In West Australia Bob Cooper is seen a legend of outback survival and I was lucky enough to attend his Outback Safety and Wilderness Survival course last year. As his book Outback Survival states “Bob Cooper was born and educated in Western Australia; he has delivered his Outback Safety and Wilderness Survival courses for over thirty years and is considered the leading survival instructor in Australia. He has honed his survival skills by earning from traditional cultures in Australia, Africa, North America and Malaysia”.
His top points for survival were that when you realize you are in a survival situation, stop, sit and take time to think of your options. Preferably write them down so that when you do choose the option, it is very well thought out.
Short of water, he recommends that you drink half a cup of water each half or whole hour and to not sip as this can dehydrate you further, affecting your brain first.
Don’t eat if short of water, unless it is wet.
Verbalise, to assist your Cortisol levels and hopefully reduce stress.
Having a fire also is really important for emotional wellbeing as well as keeping warm at night. Fire lighting involved collecting the right fibres and making a little nest – see photo. We tried a variety of methods and the last one was carving our own pointed stick, string and bow and after lots of lots of trying yes I finally got the flame.
We had lots of fun doing compass work including a nighttime navigation exercise and yes, we all made it back to exactly our correct position. I found the night time navigation challenging, having to trust that my boot will find a piece of flat ground – it was very dark but it didn’t take us long to get our night eyes and we only had a few falls or head knocks when we didn’t see the obstacle.
Universal plant poison indicators and recognizing and finding these in the bush was fascinating. We also learnt how to safely test what we thought was edible.
Photo below is Bob’s assistant taking through the bush showing us the varying edible plants in that area.
Snakes was the last item on the agenda and I’m very respectful that when we walk, we are in snake territory. Must admit that it was the first time for me to hold a snake, have it move across my arms and I was very happy to pass the couple of snakes onto the next person.
Yes, yay I passed my survival weekend, see certificate below.
Highly recommend if you get the chance book a weekend course, Bob tells great real life stories and he runs an advanced survival course, 9 days in the Pilbara. Anyone up for that?