“A TIP for tourists: if your GPS system leads you into a forest, forces you to unlock gates and move rocks blocking the road, chances are something is amiss.” Thus begins the Courier Mail story of three South Korean tourists whose trust in their Ford Falcon’s GPS got them stuck in a gully in southeast Queensland’s Cordalba State Forest, near Childers.
Attempting to drive from Brisbane to Rockhampton (about a nine hour drive according to Google Maps), the tourists followed GPS instructions onto gravel roads, then dirt roads, then through a couple of gates. They passed danger signs (which since they didn’t speak English they may not have understood), and they moved rocks blocking one road. By the time their car got stuck in the gully they were in an isolated part of the forest that was nearly inaccessible. After an unsuccessful attempt to free their car (and its awesome GPS), they walked several kilometers through the forest trying to get cell phone reception. They were finally able to make an emergency call to Bundaberg police at 1am. After some initial difficulties finding a translator, authorities were on their way, eventually finding the stranded tourists more than six hours later.
“We had an approximate GPS location for them, but it was in an area that was extremely difficult to get into — practically inaccessible — and we couldn’t find them,” said Childers Police officer in charge Sergeant Geoff Fay.
Sgt Fay added that the South Korean tourists were not the first group in the area that followed their GPS into a situation requiring rescuing. About a month earlier GPS-following backbackers from Bundaberg had gotten lost in the same forest. Sgt. Fay’s advice was similar to the Courier Mail’s:
People need to know how to use their GPS and navigation systems. They also need to use their self-preservation skills, and turn back if something looks wrong or if signs don’t match what appears on their GPS.