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'Sad' end to search with no sign of missing mum's body

Fresh intelligence and a widespread bushland search have failed to help police find the body of missing mother Samantha Murphy.

Victoria Police shifted the focus of their search to Buninyong Bushland Reserve, 11km from Ballarat, on Wednesday morning.

Specialist search efforts had wrapped up by 2.30pm with police expected to revisit the site in several weeks.

"Search activity in Buninyong has now concluded for the day and sadly we did not locate Samantha," a police statement read.

More than a dozen police vehicles were stationed at nearby Royal Park with the main probe at Sandys Hill Road.

Officers from specialist units including the Missing Persons Squad, Search and Rescue Squad, the Mounted Branch and the Dog Squad, as well as the Public Order Response Team and local police took part in the search.

Fresh intelligence from multiple sources sparked the renewed search, police said.

The reserve is about 6km from the Mount Clear site where the 51-year-old went missing.

Samantha Murphy
Samantha Murphy was last seen leaving her home to go for a run on the morning of February 4. (HANDOUT/VICTORIA POLICE)

Ms Murphy has not been seen since leaving her home on Eureka Street to go for a run in the Canadian State Forest on the morning of February 4.

Her phone was last pinged near the Buninyong Golf Club.

Police allege 22-year-old Patrick Orren Stephenson murdered Ms Murphy at Mount Clear on the day she went missing.

Extensive searches have mainly focused on the Canadian State Forest area during the past six weeks.

The two search sites are about 10km apart.

Crime Command Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt said multiple resources had been used in the operation.

Police search bushland for Samantha Murphy
The area of the new search features dense bush and mine shafts. (Joe Armao/AAP PHOTOS)

"Since Samantha's disappearance, extensive searches have been conducted in the Ballarat area and today we will focus on an area of bushland in Buninyong," he said.

"While someone has been charged in relation to Samantha's disappearance, we remain committed to doing everything we can to locate her and return her to her family."

The reserve has dense bushland along with snakes, mine shafts and kangaroos.

Ballarat mayor Des Hudson had hoped a successful search could bring some closure to the Murphy family.

"Our thoughts are with the Murphy family because every time this issue is back in the media, they would no doubt ride the roller coaster of emotion, waiting and hoping that Sam can be found," he told AAP.

Police search for Samantha Murphy
Officers from a range of specialist units were called in for the operation. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)

Stephenson, a tradesman, was arrested earlier in March on the outskirts of Ballarat.

He was remanded in custody and is next expected to appear at Ballarat Magistrates' Court on August 8.

He is the son of former AFL player Orren Stephenson, who played 15 games for Geelong and Richmond between 2012 and 2014.

The family home is in Mount Clear, where he often stayed, and he lives in Scotsburn, about 16km from Ballarat.

Ms Murphy's husband Michael spoke of relief at the time of the arrest, describing the previous weeks as "s***house".

Police search for Samantha Murphy.
Police used trail bikes to comb the area for signs of Samantha Murphy's body. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)

"It's something you wouldn't want anybody to experience," he said at the time.

After Ms Murphy disappeared, a search began around Ballarat involving emergency services workers and hundreds of concerned locals.

They combed dense bush, private land and walking tracks and police set up a base at Buninyong Police Station.