15 Sep 2006

Australians Bothered By Whingeing Pom

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The Telegraph reports:

A British tourist has shocked Australians by twice getting lost in the Outback in the same place, in the same circumstances, in a bungle which nearly cost him his life.

Martin Lake, 50, “the bumbling Brit”, first went missing last week when he strayed from a well-worn path at a historical telegraph station on the outskirts of Alice Springs.

Wearing only shorts and a T-shirt and carrying three litres of water, he spent three days lost in the wilderness, despite being only a few miles from the edge of town.

He made a desperate call to police on his mobile phone, starting a huge search involving officers on foot, three helicopters, Aboriginal trackers and rangers.

When Mr Lake was found in the desert on Sept 5 he was badly dehydrated and so burnt from the 86F (30C) heat that he looked like “a freshly-cooked lobster”.

Police said he was less than three miles from the town and almost within shouting distance of outlying houses.

He was flown to hospital, but not content with having survived one near-death experience, he returned to the area on Friday, apparently to recover belongings. Again he struck out into the desert and became disorientated in a landscape of baking red rock and parched scrub that looks very much the same in every direction.

He made another panicked call to police but was unable to tell them where he was. After a while his phone went dead.

He had, for a second time, broken the cardinal rules of Outback survival — he had no hat or sunscreen, not enough water and had failed to tell anyone where he was going.

“He told me he was somewhere north of Alice Springs and that’s about it,” said Sgt Graeme Farquharson, the search co-ordinator. “He didn’t have a clue where he was.”

Mr Lake, a divorcee and former trainee policeman, from Birkenhead, Merseyside, was found by a helicopter crew on Tuesday after spending another four nights in the bush. Again, he was only three miles from Alice Springs.

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