Tourists lost in Aussie wilderness 'lucky to be alive' after Google Maps mishap

A German tourist has revealed frightening details to Yahoo about his escape from an extremely remote part of Australia.

A pair of German tourists were sent on a wild adventure through remote Australia after Google Maps led them astray. Authorities say the young travellers are "lucky to be alive" after they were directed down a dirt track and became bogged.

The men were left marooned in a Queensland national park without mobile phone reception for more than a week after they set out on February 4 from Cairns. They were attempting to drive 765 km to Bamaga on the northern tip of Cape York in a four-wheel-drive when Google Maps directed them off course.

Unable to call for help, friends Philipp Mayer, 20, and Marcel Schoene, 25, abandoned their vehicle and reportedly walked 60 km carrying 12kg backpacks. Despite having the use of a drone to try and find nearby roads the men said it was "very hard" to escape the wilderness, and trek to the nearby town of Coen.

Left image - the bogged vehcile. Right image - Philipp (left) and Marcel (right) in front of a map after they reached Coen.
Philipp (left) and Marcel (right) trekked through remote Queensland for a week after their vehicle became bogged. Source: Supplied/DES

German tourist reveals 'horror' moments during week-long ordeal

Speaking with Yahoo News, Philipp revealed the pair survived by cooking their stores of pasta and rice, but he still lost 5 kg during the ordeal. "The first time we cooked pasta with tomato sauce, but the second day was so hot, it was too ugly to eat," he said.

During their adventure, the men endured "horrible" storms and intense heat, and faced up to crocodiles and wild pigs. But the most frightening encounters were with an unlikely animal. "During the night we were afraid of the big bulls because they were standing on the street and didn't let us through. We had to wait for 15 minutes until they went away," Philipp said.

Reflecting on the adventure from the comforts of his room in Sydney, Philipp said he's decided not to trust Google Maps again, and he's learned one key thing about travelling in Australia. "The weather had been quite clear and dry the last few days before we set off, so we thought let's try it, but I've learned that nature is stronger and bigger than us," he said.

We actually didn't believe that there were crocodiles until we saw one.Philipp Mayer

A drone shot of the bogged vehcile.
The tourists used a drone to help navigate out of the national park. Source: Supplied/DES

Warning not to trust navigational devices in remote areas

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) ranger Roger James described the conditions around Oyala Thumotang National Park as “oppressive”. “Although they had supplies and a shelter for sleeping, they are extremely lucky to be alive,” he added.

The men were travelling along Peninsula Developmental Road which is the main route to Cape York, when they were diverted down Langi Track and into the national park. According to NPWS it's not the first time Google Maps has diverted unwitting motorists off the road and into wilderness.

Three images taken by the tourists of them escaping the national park.
The men encountered "horrible" conditions during their trek out of the national park to the town of Coen. Source: Supplied/DES

“People should not trust Google Maps when they’re travelling in remote regions of Queensland, and they need to follow the signs, use official maps or other navigational devices,” James said.

“National parks in Cape York can be unforgiving, and people need to ensure they have all the survival essentials, and they must be prepared for a stranding incident.”

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