Tourists follow GPS to nowhere

THREE Korean tourists sparked a manhunt after getting lost in the Cordalba State Forest while trying to follow their GPS system’s directions from Brisbane to Rockhampton.

“They followed gravel roads, then dirt roads, then went through a couple of gates, and ended up bogged in a gully,” Childers Police officer in charge Sergeant Geoff Fay told the NewsMail.

At one point, the men ignored danger signs and moved rocks blocking a road, to get to an isolated point that Sgt Fay said was “practically inaccessible”.

After becoming bogged, they tried and failed to get their stuck Ford Falcon free from the mud before making another dangerous decision.

They left their vehicle, and walked several kilometres through the forest trying to find a spot with mobile phone reception.

Bundaberg Police Station received a triple-0 call about 1am on Wednesday, alerting them to the drama that had unfolded in the state forest near Booyal.

Sgt Fay was sent out in the middle of the night to conduct a search for the stranded men.

“We had an approximate GPS location for them, but it was in an area that was extremely difficult to get into — practically inaccessible — and we couldn’t find them,” Sgt Fay said

Adding to the complications, the men could not speak English, and required a translator on the telephone to determine their exact situation.

The search continued through the night, with Bundaberg Regional Council staff also called in to help.

The tourist’s vehicle was found shortly after 7am, more than six hours after the emergency call, by a council worker.

“The men were found a short distance away a short time later,” Sgt Fay said.

“They’d gone onto a dirt road that had signs up saying ‘danger, no entry’, and they’d moved rocks off the road to get through.”

But the three men were not the only ones to rely on their GPS systems rather than their common sense.

Sgt Fay said another potentially-dangerous situation occurred about a month ago when backbackers from Bundaberg also got lost in the forest after following their navigational tool.

“People need to know how to use their GPS and navigation systems,” he said.

“They also need to use their self-preservation skills, and turn back if something looks wrong or if signs don’t match what appears on their GPS.”

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