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Safety in parks and forests

Parks and forests are wild places with hidden dangers for the unwary visitor. It is vital to pay close attention to signs that warn of local dangers. Follow these tips to stay safe and have an enjoyable visit:

  • Be prepared. Plan your trip carefully. Make sure your camping equipment, vehicle and boat are in good working condition. Take a first-aid kit and wet weather gear. Check park alerts for information relating to camping, track closures and fire restrictions.
  • Be weather aware. Queensland is vulnerable to extreme weather events including severe storms, cyclones and floods. For weather forecasts and warnings see the Bureau of Meteorology website.
  • Drive carefully. Follow normal road rules wherever you are driving. Watch for oncoming traffic and pedestrians and share the road. Pull off the road before stopping to take photographs. Take special care when driving on sand.
  • Take care near water. Swim with extreme caution. Creeks have hidden dangers and swift currents. National park beaches are not patrolled. People have been seriously injured or killed diving into pools, lakes, rivers and the sea. Supervise your children around water. Take care to avoid marine stingers in tropical waters. Do not enter water where crocodiles may live. There are two species of crocodiles – freshwater and estuarine. Freshwater crocodiles are considered timid and pose a low threat to humans. Estuarine crocodiles, on the other hand, pose a serious threat to humans, which is why it is important to be cautious and follow the croc wise guidelines whenever you are visiting croc country.
  • Stay on the track. You may get lost if you leave the road or walking track. Take a map if possible and follow markers and signs carefully. Let someone responsible know your plans in case you get lost. For more information see walk safely.
  • Watch your step. Stay well back from cliff edges and waterfalls. Cliff edges may crumble and rocks near waterfalls may be slippery. Always stay behind safety fences to avoid tragedy.
  • Be wary of wild animals. Stay well back from goannas, crocodiles, snakes, dingoes, cassowaries, feral pigs, cattle, horses and buffaloes. People have been seriously injured or killed by wild animals. Be very careful about approaching any injured animal, such as kangaroos or possums. They are likely to bite and scratch if you attempt to touch or move them.
  • Never feed or play with wildlife. You may get bitten or scratched. Human foods may be harmful to wild animals. Animals can become aggressive towards people when fed.
  • Avoid bites, stings and scratches. Wear protective clothing and insect repellent to protect yourself from stings, scratches and insect bites, especially bites from ticks. Detour around snakes; never provoke them.
  • Take care near fire. Supervise children near open fires. Always put fires out with water, not sand. Sand retains heat and children have been severely burnt when fires have been covered with sand.
  • Beware of bushfires. If there is a bushfire, follow the track to the nearest road, beach, lake or creek for refuge. Large logs, a ditch or burnt ground can also provide protection in some situations. Avoid areas of heavy fuel, such as deep leaf litter or thick vegetation, and stay low to the ground where the air is coolest and contains the least smoke. In high fire danger conditions, walking tracks and other areas may be closed. It is essential for your safety to follow the instructions on signs in these conditions. If you see a bushfire, please alert a ranger or the police as soon as possible.
  • Be sun-smart. Wear a hat, shirt and sunscreen, even on overcast days, to avoid sunburn. Drink frequently to avoid dehydration.
  • Think before you drink. Even mountain streams can be contaminated by Giardia and other organisms that cause diarrhoea. Take your own supply of water if possible. If you must use water from creeks or lakes, boil it for at least five minutes, filter it or treat it chemically before you drink it.
  • Take care of your property and personal safety. Thefts and assaults can occur in parks and forests as well as in cities. Limit the valuables you take with you, do not leave valuables in parked cars, and lock your car when you leave it. It is advisable to walk in a group or within sight of a group rather than alone.

Emergency contacts

  • Dial triple zero (000) in an emergency
  • If you have difficulty connecting to 000 from your mobile phone try: 112
  • Consider taking a satellite phone to areas that do not have mobile phone coverage.
Last updated
14 June 2011