plus a back-up sat phone. An EPIRB can easily be hired. Tell someone your itinerary – my neighbour is my trip emergency liaison contact to police and land managers; I provide her with all my plans, maps, GPS details, vehicle ID etc. For extended remote travel, I top up her credit card with at least 3k in the event she has to pay for recovery. Prior to remote outback travel, consider joining a 4WD Club. Gerald Wollmer
Land Rover Owners Club of Victoria Inc Millbrook, which we visited in August. It is sad that John had two unfortunate experiences there, but from the outstanding meals we enjoyed I am happy to endorse the restaurant. Paul Turner Dernancourt SA
The writer of December’s best letter wins French Vine’s curation of six premium artisanal French wines plus a bottle of 2007 Leclerc Briant Millésime Champagne. The prize is valued at $526.