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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18



The Melbourne Bushies - Fifty years along the track (1940-90)

McLeod and Jennifer Laycock did not return home Sunday night. Their car was discovered on Monday and police and locals searched unsuccessfully on Tuesday. Search and Rescue was called and 60 members turned up ready to start searching at first light on Wednesday. The searchers were equipped to stay out for three days. The plan was to start from the summit of Donna Buang and search down the headwaters of Watts River, arriving for a regrouping and lunch at a predetermined stream junction. Bill Horton, our Search and Rescue representative (and later to become Club President), was the leader of the party that found the couple.

The search parties trudged through the snow, were duly posted at respective starting points and commenced searching downhill. The undergrowth was extremely thick but thinned out lower down where it was mainly beech forest. All except one of the search groups had arrived at the rendezvous point for lunch. Bill's report, slightly abbreviated (it has been published several times already), continues the story (Walk 1954).

It was decided to lunch and wait for Party 3, but as it had not arrived by 1.50 p.m. my radio operator (Arthur Birch) contacted them by radio and then very faintly contacted base. As all groups were together I thought it worth the trouble to see if there was any news from base. Being unable to receive messages from base we told them to listen in ten minutes later while Arthur and I climbed the low ridge opposite in the hopes that the additional height would improve conditions a little. We arrived on the flat, low ridge in a matter of minutes, but again could only contact Party 3, still on their way down to the junction, and not base. Though higher ground seemed to he some distance along the ridge, Arthur and I decided to climb higher before trying again, but had hardly walked 50 yards when we both heard a faint cry over on our left. Looking over we saw the white face and red jacket of Jennifer Laycock supporting herself on a log and looking beseechingly in our direction. We rushed over and found Jenny had crawled out from under a small 'humpy' made from two crossed logs with a roof of smaller logs and ferns, and that Kirk was in the process of crawling out. Leaving Arthur to support the girl, I rushed back to the junction to bring help. At first, when I shouted across the stream to the party for sleeping bags, tea, etc., they did not seem to believe me or realise what I wanted; but soon several of them hurriedly grabbed up their gear and hurried hack with me.

Though their clothing seemed to be dry enough I had most of it removed and replaced with warm woollen stuff. Jenny's shoes were difficult to take off as her feet were frozen and swollen, and her socks had to be partly cut off; but she said that she could not feel anything in her feet or hands. Kirk seemed to be in a similar condition, but a little more helpless than Jenny who could assist us in changing her clothes, and who could also talk a little.

After changing their clothes we put them on two layers of sleeping bags and covered them up with several more, as it would have been too difficult then to