Sensory tools used in bush search for teen

Christine McGinn

The sound of Thomas the Tank Engine blaring across Victorian bushland was just one of the sensory methods used to find a teenager.

Police used every tool in the kit as they searched for William Callaghan, 14, who is non-verbal and went missing on Monday at Mt Disappointment.

From asking the community to leave Vegemite, fetta cheese and water outside their homes to tempt his tastebuds, through to playing his favourite train tune - everything was used to find him.

There were also requests for locals to have a barbecue with onions and bacon in the hope those favourite smells might lure him.

"With Thomas the Tank, and the smells and sounds, it is I suppose different to what we often have or use," Acting Inspector Christine Lalor told reporters.

"We are using everything we can to draw William out and to find him as soon as possible."

In the end, it was a more conventional solution, with experienced bushman and volunteer Ben Gibbs finding William.

But even he told reporters he "followed his nose" when digging deeper in the bush to find him.

"This is kind of our family mountain. I have been coming up here since I was a boy so I know it really well. I just followed my nose," the father, who was singing as he walked the bush, said on Wednesday.

"I am the one who stumbled across him but everyone found him."

An army of hundreds of emergency services and volunteers turned out to help after the teenager went missing.

Among those who pitched in were Bush Search and Rescue Victoria, the Country Fire Authority, State Emergency Service, Ambulance Victoria and Salvation Army.

"We couldn't have done it without the assistance of everyone. What an amazing community," Acting Insp Lalor said.

"It just goes to show you what can happen when everyone gets together, pulls together as a team."

While the youngster doesn't like to hug much, he was snapped giving his mum Penny Callaghan one on his return to safety.

He munched on Tic Tacs, his favourite treat, while in the back of the ambulance being taken to hospital for a check-up.

William now hopes to sink his teeth into McDonald's for his next bite.