Staunch, generous and quick to crack a joke, the wife of missing prospector Michael Keith Graham is privately riding waves of anger and frustration.
But when police told her they had found signs her husband was still alive, she says the only emotion she felt was sheer, blissful relief. Hope could not have come sooner. Mrs Graham and her husband’s sister Lisa Anne Dodson had spent the last seven days in a limbo of expectation. Early each morning they left Menzies Hotel and took the dirt road 70km to the police camp where they waited through the day for news.
Each morning they watched emergency services patrols set out. Through the day, reports came in over the radio of dry creeks and trackless earth.
They had been told Wednesday would be the last day. The search could not go on forever. The cherry-red search chopper had already been sent home.
That morning, on schedule, they drove out to the police camp. “We had faced the fact the search was going to be called off,” Mrs Dodson said.
Mrs Graham had been steeling herself for the lunch-time phone-call to her son and daughter. They had been waiting at home in Lake Macquarie, New South Wales. As they arrived at the camp they were met by three police vehicles leaving.
“It was a phone call I wouldn’t have to make,” Mrs Graham said.
“A window rolled down. (Acting Inspector) Ricky (Chadwick) said, ‘We’ve found something. Follow us’. There was a realisation that this was it.”