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Family spends Christmas night in forest after GPS blunder

Jake Massey

| Last updated 

Family spends Christmas night in forest after GPS blunder

A family ended up spending Christmas night in a forest after a GPS balls-up.

As you probably know, Christmas is very different in Australia. They don't have snow, jumpers and roasts, they have sun, thongs and barbecues.

As such, Karma Norman and Barry Lovell decided they'd spend the big day taking their three kids to a swimming spot in the Mount Boss State Forest's Cobrabald recreation area, west of Port Macquarie, in New South Wales.

You can only access it via an unsealed road, but the day seemed to be going to plan - until they embarked on their trip home and took a wrong turn, which left them well and truly off the beaten track.


"On the way back, we put in, 'Home' and followed the GPS and it said, 'Turn here' and I did, and kept going and got stuck," Barry told ABC News.

They tried to press on and access a different road they knew, but things went from bad to worse, as the road ahead was overgrown and they couldn't make it back up the hill they had come down.

They got well lost. Credit: Karma Norman
They got well lost. Credit: Karma Norman

Then, things went from worse to worse than worse, as the clutch on their 4WD gave way.


The family had only planned on spending the day in the bush and had packed limited supplies, so as you can imagine, panic began to set in.

Karma said: "I have never been in a situation before where we were stuck … digging ourselves out, pulling logs out of the way and then getting to a spot where we just couldn't get past it.

"It was getting dark, and we were very tired and just wanted to go home at that point.

"That was the most challenging part … being stuck out in the bush with a car that was not 100 percent functional was my nightmare.


"It was a bit daunting, looking at spending the night in bush, especially with the kids and only water and stuff to drink."

Karma doubled back on a difficult track until she got some signal, and she reached out for help on social media.

A 'huge overflow' of responses made it clear they had wound up in a tricky spot, and so Karma phoned the police.

Officers said they wouldn't be able to reach them that night, so they had to stay put in their car; however, some local 4WD enthusiasts came to their aid.


"It led to a couple of gentlemen actually finding us about midnight and bringing us some food and more water," Karma said.

"They were absolute godsends. When I saw their torch lights coming, I thought 'Wow' … it was just amazing. It was dark, so it was deemed safest for us to just stay put with the car at that point."

They certainly had a Christmas to remember. Credit: Karma Norman
They certainly had a Christmas to remember. Credit: Karma Norman

The next morning the men returned and led them to a spot where police could collect them.


"We had to walk down the road and across the creek and up to where the police car was waiting to take me and the kids home," Karma said.

"It was such a relief to know that our part of the ordeal was pretty much over.

"It could have been a whole lot worse … if we had not been able to get signal, I don't know what we would have done."

But as they say, all's well that ends well, and the family will always remember Christmas 2022.

"We will definitely have stories to tell for many Christmases to come," Barry said.

"It puts a whole new meaning on a quick trip down to the waterhole for a swim."

Featured Image Credit: Karma Norman

Topics: News, Christmas, Australia

Jake Massey
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