Two grandfathers incredibly survived a night lost in Victorian bushland, where overnight temperatures dipped to three degrees.
The Wangaratta men, aged 71 and 78, disappeared after setting off on a hiking trip at Tatong, east of the state, on Friday morning, police said.
The mates were out geocaching – an activity similar to orienteering – at a site they knew well, having visited the bushland three times beforehand, without incident.
A family member raised the alarm when the pair failed to return home that afternoon, before a police and SES search of the Whiskey Creek Trail area located the men’s car Saturday morning.
Deer hunters found the duo barefoot, bleeding and hungry, but embarrassed and in good spirits, shortly before midday on Saturday.
Fortunately they did not require any medical treatment after spending a freezing night lost in the bush.
The men revealed to 7 News their simple trick to surviving the chilling night alone in the dense and rugged bushland.
“We were wet right through because we were walking through bush,” Geoff Dinning said.
“I sat down with my back to the log and cuddled over him to keep him warm.
A former mayor of Wangaratta, Mr Dinning knew the pair needed to walk out to the road at first light, in order to be seen.
It’s a plan that worked, and the orienteers were spotted Saturday morning, thanks to police search crews in the air and on the ground.
The men were searching for a mysterious local rock formation, which Mr Dinning has visited and recorded previously.
It was meant to be an hour round trip, so the hikers left their lunch and satellite phones in their car, thinking it would be a short venture.
If they had taken their navigation equipment with them, it would have prevented the rescue mission, Senior Constable Ben Brodley told 7 News on Saturday.
The pair thanked those who helped with the search.