POLICE have warned hikers to be far better prepared after several groups of hikers went missing in the Falls Creek area at the weekend.
One group of 10 hikers — including five children aged seven to 14 — was not found until 6pm yesterday.
Police had to search for another group of six hikers — who weren’t carrying any equipment — and two single walkers on Saturday night.
“It’s obviously tied up police resources for two days now,” said acting Sgt Peter Johns, of Mount Beauty police.
Sgt Johns said the weekend’s incidents showed people really needed to have some sort of backup plan.
“Until we have a debrief with these people to find out exactly what went wrong, I would have thought if they’re to tackle a hike like that — especially with children — they would obviously have had some equipment but not everything they require,” he said.
“There always needs to a be a plan B.”
The group of 10 found late yesterday started its hike on Saturday afternoon.
“They set off a place called Langford West to go to Youngs Hut and then to McNamara’s Hut,” Sgt Johns said.
“Somewhere in between the huts they’ve lost sight of the track when the weather was deteriorating. The track wasn’t well marked.”
The group called police on Saturday night about 6.30pm.
“Everybody was well, there were no injuries and no one was sick and so they decided to camp for the night,” Sgt Johns said
“They had sufficient gear to do that and hoped they would be able to backtrack their way this morning, but they couldn’t pick up the track.
“Since then we’ve been in contact with them via a third person.”
Police trail bikes, the Falls Creek State Emergency Service unit and Parks Victoria were searching the tracks yesterday afternoon.
Sgt Johns said the other three searches were on Mount Bogong, on different tracks.
A Wodonga woman was reported lost at 5pm when she got caught in fog that reduced visibility to 10 metres, but eventually found her way out.
The group of six hikers from Melbourne were reported missing on Saturday at 8pm, while another single hiker, from Sydney, also got lost that night.
Sgt Johns said it was a very popular weekend for walkers.
“With the good knowledge of the local police making the right contact numbers and going to the right places they were all found relatively quickly,” he said.
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