Wikipedia states that Wilderness is:
“… a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: “The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure.”
One of the wonderful things about our wild places, is that they are just that, wild. That’s one of the reasons that we’re drawn to them, to feel, live amongst and experience a place that has remained as it is for thousands of years.
So, although these places entice and delight us with their sense of being off the grid, (excellent article BTW), as with any outdoor adventure, there is always some risk of mis-adventure. Which leads me to think about how to deal with mobile phone coverage when hiking.
So, being the super-safety-chick that I am (kinda embarrassing if someone involved in Search and Rescue doesn’t take precautions for when things go pear shaped), I took heed when my good mate, Roysta [he of many Kanangra NP adventures], mentioned that he has got a ‘backup-SIM’.
You see, in Australia, there are two main mobile phone (cell) carriers; Telstra and Optus.
Now, I’m not going to get into a discussion here about how some people believe we should have our phones switched off in the bush (that’s fodder for another blog!), but there’s been many times when out on a walk someone will have ‘full bars’ with Optus, but nada with Telstra or vice-versa. Oh and as expected, Vodafail is not included in comparison … for obvious reasons!
As it turns out, both Roysta and I are with Optus, but due to a number of trips out to Kanangra – we can vouch that only Telstra will give you any joy from Seymour or Maxwell Tops.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind if you decide to go down this track:
- Before you do anything, backup your contacts and phone data.
- You’ll need to Network Unlock your phone from its existing carrier. As an example, here’s the instructions from Optus.
- Do your research on the different plans (why are there always so many?) for the pre-paid SIM cards. The best deal I could find was $30 for 6 months validity.
- Put a note in your diary to remind you when the valid time is nearly up… you’ll need to buy new credit.
- Don’t forget to test your new SIM with both calls and SMS.
Sure, I carry a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) for when things get particularly dodgy and there’s no phone coverage, but I can tell you, it’s a lot easier, quicker and cheaper to make a 000 call (or SMS a trusted friend) from a mobile, than to set off your PLB. The Cops and AMSA will appreciate it too!
So, thanks to Roysta, I’m now the proud owner of a ‘backup SIM’ with Telstra…
… Now, if only I could remember the number.