Glenelg River rescue of Mount Gambier mum and son prompts Easter holiday safety message

A kayaking misadventure in south-west Victoria has sparked calls for campers, hikers and holiday-makers to stay safe over the Easter period.

Outdoors South Australia, a group of outdoor professionals and enthusiasts, has appealed for people to stay safe over the holiday period following a Mount Gambier mother and son becoming stranded in bushland on Victoria’s Glenelg River.

A police helicopter located the pair on Sunday after becoming lost near Drik Drik in South West Victoria near the South Australian border.

Chair of Outdoors SA and a member of the board of bushwalking leadership South Australia, Andrew Govan, said he had seen an uptake in hiking over the past few years with people wanting to experience “nature therapy”.

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Encouraging people to be prepared when hiking or boating and kayaking on rivers, he said it was easy for things to go wrong even on day trips and on paths they had previously traversed.

Mr Govan said people should consider their personal equipment, skill level and whether they had communicated their plans to others before heading out to rugged areas.

He said it was also crucial for people to pack appropriate clothing just in case their trip went wrong, given the cooler conditions.

“People are not prepared for the fact that they may end up staying overnight,” Mr Govan said.

Mr Govan said, similar to the 13-year-old Mount Gambier boy who used the light on his watch to signal the rescue helicopter, hikers should carry something to hail help, including mirrors, torches or glowsticks alongside food, water, and spare clothing .

Know your limits, do the research

He said it was also the responsibility of hikers to question if they had the skills and knowledge suitable for the activity.

This knowledge included maps of the area and the ability to read them, the appropriate route to take and whether they had a basic action plan.

Mr Govan said bushwalking leadership in South Australia recommended people should stay where they were and wait for rescue if they became lost.

A popular walking track on the Limestone Coast in South Australia.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

Hikers should also prepare by communicating their plan to someone outside the trip, including the planned route and their movements at certain times to make it easier for rescuers to find them.

Mr Govan suggested hikers taking part in multiple day trips register with the national park authorities so people were aware of their presence.

“It is all about the time it takes to get you, to find you and then rescue you,” he said.

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