During their 48-hour ordeal stranded in the outback, a young mother, grandmother, and two children drank from puddles and used their vehicle’s mirrors to attempt to attract the notice of rescuers.
Darian Aspinall, 27, her two children Winter Bellamy, 2, and Koda Bellamy, 4, and their grandma Leah Gooding, 50, were reunited with loved ones after being separated for two days in far-western New South Wales.
On Sunday, the family passed through the area on route to Adelaide, their eventual destination.
They had intended to spend Sunday night in the isolated Packsaddle town to meet with the children’s father, but his family never showed up.
Linny Bellamy, the devastated fiancé of Ms. Aspinall, has spent the previous two days frantically searching for them, while police have conducted an extensive ground search around the area.
He reported his loved ones as missing, which prompted a massive search effort involving officials from three states and covered a large portion of far-western New South Wales.
The family was fortunately discovered safe and sound by a rescue aircraft more than 100 kilometres away from their planned location late Tuesday afternoon.
It is believed that they were stuck after choosing an alternate route on a road severely damaged by recent weather.
‘I’m beside myself that we ended up in this situation but couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,’ an emotional Mr Bellamy told Nine News.
‘It was the best phone call I’ve ever had in my life after two days of horror, not knowing what to do.’
The family used their Hyundai Tucson’s mirrors in a last-ditch effort to draw the attention of search planes.
They had survived for the previous two days by drinking water from a roadside puddle.
After attracting the notice of an air rescue team, the family was evaluated by paramedics at the site and transported to Tibooburra for further evaluation before being reunited with loved ones on Tuesday evening.
The family is reportedly exhausted but in good health.
Mr. Bellamy told Seven News, “I can’t believe they stay as strong as they did… they looked after each other and tried to ration everything.”
He later wrote on Facebook: ‘My family has been found safe. They’re being transported to hospital and back home to me.
‘Thank you everyone for your messages and support. Could not feel more relief.’
A few hours before, Mr. Bellamy had been pacing outside his house while making a distressing public appeal.
‘We are doing everything we can to get this out so they’re found safe,’ he wrote.
‘Every passing moment my heart breaks more and more.’
The couple and their two children had spent the previous year in Cairns, in far north Queensland, but had now chosen to return to their hometown of Adelaide.
The pair has been dating for six years and were engaged in November of last year, while Winter just celebrated her second birthday.