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Rescue planned for family stranded in bogged campervan in Simpson Desert after heavy rain

By Daniel Keane and Cason Ho, Saturday November 13, 2021 - 13:01 AEDT
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A family of four remains stranded in South Australia's outback more than a day after their campervan became bogged because of torrential rain.

Emergency supplies have been dropped to the family, who are from Perth and whose modified Mitsubishi Canter is surrounded by flooded roads.

SA Police and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) are currently working on a plan to rescue the travellers, who are about 150 kilometres north-east of Oodnadatta in the Simpson Desert.

"The vehicle from Western Australia containing two adults and two children became stranded after bad weather and flooding on the roads," a police spokesperson said.

"They are safe and well and in contact with the police."

A Challenger rescue plane was dispatched from Essendon, dropping water and a satellite phone, and police said the family has "sufficient essential supplies".

The family activated an emergency beacon and authorities were notified of their whereabouts about 10am on Friday.

"AMSA made contact with the heavily bogged campervan about 2:30pm and confirmed there were no injuries," a spokeswoman said.

The Perth family started travelling around Australia in their customised campervan in November 2020.

Over the past year, they have travelled through Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

In a social media post on November 5, they announced they would be travelling back to Perth for Christmas.

"Looking forward to seeing all our friends and family!" the posted stated.

After visiting Kg'ari Fraser Island, the family headed back towards the Simpson Desert.

"We're heading inland now to tick off another place on our bucket list," they wrote.

Their last activity on social media was on Monday last week, when they arrived in Birdsville, near the border of Queensland and South Australia.

"After three days of driving, we made it! Bring on the Simpson Desert," a post stated.

Remote location 'hampering' rescue

While rescue efforts have been hindered by weather conditions, SA Police is currently working on a ground response.

"As the weather continues to improve we will assess the best time to co-ordinate the recovery of the family and vehicle," police said.

But that may not be before Monday at the earliest.

"Due to severe wet weather, roads in the area are flooded and inaccessible for several days," AMSA said.

"The remoteness of the location is also hampering ground rescue efforts."

Parts of South Australia, including inland regions, were inundated with heavy rain in the last few days.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Vince Rowlands said there had been "big variations" in rainfall totals.

"Given that we did see some totals well in excess of 100 millimetres in that southern part of the Northern Territory, you would think that parts of the Simpson Desert would have got some pretty good rainfall," he said.

"For the next five, six days, the weather's looking pretty good up there. They will see temperatures rising but we're not looking at any further shower activity up through that region.

"It is going to take a fair bit of time for some of the creeks to subside. The ground's going to be pretty wet, so there will be, I imagine, some issues."

Oodnadatta Pink Roadhouse owner Peter Moore said while Oodnadatta received almost no rain, areas to the north had been inundated and it may "take a fortnight" for floodwaters to recede.

"The only other way would be to airlift them out, but I think they're going to sit it out," he said.

"We've become an island because every road around us is closed."


© ABC 2021

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