Only the week before the tragedy that befell Wilfred and …

Comment on Did Wilfred and Gisela Thor have to die? by Alex Nelson.

Only the week before the tragedy that befell Wilfred and Gisela Thor an injured German woman in her 50s (who had slipped and broken her leg) was found in the Valley of the Winds walk at Katatjuta and was physically carried out by local tour guide David Sargaent during a scorching hot day.
She was lucky, other tourists have perished there before.
Over the years German visitors seem slightly more prone to this kind of misfortune than other nationalities.
The first to suffer this fate (that I’m aware of) was Ms Iris Kadau, who disappeared soon after her arrival in Alice Springs in early November 1983. She was last seen cycling to Simpsons Gap and there was an extensive search for her as far afield as Glen Helen without success.
A witness reported having seen Ms Kadau riding back to Alice Springs which led to the search being suspended and fears that she may have met with foul play. However, in early February 1984 a helicopter pilot flying over Bond Springs Station sighted a bicycle close to the Stuart Highway about 25km north of town, and upon closer inspection found Ms Kadau’s body attached to it.
Whether she had taken a wrong turn or not is conjecture but the subsequent coronial inquiry found she had perished from exposure and heat exhaustion.
Another example, this time a 60 year old British woman perished from heat exhaustion on a 40C day on the rim walk at Kings Canyon in late January 2003.
Having written all this, it’s important to stress these kinds of events are very rare.
In addition to the obvious risks taken when venturing outdoors in extremely hot conditions, it’s probably also the case that newly arrived visitors (especially from overseas) are likely to be disoriented when they arrive.
I know from my experience what this is like – as a lifetime resident in Central Australia I don’t have any difficulty finding my way with a clear sense of direction but when I travelled to Europe in 2008 I found myself completely disoriented for the first week. That was no problem to cope with over there but here in the bush only a short distance from town this could quickly prove lethal.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Did Wilfred and Gisela Thor have to die?
We need to see this incident in perspective. It’s worth noting that over the years the demographic that has suffered by far the worst casualties in Central Australia from dehydration and heat exposure are Aboriginal people, even entire families have perished.
These incidents invariably occurred in conditions of extreme heat and arose from the bogging or breakdown of poorly maintained vehicles while travelling in remote areas, with insufficient or no provision of food and water for their journeys, however they were never lost in the sense of not knowing where they were located.
By comparison there are very few visitors to this region that have died in such conditions. By far the greater risk that tourists face are traffic accidents, they suffer far more often from road fatalities in the outback than from dying of thirst and heat. This has never dissuaded tourists from travelling here.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

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@ Alex Hope (Posted August 15, 2018 at 11:43 am): You may not be aware just how true is your remark “party politics have always been a part of the town council.”
Here is the slogan for one candidate in the first town council by-election (for two vacancies) for March 24, 1973: “THIS IS YOUR … ALP CANDIDATE IN SATURDAY’S COUNCIL ELECTION. VOTE 1 HADDON, D.J.”
As it turned out, Dennis Haddon came third in the poll on that occasion; however, when Alderman Paul Everingham resigned from the town council in early July 1973, instead of going to another by-election it was decided to appoint Dennis Haddon to replace him.
Anybody who knows the history of Territory politics will appreciate the irony – but wait, there’s more: When Paul Everingham stood as a candidate for the first town council election campaign in June 1971, his election advertisements were authorised by “Peter Edward John Gunner, Stuart Highway, Alice Springs”. Yes, it was current CM Michael Gunner’s grandfather.


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And it is not just the NT Government that is looking incredibly foolish on the subject of the NIAG but also a range of business groups, sporting bodies and some media that have become ensnared in this trap of their own making.
It is two years this month since the Gunner Government was swept into power, when voters took the opportunity with a vengeance to wipe the slate clean of the previous disastrous CLP regime.
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