Hiker with only half a cup of water rescued from remote track where man was found dead a month ago (2024)

On the morning of her 45th birthday, Bron stood lost and alone on top of a ridge near Standley Chasm — a gorge in the rugged West MacDonnell Ranges, 50 kilometres west of Alice Springs.

Dehydrated and disoriented, she had climbed high, hoping to spot a landmark that would help her find her way back to the Larapinta Trail, an often-treacherous 230km hike divided into 12 sections.

"I was hoping I could see … something that would help me get my bearings — but I couldn't," she said.

Hiker with only half a cup of water rescued from remote track where man was found dead a month ago (1)

The experienced trail runner and nurse knew she was in trouble.

The story of Alistair Thomson, the Victorian hiker whose body was retrieved from the same trail one month ago, was on her mind.

It made her next decision easier.

"I had to then put the ego aside and make the call," Bron said.

She took out the personal locator beacon she had carried for the past five years and activated it for the first time.

Four hours later, a rescue helicopter arrived.

A bad night's sleep

Bron, who asked to be referred to by her first name, had set off Friday last week on what was supposed to be a four-day solo hike from Standley Chasm to Alice Springs.

Hiker with only half a cup of water rescued from remote track where man was found dead a month ago (2)

Her pack contained four litres of water, purification tablets, plenty of food, a tent, warm clothes, and a first aid kit.

By the afternoon of that first day, Bron realised she had missed a turn-off from a creek bed she had been following. A map app on her phone indicated she had overshot by just more than 2 kilometres.

She made camp by a waterhole, confident she could find her way back to the trail in the morning.

It was a bad night's sleep.

"About 7pm, I was lying in my tent, and I could hear what sounded like snuffling around the edge of my tent," she said.

"I thought it was dingoes or wild dogs. I had my arms sort of … resting above my head, and a nose touched my arm.

"I did not sleep the entire night."

The wrong fork in the creek bed

Bron said she woke up the next morning and drank some water from the waterhole she had boiled and purified.

Hiker with only half a cup of water rescued from remote track where man was found dead a month ago (3)

But she had started feeling unwell. She was not able to keep a black coffee down.

With a litre and a half of water with her, she set off for Jay Creek — the campsite she had meant to reach the night before.

"I packed everything up and started walking up what looked like a very straight, easy walk up the creek bed," Bron said.

"The creek bed obviously forked off in many different directions many times, and I obviously very much chose the wrong direction."

After four hours, Bron realised she was in a precarious situation. She was lost, with just half a cup of water left in her bottle.

"I was OK at that point … but I felt like I could rapidly go and not be OK."

Feeling "scared and overwhelmed", she climbed the ridge and set off her beacon.

'It looked like they hadn't seen me'

Bron's beacon triggered an alert almost 2,000km away in Canberra, at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, just after 10am on Saturday.

NT Police sent out a rescue helicopter with a paramedic onboard.

During a four-hour wait on the ridgeline, Bron had enough reception on her phone to exchange texts with her family and an NT police officer.

When she first saw the chopper flying over the ridgeline, she thought the pilot had missed her.

"The tears started flowing," she said.

Hiker with only half a cup of water rescued from remote track where man was found dead a month ago (4)

But the crew landed a short distance away and sang out with calls of "cooee", which Bron returned.

"When we made voice contact and they started walking towards me, that's when … I felt relieved," she said.

Bron was taken back to Alice Springs and given a medical examination before being released to continue her holiday.

Walking alone

NT Police southern watch commander Mick Fields said the rescue was a "perfect case" scenario because Bron was located relatively quickly and had no injuries.

It was a powerful reminder of the importance of carrying an emergency beacon on remote trails.

But Sergeant Fields said her story also underscored the risks of solo walking.

"Police would really urge people, if you are going to be walking, it's preferable you do stay with company just in the event that you become injured or disoriented, as the case here is," he said.

Sergeant Fields said even experienced bushwalkers, especially from interstate, could find their sense of direction "thrown out" by the landscapes of the central desert region.

Bron said she would "hesitate to go out on [her] own again" after the "traumatising" experience of being lost and alone.

She said she would walk with experienced navigators in future and wished she had taken a navigation course before taking on the Larapinta.

Chris Day, senior director of parks and wildlife operations at NT Parks, agreed the personal locator beacon likely saved Bron's life.

"Kudos to that lady for having one and being willing to use it," Mr Day said.

He said walking in groups of three was ideal, but solo walkers had an "extra layer of responsibility" in their planning.

Posted, updated

Hiker with only half a cup of water rescued from remote track where man was found dead a month ago (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kelle Weber

Last Updated:

Views: 6248

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kelle Weber

Birthday: 2000-08-05

Address: 6796 Juan Square, Markfort, MN 58988

Phone: +8215934114615

Job: Hospitality Director

Hobby: tabletop games, Foreign language learning, Leather crafting, Horseback riding, Swimming, Knapping, Handball

Introduction: My name is Kelle Weber, I am a magnificent, enchanting, fair, joyous, light, determined, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.