The Australian outback (Wikipedia)
As British backpacker Sam Woodhead discovered this week, the Australian outback is one of the harshest environments on earth.
>After getting lost in wilderness in Queensland that stretches thousands of miles, the 18-year-old was only able to survive temperatures that soared to over 40 degrees by drinking his own urine and a saline solution used to clean contact lenses.
It is one of the many extraordinary tales of survival to emerge from the mysterious desert region, and as Woodhead recovers in hospital, we look at some of the most extraordinary tales of survival to emerge from the outback.
- In 1999 Alaskan fire fighter Robert Bogucki ventured into the outback of the Great Sandy Desert to "make peace with God," and after getting lost survived by drinking river water and eating plants and flowers. After police officers and Aboriginal trackers had given up the search, he was found by a TV news crew who came under criticism for conducting a 20-minute interview with him instead of taking him to a nearby medical centre, then flying him an hour to be interviewed by another reporter.
- British 19-year-old Jamie Neal of London survived for 12 days in the outback near Sydney in 2009 after setting off on a hike without a mobile phone and getting lost. He survived by eating nettles and sleeping under logs and was found, gaunt and dehydrated but alive, by two hikers about five miles from where he went missing. His father had already given up hope for his survival and was preparing to return to the UK when the call came that he had been found.
- In 2006 50-year-old tourist Martin Lake from Warwickshire managed to get lost for three days while within what local police called "shouting distance of help" after wandering off track near Alice Springs without water or a hat and with a flat mobile phone battery. He was found by local police after a search costing thousands of dollars. About a week later, Lake got lost again, only a mile from the spot where he had originally gone missing and emergency services were scrambled once more, this time finding him after a four-day search. It was reported that he had returned to the area to find something he had dropped the first time.
- A 35-year-old Australian, Ricky Megee, was driving through the outback heading to Port Hedland in 2006 when he stopped to help a group whose vehicle had broken down and agreed to give one of the party a lift to the nearest town. Megee awoke after being drugged by the man and left for dead in a ditch under a tarpaulin. After wandering for 10 days he set up camp by an old cattle trough, which gave him a supply of fresh water and provided him with a diet of lizards and toads. He was found by two passing farm hands and had lost nine stone.
- An experienced Romanian trekker had a close brush with death when he became lost near Uluru and soon ran out of water. Trying to retrace his tracks, he was lucky enough briefly to pick up mobile phone reception and was able to send a message to his family back in Romania using his GPS to calculate his coordinates. His family alerted police. He had not eaten or drunk for three days when police found him.
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