The suspected romance between missing campers Carol Clay and Russell Hill has been confirmed by Ms Clay’s sister in a bombshell interview.
The sister of missing woman Carol Clay has revealed she was well aware of her secret affair with Russell Hill and knew they embarked on multiple trips to remote campsites before they vanished last year.
The forbidden relationship unfolded under the nose of Mr Hill’s wife, Robyn, who had been oblivious to her husband’s exploits prior to an investigation into his March 2020 disappearance.
In a bombshell 60 Minutes interview on Sunday, Ms Clay’s sister Jill confirmed the affair had been ongoing for some time before the pair went missing.
“I knew that she was going camping, not just on that occasion, but on other occasions,” Jill said.
“And I knew that she was having the relationship and that they were doing these trips.
“They had to keep it secret, and in some ways, I feel that that’s why they went to such a remote place.”
Mr Hill’s daughters and wife however, were completely blindsided after learning Ms Clay had gone with Mr Hill to Wonnangatta Valley, in the Victorian Alps.
“It was a shock when the police mentioned something about, do we know a Carol? But that was the first we knew about it,” one of Mr Hill’s daughters, Colleen, told the program.
“We didn’t know anything about him and Carol being together.”
While the sisters agreed it had been somewhat of a comfort to know their dad wasn’t completely alone at the time, they said the news had been crushing for their mum.
“It’s been really hard on mum. Not only losing her husband, but also all the talk about Carol, and so she’s got both, she’s lost her husband and she’s grieving the loss of her relationship,” Colleen said.
“It’s been very hard for her to get through both.”
Ms Clay’s sister described it an “extremely difficult” topic to discuss, saying she felt “very sorry (for) Robyn”.
“Because she found out two things at one time. One that Russell was missing and two, he was camping with someone else.”
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.
Police released an image on Sunday of a blue mid to late 1990s model Nissan Patrol towing a trailer they believe could hold the key to uncovering what happened to the couple.
Detectives are eager to speak with the driver of the vehicle or any witnesses who may have seen it in the area on March 20 last year.