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Talawana Track horror: Couple’s 4×4 goes up in flames

Outback horror: The couple’s car bursts into flames on a lonely 4×4 track in the middle of nowhere – but a smart decision saved them from dying in the scorching desert

  • The couple’s four-wheel drive caught fire on an extremely remote trail in WA
  • Husband and wife were trekking on Talawana Track on Monday morning
  • The car caught fire but luckily the pair had a satellite phone
  • The rescue helicopter arrived the next day and took the couple to safety

A four-wheel-drive couple’s dream trip through the backcountry turns into a near-death experience after their car catches fire, but a smart decision to save a satellite phone from the burning vehicle turns them would ultimately save life.

The husband and wife duo were on the 4×4 trip of a lifetime, traversing the deadly Talawana Trail, which stretches over 596 kilometers through the Western Australian desert.

The track is notoriously dangerous, with 4×4 enthusiasts calling it one of Australia’s toughest roads, and its isolation means travelers have to be completely self-sufficient in water, food and fuel.

The couple were driving along the track at 10.30am on Monday when their four-wheel drive suddenly caught fire, more than 120 kilometers deep in the remote track.

They managed to escape from hell, but the vehicle was completely destroyed.

Luckily, they were traveling with a satellite phone and managed to pull it out of the fire, a move that saved them from perishing in the scorching Gibson Desert.

The husband and wife were trekking along the Talawana Trail in the northeast of the state at 10.30am on Monday when their four-wheel drive suddenly caught fire.

A couple have been praised for their preparation after being rescued from an extremely remote trail in Western Australia when their car caught fire

A couple have been praised for their preparation after being rescued from an extremely remote trail in Western Australia when their car caught fire

They moved to a safe distance from the car with the items they were able to recover, before calling triple-0 with the satellite phone.

Due to the remoteness of their location, the call was forwarded to South Australian Police, who then transferred it to their colleagues in Western Australia.

The blaze happened about 120 miles east of the Canning Stock Route on the state's Windy Corner Trail.

The blaze happened about 120 miles east of the Canning Stock Route on the state’s Windy Corner Trail.

The four-wheel drive suddenly burst into flames, with the husband and wife frantically trying to get everything out of the vehicle before it was completely engulfed in flames.

The four-wheel drive suddenly burst into flames, with the husband and wife frantically trying to get everything out of the vehicle before it was completely engulfed in flames.

The couple also carried a portable charger, which they could use to keep the phone alive while help arrived.

Police made arrangements to carry out regular checks with the couple to ensure they were safe before their arrival.

The nearest police station in Jigalong was a six to eight hour journey, so they instead turned to the BHP Air Ambulance which was based in Newman to rescue the couple.

The car was completely destroyed by the fire but luckily the couple escaped unscathed

The car was completely destroyed by the fire but luckily the couple escaped unscathed

The helicopter traveled three hours to locate the husband and wife, rescuing them at 9am on Tuesday morning – nearly 24 hours after the car caught fire.

They were in good health, with a WA Police spokesperson praising the steps they had taken ahead of their trip to ensure they were prepared for any scenario.

“We encourage anyone traveling in regional and remote areas to take safety equipment with them, especially personal locator beacons, or PLBs, or other equipment such as satellite phones to help alert authorities in the event emergency,” the spokesperson said.

Had the couple not prepared so well for the trip, it could have had deadly consequences.

In 2005, the bodies of two men were found on the notorious trail. Police said the men were ill-prepared for their trip, with a dilapidated old vehicle and little water.

It seems they died from exposure to harsh desert conditions after running out of water.

The men had left a note before fetching water but returned empty-handed.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AUSTRALIA’S TOUGHEST 4WD TRACK

How long is the Talawana track?

The route is 596 km long, running from Windy Corner on the Gary Highway to Newman. The majority of the track was built by Len Beadell and the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party in 1963, and was the last road they built.

How difficult is it?

You will need to be self-sufficient and traveling alone is not recommended. Supplies are very limited and facilities along the trail suck. In all respects, this is a long and difficult journey through very remote territory. Its isolation forces travelers to be completely self-sufficient in water, food and fuel.

The best time to travel the track?

Milder months from May to September.