Shoeless Swiss  rescued in bush
Rescued: Gerald and Lotti Augsburger. Picture: Cally Dupe

In broken English, on a road in the middle of nowhere, Swiss tourist Lotti Augsburger conveyed her relief to her rescuers.

"We're so happy you're here," the 61-year-old said, a French-to-English translation book in her hand.

After being stranded for more than three days in bush near Kununurra after their hired four-wheel-drive vehicle became bogged on the remote Karunjie Track on Saturday, Mrs Augsburger and her husband Gerald were found about 8.45am yesterday, walking on the Gibb River Road.

The Swiss tourists had tied clothes around their bare feet to protect them from the rocky, hot ground and collected river water to drink while walking about 75km for help in 40C heat.

Toni Eckel and her fiance Damian Day, who were unaware of the search for the tourists, came across the pair about 100km from Kununurra as they headed to the Pentecost River to fish.

Hungry, thirsty, sunburnt and covered in insect bites, the Augsburgers were extremely happy and relieved to be found.

Despite their ordeal, they seemed in good spirits as they tried to explain their plight, Ms Eckel said.

"We're really happy that we stumbled across them and that they're safe," she said.

As the couple, who have two daughters, arrived at Kununurra hospital yesterday, Mrs Augsburger, comforted by her husband, was able to say "it's OK" before gesturing that she was hot and thirsty.

Insp. Jack Lee said the couple were lucky to have survived. "They probably had no concept of how far they had to walk," he said. "They weren't prepared for this sort of thing. They're very, very lucky to survive out there."

Police started searching for the tourists early on Monday after staff at the Kununurra Country Club Resort, where they had been staying, raised the alarm on Sunday night.

The couple had been expected to check out on Sunday morning but police then learnt the pair had not been seen since Saturday morning.

The Augsburgers had planned a day trip from the North West town on Saturday and told police they drove to Wyndham and headed along the King River Road before turning on to the Karunjie Track - an unmaintained stock route.

Somewhere in the middle of a salt marsh the couple's Toyota Prado became bogged and they tried to walk for help, following the Pentecost River.

Police think they may have had a tourist map but it appeared they had little food and water and had no emergency positioning beacon.

Mr Augsburger lost his shoes in the water and his wife's thongs did not survive the rocky track.

Insp. Lee said travellers heading into remote areas should tell someone of their plans and stay with their vehicle if they got into trouble.

"It's easy to be critical in hindsight - we're just glad we got them back," he said.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Our Picks

Follow Us

More from The West