Appeal for visitors to Wonnangatta area to contact police as investigation into missing campers continues

Detectives from the Missing Persons Squad are asking for anyone who was in the Wonnangatta area in March to contact police as part of their investigation into missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay.

There are several specific timeframes and locations of interest to police.

Investigators have now established that Russell was camping alone in the area of the King Billy and Bluff Track between 11-13 March.

He was driving his white Toyota Landcruiser and had his drone with him at the time.

Police are keen to speak to anyone who was in the area at that time, including campers, 4×4 day trippers, hunters, fishermen or trail bike riders, regardless of whether they saw or heard anything.

This is so police can eliminate people and vehicles from their extensive investigation.

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.

It is believed Russell and Carol were camping at Wonnangatta River near the Wonnangatta camping ground.

Russell left his Drouin home on 19 March and planned to visit various campsites along the Dargo River with his route exiting the region at Dargo on 26 March.

He was last heard from on 20 March via HF radio stating he was at Wonnangatta Station in the Victorian Alps when he made the call.

Carol told friends she was heading away and was expecting to return home on 28 or 29 March.

Police believe the pair have travelled up through Heyfield and Licola, then into the valley in Russell’s vehicle, a white Toyota Landcruiser.

Investigators have been told that Russell purchased a DJI Mavic drone before going camping and the drone is still yet to be recovered.

Campers found Russell’s vehicle with signs of minor fire damage at their campsite near Dry River Creek Track in the Wonnangatta Valley on 21 March.

The examination of the fire scene by arson chemists was inconclusive and police would still like to speak to anyone who saw this fire or the smoke from it.

They are also keen to speak to anyone who may have smelled what has been described as a burning plastic smell in the area on 20 or 21 March.

A number of public appeals for information have been made and investigators would like to thank those who have come forward and spoken to police.

There are three further sightings of an older person or pair that have been reported, however police have been unable to establish if this was Russell and/or Carol. They are as follows:

• A sighting a Black Snake Creek on 22 March of an older lady at the long drop (toilet) who was waiting for other campers to finish so she could use it;

• A sighting of an older couple driving out from Black Snake Creek Hut on 22 March where the female was wearing lipstick and looked out of place; and

• A sighting of an older couple near the Eaglevale River crossing and campsite on 22 March.

Police would like to speak with anyone who was in those areas on that date in the hope they can determine whether the couple was Russell and Carol.

Despite a number of searches over the past two months, the pair have not been located and have not contacted family or friends.

It is still yet to be determined whether their disappearance is suspicious.

Anyone who sights Russell or Carol is urged to contact triple zero (000) immediately.

Again, police would like to speak to anyone who was in these areas at the time so they can be accounted for as part of this investigation and eliminated accordingly.

Anyone with any other information regarding their disappearance or who has any CCTV or dashcam footage is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or log onto www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

Natalie Webster

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.