A local grazier, tending to his cattle and searching for missing father Steven Van Lonkhuyzen and his two young son, located them safe and well this afternoon.
Preliminary information indicates that around 3.30pm the grazier located the trio and their vehicle, which was severely bogged, in Expedition National Park, approximately 300 kilometres from where they were last seen re-fuelling in Miles on Thursday December 11.
A Police Officer and a local National Parks and Wildlife ranger winched themselves across a washed out road and have now arrived at the location.
The missing man and his sons are being taken to the homestead of their rescuer where Police from Taroom will pick them up and return them to Taroom. They are in good spirits, but will be medically examined as a precaution. It is likely that they will stay in Taroom overnight.
An attempt will be made to recover the vehicle tomorrow as it is severely bogged in a very remote and inaccessible location.
Acting Superintendent Mick Bianchi, District Officer for the South West Police District praised the efforts of all involved and said it highlighted the community spirit that country people are renowned for.
“People from across rural Queensland have taken this story to heart and have helped police in many different ways in our search for the Van Lonkhuyzen family.
“We’ve had farmers and graziers searching their properties, local store owners checking to see if they had passed by or dropped in, mining companies and mustering helicopters checking lands, as well as Park Rangers searching parks and camp sites.
“The response has been outstanding and I thank the community, and the media, for their efforts and support,” Superintendent Bianchi said.
The South West Police District, covering a land mass roughly one third the size of Queensland, and 60 police divisions, was the central focus for the search.
Steven Van Lonkhuyzen, 37, and his two sons aged 7 and 5, were last seen at a Miles service station on Thursday December 11 after leaving their Lota home earlier that day to commence an inland drive to Cairns.
Acting Superintendent Bianchi made special mention of the efforts made by police from the South West District to locate the family saying officers searched vast areas of rugged and remote land, often in harsh conditions and extreme weather.
“The search area included several hundred thousand square kilometres of land, with some areas impassible due to localised flooding and swollen creeks.
“Police from all 60 divisions in the South West District have been involved to varying degrees in this search. We mobilized police resources far and wide which not only included police patrols but officers contacting businesses, companies, farmers, graziers, roadhouses and others across outback Queensland to see if there had been any sightings or to alert them to the plight of Steven and the boys.
“I am extremely proud of not only the efforts of our local communities but all of my officers involved in this search, as well as police from the Central and Northern Police Regions who also committed significant policing resources to this search.
“We are all very thankful that we have a happy outcome,” Acting Superintendent Bianchi said.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation working in partnership with the Queensland Police Service.
For all non-urgent police reporting or general police inquiries contact Policelink on 131 444 or Policelink.qld.gov.au 24hrs a day.