POLICE from the Search and Rescue Squad, together with Senior Constable Darren Lomax from Foster and Parks Victoria staff, were involved in the rescue of four hikers in Wilsons Promontory National Park last Wednesday.
The hikers, two men aged about 60, an 18-year-old woman and a 41-year-old woman, from the Victorian Mountain Tramping Club, had set off from Mt Oberon car park the previous Saturday, intending to do an off-track hike. They had the relevant permit from Parks Victoria.
“We assess groups on a case-by-case basis before issuing permits,” said Chief Ranger for Wilsons Promontory National Park, Craig Stubbings. “We look at skills and levels of experience. This group was very well prepared and equipped. It was just that they found the going a lot harder than expected.”
The group had been due back at 4pm on Tuesday, so when they had still not returned by 8pm police were notified.
S/C Lomax coordinated a search for the group, along with Scott Griggs, the duty officer from Parks Victoria.
The group could not get mobile phone reception, but at 8.30pm they set off their EPIRB, which alerted rescuers to their general direction. HeliMed was dispatched from the Latrobe Valley and flew over the Prom. Torchlight was spotted near Little Waterloo Bay on the eastern side of the Prom, but low cloud prevented the helicopter from landing.
The Victoria Police Search and Rescue squad arrived from Melbourne and established text communication with the hikers, confirming there were no injuries. They hiked out to the group in the early hours of Wednesday morning, finding them near Little Waterloo Bay. They walked them to the walking track and then to the road, at which point they could be driven back to Tidal River, cold and tired but otherwise unharmed.