13 Oct 2017

Mother, son survive 10 days lost in bush

6:34 pm on 13 October 2017

A woman and child who spent 10 days lost in rugged bushland in New South Wales after going for a walk survived by re-filling their drink bottles from small puddles.

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Photo: 123RF

Michelle Small, 40 and her son Dylan, 9, were found dehydrated but safe in the Mount Royal National Park, north of Singleton, on Thursday afternoon.

Police found the pair walking on Mount Royal Road, not far from where they went missing on 2 October.

Family had reported the pair missing a week ago but the search did not start until Monday when park rangers located their car.

Police, SES, NSW Ambulance paramedics and National Parks and Wildlife had been conducting a large-scale search operation.

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The pair went missing in Mount Royal National Park in New South Wales. Photo: Peter Woodard via Wiki Commons

Inspector Andrew Steenson from NSW Ambulance said authorities found a note in their Singleton home with a list of bushwalks the pair were intending to do during the school holidays.

Police used this information to locate the car.

Collecting water from puddles

Mr Steenson said the pair became disoriented because some of the creeks had dried up due to the recent lack of rain and they mistook creek beds for walking tracks.

He said the mother and son started off at a camp ground and made their way down through thick, rugged bushland to a creek, where they got lost.

He said most bushwalkers who trek in the area are "really experienced" and take adequate provisions to last several days. However, the mother and son had minimal supplies with them, leaving them to scrounge for water.

"There were some small puddles along the creek bed that they used to refill their drink bottles," he said.

"They also came across a shed that had a tank and they got water from that."

The pair covered about five to six kilometres during their time in the bush.

Mr Steenson said the pair were covered in scratches and bites and had injuries consistent with being exposed to the elements for several days.

The pair were admitted to Singleton Hospital on Thursday afternoon and kept in overnight.

Police Inspector Joanne Schultz said: "They were both in a fairly dehydrated [state] but otherwise no serious injuries, and [they were] extremely hungry," she said.

Ms Schultz said they were in remarkably good condition considering their experience.

Family reported pair missing

Ms Schultz said the pair had not advised anyone where they were going when they set out on a bushwalk.

They were reported missing by a family member on 5 October.

"Family and friends hadn't heard from them from a number of days and then became concerned," she said.

Police made initial inquiries but "the information was just a little bit unclear in the early days" and a full-scale search was not commenced until their car was found four days later.


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