A horse rider lost in Victoria’s high country for four nights has been found alive.
Narelle Davies walked out of the bush, with her horse still by her side, after drinking from creeks and covering herself in branches at night to stay warm.
Rescuers cheered as the 52-year-old rider was found after hitting her head and losing her bearings.
“Bit of an adventure!” were her first words to the rescue crew, but the joviality masked a real fear that she may not get out alive.
The horse rider set out on Saturday and vanished without a trace.
By Monday, frantic family members had begun flying in from other parts of the country to join the search.
“I got the phone call that we hadn’t heard from Mum in a couple of days, and coming over from Western Australia, it’s playing on my nerves,” son Cam Davies said.
Also joining the search effort were Narelle’s colleagues from Geelong Grammar’s Timbertop campus, who were the lucky ones to find her in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“I’m just so glad to see these guys,” Narelle said.
Asked if she wanted someone else to lead her horse, she said: “No, no, he’s good, we’ve stuck together the last four days”.
“We turned around and she was just walking down with the horse,” Vanessa Heuwson said.
“And we kind of all screamed and thought it was a ghost, and it was her.”
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After food and something to drink, Narelle told her rescue team what had happened.
“It appears she has come off her horse at some stage, received a slight bump to the head and that she’s just been walking her horse around in the bush area,” Senior Sergeant Damien Keegan from Victoria Police said.
Each night, Narelle made a bed out of branches and wattle and covered herself with two jackets.
“At one stage the horse disappeared for a few hours, and she didn’t know what to do – she was too tired,” Ms Heuwson said.
“But when she woke up, the horse was back there and every morning it was waking her up and nudging her and saying let’s go.”
Her family said if anyone was to survive four cold nights in the high country, it would be her.
“She’s tough, she’s very tough,” sister Kelly Claridge said.
“She always takes matches and a pocket knife wherever she goes.”
Narelle has since undergone a check up at hospital and is said to be in good spirits, but even if
she is still keen to get back in the saddle her loved ones have other plans.
“Giving her a stern talking to, trying to convince her to take up knitting or something,” her son Cam said.