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HomeIssue 18Claire Hockridge found dead

Claire Hockridge found dead

UPDATE 2.05pm
Police have found the body of a woman believed to be that of Claire Hockridge (pictured) south of Alice Springs this morning.
Formal identification is yet to be conducted and police say they will prepare a report for the Coroner.
No further details are available at this stage.
Report on December 3 by ERWIN CHLANDA
Pastoralists or their staff were crucial in the rescue of two people in a group of three who left Alice Springs on November 24 and were reported missing three days later.
The third, Claire Hockridge, is still missing, but Phu Tran met up with a pastoralist this morning, having walked 12 to 13 kilometres, and finding water along the way, according to Police Superintendent Pauline Vicary (pictured).
Ms Hockridge had been with him part of the way, but had stayed behind. Supt Vicary said this morning a helicopter search is now under way for her.
The search relied heavily on choppers although at least since Sunday, when the location of the car became known, and Tamra McBeath-Riley was rescued, trackers could have followed footprints on the soft ground – for three days now.
Asked whether Aboriginal trackers had been brought in Supt Vicary said: “No, not at this stage.
“We have some of our own members who have tracking skills, and we are using those members.
“These are conversations we can have in a debrief.
“We are happy with the way the search has been going. SARMC (Search and Rescue Mission Coordination) has done an absolutely phenomenal job.”


  1. 33% failure rate. I wouldn’t be a willing investor at those odds.
    Why on earth wouldn’t they utilise the skills of a tracker?

  2. One of the problems old people like me have to cop is that the eyes of listeners glaze over if you make suggestions based on many years of experience.
    Particularly does this apply to issues regarding First Australian matters. Everybody knows better.
    For sixty years I have been suggesting to NT Police that they employ Aboriginal women as trackers.
    OK, I am aware that many of the old skills are gone and that drugs and alcohol have been disastrous influences on Aboriginal lifestyle, but there are still plenty of old Aboriginal women who are around, don’t drink, don’t take drugs and are still capable of quickly resolving situations like Chamberlain, Falconio and this present fiasco.
    The police should employ a team of say, 10 old women who are non drinkers and don’t use drugs, pay them a retainer to be on call and then immediately take them to the scene of the crime, or in this case, the bogged vehicle.
    Equally importantly, stop inept “searchers” from blurring the obvious facts.
    Ted Fogarty has shown the importance of recognising and following tracks in this case. He is one of many pastoralists who could have provided guidance in this and similar matters.
    I must concede that it is amazing that two have survived: more good luck than good management.
    How does the song go: When will they ever learn?

  3. Couldn’t agree with Ted more with regards to using the Aboriginal trackers.
    Not only would it also go along way towards reconciliation by working together to achieve something great, but it would also give those people some purpose in life and hopefully inspire some of the younger generation to learn and carry on some very useful skills.

  4. @ Ted Egan (Posted December 4, 2019 at 7:55 am): “When will they ever learn?”
    We live in a time where the recent arrivals all know better than those who have lived here for far longer.
    Experience, and the knowledge borne from it, counts for very little – almost nothing – in this age of tertiary tyranny where everything requires little tickets of paper with extra letters after your name to “prove” you know anything.
    It’s not just hapless people lost in the bush who fall victim to this stupidity, just look at the general situation with so many well-paid qualified professional experts in charge of it all.
    Such people can’t afford to learn anything for fear of looking inadequate in front of their peers.
    And thus ineptitude and incompetency reigns supreme over us all.

  5. Ted: “Particularly does this apply to issues regarding First Australian matters.”
    This makes me wonder why the government wants an Aborigine cultural center if no-one wants to learn from the said culture?
    During the Malaya and Vietnam wars “forward scouts worked at the front of the patrol searching for signs of enemy movement: a dislodged stone, a bent blade of grass, a broken twig or a smell in the air; secret tunnels, landmines, ‘punji’ pits, and other obstacles and traps.
    “The men relied on the skill of the scout. He needed to be focused and cool, have stamina and courage, and he operated by stealth and precision.
    “He ensured mens’ safety and a successful mission. His was a dangerous role.”

  6. It is a free country and these things happen from time to time here in the Outback.
    You can’t stop people heading out of town on a bush leisure trip.
    However, I was hoping that every knowledge and skill resource available would be used to expedite a speedy rescue, and I included local Indigenous trackers on my wish list, once the car was located.
    We will never know if the use of non-government trackers might have increased the chances of a less tragic end. It will be a sad Christmas.

  7. We did used to use them, I believe that they were used to look for Falconio, and Tracker Tilmouth was known for his skills, I sure there were others.
    Why the drop off and reluctance to use them in this case? If they had been used with success before, who, or which agency made the decision to stop using them?
    The deeper questions are not simply why weren’t they used, rather were any available to be used if needed, is there a database of trackers available to use, what protocols are in place for their skills to be used, before modern practices commence, contaminating the scene before they are brought in.
    If there was another missing tourist, would the police and NTES have access to the list of current trackers willing to assist?

  8. What a tragic situation. It looks like there will be a fair bit of negative comment thrown around.
    But there are lessons to learn. I’ve let my Sat Phone account lapse since I left The Alice, but I still carry a registered EPIRB in the vehicle just in case.
    A couple of hundred dollars will get you a decent one, still take your extra water, recovery gear etc, but don’t go for a drive out bush without one, IMHO. Tragedy averted.

  9. Does anyone know who the tracker the police used is or are? Presuming because he isn’t Aboriginal, actually we don’t even know he wasn’t, he was incapable or inexperienced.

  10. The important fact is that Aboriginal women are so much better than men at tracking.
    Let’s get a team of say ten old women around 60 years of age to be assembled, registered and on a list ready for the next “dirt road” situation.
    They would need to verify that they do not drink alcohol or take drugs and start to implement the training of a team of younger women. This sort of incident will not be the last.

  11. It’s being reported in “The Australian” that police found a significant amount of drugs before they found her body.
    Some of our suspicions may have been correct.

  12. @ Michael: Just gotta keep your ear to the ground.
    If it’s true, perhaps then it’s natural justice, particularly if they were bringing drugs to deal.
    @ Local1: I think you’ll find the uniform also has an association with the watch house wall.


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