From todays news.com.au
The mystery of two campers missing in the Victorian wilderness for more than a year has taken another turn, with detectives redirecting the search back to the campgrounds where the pair first vanished from.
Police moved their search 80km northwest to the Mount Hotham area a fortnight ago, marking the first time the search had strayed from Wonnangatta, where Carol Clay and Russell Hill’s burnt-out campsite was found.
The search then came to an abrupt halt the day after detectives found two shovels in thick bush off the Great Alpine Road on April 14. The shovels were sent off to be forensically examined.
While no clear update was provided on the shovels, Victoria Police said detectives returned to the Wonnangatta area on Monday.
They said investigators would especially focus on areas along the Dargo High Plains Road, Cynthia Range Track, Herne Spur Track and the Wonnangatta Track “as a result of information obtained from previous searches”.
“Missing persons squad detectives are being assisted by the air wing, drone unit, search and rescue and Parks Victoria in conducting detailed searches of roadways, tracks, campgrounds, rivers and cliffs,” the statement read.
“Detectives continue to examine items located during a search of the Mount Hotham area on 14 April to determine if they have any relevance to the investigation.”
Mr Hill and Ms Clay vanished on March 20 during a camping trip in the remote East Gippsland beauty spot, Wonnangatta, 350km east of Melbourne.
Mr Hill left his Drouin home on March 19 before collecting Ms Clay from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota LandCruiser.
The friends then travelled via Licola, spending one night at Howitt High Plains before heading into Wonnangatta Valley on March 20.
Mr Hill was last heard from the following day via HF radio, stating he was at Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Alps when he made the call.
Ms Clay told friends she was heading away and was expecting to return home on March 28 or 29.
Previous reports suggested the pair were high school sweethearts, and Mr Hill’s wife was not aware Ms Clay was joining him on the camping trip.
Investigators were told the pair were camping together at Wonnangatta River near the Wonnangatta camping ground.
Campers found Mr Hill’s vehicle with signs of minor fire damage at their campsite, which was completely destroyed by fire, near Dry River Creek Track in the Wonnangatta Valley on March 21.
“Investigators are also continuing to appeal to anyone who was in the Wonnangatta area around that time, including campers, 4x4 day trippers, hunters, fishermen or trail bike riders, regardless of whether they saw or heard anything,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.
“Detectives are also keen to speak to anyone who was in the area of Howitt Plains and Zeka Spur Track on 19 or 20 March and the Wonnangatta Valley and Wonnangatta Station between 20-24 March who has not yet made contact with police.”
Detectives also established Mr Hill was camping alone with his LandCruiser in the area of the King Billy and Bluff Track between March 11-13.
Police want to speak to anyone in that area on those dates.
Information was later received about sighting of “an older person or pair” in the Black Snake Creek, Eaglevale River crossing and the Ollies Jump area on March 22-23 – but it has not been established if this was the missing campers.
Detectives have called for anyone in this area, or any older couple who may be these persons, to also come forward.
Anyone who sights Mr Hill or Ms Clay should phone triple-0 immediately.