Search parties including Army men, today found no trace of the six hikers missing in the snow covered mountains near Marysville, 60 miles north-east of Melbourne.
Late tonight police searchers sent an urgent message to Melbourne for a plane to fly over the area immediately to look for a possible fire. The weather has cleared the area tonight.
Tomorrow the Army will establish five signal bases along a 30-mile line in an effort to locate the missing party.
But hopes of finding the party alive are fading. Local residents say that the freezing conditions of the last three nights would have been more than the weaker members of the party could stand.
Snow and heavy going forced back two main search parties today.
The police said tonight that several hundred men, including police, officers and men of the Army School of Health at Healesville, Army signallers equipped with walkie-talkie sets, ski club members, hiking club members and local residents, would set out from Marysville at first light tomorrow.
The police were embarrassed tonight by offers from ski club and hiking club members to join the search if they could be transported to Marysville.
A broadcast appeal for ski-club members to report to Russel-street police headquarters at 7 p.m. was later cancelled at the request of the police.
A senior police official said that tomorrows search would be the biggest ever undertaken in Victoria.
Constable Gil Tranter of Marysville, who spent 13 hours last night in a burnt-out log near Mt. Strickland said tonight :
"I don't like their chances. I have warned the parents that they must be prepared for the worst."
"I am losing confidence because the party has been out too long in this weather."
A veteran bushman, Jack Lewis, said that he thought still that the hikers were safe in the O'Shannassy Reserve.
The presence of two women in the party was probably the main weakness he said.
Members of the missing party are : Charles Storie (26), of McConchie avenue Kew; Bruce Sibley (24) of Sherwood Street Glen Iris; Geoffrey Charlesworth (32) of Doncaster road North Balwyn; Marion Neilson (22) of Fordham avenue Cambarwell; Joyce Williams (21) of Malvern road Glen Iris; and Nigel Joyce of Graylings crescent StKilda. around Marysville
Two days later
Six missing Hikers found alive and well.
The six hikers missing in snow covered mountains in north eastern Victoria were found alive and well, except for slight frostbite yesterday afternoon.
They were found by one of the dozens of parties which yesterday began a systematic search of the mountains and valleys around Marysville.
They were five miles from the road, and about 12 miles east of Marysville.
News of their safety caused widespread relief throughout Victoria.
In the small township of Marysville there was great rejoicing as the news was shouted by Constable Tranter across the street from the police station steps.
The missing party were brought into Marysville by cars and after greetings with their relatives in the police station were put to bed.
They were given hot drinks and food, and were examined by a doctor. He reported that they were well, except for exhaustion, exposure and slight frostbite.
When a five-man search party found them they were still struggling and hoping to reach a mountain track.
The hikers - four young men and two girls from Melbourne had vanished last Friday ( a week earlier), touching off the biggest search in Victoria since the plane Southern Cloud disappeared in 1931.
Nearly 400 bushmen, hikers, skiers, soldiers and police had been combing the Great Divide over 150 square miles of some of Australia's most rugged country.
First news that the hikers were found came in a dramatic morse code flash to Melbourne Police Headquarters at 3.10 yesterday afternoon.
It said simply : " All found and alive."
Marysville post master (Mr. Rae) collapsed at the switchboard sending news to other areas, but other staff jumped to his seat at the board to flash through the messages.
Mr Frank Keppell, one of the searchers who found the exhausted hikers, said that the hikers were still walking and in reasonable condition but "mighty glad to be found."
The were five miles from the nearest road in the heavily timbered Bellell creek, Deep creek - O'Shannassy reserve area.
Police went from Marysville with stretchers, ropes and hot drinks to bring the party out.
Three quarters of an hour after the news of their safety, had been flashed throughout Australia, the search party with the six hikers, all pale and shivering, made a triumphant entry into Marysville.
Cars carrying them drove into the town with horns blowing, and parents and relatives rushed to embrace the party. Many relatives broke down and cried openly.
The hikers were whisked quickly away from the cheering crowds to sip hot drinks with their relatives.
Their legs were blue with the cold, badly scratched, and cut. The girls were numb and exhausted.
However, none of the hikers needed medical attention.
The Argus Friday May 2nd 1952 page 3.
Hikers tell own dramatic epic of bush.
From Barney Porter and Jack Evans at Marysville.
"On Sunday morning we knew we were lost..." and from then on in rain, sleet, and snow, unable to sleep or light a fire, the six lost hikers lived on a ration of one and a half biscuits, a piece of chocolate, and a slice of salami a day.
The heroism of the women throughout the terrible ordeal was an inspiration to the rest of the party.
This inspiration shone in the words of Marion Nielson, as she lay in bed tonight; Last night we nearly despaired, but we tried to keep our spirits up by holding a party..." And she told of this fantastic party in the wilds above the skyline.
Showing signs of her ordeal but still cheerful Marion Nielson snuggled under the blankets as she told the story of her experiences.
She kept her bandaged right hand out of sight. It had been cut while she was struggling through the undergrowth.
She told how they set out to visit Paridise Plains finding their way by compass and an Army ordnance map.g south.
"We followed a creek which seemed to lead where we wanted to go for several miles. Then it swung south. We wanted to go north.
"The map didn't show this creek, and we knew we were lost. That was Sunday morning.
"So we took a compass bearing and kept heading north.
"We shared what food we had. We ate too much in the first three days, but when we knew we were lost we started rationing in earnest.
"Our daily issue came down to 1 and a half biscuits, a piece of chocolate and a slice of salami.
"We were just about out of food when we were found.
"Because I was the smallest of the party I was lucky I did not need as much food as the others.
"Just about the time that we realised we were lost the weather changed - we had rain, sleet and snow in quick succession.
"We set up camp each night and slept in our sleeping bags in tents light fires but everything had been soaked by the rain and snow and we could not get one going. I think my feet became slightly frost bitten while I was kneeling for several hours without moving a I tried to get a blaze started.
"The men went ahead breaking a trail, The girls never complained once.
"Our sleeping bags were wet through but we were afraid not to use them at night. If we had not used them we would have been frozen to death. We saw signs of animal life on the hike but we did not see anything resembling wild cattle.
We aimed to cross Paradise Plains and I think that if the weather had helped we might have been able to follow the original plan.
With Geoff I cannot find words to express my thanks to all who tried to find and help us.
Fair haired Joyce Williams of Camberwell said from her bed at Kooringa guest house.
" I thought we were lost but I had a lot of faith in the boys.
"On Sunday we thought we could get back. We were racing for the 3.15 bus. Then we realised we would not catch it. Then we tried for the 6.30 bus and realised that we could not catch that.
Just had to push on.
Geoffrey Charlesworth paid tribute to the women of the party.
"They stood up to the terrible conditions with wonderful courage" he said "Marion Neilson in particular, was the outstanding hopeful member of the party. She was an inspiration to us all.
"Our equipment was not suitable for hiking in the conditions we had to experience, but we knew it would be fatal to stand still. We just had to push on and keep going.
"One of the factors that helped most was the way Bruce Sibley rationed out the provisions. That saved us from starving.
Charles Storie said that he was not worried at any stage, because he was an experience mountaineer, and had been in this type of country before.
"But it was tough going. We had to bash the scrub down with our hands. We didn't have an axe. At time we had to clamber over tree trunks for many miles there was no track.
Worst night of all
A couple of night we had to bash saplings and undergrowth down to put up our tent and we could not sleep because we were cold, wet through and the ground underneath was too tough .
"The snow had wet everything so we could not light a fire to keep warm or signal for help. We had fires the first three nights.
Our primus stove came in handy to melt snow, and boil water. Last night we nearly despaired it was the worst night of all. But we tried to keep our spirits up by holding a party.
"We melted some snow and melted some of our last pieces of chocolate in the water to make cacoa, and used it to wash down a slice of salami.
"Each night we had to sleep in our wet clothes.
It was bitterly cold and breaking camp became a greater effort each morning.
"Today it took us about two hours to get going, but we had to keep on the move...
That was our only hope of surviving. It was not good standing still in the snow.
"Two of the boys were almost at their last gasp this morning. Their feet were in a terrible state and they did not want to get up. They just wanted to stay where they were but we got them to move again.
"At about 11 a.m. we were on the bottom of Mt. Observation when we heard the shouts of the rescue party up the mountain... Then we knew we were safe.
"When we met the rescuers we were too surprised to speak for a moment...It was rather emotional, because we realised we would have had a lot of trouble getting out under our own steam.
"And that first food they gave us! We were ravenous.
"It was sandwiches, cakes and biscuits, but it was better than an eight-course meal.
"Still we had enough sense to eat sparingly, because we realised that in our condition it was better to do that then gobble it down and be sick.
And the last words as her mother tucked her in for a much-needed sleep... "I haven't decided whether I will give up hiking or not- yet.
The six missing hikers were found today, cold and exhausted, but otherwise sound in wild country 10 miles east of Marysville.
The four young men and tow girls were down to their last biscuit, after wondering six days in a blizzard above the snowline in some of the worst country in Australia.
It was Maurice Keppel, the bushman credited with having the loudest "coo-ee" in the mountains, who led Frank Keppel's search party to the missing hikers.
Maurice gave his shrill coo-ee from the top of Mt. Observation and it was answered.
It took searchers 1 and a half hours to travel the 1 and a half miles when they heard the answering coo-ee.
Tonight modest Frank Keppel said "My heart jumped when I heard that answering coo-ee.
"We forged through the jungle of scrub, hacking and stumbling to get to them.
"The coo-ees grew louder ... They were shriller ... They seemed to sense we were coming.
"Our voices grew hoarse with the shouting as the gap narrowed...
"My heart beat in anticipation as I plunged through a mass of bushes.
"I brushed away a branch from my face and there, ten feet away I saw them.
"I could just see their faces at first, because the scrub was so dense.
"Bruce Sibley was leading they party. They were walking towards us.
"Sibley and I just stared at each other speechless for a few seconds. Then he broke the silence. In a weak emotional voice. He said
"Here we are, you have found us we are all right.
"The rest of the party were walking behind him. I could see the gladness come over their white, pinched faces. They were carrying their packs.
How the hikers were found
When they knew they had been found three of them just dropped to the ground where they stood. Members of our party rushed to give them help.
"They seemed incapable of expressing their gratitude to us."
Members of the rescue party said that they searched the Bellell creek area on a hunch of Frank Keppel.
Those in the rescue party were Frank and Maurice Keppel, Don Mitchell, Lew Potter, Jim Rowbottom and "Jock" Henderson.
They half searched the area on Wednesday and decided only at the last minute today to complete the job.e for several days.
On Wednesday Keppel's party passed within 1 and a half miles of the spot where the missing hikers were found today.
The missing hikers wondered in the rugged mountain country, above the snowline.
They entered the bush near Mt. Strickland. They lost their track and turned south into the O'Shannassy watershed.
At one time they were within half a hours walk of a main road, the Board of Works road. At another time they were within 1 and a half hours of the O'Shannassy Weir.
"They decided to turn north to try to reach the Cumberland road. They fought their way over the ridges to the extreme eastern tributary of the O'Shannassy river.
The were found on Mt Arnold, near Bellell creek close to the "ghost town" of Bellell.
This morning they were down to their last biscuit. Some of the party were on the point of giving up the trek and waiting for rescue.
When the bushmen reached them, the hikers were badly scratched and cut about the legs, and their clothes were torn.
The news of their rescue was broken to the waiting crowds at Marysville by First Constable Tranter who had scarcely slept since the search began.
He hurried to the post office and called, "They're found ; all well" Remarkable scenes of rejoicing followed.