Bush miracle: man walks free after five days lost

Elation: Rescuers congregate at the rescue outpost near Mt Gipps after the man walked out of Lamington National Park by himself on Thursday morning.
Elation: Rescuers congregate at the rescue outpost near Mt Gipps after the man walked out of Lamington National Park by himself on Thursday morning.

A MAN lost in the rugged Lamington National Park for five days has shocked authorities by walking out in remarkably good condition.

The 58-year-old Logan man defied the odds and emerged from the rugged terrain into the backyard of a private home near Stinson Park camping site at Christmas Creek about 10am on Thursday.

Police say the man was in remarkably good condition and suffered no major injuries aside from a few deep scratches.

He told police he survived on sandwiches and later bottled water and sultanas as his ordeal wore one.

After being treated by paramedics, the man was taken to Logan Hospital for precautionary reasons and was later reunited with his family.

Experts believe the man walked about 15 to 20 kilometres before finding his way out of the national park, which covers 206 square kilometres.

North Tamborine Police Senior Constable Steve Hargreaves, who co-led led the search operation, said police feared the worst as the search entered its fifth day on Thursday.

Privately, police were preparing the man’s family for bad news after four long days of searching had came up with nothing. 

But then, to the shock of many, the news was good.

When the call came through that the man –  a husband and father – had been found, Snr Con Hargreaves was one of the first to meet him.

“He was in good health considering. He was elated, a bit scratched up but more than willing to speak,” he said.

Snr Con Hargreaves, who delivered the remarkable news to the family, said their reaction was one of shock.

Searching, searching, searching ...

Searching, searching, searching ...

“They were ecstatic. They were starting to fear for the worst, so there were lots of tears and shrieks of happiness,” he said.

“We don’t often have the luxury of delivering good news as police, so to be able to pass on good news was great.”

The man’s ordeal began on Saturday afternoon when he set out alone for a hike along the Running Creek Falls walking track with the intention of reaching a waterfall.

The man became lost and contacted police about 7pm for assistance.

He was carrying three bottles of water, a pack of sandwiches, a packet of sultanas and was dressed in light clothes.

A rescue team was sent to the man’s last known location on Sunday morning, but he could not be found.

In the following five days, police and the State Emergency Service launched a full-scale ground search for the man, but were hampered by rough terrain and thick vegetation.

More than 40 SES volunteers joined the search since Sunday and were later joined by about 20 volunteer bushwalking experts and the Federation Mountain Rescue who camped out overnight while searching for the man.

Scenic Rim SES personnel Mandy Arthurell, Erin Wentworth, Robin Yuke, SES Unit Local Controller Jeff McConnell, John Weir and Joanna Malicki were heavily involved in the search.

Scenic Rim SES personnel Mandy Arthurell, Erin Wentworth, Robin Yuke, SES Unit Local Controller Jeff McConnell, John Weir and Joanna Malicki were heavily involved in the search.

Scenic Rim SES Local Controller Jeff McConnell said the terrain was extremely difficult for searchers to navigate.

“It’s hilly, very steep, full of lantana, full of weeds, so very tough for the SES volunteers,” he said.

“We’re just happy he walked out. One of our crew took three hours to travel 1 kilometre, so that goes to show you how rough it was.”

Mr McConnell said he was proud of the efforts of the SES volunteers.

“From day one we were getting forty members each day, added up it was about 2400 volunteer hours.” he said.

“It was a massive effort, and not just from Scenic Rim, groups came Gold Coast, Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan and Somerset all came out to help.”