Victoria’s high country is a ruggedly beautiful place. One of winding bushland roads linking quaint tourist towns, of snow-dusted mountains, of walking tracks and waterfalls. But it’s also the setting of several mysteries.
Over the past 12 years, at least six people have vanished among the region’s towering gums.
Among the most baffling of all is the most recent: the disappearance of Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, long-time family friends who went camping along the Wonnangatta River near Billabong on March 19 and never returned.
Watch: New information in the search for missing campers, Russell and Carol.
Police said Hill, a former bush logger, collected Clay from her Pakenham home at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 19, and they set off into the alps. Hill radioed a friend and his wife, Robyn, the following day and said he’d check in again. But he never made contact.
Campers found Hill’s Toyota LandCruiser in the Wonnangatta Valley on March 21 alongside a burned-down tent, table and camp chairs. The keys were still with the ute, which was in working order and well-stocked with supplies. Arson chemists investigated the scene, but police said the cause of the fire remains inconclusive.
Neither Clay nor Hill has used their phones, bank accounts or made contact with loved ones, and police say it’s still yet to be determined whether their disappearance is suspicious.
Sightings of an “out of place” woman.
The mystery deepened even further this week, as police released details of three possible sightings of Clay and Hill on March 22, the day after their burnt-out campsite was discovered.
One witness claimed to have seen an “older lady” waiting to use the long drop toilet at Back Snake Creek on March 22. The same day, an older couple was seen driving out from Black Snake Creek hut; according to that report, the lady was “wearing lipstick and looked out of place”. Finally, an older couple were also seen near the Eaglevale River crossing and campsite.
Police are appealing for anyone who was in those areas on that date in the hope they can determine whether the couple was Clay and Hill.