Electronic Position Indication Radio Beacons – or commonly knowns as EPIRBs - are small radio beacons designed to help authorities and rescue organisations find boats when they are in distress. Each EPIRB is required to be registered to the vessel, and in an emergency, this allows authorities to gather essential information that is important for a rescue such as vessel location, vessel data, addresses, and phone numbers.  

Since 2009, EPIRBs use a combination of 121.5Mhz and 406MHz frequencies. EPIRBS are also available with an inbuilt GPS. This common feature  reduces the rescuers search radius from 5km to as little as 100m. 

EPIRBs are considered mandatory safety equipment for most Australian states and Territories when heading offshore. Please check with your state governing body for specific requirements for an EPIRB. 

More information about EPIRBs can be found at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority - here


Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are compact safety beacons  that use the same radio beacon technology found in their larger EPIRB counterparts, and are registered to an individual. As a PLB features a smaller battery than the larger EPIRBs, they are not a legal replacement for an EPIRB, except in the case of Personal WaterCraft in QLD, see our previous article regarding the MSQ change in requirements for PWC.

The reduced weight and size of a PLB makes them a great option for your adventure. From sailing to hiking, or even 4x4, a PLB is a great ‘Plan B’ for safety for any adventure. PLB’s are easily carried on an individual, which makes them perfect for those working on deck in heavy weather, or who are solo travelling in places where mobile or radio coverage is scattered. 

Both EPIRBs and PLBs offer you with peace of mind for safety whenever you are out in the water or exploring the world.