THE NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is investigating a lack of signage on old NSW Forestry trails near Mt Nardi that contributed to eight bushwalkers getting lost there.
Goonellabah woman Deborah Axford spent nearly three days lost in the dense Nightcap National Park, sparking an unsuccessful full-scale search which ended shortly before she found her own way out, bruised and dehydrated.
Koonorigan mother Bernadette Marychurch was also in the park that day with her three children, her brother and his two children and crossed paths with Ms Axford as they attempted to make sense of the route.
Both parties had driven to the top of Mt Nardi and hiked up the Pholis Gap track to the escarpment, where the official NPWS track ends and an old but "inviting" forestry trail begins.
Knowledgable hikers also know of the forestry trail as an alternative route back to the car park, but there is a vaguely sign-posted three-way intersection along the way.
"Look, I stood in front of that sign with my brother and Deborah and we were all confused," she said.
The party eventually took the wrong route and, as Ms Axford was travelling faster, she walked ahead.
Ms Marychurch made the decision some time later to turn around and found her way out several hours later with her brother and their kids.
An NPWS spokesman said Mt Nardi was densely-foliaged wilderness and visitors needed to take extreme care.
"People need to be mindful these areas are rugged and remote by nature which is also part of their appeal," he said.
"The NPWS will be reviewing the police report into this most-recent search in Nightcap National Park and will be looking to see what measures we may able to put in place to reduce confusion or the risks of walkers becoming lost.
"This may include signs to advise people they are going the wrong way."
- Ensure that your group understands the proposed route and plan ahead.
- Check weather forecasts and local park conditions.
- Make sure you will have at least three people in your group.
- Have a compass and a topographic map and know how to use them.
- Remember mobile phones may not work in some areas.
- Take appropriate clothing that can keep you warm while wet and wear closed footwear.
- If camping take a good tent and a sleeping bag.
- Take extra water, energy snacks, a first aid kit, insect repellent and a torch.
- Don't overestimate your abilities.
- Remember your safety is dependent on your fitness and experience, as well as leadership and equipment.
- Give complete route details, estimated return, equipment list, and medical needs to family or the police.
- Remember to tell them when you do return.