A father and his two young sons survived 11 days lost in a national park in Australia’s outback, Queensland. And Mother Nature lent a helping hand.
Steven Van Lonkhuyzen and his sons, Ethan and Timothy, 11-day-challenge began when they took a wrong turn, resultantly getting stuck in the Expedition National Park in the state’s southwest. Stranded without any mobile reception, Lonkhuyzen, who’s 37 years old, rationed the food he had packed for a four-day camping trip he had planned with his sons, who are seven and five years old. What’s more, the craftsman even placed plastic containers out to capture rain as means of drinking water.
Acting Superintendent Mick Bianchi, who co-organized the police search, praised Van Lonkhuyzen’s resourcefulness.
“We were very concerned about their welfare. It was very hot and humid,” he said. “Steven told me they had some water with them in the car but that they were lucky there was lots of rain while they were stuck out there. He put a plastic container out and he thinks he caught about 40 liters of water.”
Sunday afternoon is when the trio finally heard the sound of a motorbike coming to their rescue. By this point, they were down to their last slices of bread.
Rancher Tom Wagner, who resides in the area, had been presented with police reports describing the vehicle and recalled having seen it some days earlier. Acting fast, he hopped on his motorbike and found them around 3.30 p.m. (AEST) on Sunday.
Wagner said, “They were pretty hungry by the time I got to them and pretty happy to see me.”
“I would like to thank Mr. Wagner who managed to find them off his own bat,” Bianchi said. “It’s pretty indicative of the way country people pitch in and help each other.”
Bianchi added that the young boys were still at the Taroom hospital, meanwhile Van Lonkhuyzen and national park rangers returned to the park to extract the bogged vehicles.
“The boys have lost some weight and are a bit emaciated but they’ll be nursed back to health within a few days or two,” said Bianchi.
The three survivors, who are from Brisbane, had planned to camp for a couple of days before joining the rest of their family in Cairns on December 15th. Lonkhuyzen’s wife signaled the alarm after they failed to turn up and answer any of her phone calls.