Author's Jeep just outside Broken Hill
Our harsh outback has claimed another life. Three people from Victoria, two men and a woman, were travelling in a Hyundai Excel in a remote area 150 kms from Bourke, when they ran off the road and crashed into scrub.
The 24 year old woman telephoned emergency services on Tuesday morning to say they were lost, but her 000 call dropped out. What she didn't know was that the call bounced off a phone tower 35 kms away and police and emergency crews were able to locate the vehicle. An aerial search found the car around 8pm that night but the group had gone.
The woman left the men at a dam known as the Bondi Tank on private property in Langawirra Station, near Mutawintji National Park and walked 20 kilometers through the night. She eventually reached a sheep station, Acacia Downs, around 9.40 am next morning.
A ground search found the body of 35 year old Brian Gadd from Ballarat about one kilometer from the car at the Bondi Tank. The younger 21 year old man was found 15 kms northeast of the tank suffering severe dehydration and exposure.
After the woman left the two men at the watering hole, it seems they became confused and split up. Superintendent Brad Hodder said "You don't know what happens when you get out in the bush, all reason goes out the window."
The woman and the younger man were taken to Broken Hill hospital and were discharged on Wednesday night and fled after seeing the media. Police were called when two young women, believed to be friends of the group, arrived at the hospital and threatened a Channel 9 news crew.
Broken Hill is popular with tourists because it's easily accessible from major capital cities and they get to experience the real outback.
Looking across the town towards the Miner's Memorial
A huge mullock heap towers over the town and on top is the Miner's Memorial where 795 miners died over the life of the mine.
Broken Hill was also the home of eccentric self-taught artist Pro Hart. Born Kevin Hart, he was a knock-about bloke who worked in the mine for twenty years. His mining mates nicknamed him 'Professor' because he was a bit of a know-all and so he became Pro Hart. A visit to his studio is a must.
Superintendent Hodder reiterated yet again the bleeding obvious. "Had they remained with the vehicle, they would have been located at 8pm that night." He said they did have water but were "scantily" dressed and not prepared for the extremely hot conditions and rugged terrain they found themselves in.
I find the circumstances of this tragic event rather bizarre. It seems odd that the dead man was found at the water tank. If there was water in it, he obviously didn't die of thirst, so what happened? It will be interesting to see what the Coronor has to say.