How man survived weeks stranded in outback amid 40-degree heat

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

A man has been found after surviving three weeks stranded in the outback where he endured 40-degree days, and several 20-kilometre treks for supplies and shelter.

Western Australia Police were first alerted to missing man Phillip Blampied when they received a recent report after he failed to arrive in the Pilbara, in Western Australia’s north, when expected. He was a week overdue in returning home.

The 61-year-old had set off from Waroona, in the state’s Peel Region, late in December to make the 1500km journey to the Pilbara using the Canning Stock Route, a track from Wiluna in the mid-west region to Halls Creek in the Kimberley.

Phillip Blampied and his rescuers pictured at his makeshift campsite. Source: WA Police
A trail of smoke showing the location of the campsite seen from a helicopter. Source: Western Australia Police

He ran into trouble early in January after realising his 1998 Nissan Patrol was running low on fuel, so pulled up at Well 4, one of the 51 wells along the track, to fill up on water.

That particular well was empty, so he turned back to Well 6, where he knew there was both water and shady trees.

On his way there however his car stopped 20 kilometres out from his intended destination after running out of fuel, forcing his survival instincts to kick into gear.

After staying with the vehicle for a few days, he opted to carry some food, water and a tent on a mammoth 12-hour walk to Well 6 – leaving behind a note for any potential rescuers on his car.

A note left by Mr Blampied on January 3, saying he had walked to a well, which was about 20 kilometres away from his car. Source: Western Australia Police
Mr Blampied shown taking a large swig of water after being found. Source: Western Australia Police

He stayed at Well 6 until his supplies ran out, then made the trek once again back to his car for some more perishables and began another lengthy journey to his makeshift camp.

Before Mr Blampied arrived back, he was dealt another inconvenient blow in the form of a giant downpour, which made it impossible for him to continue walking, so he set up his tent and slept the night.

In the morning he walked the final leg to Well 6 before once again trekking back to his car for the final time on January 23.

He again left a note, saying he was staying at Well 6 and had enough supplies to see him through another week.

Fortunately, he only had another couple of days to wait until help arrived as his car was located by a search plane on Sunday just before 4pm (local time).

Mr Blampied appeared cheerful posing with some of his rescuers. Source: Western Australia Police

On Monday a charter helicopter was dispatched to find Mr Blampied and successfully found him at Well 6 about 8.30am.

Police shared images of Mr Blampied’s makeshift camp and him appearing very cheerful to be in the company of his rescuers.

They also showed the letter he initially left on January 3 which said, “Have gone back to Well 6. Out of Fuel!” and stated that he had stopped in at the car at 1.20pm that day.

An aerial image revealed just how difficult of a task of finding him must have been given the vast and barren landscape of the approximate search area.

Mr Blampied appeared to have ignited a fire which sent a smoke trail into the air, possibly aiding rescue teams in pinpointing his exact location.

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