Geoff Keys, who is currently blogging about his adventures in Australia, lost his way after breaking off from his group to go for a swim near Eliot Falls. Things went wrong after he tried to take a shortcut on his way back that evening.
“Still no sign of Eliot falls and I’d given up on the idea of reaching them,” wrote Keys on his blog. “And here is where I made one of the stupidest decisions ever. Instead of turning round and swimming back upstream I decided to take to the bush and cut across to the track. It was nearly dark. I had no shoes. What was I thinking of?”
Keys ended up finding his way back to a stream that he mistakenly thought was the same one he’d been swimming in earlier. “It took me about two hours to realise it wasn’t the same creek as the one I’d swum down,” Keys wrote. “There were several features that were different. But I kept swimming upstream, it seemed the sensible thing to do.”
After spending the night sleeping by a waterfall, Keys continued swimming along the stream in the hope that he’d find his camp, or a place that had public access.
“Around lunchtime I came to a sandbank and was in the process of swimming past it when I had a brainwave,” continued Keys. “It seemed a good idea to help myself as much as possible so I got out of the water, found a stick and wrote a message in the sand, just in case the helicopter came down that way. HELP. 2807. –>. Help, today’s date and my direction of travel. I thought this would be enough to get any helicopter that saw it looking in the right place.”
By this point, Keys had been reported missing and a search was underway. Helicopters were combing the streams in the area to look for a sign of him and eventually – almost two days after he’d first lost his way – Senior Constable Brad Foat spotted his message in the sand.
“I was stoked as this was the first good clue we had,” Foat told the Brisbane Times.
Later that afternoon, Keys was spotted and winched to safety. “After another hour of swimming I went up onto the bank to sit in the sun for a while. Suddenly I heard a helicopter coming down river. I leapt off the bank into the creek but by the time I’d done so it had gone. I stood in midstream, yelling at the pilot to come back – and he did.”
“It’s safe to say that I’m very grateful to everyone involved in my rescue,” finished Keys. “Their skill and professionalism is incredible. I feel stupid but lucky.”
You can read more about Keys’ adventures on his blog, motopangaea.com.