Personal Locator Beacon

When walking away from roads and settlements in our Tasmanian wilderness, the risks of injury or illness must be covered.  Mobile phone coverage does not necessarily extend into some remote areas and, even where it does, if a person takes a tumble or becomes sick then s/he may not know the precise location of the place where they are. Therefore, potential rescuers may not be able to locate the sufferer.  In addition, our Tasmanian bush can be so dense that someone walking 10 metres away won’t necessarily see or hear you; therefore an alternative more reliable technology is needed.

The internet offers many different types of useful technology.

The Personal Locator Beacon which I purchased locally in Hobart is a SPOT GEN 3 Satellite GPS Messenger. It has the essential S.O.S. function plus my SPOT offers tracking with a Google Maps interface, regular check-in messages to friends elsewhere, and a Help option where a friend or other personal contact can be alerted to come and provide assistance in a non-critical non-life threatening situation.  The lightweight SPOT weighs a tiny 114 grams, is a tiny pocket-sized unit and ruggedly constructed.


Once purchased, I registered my SPOT via an online connection so that in the event of my pressing the S.O.S option and needing urgent medical assistance, the GEOS International Emergency Support Coordination Centre will be able to respond. Once activated, they will get in touch with my key contact to determine if s/he knows additional information such as where I have walked from and where I am walking to (I guess that is just in case I don’t obey the important rule of staying where I am when I activate the beacon). My location coordinates and any other information are then provided to local response teams in whatever country or state is appropriate.

This is an expensive piece of technology including the registration charge.  However buying it is like buying car or house insurance. You buy it hoping you never need to use it.

3 thoughts on “Personal Locator Beacon

  1. theoldfellowgoesrunning

    This is an excellent write up. I often like to get away from a few days each year on my own. Before cell phones became mainstream, I’d be on my own, but give my wife very precise details of what trail I would be on, and where I planned to camp that night. As much as I would have loved to explore off the trail, I never ventured off trail.
    When a few years ago, I started carrying a cell, I was able to text or call each day. But as you mentioned, you could lose reception, or trip and fall and not be able to call out.
    I have seen these SPOT units advertised in outdoor magazines for a few years now. If I were to go on big trip into unknown territory I would definitely get one.
    Thank you for sharing! 🙂


    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Yes it is about protecting those who worry about you. Earlier in my walk, before I had my SPOT, I needed to buy some worry beads for a friend. How lucky we are to live in this time when technology has developed so far.

      Liked by 1 person


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