A young couple lost in the bush near Morning Bay were rescued just before sunset.

The couple, a man and woman in their 20s, were visiting Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and walking at Towlers Bay Trail yesterday afternoon (Sunday, 12 June). After enjoying the view from a lookout, they became turned around off the trail and confused about their location.

Lost in the bush on the eastern side of the hill, with the sun falling below the ridge, the woman said she became increasingly anxious they may not be able to find their way back to the trail and their car before the sun set.

With no food, light clothing and the evening chill descending, she and her partner decided to call Triple Zero (000) for help just after 3.30pm while they could be found in daylight.

NSW Police PolAir Helicopter

Able to maintain phone contact, they were located by the PolAir helicopter, which tried to guide them back toward the trail from the air. Multiple emergency services vehicles responded to the Towlers Bay trailhead at West Head Road, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Responding road crews included NSW Ambulance paramedics, an Inspector and a Special Operations Team (SOT) paramedic equipped with a 4WD vehicle. NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Brigade crews also arrived in 4WD vehicles from Warringah Headquarters, Davidson and Belrose.

Specialist rescue firefighters from Fire and Rescue NSW Narrabeen Station attended the scene on standby, equipped with bush rescue equipment, if required. The RFS Elvina Boat was sent to Morning Bay but it was decided access would not be practical via the water.

FRNSW Narrabeen Station at Towlers Bay trail

The SOT paramedic and Warringah Rural Fire Brigade crew proceeded down the trail shortly after 4.00pm, finding the lost walkers just 10 minutes later, with the guidance of the NSW Police helicopter.

The pair were assessed by the paramedic but were fortunately uninjured by their escapade in the bush. They were brought back to West Head Road by the NSW RFS 4WD vehicle, where they spoke briefly with the Northern Beaches Advocate.

They had become turned around in the bush, and thinking they were heading back to a familiar landmark, had in fact been moving further away from it, even with a phone and GPS map. The woman said she had ‘a bit of an anxiety attack’ when they realised the sun would be setting in an hour or two and decided the best thing to do was call for help.

Other than being slightly embarrassed at becoming lost, they were incredibly thankful and praised the response of emergency services before returning to their parked vehicle and heading home.

Towlers Bay trailhead

NSW Police recently issued a reminder to outdoor enthusiasts to be prepared before heading into the bush, following a series of rescues involving injured or lost hikers.

With increased popularity of hiking in national parks during the COVID-19 pandemic, NSW Police urged hikers to be prepared for the conditions. Rescue Team Leader Sergeant Dallas Atkinson said NSW Police have been kept busy as more people head outdoors for recreation, including bushwalking.

“National parks and bushland are natural, unpredictable environments, and the reality is that often people will get lost despite their best efforts. We don’t want outdoor adventures to end in tragedy, so we’re encouraging people to be prepared and ‘Think Before You Trek’.

“If you’re prepared, emergency services will be able to locate and rescue you. It’s always a good day for police when we can bring people safely home to their loved ones. It takes only a few simple steps to ensure you are prepared for the bush, and it can make the difference between life and death,” said Sgt Atkinson.

The ‘Think Before You Trek’ bush safety campaign encourages people heading into the bush and national parks to be well prepared for the conditions, with these simple steps:

  • Register your trip on the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) website. Fill in an online trip intention form
  • Take enough water, food and first aid supplies
  • Keep to a planned route
  • Follow the map and walking trails and do not ignore warning signs and barriers
  • Tell family and/or friends when you expect to return
  • Install the free Emergency Plus app on a mobile or satellite phone
  • Install the free NSW National Parks app
  • Take a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), or satellite communication device, to use as a last resort

‘Think Before You TREK’ is a bush safety initiative between the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Police. For more information on how to be prepared, visit the NPWS website.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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