Bushwalker lost in icy conditions sounds warning for all bushwalkers

A 24-year-old Shepparton bushwalker found after an icy cold night lost on the Hume and Hovell Walking Track in Bago State Forest near Tumbarumba sounds a warning to all bushwalkers.

Sergeant Terry MacGregor of the Tumbarumba Police said the man was found on Tuesday (17 August) after a freezing night in the bush.

The man was found at 10.30 am walking south along the Batlow Road by police following an extensive search by police and Forestry Corporation staff whose knowledge of the local area was a great help.

“He appearing to be suffering from hypothermia and may have had frost bite on his upper lip.

“He was immediately conveyed to the Tumbarumba hospital where he was assessed by doctors and admitted and then released the next day in a satisfactory condition,” Sergeant Macgregor said.

He said the man was walking the track when he became disorientated just on dark. He then used his mobile phone to contact friends but after a brief description of his dilemma the battery went flat and he was left to deal with the elements.

“He was not adequately dressed for the night time as he did not intend to be in the bush after dark.

“He did have some food but no matches for a fire and a torch but no batteries. He was so cold that he had to keep walking. We estimated he walked in excess of 35 kilometres to keep warm. This in itself made finding him more difficult because he was on the move,” Sergeant MacGregor said.

He said it was very important for bushwalkers to be adequately equipped when venturing out for a day trip as you never know what might happen and you should notify someone of where you intend to go and when you should be returning.

“The conditions, particularly in the winter can be very cold and change dramatically within a few hours. It is not unusual at this a time of the year for temperatures at night to plunge to -8 degrees Celsius as it did when this man was lost on the walking track,” Mr MacGregor said.

“There is a lesson is all this, people when they go out into the forest should be prepared for the unplanned, have adequate clothing for a change in weather conditions and food, water and matches in case they become lost.

“People should plan their trips and if they don’t know the area they should take a map and not wander off the main trail as there are many forests tracks and finding your way can become very confusing.”

He said during his eight of more years working in the region at least half a dozen walkers have been lost in State forests every year and to date thankfully no one lost has died. More to come …

Forestry Corporation operations manager at Tumbarumba Mr Chris Rhynehart said a lot of people go walking and pursue other recreational pursuits in State forests and Forestry Corporation staff are often called upon by the police to help search for people.

“We work well with the police to cover the ground where people go missing, and the local knowledge of our staff is invaluable in this, but it is difficult job at times to find people, particularly when they have left little or no information with friends on where they intended to go.

“We would like to take this opportunity to appeal to people using the bush for recreational purposes to be well prepared as it can be dangerous particularly in extreme weather conditions,” Mr Rhynehart said.

Media contacts: Terry MacGregor on (02) 6948 2044 or Chris Rhynehart on (02) 6948 2400.