HomeRussell Hill, Carol Clay, search goes on for missing Wonnangatta campers

Russell Hill, Carol Clay, search goes on for missing Wonnangatta campers

A new piece of information is set to be released publicly for the first time in the search for missing Victorian campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay.

Police claim someone tried to “cover their tracks” in the disappearance of missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay.

In a sneak peak of a 60 Minutes story set to air on Sunday, Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper says he will reveal a piece of information publicly “for the first time”.

“Someone was trying to cover their tracks,” he said in the 51 second preview.

The snippet also showed Mr Hill’s daughters Colleen and Debbie in the back of a reporter’s vehicle driving to the Wonnangatta campsite where the pair went missing saying: “I knew it was going to be hard to come back here”.

Mr Hill, 74, and Ms Clay, 73, were last seen on March 20 last year.

Mr Hill had left his Drouin home on March 19 before collecting Ms Clay from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota LandCruiser.

The pair then travelled via Licola, spending one night at Howitt High Plains before heading into Wonnangatta Valley on March 20.

Mr Hill – who did not tell his wife he was with Ms Clay – was last heard from the next day via HF radio, stating he was at Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Alps.

Campers found Mr Hill’s vehicle with signs of minor fire damage at their campsite, which was completely burnt out, near the Dry River Creek Track in the Wonnangatta Valley on March 21.

Since that time, police have conducted extensive searches of the area including missing persons squad detectives, local police, the search and rescue squad, air wing, dog squad and even the Australian Federal Police.

Inspector Stamper believed the bodies of Mr Hill and Ms Clay remain within the 1.6 million square hectares of the Wonnangatta Valley.

“My belief is they are still in that broad area,” he said.

He said the valley had “quite a history”, with a number of mystery disappearances and murders that have left police scratching their heads over the years.

“The place has quite a mysterious history,” Inspector Stamper said.

“There were some murders back there well over a hundred years ago and there have been some other disappearances in the broader area of the high country – we haven’t identified any connections between any of those.”

In April, police moved the search 80km northwest to the Mount Hotham area in April, marking the first time the search had strayed from Wonnangatta.

The search then came to an abrupt halt the day after detectives found two shovels in thick bush off the Great Alpine Road on April 14.

But police could not link the shovels to the pair’s disappearance.

Police still want to speak to anyone who was in the Wonnangatta area around March 20, including campers, 4×4 day trippers, hunters, fishermen or trail bike riders, regardless of whether they saw or heard anything.

This is so police can continue to eliminate people and vehicles from their extensive investigation.

Detectives also wish to speak to anyone who was in the area of Howitt Plains and Zeka Spur Track on March 19 and 20, and the Wonnangatta Valley and Wonnangatta Station between March 20-24.

Police have also established that Russell was camping alone with his Landcruiser in the area of the King Billy and Bluff Track between March 11-13.

Information was later received about sighting of an older person or pair in the Black Snake Creek, Eaglevale River crossing and the Ollies Jump area on March 22-23, but investigators were never been able to establish if this was the missing campers.

Detectives call for anyone in this area, any older couple who may be these persons, to also come forward.


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