On 4th Day, a Break for Family Stuck in Flooded Outback

Rescuers reach group of 7, including a celebrated artist and member of nomadic family
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2024 11:34 AM CDT
On 4th Day, a Break for Family Stuck in Flooded Outback
Aerial searchers snapped this photo upon discovering the family late on Wednesday.   (Western Australia Police Force)

"Bush savvy" though they are, fears for a family of seven lost in the Australian outback had mounted Wednesday with what was initially no sign of the group for a fourth day. Three elderly people and four children ages 7 to 17 had set out in two vehicles around midday Sunday from Kalgoorlie Boulder in Western Australia, intending to reach Tjuntjuntjara, an Aboriginal community of about 150 some 400 miles away. The drive should've taken about 10 hours, according to Google Maps. But the group hadn't arrived by the following day as the state was hit with major flooding. The area received what the BBC describes as "more than six months' worth of rain in 24 hours."

An operation was launched to search what police said was a "vast" area but road closures limited ground searches and weather conditions meant the aerial search had to be halted after an hour on Tuesday, per the Guardian. Though floodwaters remained, conditions began to improve Wednesday as fears for the family mounted. Relief came late in the day as police announced they'd located the group "safe and well within the search area." The seven family members were first spotted by air. Police provided a photo of the group standing around a beige Toyota LandCruiser with its hood open, which had been stranded by floodwaters roughly 170 miles west of Tjuntjuntjara, per ABC Australia.

Officers were able to land and check on the group, offering food, water, blankets, and other supplies that allowed the family "to wait out the night," police said. The group was to return to Kalgoorlie before a flight home to Tjuntjuntjara, per ABC. Two members have since been identified as Lennard Walker, a celebrated artist, and "Mr Rictor," whose family is the last known group of Australian Aboriginals to live a traditional nomadic life, per the Australian. A member of the Tjuntjuntjara community described the group as "really bush savvy," per the BBC. Still, "we were really worried," the woman said, noting it wasn't known what supplies the group carried. Police said all were "OK." (More Australia stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.