The wife and sister of missing prospector Michael Keith Graham have begun the drive home across the Nullarbor as police and emergency services deploy five trail bikes and a third aircraft in a race against time to find the 46-year-old who has been missing, feared dead, for more than a fortnight.
Police have narrowed the Goldfields search area since Saturday, but trackers have found no fresh signs of the NSW tourist, believed to have been sheltering undiscovered for several days at a windmill some 15km from the search headquarters one week ago.
Sergeant Todd Pender said there was “still a very good” chance Mr Graham was alive and travelling barefoot over the ironstone and mulga country in the area between the windmill and his original gold-panning camp. “At some point we will have to make a decision about expenditure of resources and whether to sustain the effort,” he said.
The search on remote property some 50km north-west of Menzies was to be scaled down on Wednesday until Riverina station owner Don North and grandson Nathan found an SOS hacked in the dirt.
But almost a week after Mr Graham scratched a second SOS on a road in waterless sandy country and indicated he would return to a windmill 10km to the west, the wife of the missing prospector said she had abandoned hope.
Helen Graham and Mr Graham’s sister Lisa Anne Dodson said they simply hoped police would find the whole remains of their kin and not have to rely on DNA for identification. “Michael has made a terrible mistake and paid the price,” Mrs Graham said.