back to article Google Maps leads German tourists to week-long survival saga in Australian swamp

Two German tourists got more than they bargained for when they put their lives in the hands of Google Maps and blindly followed the service into the depths of the Australian jungle. Philipp Maier and Marcel Schoene wanted to drive 1,000 km (621 miles) from the tropical city of Cairns, Queensland, on the southeastern Cape York …

  1. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
    Alert

    There should be warning signs on airports and all other major points of entry into Oz: "Do not blindly trust Google Maps. Death by GPS is a thing here."

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Basically everything is trying to kill you there...

      (I actually enjoyed my trip, nothing scary, sketchy, etc. )

    2. jgarbo

      Why is it always Germans, even Yanks aren't that dumb. Every year some German's taken by a saltie swimming against the big sign "No swimming - crocodiles"..

      1. Bebu Silver badge
        Windows

        Not that we don't try

        Achtung Crocodiles

        Sometimes we wonder on what the crocodile subsist when there are no german tourists on the offing. ;)

        Cape York is extremely remote even by AU standards. Even after the 40 years since I was there I would be surprised if google anything worked there. The coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria is pristine but if the crocs don't get you the sharks are waiting. No need for swimming costumes unless its the Weipa public pool and so few people up there anyway why would you bother spoiling the wild lifes' enjoyment of their food.

        Basically consult the locals about the hazards and your route. Leave an itinerary with the local authorities and check in at your itinerary's next stop so if you do fall off the radar you will be missed. Always carry plenty of drinking water and sufficient non perishable food. An epirb probably a good idea too.

        Australia is big, much bigger than most septics or europeans imagine.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not that we don't try

          As an Ex pat Brit in Oz, I have done a few hefty road trips. Recently back from an 8000km Christmas/New year trip from Darwin to the north east coast of QLD. Gladstone up to Cairns. Couldn't get any further north on this trip as the Captain Cook highway was closed after the recent cyclone. Temperatures were extreme. 45C driving through Longreach on Christmas day, 37+ every day on the coast.

          Over various trips I have now driven the coastal road East from Adelaide all the way round to Cape Tribulation (got there on my last trip to Cairns). I haven't made it up to the tip of Cape York yet. Hope to someday, but will definitely will not be relying on Google maps. I use Here for satnav and always carry paper maps. Make sure you have plenty of water and a sat phone and/or EPIRB.

          Have also done some of the great outback roads, such as the Oodnadatta and Savannah way. Next trip I want to go West from Adelaide across the Nullabor, North on the West coast road to Broome and back from there on the Gibb River.

          It is very hard to get friends and family back in the UK to comprehend the sheer scale of the place. A friend once wanted to visit Uluru when they came to visit. They thought that since we lived in the NT and Uluru is also in the NT it couldn't be that far away. We took them, but since I could only get a few days off, had to do a 4000km round trip over 3 days. Darwin to Alice Springs on Monday, out to Uluru and back on Tuesday. Drive back to Darwin on the Wednesday.

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Apple Maps says “directions not available due to road conditions at this time”. Some problem shortly before Coen.

      3. thomn8r

        Interesting tale about a pack of wandering Germans in Death Valley, California - a close second to Australia in terms of places you don't want to get lost

        https://www.otherhand.org/home-page/search-and-rescue/the-hunt-for-the-death-valley-germans/

    3. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

      Death by Satnav signs.

      There are.

  2. b0llchit Silver badge
    Joke

    And so the culling begins

    This is clearly the fault of an AI in the background trying to get rid of humans. These pesky biological entities are no good and cannot be used for anything sensible anyway. Better get rid of them by giving them good advice.

    Skynet will be proud of its ancestral achievements.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unless I'm mistaken...

    It looks like Google Maps is still offering the same suggested route that departs from the Peninsula Development Road?

    https://maps.app.goo.gl/naGwV7NAYF5qE1Vs6

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

      That detour is in the right spot, but it isn't anywhere near 60 km long, and the satellite photo suggests a fairly reasonable dirt road. It still doesn't really make sense for Google to suggest that instead of the main road, but it doesn't look outright suicidal. Either Google fixed something recently, or the couple did something worse than just follow Maps. Both sound plausible to me.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Denarius

        Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

        Given how Google "Maps" stuffs up even simple trips on Newel Highway Canberra to Cairns, one is mad to trust it. Stay on main roads unless side road is destination. Other manufacturers GPS have some unbelievably incorrect route guidance around Narromine. ie shortest route can be 100 kms longer down farm tracks than just staying on major roads. In Oz there are many disused tracks and roads, especially in North. Just in 40 years dirt roads between communities can be moved tens of Km due to severe Wet damage or surveyors whim.

        From the air while flying I see roads that have been there for decades and still not on any maps. Interestingly, the Rural Fire Brigade maps do have these plus obscure tracks so the data is known.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

          > roads that have been there for decades

          My former neighborhood east of Orlando (about 12 sq miles, more than about 4k people) has been there 42 years and is STILL not on any Garmin maps.

          1. David 132 Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

            It's not called "Brigadoon", is it?

        2. OhForF' Silver badge

          Shortest route ...

          Even with perfect mapping data shortest route setting is doing incredibly stupid things like having you leave the highway and drive alongside it stopping at traffic lights until you re-enter the highway at the next driveway. Technically the routing is correct as it is some 20 metres shorter and the GPS was asked to provide the "shortest route". Activating that setting should come with a warning.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

      Perhaps Vulture South's very own Simon "Crocodile" Sharwood could be dispatched to report from the location

      icon: nearest looking thing to a redback

      1. Bebu Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

        "icon: nearest looking thing to a redback"

        We do have have scorpions too.

        I guess they have to queue behind the taipans, crocs, sharks, and redbacks to have a crack at the new chums.

        1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

          Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

          I like Australian Scorpion toxinology:

          "Is it native?"

          "Yep."

          "You'll live."

          Unlike every other fucking animal, including the platypuses and the seashells.

    3. MiguelC Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

      They've changed it now. Even if you try to add a spot in the middle of the Peninsula Development Road, Google tells you to go there and come back the same way you went (instead of the crossing it all - so it seems they've hard-coded it)

      I've been on Google Maps' crosshairs too - it once tried sending me though a dirt road on the mountains where nothing short of a tractor should go - I did trust my better judgement, though.

      1. Cheshire Cat

        Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

        There's a break in the road here 13°58'59.7"S 143°11'06.6"E

        This means google will never route anyone along it

    4. Cheshire Cat

      Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

      This is why its doing it: https://www.google.com/maps/place/13%C2%B058'59.7%22S+143%C2%B011'06.6%22E/@-13.9832575,143.1829237,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m47!1m42!4m41!1m26!1m2!1s0x697862555ba22413:0x400eef17f207860!2sCairns+QLD,+Australia!2m2!1d145.7709529!2d-16.9203476!3m4!1m2!1d143.2541971!2d-14.1483235!3s0x6999af9ce9644b71:0x4a50f2a26b96eacf!3m4!1m2!1d143.2528997!2d-14.1407584!3s0x6999afa267b1bbcd:0xb4c3d13967f1c431!3m4!1m2!1d143.2831829!2d-14.1036521!3s0x6999aea119b44c41:0x94d58f7045aabcdf!3m4!1m2!1d143.1900959!2d-13.9599422!3s0x69984d0be4c3961f:0xefc441f59ebc6a77!1m6!1m2!1s0x69baa201d6daf179:0x400eef17f20d810!2sBamaga+QLD,+Australia!2m2!1d142.3871554!2d-10.892344!1m3!2m2!1d143.1854248!2d-13.9862892!2m1!3b1!3e0!3m3!8m2!3d-13.983262!4d143.185157?hl=en&entry=ttu

      Theres an incorrect break in the map data at 13°58'59.7"S 143°11'06.6"E and Mr Google doesnt think its a through road.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

        Well spotted!

      2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

        Apple Maps gets it right...

        1. Casca Silver badge

          Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

          For once...

      3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Unless I'm mistaken...

        Nice URL!

        Copy.paste didn't work, so I typed it in.

  4. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    Another one for Rise Of The Machines, methinks.

    Google maps is a very handy thing to have on your phone, but it does do weird shit on occasion. Last year it took me on an unplanned expedition over the top of the peak District, for reasons known only to Google. Beautiful scenery, to be sure, but not on my agenda for the day. On another occasion, while navigating around a busy town, it simply gave up - I drew up to a T junction and my phone proudly announced that it didn't know where to go from there. Again, I have no idea why, and normal navigation resumed a few moments later, having left it to the meatsack to choose left or right.

    Somehow, I don't think I'd be trusting it to get me safely through a crocodile infested hellhole in the back end of nowhere!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Somehow, I don't think I'd be trusting it to get me safely through a crocodile infested hellhole in the back end of nowhere!"

      I know there is climate change .... but ... the Peak District must have changed quite a bit !!!

      :)

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        This is Royston Vasey and you are welcome to it.

    2. Andy Non Silver badge
      FAIL

      I've had issues with my TomTom on occasion despite the maps being fully up to date. It managed to get me stuck in a busses-only bus station in Beeston, Notts much to the chagrin of the bus drivers. On other occasions it has tried to send me the wrong way down one-way streets. Tried a Garmin one time and it completely lost the plot and tried to send me down a narrow dead-end side street instead of my programmed destination ten miles away. Sometimes the route these devices give is too creative for their own good, instead of leaving you on fast moving dual-carriageways they can send you down narrow twisting country roads, covered in mud, following farm tractors for miles on end and dodging nutters driving too fast from the opposite direction.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Pedantry on the march

        > much to the chagrin of the bus drivers

        That was a very empathic response of the bus drivers to your plight (unless, of course, the bus drivers had supplied the route mapping data and thus been caught out).

        Around here, definitely the bus drivers feel aggrieved and I feel chagrin whenever I am caught straying into their privileged sections of the King's highway.

      2. RedGreen925 Bronze badge

        "Sometimes the route these devices give is too creative for their own good, instead of leaving you on fast moving dual-carriageways they can send you down narrow twisting country roads, covered in mud, following farm tractors for miles on end and dodging nutters driving too fast from the opposite direction."

        Google's piece of junk did that to me last year. Sent me down the local highway for miles and miles an exit early to get to the destination, when all that was needed was me continuing to the next exit on the divided highway I was on where my destination was a simple drive across the local road into its entrance from the exit ramp. I took the now known to me shortcut of driving across the local road to get back onto the highway entrance ramp to go home, Christ I was pissed at that...

    3. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Understatement

      《I don't think I'd be trusting it to get me safely through a crocodile infested hellhole in the back end of nowhere!》

      I was going write that its not that bad but I think perhaps not - although you would be nowhere you still have a decent haul up the road to get to its backend.

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge

    The point about Ai was probably close to the mark

    I bet Google Maps "learns" roads by following peoples movements.

    It certainly "knows" some unofficial shortcuts near me (like the back way to the motorway from the services).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The point about Ai was probably close to the mark

      It instantly knows if the side security gate is open or not at our complex.

      We use it at lunch or leaving for home to avoid the possibility of driving a mile to the other gate and needing to u-turn. It's not been wrong once, which is a better record than our security guards.

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    If only there were some sort of handy backup.

    You could make it out of paper, perhaps stapled as a book or folded as a flat sheet, and at any any convenient scale. Then you could keep one in the car...

    (tried buying a map book recently? They're a lot cheaper than they used to be... but I still can't find an all-europe except at silly small scales.)

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

      A lifetime ago, before the advent of consumer GPS devices, managed to get myself re-oriented out of the inner ring road around Brussels by the direction of the setting sun.

      Being guided by nature is explored in a series of books by Tristan Gooley

      https://www.naturalnavigator.com/

      1. Thicko

        Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

        Solar navigation doesn't work well at night! Once I got lost on the routes around Liege late one night and only really knew how badly when I recognised the tunnel I was driving through as the one I'd been through half an hour earlier. Even today Google reliably directs me off the A5 motorway between Karlsruhe and Stuttgart to give me a grand tour of Pforzheim before directing me back to the motorway at the next junction if I let it!

        1. AVR

          Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

          You'd want to stop and get out first but it's totally possible to tell due south from the stars. Look at the Southern Cross, go 4 1/2 times the length of the cross from its base, drop a line down to the horizon. I hear there's even a pole star up north.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

            >> around Liege late one night

            > it's totally possible to tell due south from the stars. Look at the Southern Cross...

            Whilst in Liege?

            And we thought Google was having trouble navigating!

        2. parlei

          Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

          The moon can give you an approximate idea of N-S: I have done so a number of times when driving at night.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

        You've been downvoted for knowing your navigation!?

        Must have been the mention of the Sun, which even when setting is the sworn enemy of the Goths inhabiting all the buildings that Brussels is so famous for.

        Hmm, what's that? Gothic, you say, not Goths? The buildings themselves, not the people in the buildings? The buildings themselves are gloomy and avoid the sunlight? Okay, if you say so. Probably something to do with the EEC.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

          Probably something to do with the EEC.

          The downvoter could have been a brexiteer, gone appoplectic at the mention of Brussels

    2. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

      "You could make it out of paper,"

      Bloody hard to get get actual maps these days and expensive if you can. At least in AU. Street directories for the main cities still published (I think) but always slightly out of date (especially new housing developments) where gmaps can often help.

      Regional maps are a bit scarcer but in the more touristy area the local authority often gives them away at their tourist information booths. Finding decent regional route maps is harder every year.

      Back in the '90 before visiting Bangkok I wanted a street map before arriving and after finding there were no english (or thai) maps I stumbled over a german (language) map in a Sydney news agency. ;)

      The irony of trying to navigate on foot with a german map sprinkled with Straßen, and whatnot, wasn't lost on me further compounded by all the street signs only being in thai script.

      Online maps aren't the problem so much as the dependence on the magic voice to direct your movements.

      Very early on I used to print a copy of the map I was going to use but with time that became more and more difficult to get a useful print out.

      These days I scribble a mud map with the main road and a list of the two or three cross streets before my turning (rinse and repeat.) I also note a couple of cross streets after the desired turning (and fallback turning) if I happen to miss or unable to make the turning.

      With a quick explanation a passenger can use the mud map to act as a navigator looking out for the cross street names.

      1. I am the liquor

        Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

        I don't know if Neil is a Brit, but if he is, it's easy for us to forget how spoiled we are by the national treasure that is the Ordnance Survey.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

          Humble purveyors of what are, in my not so humble opinion, the best maps in the world. I may be biased, being indeed a Brit.

          (Air maps below FL100 are generally excellent but don't make following roads easy.)

    3. Boo Radley

      Re: If only there were some sort of handy backup.

      Yesterday I had a customer ask me where to buy a map of our smallish city that included all the streets. I haven't seen one available in nearly 20 years, and then it was provided by Avis, the car rental company. Back before Google Maps I carried an old laptop case containing paper maps of all the bigger Texas cities, since I frequently traveled to cities that I only seldom visited.

      About 9 years ago I was returning from San Marcos when Maps tried sending me down a road that was only one way, the opposite way, of course, due to construction. I eventually ended up somewhere strange while Maps kept repeating "satellite signal lost". After about 30 minutes of that, I suddenly came upon a county road whose number I recognized, and found that I was nearly 40 miles off course, but I was soon in a town I'd visited a few years earlier, so I eventually made it home.

  7. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge

    This may sound unbelievable, blasphemous or just nuts, but:

    Sometimes, for the lulz, my wife and I, when driving together, each use a different app. She'll use Google Maps, I use Apple Maps. Then we compare what each tells us.

    In the last year or so, we noticed that the latter, somewhat surprisingly gets the router better, with less fuss and weird "I know a shortcut, follow me!" or totally out of date/time traffic conditions.

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      somewhat surprisingly gets the route better

      There's an XKCD for that :)

      https://xkcd.com/2617/

  8. The Central Scrutinizer

    Ah yes, blindly trusting in technology. I once had a car GPS tell me to "turn hard right now". The only problem was that I was doing 110 kph and the only thing on my right was a 5 metre high earth embankment.

    Tip: if you are coming to Australia and going anywhere that is reasonably isolated, learn how to read a map properly and buy paper maps and a compass. Use Google maps as a backup if really necessary.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Pint

      Also don’t forget to pee in your shoe and rub Vegemite behind your ears, as precaution against drop-bears :)

      1. Ken Shabby
        Alert

        Ned Kelly had the best idea, apart from the eye slit, a bit of a design issue, they have long claws,

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          FAIL

          Left the legs unprotected, IIRC

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > rub Vegemite behind your ears, as precaution against drop-bears

        Nah, their dangers are over estimated, mate. Just be sure to only walk under the Eucalyptus trees, 'cos then you'll only see gumdrop-bears.

    2. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Maps and compass.

      《buy paper maps and a compass.》

      Don't blindly trust the compass either.

      The magnetic declination of Weipa +4° (E) and Brisbane +11° (E) and the odd mountain of magnetite could ruin your day. :)

      Are kids still shown how to use their wristwatch to locate north from the sun's position? (Presumably accounting for DST in those benighted states that fiddle with the clocks. ;)

  9. Winkypop Silver badge

    What’s truly amazing…

    They had signal outside a main regional centre.

    Give me paper maps any day.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: What’s truly amazing…

      I have had *reasonably* good luck with Garmins (but you must keep them updated). That being said, they like to do the "take this exit, go around the block then take the same on-ramp" thing. I'm usually good enough to spot those, but I have been caught. They do readjust quickly when you decide to vary the route, but they also treat service alleys like real roads.

      I like them for two reasons:

      1. It's GPS, so doesn't depend on cell coverage (which has been a problem in the past for me)

      2. It's likely more up to date and more detailed than any printed map I might have

      That being said, if I were planning to wander around the Outback, I'd probably seek local advice and let someone know where I was going and when I expected to be back.

    2. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: What’s truly amazing…

      Lack of signage sent me on a merry route more than once: Leaving a holiday camp near St Ives Cornwall, I followed the road signs which were great until they took me to a T junction. No signs, had to guess turn left or turn right. Took the wrong one and ended up near Land's End instead of heading North.

      1. I am the liquor

        Re: What’s truly amazing…

        Probably took the signs down in 1940 to confuse the Germans, and never put them back!

        1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

          Re: What’s truly amazing…

          Teutons launching into foreign territory unprepared for the local conditions. Now where have I heard that before?

  10. Gene Cash Silver badge

    What did we learn today, boys and girls?

    > We decided, 'OK, let's follow Google Maps because Google Maps knows maybe more than we know'

    Whelp. As Adam Savage would say, THERE'S yer prablem!

    I was meeting with a friend in Daytona for the races, and he sent me the Google Maps URL for his location. I get there and the URL location is immediately to my left, which is a stretch of empty land instead of a mall parking lot. He was actually nearly 3/4 mile away.

    I've also had it give me bullshit directions depending on if I was in the left or right lane of a 4 lane road. The worst so far has been "merge into the interstate, go 26 miles, make a u-turn, come back and exit at the same intersection you merged into, and continue as you are"

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: What did we learn today, boys and girls?

      That must have been routing you over a toll road then. I've noticed that google maps will always try to put you on a toll road even if it makes the trip miles longer. Near me there are two towns connected by a free 4 lane highway about 10 miles apart. 1/2 mile to the east of that road at the southern town is a toll road that heads northeast. Google will route you the toll road, have you drive about 15 miles to an exit on an east/west highway, then 10 miles or so back west to reach the northern town. Hit the avoid tolls tick, and it properly routes you over the 10 mile road. This is not the only olace it does this either.

      1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

        Re: What did we learn today, boys and girls?

        If it was the Peninsula Development Road, it's Bob Katter you're paying the toll to.

  11. xyz Silver badge

    Yes but....

    Did it plug a restaurant, a petrol station or an ATM nearbye? I thought that was its advertising job.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also, has anyone noticed

    that Google Maps have quietly removed the fastest/shortest/cheapest option ? It's now "greenest" all the time.

    Also it can give two cars starting and finished at the same point different routes as they drive, as it subtly tries to manage traffic.

    (This is mentioned in very small print on their dev forum)

    I already know the UK authorities will be using this to "curate" demonstrations and ensure as few people as possible get to see them.

  13. parrot

    Danger maps

    There’s a neighbourhood near me which is split by a dual carriageway. There are two footbridges and an underpass, but if you search for walking directions from a destination on one side to one on the other, Google Maps directs you into traffic on the busy three lane roundabout which serves the main road and has no provision for pedestrians.

    I was mildly annoyed when I spotted this because I was looking for a quick estimated distance for a route I already know and it comes up short, but I’ve since seen two people walking over the roundabout who probably don’t know the area. Would like to report it as an error, it’s dangerous, I think I will take this as a prompt to do so. If anyone knows how please let me know.

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Danger maps

      Google knows this, and it's all part of its ethnic cleansing program. Ethnic, in this case, is defined as meatsack.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Danger maps

        "ethnic cleansing program"

        Eth's all right, but you're not wrong about Nick, wouldn't know a bath if you threw one at 'im.

    2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Danger maps

      Google Maps very rarely knows about footpaths; its walking routes are almost invariably along roads. In Milton Keynes, for example, it doesn't know about the extensive "redway" (pedestrian and cycle path) network and instead gives walking routes along the verges of roads.

    3. PB90210 Bronze badge

      Re: Danger maps

      I was walking the Thames path and noticed that when I got to Hammersmith Bridge, to cross the bridge, Google said I would have to go up a side street and make a couple of hundred yard detour rather than climb the steps in front of me

      (The whole bridge disappeared a couple of years ago when it was closed to traffic due to metal fatigue, leaving just a pier in the middle of the river... now the bridge is back and although it doesn't appear to say it is still closed to cars it does route traffic over other bridges)

  14. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
    FAIL

    The road to hell

    Google maps is finicky. If you hold your phone wrong it decides to map out a different route that takes you to strange places. I had that recently where I needed to drive 5 km east. The first attempt got it right and then suddenly it first wanted to take me 4 km north, then back to my starting point, and then on to my destination. I could not get it to recalculate the route correctly so I packed away the phone and drove to the place. Luckily I had a fairly good idea where it was, but if that happened in a rough neighbourhood where I'm not familiar with the area I would have been out of luck.

  15. Tron Silver badge

    Use your brain rather than your device.

    Somewhere like Australia is going to have issues with environmental impacts on the roads, and updating remote dirt tracks in the outback (or Norfolk) is not going to be on GAFA's priority list. Ask locals before you start.

    Are satellite phones common/popular in Australia? Can you rent them when travelling long distances? I'm not sure I'd want to head off into a thousand miles of bugger all without one.

    In general, Google Maps is brilliant, particularly for tourism planning. Quite possibly the best thing on the net. There will be glitches, so use your noggin when things could get dangerous. And in Oz, check under the toilet seat for venomous spiders, every single time. Happy hols.

    1. elbisivni

      Re: Use your brain rather than your device.

      You can rent them. EPIRBs too. I personally have invested in my own as I spend quite a lot of time in the more remote parts of QLD, NSW and the NT. Some newer smartphones have satellite texting abilities, which I was involved in testing outback, so that might be enough. Cheaper too.

      A UHF radio is also a very sensible thing to have. Although I'd venture that you could get away with just the radio if you stick to the roads. There's long distances, yes, but there are settlements, trucks and other people. Off the road or down a random track changes things.

      It always makes sense to tell the last lot of people you see where you're going, and also someone at the destination together with an estimated time of arrival. Quite a few people have been rescued thanks to doing that after having an issue.

  16. Cheshire Cat
    Facepalm

    Broken map data

    This sort of thing happens when the map data has a break in a road - zero length, but the calculations think it isnt joined. So, it sends you via the next-best route as it sees things - and this is then compounded by it not knowing the differences between a standard minor road and an outback dirt track that is 4wd-only. This is why people should always sanity-check their planned routes rather than blindly following...

    There was one of these up north of here near Kerikeri, that sends you a great long aroundabout route rather than the simple trip by a ferry. I found the break and reported it to Google years ago, and it seems to be fixed now.

  17. trevorde Silver badge

    Golden rules

    1. always tell someone (police) your itinerary

    2. check in with someone (police) at your destinations

    3. carry lots of water and food

    4. never, ever, under any circumstances, leave your car

    These things were drilled into me in primary school in Australia and I still remember them, even though I've never been off road.

  18. martinusher Silver badge

    Only part of the plan

    Even in Europe if you're planning a trip off the beaten track and you're not familiar with the area then you need a lot more information than just an online map. Once you're in a large, sparsely inhabited place then you're really risking life and limb to stray away fro main roads. You need some local knowledge about what's likely to be passable at what time of year, likely weather conditions and its really smart to never go alone.

    I live in nominally densely populated Southern California. You can literally walk from the city of LA to areas where you can get into potentially life threatening trouble due to geography and/or climate (and people do).

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Only part of the plan

      One of my better mishaps was a paper map showing me clearly that i should turn to the left, but I couldn’t see any road there! Got out of the car, looked around, and figured out I was on an overpass, lots of trees on both sides so you didn’t notice, and the road turning to the left was 10 meters below me :-)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Their biggest problem was that they were meant to be in Austria! DOH!!

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