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Experienced but unprepared bushwalkers rescued by SES after straying off Holwell Gorge track

Pulse Tasmania
Signage at the Holwell Gorge track. Image / Supplied

Tasmania Police and the State Emergency Service have issued a warning to bushwalkers following a surge in rescues in the northern half of the state.

Over the course of seven days, emergency crews responded to five separate rescues in the state’s north. In January, there were a total of 19 rescues in the north and six in the north-west.

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Senior Sergeant Mike Gillies said the underlying theme in most of the recent rescues was that walkers were unprepared for changing weather conditions or underestimated the difficulty of the trek.

During the most recent rescue on Monday afternoon, an interstate couple became lost on the Holwell Gorge walking track near Beaconsfield.

A walking track at Holwell Gorge. Image / Supplied

Gillies said that while they were both experienced walkers and reasonably prepared, they admitted to not wearing appropriate clothing for the hike.

“Regrettably, we were lightly dressed and not well prepared for pushing through thick scrub on steep slopes,” the pair said.

Tasmania SES crews at a recent training exercise. Image / Supplied

“We should have had heavier clothes, gloves and torches with us and have been taught a necessary lesson for future walks.”

“As it became darker and the scrub thicker, we realised we were in trouble and used a mobile phone to call emergency [services]. We were found by a team from the SES Launceston – they were wonderfully helpful, friendly and kind.”

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“We cannot speak too highly of the way we were so well looked after.”

Senior Sergeant Gillies said it was important to never underestimate the potential risks when bushwalking but praised the couple for calling emergency services once they realised they were lost.

Tasmania Police Search & Rescue vehicle. Image / Pulse

“However, it is a good lesson for all walkers that our bush tracks can be unpredictable. When police and SES personnel are tasked with a rescue, they are putting their own lives at risk entering an area with potentially dangerous weather conditions and difficult terrain,” he said.

“If you are planning a trip, always be prepared for changing weather conditions, and ensure you have the correct safety gear should you need it.”

“Even when travelling on simple walks people should be prepared for the possibility of losing the track and have some method of navigation available and be able to use it under stressful conditions.”

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