The farmer who wasn't going to give up until he'd found these two little boys.

Here’s your Christmas hero.

His name is Tom Wagner.

He is a farmer from Central Queensland  – a grazier whose property is at the mouth of Expedition National Park, near Taroom.

He has lived there for 40 years.



On Sunday he could have continued working his land and tending his cattle.

He could have gone waterskiing, like he had planned.

He could have watched the cricket, or he could have made the trek to Roma to start his Christmas shopping (cause let’s face it most men we know haven’t actually started it yet have they?)

But he didn’t.

And the reason why? Well this Tom Wagner is an Australian and after the tragic couple of weeks we have had he wanted some good news, some joy, a happy ending.



We are a hardy lot, we bounce back quickly and get on with it. We are tolerant and kind and usually forgiving.

But not recently. Recently we’ve had our share of knocks and so many of us after seeing the incredible suffering that others have been through, even if we weren’t there ourselves, feel a little bruised.


We’ve had a tough time and this bloke, Tom Wagner, a father of three had had enough.

It was time for some good in the world.

And you know what, like a lot of quiet unassuming men and women he actually did it. This guy gave us a happy ending.

“I’ve obviously been watching the news and I know it was a week of absolute disasters,” he told News Limited.

He didn’t want another one.

So when he heard there was a family missing in the nearby national park he knew he “just had to find them”.



Steven van Lonkhuyzen and his two sons Ethan, 7, and Timothy, 5, had set off from Brisbane to drive to Cairns on December 11. On the 15th his wife began to get worried when she realised it had been days since they had been seen or heard of.

A police search began and a massive media campaign started up to plea for anyone with information to contact the police.

On Sunday Tom Wagner was tending cattle when he remembered that he had seen a vehicle matching the description of the family’s on the news.

“I realised where they had been and thought they could be in the park next to us,” he said.

“It’s 100,000 acres of really rough country, it’s massive and easy to get lost in.


“I thought, if it was my own kids, just how frightening that would be. I had to go and find them, I just hoped I would find them alive.” He told News Limited.

He packed some sandwiches, some water and a packet of ‘bikkies’ as well as a satellite phone in case he got lost himself and he set off on his quad bike.

“I thought to myself when I was out there, there’s been two really horrible things that have happened this week, I hope we’re not having three of them.”

According to Yahoo Seven he knew he was onto something when he found tyre marks near the entrance to the national park.

“The tracks were pretty old in the rain, and so I knew they were in there.” He told Yahoo Seven.

Mr Wagner said “it’s probably some of the roughest country around”.

Tom Wagner searched for four hours for the family.

“A lot of sandstone cliffs – a thousand-foot high and valleys and a lot of washouts and creeks – it’s very easy to get lost in,” he said.

And because it is Christmas, and because Australia needed some good, and because sometimes stories really do have happy endings. He found them.

He actually bloody well did.

“I was surprised how good they were,” he told News Limited.



“They were fairly bright, and just overjoyed when they saw me come up on the quad.

“The boys had their arms up, cheering, and dad was just relieved. They were fairly skinny, and had obviously lost a lot of weight.”

He said he had been worried about one of the boys when he found them.

“One little boy – he looked a bit sunken in the eyes and I was a bit worried about him,’ he said.

“But he was still getting around all right.”


The missing trio who had luckily stayed with their vehicle and drank rainwater collected in a large plastic bowl wolfed down the sandwiches and the bikkies.

According to The Daily Mail they were down to their last three pieces of mouldy bread.

This Tom Wagner, who we are calling a hero even though he probably doesn’t like the label said the family  “pretty pleased” that they had been rescued.

And in the manner that many quiet unassuming men and women have he brushed it off as stoke of luck.

Whereas we think it was a Christmas miracle.

Tom says the whole thing made him feel pretty good.

“It’s good to have a good story like that in time for Christmas.”