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HomeIssue 18Pastoralist finds alive the second of the three missing

Pastoralist finds alive the second of the three missing

UPDATE 10am Dec 3
Phu Tran (pictured) was found alive in the area of Palmer Valley by a pastoralist this morning.
He told the pastoralist he had found water. He will be transported to the Alice Springs hospital for treatment of exposure, according to a police report.
Mrs Hockridge is still missing.
Report of December 2: Northern Territory Police have found one of the remaining two missing people south of Alice Springs.
Tamra McBeath-Riley, 52 (at right), one of three people missing, was found after police located the vehicle the trio were travelling in bogged in a river bed.
Police said late yesterday that Ms McBeath-Riley will be transported to the Alice Springs Hospital where she will receive treatment for dehydration and exposure.
Claire Hockridge and Phu Tran remain missing in the area and police will step up their search efforts in hope to finding the pair before nightfall.
No further information is available at this stage, police said in a media release.
UPDATE 9.45am
The search for Claire Hockridge (at left) and Phu Tran continues with further aerial searches today, according to a police media release.
They are believed to be severely dehydrated, having been stranded in the outback for the past 13 days.
Police search efforts were ramped up with two helicopters deployed at first light today to cover a search area 23kms from the Stuart Highway.
One of the three missing people, Tamra McBeath-Riley was located during the aerial search yesterday where police found the vehicle the trio were travelling in, bogged in the Hugh River.
Ms McBeath-Riley was found in good condition, having kept hydrated by boiling and drinking ground water found in the area.
She was taken to the Alice Springs Hospital for observation.
No further information is available at this stage.


  1. It’s a matter of considerable concern that the bogged vehicle was located in a creek bed about 22 km east of the Stuart Highway in the vicinity of Stuarts Well, as that is not far to go to seek help.
    Many years ago I crashed my car on a remote track 30 km west of Giles Weather Station – it’s the only vehicle accident I’ve ever experienced (touch wood) but fortunately the worst I suffered was injured pride.
    However, my predicament was that I had travelled 15 km from a junction on the main road and it was late February, the hottest time of year.
    To cut a long story short, I ended up walking about 29 km back to Giles (I got a lift for the last kilometre) which I did in a day.
    I knew where I was and which direction I had to go.
    The fact that the missing people near Stuarts Well set out to walk 22 km westwards towards the Stuart Highway almost a fortnight ago suggests something has gone seriously wrong.

  2. Something definitely wrong. The highway is actually east of the Hugh River.
    I can visualise where they got bogged as it’s along an old seismic line graded in the early 60s and still trafficable.
    The Hugh crossing is very tricky there and just south of Redbank Waterhole and North of Stuart’s Well. I have crossed it myself and there is lots of evidence that even the locals have trouble crossing previously on their way from the Stuart Highway to Hermannsburg – wrong time of the year to be going off the beaten track!

  3. Appalling that they were not found within a couple of days. They should have been located very quickly.
    Lost people are most likely bogged so fly a chopper down the river bed.
    Something is seriously wrong with our search and rescue methods in Central Australia.

  4. I agree with you Alex something must have been very wrong and we probably will never know the truth.
    The region and the outback were not new to the two ladies.
    September 1982 working for Mines and Energy on the first Alice Springs Darwin railway line geophysical survey I used to walk a minimum of 15 kilometres a day 22 kilometres is nothing.

  5. Yes, Jack, something is very wrong with our society: Technology has replaced commonsense.
    A tracker like Ted said would have found them in no time especially with the tracks left by the dog.
    By experience I can tell some GPS and compasses do not work in the bush.
    • Not enough satellites.
    • Signal obstruction like trees, caves, hills, clothing, and the human body can prevent GPS signals from the satellites reaching the receiver.
    When possible, put a GPS receiver in a place where it has a clear and unobstructed view of a large portion of the sky. Same for a satellite phone.
    Navigation by compass is a practiced skill, and when not practiced on a regular basis it becomes easily forgotten. However with your watch you are certain to find north and therefore, south.

  6. No wonder people die out there.
    Obviously some or maybe all involved in this saga know very little about the area concerned in this drama.
    We now know the the vehicle was bogged in the Finke (not Hugh river) on Henbury Station way south of the search area.
    Never rely on others to rescue you if they have to guess where you are.
    All travellers going off road should have the common sense to realise unless you carry a PLB (personal locator beacon) and you get stuck for whatever reason, there’s a very good chance you won’t survive. No second chances out here, even if YOU know where you are. $250 is good insurance.


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