Saddleback Mountain - 28th May 1995 - report by Russ Evans
Call received from Peter Tressider of Wilderness Rescue at 1pm, Saturday 27th. Police requested a small team to be available at 6am on Sunday to assist in search for two fourteen year old boys who were overdue from a bike ride in the Saddleback - Barren Grounds area. The rendezvous was to be at the Lookout Car Park on Saddleback. It was suggested to Peter Tressider that a team from Wollongong also be assembled as this territory would be familiar to them as well as to our Club.
The Shoalhaven team was made up of Dawn, Gareth and Russ Evans and Colin Boyd. A group from Wollongong NPA comprised Nuri Chovat with 'Snowy' and Mrs Thoroughgood - who are also members of Shoalhaven Bushwalkers. Wilderness Rescue sent down the support trailer and radios with Graham Cummings. A large group of people from Bushfire brigades and other organisations made up the bulk of the volunteers. Officer in charge was the Superintendent from the Warilla Police station but Sgt. Byers and Constable Verzosa of Wollongong Police Rescue (also at the Nerriga rescue) did the actual coordination.
We were informed that several vehicles had already been dispatched to key points and the Bushwalkers were to act as guides if it became necessary to send out ground parties. This would not be done until a helicopter had made a sweep of the area. In the meantime a team of Bushwalkers was asked to take a police dog and his handler along the Hoddle track - the route believed to be taken by the boys before climbing onto Barren Grounds. The second team asked to prepare for a sweep eastward from the Griffith Trail. The Bushwalkers were also consulted about the terrain and asked for an opinion on appropriate search patterns.
The helicopter sweep revealed nothing and it was then diverted to another emergency involving rock fishermen. The Hoddle Track team included two of the Wollongong people plus Dawn. They were in radio contact and reported fresh tyre marks along the track. The team climbed on to the Barren Grounds before being recalled as the boys had made their own way out after spending the night at Burra Creek. The operation went satisfactorily although the number of volunteers on hand was probably excessive for that stage of the search. The Police Rescue personnel spoke to me about the role played by the Bushwalkers in the Nerriga incident and seemed keen to make better use of their expertise in future. Our advice on equipment was also sought from members of one of the Illawarra SES groups.