28 January, 2015. 15:00
STANLEY WORTHINGTON | Sydney Correspondent | Contact
A DARWIN man is lucky to be alive today after spending the past few days lost in the wilderness, near the Sydney suburb of West Pymble.
After attending his cousin’s barbeque, contract musterer Glenn Stevenson became disoriented after he left the party to walk to the train station.
Mr Stevenson, an experienced outdoorsman, was in good health despite having survived three days in the rugged wilderness of Lane Cove National Park through at least two rainstorms and temperatures that dipped into the teens.
He knew he was in trouble when his phone went flat, leaving him unable to look at a map or call for help.
“I tried to ask for directions but nobody wanted a bar of me,” he said.
“The sun was going down and I guess I just resigned to the fact that I was going to be sleeping rough,”
The Kuring Gai LAC quickly gathered a search team and conducted an initial search, police spokeswoman Alice Knoll said.
Yesterday, a regional team of trained volunteers — including 46 hikers, four dog teams and two helicopters — searched a 2-kilometre radius on the ground and a larger area from the air. But they found no sign of Stevenson.
Then last night’s storm halted progress.
At approximately 8:30 pm last, Mr Stevenson said he was able to find a spot to sleep for the night in a local park.
As he woke up this morning, he said his hunger pains and thirst were becoming unbearable.
“I was able to catch a local savage in the morning, who guided me to some fresh water,” he said.
“From there, I was able to spear an eel out of the same creek in front of a couple dog-walkers and,”
“Lucky for me, the park I slept in the night before had a ‘free barbecue hot plate hut thing’, which I reckon saved my life,” he said.
“I chased away these Chinamen using it with a stick and I threw the fucking eel on the hot plate. The Asians left some chicken behind and I ate that, too.”
Life-long West Pymble resident, Saul Leeds, says he ran into Mr Stevenson while he was out walking his beloved 6-year-old Pekingese bitch, Jim-Jam.
“Jim-Jam and I love going on long walks through the Lane Cove National Park,” said Mr Leeds.
Lane Cove National Park is a beautiful pocket of bushland that sits on either side of the peaceful Lane Cove River. It’s in easy reach for Far-Northern Sydneysiders, extending from East Ryde to Pennant Hills and West Pymble.
“But yesterday morning was different,”
“I saw this man in a big black cowboy hat wearing a stripy shirt and no pants,”
“It looked like he’d made a spear or something – he was wading waist-deep through the water like an Aborigine,” said Mr Leeds.
“He’d hung up an eel he caught in the tree beside the walking track, everybody was petrified by the sight of him.”
A rainstorm blew in yesterday night and halted any search efforts. This morning, a team of 64 hikers, three dog teams and two helicopters set out again, covering a 5-kilometre radius on the ground and 20 kilometres from the air.
It wasn’t until concerned citizens contacted police this morning, saying there was a “transient person spearing fish out of the Lane Cove River” that the penny finally dropped for the authorities.
Police made contact with Mr Stevenson at about 11:30 am today after they discovered his makeshift shelter in a park pergola, not far from the river.
“Mr Stevnson was in good spirits when we found him,” said Kuring Gai LAC acting sergeant Brett Johns.
“He was very compliant and pleased when we said we’d wave the kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and fishing license violations,”
“The best possible outcome was achieved for all parties – except for the eel.”