The sunset suggested a hot day tomorrow. We dreaded it as the search had taken its toll already with several searchers overcome in the heat of the day.
So we gathered for our now familiar evening briefings. So far there had been scant findings in terms of where the family had disappeared to.
The outback is a huge place and so much of it looks like the last bit you searched. Hot, dry, rocky and unfriendly.
On the fourth day we found their car parked under an old spinifex tree the only shade as such for a long way. But no bodies were there. So we knew they had done the one thing we all knew you shouldn’t do. Leave your car and try to make it on foot. Usually because you don’t know how far help is and many people perished thinking they could walk to the nearest help.
Tomorrow it was planned to widen the search and I would take the track to the south in the unlikely event they had an idea to walk in that direction. So laden with extra water, radio and GPS I set out. By now the search team had dwindled and I was on my own as it was felt it was unlikely the family would have gone in a southerly direction.
An hour into my trek I found a doll, then a shoe belonging to a child. I radioed in my findings and soon the team were with me.
A flash of light away on the horizon was our beacon to hone onto.
We headed towards the light, hoping that despite their recklessness in leaving their car they knew the best way to survive was by flashing a mirror into the sun as the reflection would go beyond the horizon.
A week later I received a note from the father saying his thanks and gratitude for us finding him and his family, very sunburnt but alive.