back to article Satnav leaves family stranded in Outback for three days

We bring you today's GPS navigation mishap hilarity news from Australia, where a family of four were trapped in their car for three days after ignoring road signs. The family were travelling across Australia from Brisbane to Perth followed the instructions of their GPS and entered the Darling River Road in New South Wales's …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward

    Why bother risk others?

    Just let them die out there. After all, it's nobody's stupid fault but their own.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Why bother risk others?

      Ladies and gentlemen, a round of polite applause for AC who has never made a stupid mistake in his life.

      1. Number6

        Wrong part of the country

        Now if they'd been travelling to Darwin then AC might have a point.

        1. Jimbo 6

          Now I understand...

          I always wondered why they were called the 'Darwin awards'.

      2. Parax

        @ never made a stupid mistake in his life.

        Well as long as AC's mistakes were not big enough to make the local papers. or for that matter national, or even international Media.

        clap, clap. (is two a round?)

    2. James O'Shea

      That's extreme

      I'd have gone and got them... but I've had had 'em pay for the costs of going to get them.

      1. Peter 42
        Thumb Up

        Why should they pay?

        Aussies are great people! Spend millions rescuing solo round-the-world child sailors, probably thousands fetching GPS units from the outback,... good on yas cobbers! Next time I go on holiday I ain't gonna worry about travel insurance - I'll just call the Aussies!

      2. Wize

        @ James O'Shea

        "I'd have gone and got them... but I've had had 'em pay for the costs of going to get them."

        They should recoup the costs of rescue from people's insurance.

        These people do remind me of the ones who climb mountains in jeans and trainers.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          pay the cost of your rescue

          when you crash your car having driven too close to the vehicle in front and over the speed limit in bad weather... something we've all never done

      3. Magani
        Thumb Up

        @James O'Shea

        "...but I've had had 'em pay for the costs of going to get them."

        Spot on, Mr O'Shea! The good news here is that there is provision in <whatever road act applies> to sock 'em for $1000 per wheel if they go through a Road Closed sign in the outback.

        The main reason for this is that these emu-brained morons cut up the tracks when they're muddy, leaving huge ruts which then take heaps of scarce resources to put back into some semblance of a road after it dries out.

        So, that's a ute plus trailer = 6 wheels = 6000 South Pacific Pesos please. (About 3300 of Her Maj's finest pounds). I hope the local authorities sock 'em for the lot.

    3. Stanislaw


      I believe it's known as common humanity. We used to have it back in the old days, you know. People helped other people when they got into difficulties - even the stupid ones.

      Amazing, isn't it?

  2. Fred 5


    3 days of "I told you we should have taken that left"? It must have been a harrowing ordeal.

    1. Rob

      At lot worse than that...

      ... they were stuck in the car for 3 days with a dog, it must have broken wind a number of times in that period.

      Coat please, I need to get out of the car for some fresh air.

    2. seven of five Silver badge

      especially since

      especially since, if the poor chap had taken the left turn, it would have been "I meant the other 'left'"...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    they didnt pay that much attention to it. they would have seen the screen that says its a guide only etc

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Satnavs are an aid to navigation...

    they do not replace common sense, brain power or road signs that are telling you not to enter a road because its dangerous.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blame The Satnav

    It's becoming a standard story isn't it. Some idiot gets themselves into trouble and thinks that blaming the satnav will make it all OK.

    We've had idiots in rivers and public footpaths, tne moron who drove into a building site toilet and nary a day goes buy that some berk in an HGV doesn't get stuck up a little lane somewhere. I live on an A road that has a weight limit and every single driver who gets stopped (or occasionally stuck) blames their satnav. One idiot was asked by plod if he saw the weight limit and diversion signs, including the big electronically activated flashing thing, and replied that he though his satnav knew a different route. Blimey but satnavs are clever.

    The thing is these idiots would ignore the signs whether or not they had satnav. I see plenty of people without satnav on their dash ignoring road closed signs, I saw one in York only yesterday. Too many people think that road signs don't apply to them.

    The satnav is for some reasons seen of one of the great evils of the 21st century so people in general and the media in particular are happy to accept the satnav as the reason for everything. One traffic plod I know tells me people even blame their satnav for speeding, "Yes Officer, I saw the 40 limit sign but according to my satnav this rouad has a 60 limit." A ban is too good for these fuckwits.

  6. s. pam

    having done that route in a PROPER 4x4

    "It's not advisable to take this route w/o adequate food water and fuel" it says at the opening to the route. While we lived in Oz from 2006-2009 we did this route and pussies need not apply. Even in the dry it's not a route to be ill-prepared in terms of brains alone!

    Bogan Pride again!

  7. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!

    Never trust a GPS

    I have one and to be honest I hate it, I always feel like I'm going to some mystery tour.

    The best way to use them is to roughly know your route so you have some idea when the GPS is taking you on some odd route and then you can try and steer the thing back on course.

    My GPS has two setting, shortest route or fastest route, the first setting translates as brooks and streams and the second setting translates to motorways larger than 17 lanes.

    1. Gaz Jay


      I use my satnav as an aid to navigation, not the solution.

      I always have a look at a road map before setting off to somewhere unfamiliar. Figure out what junctions to take and what roads/town names to look out for.

      The sat nav is basically a backup and for finding the correct street right at the end of the journey.

      1. TimeMaster T


        Not to mention that when you don't blindly trust your GPS navigator you are more likely to pay attention to "Road Closed" signs.

        My two pence; bill them for the rescue costs.

        Mines the one with the map, compass and sextant in the pocket.

  8. adrianww

    The human race...

    ...don'cha just love it? My sat-nav believes that there is a fantastic road you can take when you're crossing one particular bit of North Yorkshire up around Arkengarthdale/Swaledale. Funnily enough, I never take the turning it suggests - the one that would involve going through a large five-bar metal gate, past the "Private. No Through Road" signs and onto a spectacularly pitted and rutted, rock-strewn dirt track that winds its way up into the hills and which would probably prove a mild challenge even for a decently equipped off-roader. (Mind you, the farmer probably drives up there in his knackered old Nissan Sunny or whatever to check on the sheep.)

    Anyway, reading the funny sections of the papers, I sometimes get the feeling that I might be one of the few people left who _doesn't_ slavishly follow the dictates of their little electronic friend on/in the dashboard?

    Still, I imagine that some of the more down-to-earth members of the Aussie emergency services who ended up rescuing these total pillocks had a few choice words to say on the matter. Hope so anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They're everywhere.

      There's a track just accross the road from my house that every sat nav I've ever tried thinks is a road. There is now a big sign there saying "No Through Road - Do No Follow Sat Nav" but people still do.

      It starts off metalled, but that's just somebody's driveway so many drivers end up in a private gardem. Those who follow their satnav off the metalled road (and some do) find themselves going up an overgrown dirt track used only by walkers, mountain bikers and the (very) occasional tractor that is only passable by proper offroad vehicles. There is obviously a glitch in the digital mapping somewhere since satnavs only seem to direct people onto this track from one end. Trouble is I know people with new satnavs or the latest updates who are still being directed onto this track.

      It still doesn't excuse people not being able to read a sign or failling to spot an impassible road when they see one. Would they drive into a wall if their satnav told them to?

  9. Tim Bergel
    Thumb Up

    Australians seem to have issues with road signs

    ... it's the only country I've visited where I've seen a road sign telling you to pay attention to the road sign coming up in 100 meters. I thought that highly odd (but it was in Queensland which does seem to have a bit of a reputation) but maybe they know what the drivers are like ...

  10. Alan Douglas

    It wasn't the satnav that left them stranded

    Had they been using a map and the same thing happened, would we blame the map?

  11. Roger Jenkins

    Lets be fair

    The satnav was in no way at fault. These people would have made the same error had they been following a map, they were just stupid.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    They should

    Have their Australian citizenship revoked and be reclassified as New Zealanders

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge


      Send 'em back to Pomerania. They should go un-noticed in such a place.

      1. Basic


        Nobody else with some righteous outrage? Seems your comment managed to sneak by unobserved (or misunderstood) :D

        Well done that man

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Shame, it was a family of four..

    Darwin awards only apply to those who have not reproduced.

    Making them wait 3 days sounds fair, even if the conditions were marginal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Shame, it was a family of four..

      surely if they have reproduced but take their children with them then it still counts?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Oh Thats a Yes!

        Good Call!

      2. Oliver Mayes

        @ AC 11:12

        Sadly not, if you take anyone else down with you then you get disqualified from the Darwins as it's not fair that someone else should suffer due to your stupidity. This includes children and animals.

  14. Wommit

    "sleep in the car for three days with their dog"

    But what about the smell?

    I'm sure the dog got used to it.

    Boom Boom

  15. Danny van der Weide

    The price of stupidity

    Well, that's what you get when you refuse to think!

    Especially sleeping in a car with your family *AND THE BLOODY DOG* !?!?!?

    They didn't even think of booting out the panting shit factory...

  16. Richard IV

    Stupidity as the mother of invention

    It might be time for satnav manufacturers to agree a standard so that a simple (ie insanely cheap) transponder could be installed in road signs that triggers a "Was there something you didn't understand?" message when passed.

    I have to say, though, that such spectacular cases of missing massive "ROAD CLOSED" signs should carry driving bans with them. The annual idiot stuck on the Lindisfarne causeway is a case in point.

    1. Nuke

      Stupid Signs Too

      Of course, road signs are always such good advice, and the people who put them up are so wise.

      Direction signs are particularly bad. They dont give the sensible route, but the route that the local council want you to follow. One small town near me has a bypass of about 3 mile radius (because the council has big ideas about future expansion). It has a roundabout about every 200 yards, most of them for nothing. I drive through in the evening and it takes about twice as long, is 50% further, and 10 times more frustrating to use the bypasss than go straight though (where roadside pubs and garages etc welcome trade). Yet every signpost tries to send you out to the bypass with "No Through Traffic" signage for the straight route, even after you have already passed the centre!

      Let me give some translations from my neck of the woods :-

      "Road unsuitable for motor vehicles" ---> There is a bit of unmade surface

      "No through traffic" --------------------------> Local councillor lives along here

      "Road closed for flooding" -------------------> There was a 2" deep puddle several hours ago

      "Road closed for safety reasons" ---------> Yesterday there was a fire in a pig sty 400yds away

      And so on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My favourite...

        In Penzance, Cornwall (UK).

        A sign at the furthest end of a tiny lane which becomes nothing more than a footpath:

        "This Road is Unsuitable for Heavy Goods Vehicles"

        Which would have got there, exactly, how?

        Then there is the welsh council who emailed their translation department, committing the Welsh answer to a road sign: "This department is closed until the end of this month".

    2. adrianww


      Annual numpty on the Lindisfarne causeway? Surely you mean monthly?

      Go. 'Cos the idiot's do. Even when the tide tables tell them otherwise.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      speed limit signs, and especially stop-ahead signs...

      Of course, then the kid in me is going to pull the box off of the 25mph sign and stick it on the back of a 70mph sign.....

  17. Anonymous Coward

    is waiting for..

    ... "family who sues the satnav company"

    guess common sense for this family is pretty much non-existent!

  18. dave 46

    too lazy to check your route

    Back in the day driving somewhere meant planning it on a map, now we just jump in and expect the sat nav to do it all for us, then blame it when it takes us a stupid way or announces you have arrived while in completely the wrong place.

    I use google maps, see the options, know myself from looking at the map if it is stupid and create my own route. I then use streetview to see the last hundred yards to my destination.

    When I get in the car I then try to persuade the sat nav to follow the route I want with vias - if I get bored of that I'll just ignore it and let it catch up with me.

    Funnily enough I drive door to door without any frustration, no wrong turns, no long detours down dirt tracks and no confusing looks when I arrive in some massive housing estate when I'm looking for a factory. I might be some backwards luddite but I seem to be doing pretty well with it.

  19. Rob Crawford

    Next time

    they should let the dogs to the driving & navigation

  20. Harry

    "My GPS has two setting, shortest route or fastest route"

    ... both of which probably do usually give routes that are at least partially sensible.

    Now, consider this. Saturday afternoon I needed to go somewhere a mile away as the crow flies and being a nice afternoon I wanted to walk rather than drive.

    By road, it's two sides of a equilateral triangle, so the road journey is more like two miles. But there's a big park and several alleys, none of which I know too well, so I thought I'd try to find something that would give me a definitive walking route.

    Tomtom and Google maps gave me exactly the same route for walking and driving, which wasn't much help. So I downloaded Nokia's OVI mapping.

    Fat lot of good that was. Yes, it DID give me a different and much shorter walking route. But all it did was to draw a completely straight line, which would have taken me through a large number of private gardens, brick walls, fences and a swimming pool.

    In the end, I took the car.

    1. Rebecca 1

      Unable to get directions

      There is a skill which is dying out with the rise of GPS units called "map reading". When using this one gets a large sheet of paper (or the Ordnance Survey "Get-a-map"/Open Street Map) which shows both roads and footpaths in an area. You then look for route options before walking along the choosen route, keeping track of where you are.

      Alternatively the GPS in your car can do all the thinking for you.

  21. Graham Bartlett

    Food situation

    I doubt they'd have been prepared for staying out that long. So guys, how did that dog-food taste?

    1. Bah Humbug

      The title

      Surely: "So guys, how did that dog taste?"

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sat nav

    Sat nav: turn left

    Woman: Honey, the sat nav has already told you to turn left 3 times

    Man: Shut up bitch I know what I'm doing

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Scenes of married life.

      Why do you share this snippet with us, actually?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    SatNavs are great.... and the Missus have so few arguments now we have a SatNav, it's worth going off the wrong exit on the motorway! The kids don't have to listen to Mummy and Daddy fighting about why one can't read a map and the other can't read the road signs!!!

    Seriously, they are only tools. I always have a £10 Halfords atlas in the car, just in case the bloody SatNav decides to throw a wobbly and take us up a one-way on Saturday afternoon!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in the days of old

    If they had undertaken a journey and not heeded the village elders advice about not entering the forest after crossing the river after dragons rock... they would have been eaten by bearsm wolfs or other such beast of the forest

    (yes, i know this analogy doest quite equate to the outback, but you get hte drift?)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Satnavs should:

    ... have free, live updates whenever, whatever.

    1. Laurence Blunt

      live updates....what would be the point

      I don't have a sat-nav but when ever I have something delivered I always tell the couriers to ignore them and not to take "School Lane". The reason is this is a road for about 20yards then a foot path.

      The number of times they still turn up late having gone the wrong way!

      I actually made the effort to find the web site of the company that makes most of these sat-nav maps, and used the online update system to tell them about this issue - that was 7 years ago!

      Last week I used multi-map to get an idea of the distance to some place and a suggested route, the instructions were : 1. Depart from... 2. Turn left into "School Lane" !

      If they cannot be bothered to fix the vast number of errors in the maps they currently use, why would they magically add local/temporary alterations.

      1. Milkfloat

        Tell me then.

        OK, tell me where the School Lane you are referring to is (locality and postcode would be nice) and I will get it checked out.

  26. Jason Hall


    My wife is travel sick, so always prefers to drive.

    I then sit in the back messing with netbook/iphone/dvd player with my daughter, double-checking the route every now and again on said devices just to make sure we're not getting too lost.

    It's great. Maybe some of the family arguments that people moan about could be avoided by trying the same.

  27. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    Satnav Shatnav

    "a family of four were trapped in their car for three days after ignoring road signs."

    Did the road signs say to get out of the car if you get stuck or to stay in there for 3 days?

    1. grumpyoldeyore

      Re: Satnav Shatnav

      Standard advice is to stay close to the vehicle - easier for rescuers to spot. No mention of how they called for help - either they were sensible and were carrying a radio, or they got lucky with mobile signal (cdma - 40 km range?). At least the GPS would allow an accurate fix......

      Looks like the local council is getting fed up with drivers ignoring their road closed signs:


      WARNING: Council is wasting valuable resources repairing damage done by vehicles using closed or wet roads. Police have been asked to prosecute offenders who may be liable for a $1000 penalty plus repair costs.


      Mine's the Driza-Bone with the stack of Hemas in the pocket.....

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        Re Re: Satnav Shatnav

        Still though, how long would they have stayed in the car if they hadn't been found?

        I would be standing at the side of the road after just a few minutes.

        There's more chance of a rescue there than waiting in the field til a farmer notices

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Road Closed

    Up here in the pennines a few months ago you may have noticed we had a bit of snow. Some roads were closed for weeks. No I had no problems driving on the snow over some of the moors even on unclassified roads, but when the drifting was bad it was bloody obvious which roads you couldn't get up even in a good 4x4. However...

    Some numpties still managed to drive past road closed signs and even get out of their cars to move cones, signs and barriers out of the way. Then they expected to be rescued when they were windows deep in drifts. You could almost understand the idiots in 4x4s who thought they could get through, until you realised that they thought having 4WD would allow you to drive through a six foot drift or that it would allow you to take ice covered corners at 50mph. But it was the idiots driving things like BMW 3 series that took the biscuit.

    Would charging these idiots for their rescue discourage others? Of course not. Some people do stupid things because they don't think anything bad can happen to them.

  29. Chris 211

    Stop blaming the technology

    Even quite clever technology only does what we ask it to, the upper end experimental AI/semi-self-aware technology being ignored here for a moment. So blame fully rests with the driver which I always liken to a captain, no really. The driver is in charge and to blame both things are clearly defined in law, even if its not your car! So headline should be changed to idiot driver puts family at risk.

  30. Eddy Ito


    Probably thought it would take too long to go round and figured to try their luck. That said, they shouldn't try parachuting.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Sat-navs are "idiot-enablers"

    I know of people that didn't go places because they were too retarded to read a map, and now they they just pop the Garmin on the dash and expect it to be a magic carpet ride to wherever.

    They're used to slavishly following (smarter) people's instructions because that's they only way they can get anything done, so they have no problem driving straight off a cliff if that's what the "smart-box" says.

  32. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Common sense

    Anyone who has ever used a sat-nav ought to have learned pretty quickly that you have to take control of them.

    I've lost count of the number of times mine has tried to make me drive away from my own home in completely the wrong direction, because it is desperate to get me to a nearby A road, even if that means a three mile detour round a one way system, first.

    You just tell them to shut-up and only speak when they're spoken to.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Poor dog

    Not getting out for days, having to shit in the bottom of the car, no trees to mark - WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE DOGS!

    That is all.

  34. J. Cook Silver badge

    Heh. Reminds me of one of our laws.

    We have a couple amusing similarities here in Arizona. During the latter part of our summer season*, we get rain storms in the afternoon. Sometimes these storms are quite nasty and dump a lot of water on the ground in a short period of time. This leads to flash floods** which fill normally dry riverbeds and canals. There are roads that cross these that are usually closed when this occurs, but we have people with a lack of common sense that try and cross anyway.

    We passed a law a couple years ago informally called the "Stupid Motorist Law" that allows fire departments to bill people that get stuck the cost of their rescue up to two thousand dollars.

    As others have stated, a Satnav unit is not a replacement for common sense, merely a map.

    * Yes, we get them. in the northern part of the state we have the normal four seasons, whereas in the Phoenix and Tucson areas, we have "hot and dry, hot and damp, and Just Right" for seasons.

    ** Flash floods in Arizona are horribly dangerous- A dry river bed can suddenly, and with no notice, fill with fast moving water that will drag just about everything downstream.

  35. James 63

    It wasn't the SatNav

    As it's already been said, if these people had swapped their sat nav for a map they'd still have got stuck. The fault was not doing their homework about where they were going, and was it possible at that time of the year. If they're going to ignore big warning signs it doesn't matter what navigational aids they're using, they're still going to need to be rescued.

    Driving across the outback without clues is not a smart thing to do.

  36. Steve Roper

    The determination of idiots knows no bounds

    Near where I used to live there was a ford across the River Torrens in Adelaide. Now for most of the year the Torrens is a dry creek bed with no running water to speak of, and you could cross this ford without even getting the tyres wet. But during the spring rains in August - November the river can quickly swell into a raging cataract, flooding the ford to a depth of up to 8 feet.

    It was a regular occurrence that some wanker would try to cross the ford while it was covered by 6+ feet of thundering water, and had to be rescued by the fireys. Eventually, the council closed the ford - permanently - by erecting road-ends signs (wide horizontal signs spanning most of the width of the road with black and white vertical stripes on them), and no-through-road signs at the entrance to the road, with signs directing traffic to use a bridge not 2 kilometres away.

    Those signs may as well have not been there; the idiots would simply mount the footpath to drive around the road-ends signs and cross the ford. So the council put some bloody big boulders either side of the road to dissuade them.

    So the idiots then drove INTO THE ADJACENT PADDOCK to get around the boulders. As often as not, they'd get bogged, and come knocking on doors asking for assistance. And the abuse those of us who lived there hit them with did nothing to dissuade them.

    Next, the council put permapine logs along the footpath to stop people driving into the paddock. Did this stop them? Noooooo... they started driving across the FRONT GARDEN of the house at the end to get into the ford. Until some dickhead actually used a chainsaw to cut away one of the pine logs so he could get through the paddock.

    Then the council simply dug out the concrete ford, returning the river bed to its natural state. Yet there were STILL at least one or two idiots a month in 4WDs who insisted on trying to cross and had to be winched out of the riverbed by the long-suffering fireys.

    Finally, the council closed off the road with 5' high reinforced concrete barriers sunk 3' into the ground, running along the edge of the guy's front garden, across the road and then 150' up the side of the road on the paddock side, to where a stand of large gum trees prevented cars from getting into the paddock at all. Only then did these bloody fools get the message.

    Yet until I moved away, there were still several cars a week whose drivers would ignore the no-through-road signs, drive right up to the barriers, sit there scratching their heads until their two brain cells figured out there was no way across, and then crank out a 20-point turn to go back the way they came.

    And all this, with a bridge barely more than a mile off.

    With determined wankers like that on the road, it comes as no surprise at all that this family in the article weren't dissuaded by any mere road-closed signs!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020