Three people rescued from snowbound Cradle Mountain park

The Koziniec family is re-united after their snowy endurance test.

The Koziniec family is re-united after their snowy endurance test. Photo: ABC

Melbourne man Michael Bowman, who had been missing in Tasmania’s rugged wilderness, has been found by search teams.

Tasmanian police said the 57-year-old has been flown to Hobart for medical assessment as a precaution.

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Michael Bowman is an experienced bushwalker. Photo: ABC

The rescue chopper arrived shortly before 4:30pm.

A search began on Monday after Mr Bowman failed to return to the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair Visitor Centre from a bushwalk on Saturday.

The alarm was raised by his next of kin after he failed to contact them.

He was carrying an emergency radio beacon but it is not known if it had been activated.

Police said they would release more details soon.

The search has been hampered by severe weather and deep snow.

Mr Bowman set off on July 3 and had planned to walk in the Mount Cuvier region.

His rescue has been one of several in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in the past 48 hours.

Earlier, a West Australian teenager and her father made it to safety after becoming stranded in thick snow in Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain area.

Emily Koziniec, 15, and father Terry encountered severe weather in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park two days ago and were forced to camp out on a track in snow again last night.

They set off last Thursday on a hike at the southern end of the national park but the pair were among a number of bushwalkers caught out by blizzard conditions.

The duo was found safe and well about 1 kilometre south of Pelion Hut, but severe weather prevented a rescue helicopter from landing.

Police and a paramedic walked them to the helicopter at Pelion Hut before they were taken by helicopter to the Cradle Mountain visitor centre.

Emily’s mother Tracey Koziniec said on Monday her daughter was in “high spirits” but anxious to get out.

“They slept warm and had a warm breakfast,” she said.

“I am happy and aware there are other families who have not slept as well last night.”

The father and daughter, who had been preparing for their hike for six months, started the Overland Track from Lake St Clair on Thursday, but severe weather made the going much slower than anticipated.

They are among a number of walkers who have encountered trouble in the park.

A walker from Britain who was overdue at Dove Lake in the park’s northern end was evacuated on Tuesday afternoon, along with a school group that was also on the track.

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This week’s wintry blast has caught out plenty of people. Photo: ABC

Father and daughter planned for ‘worse than this’

Ms Kozniec said her husband contacted her via text at 4pm on Sunday, while walking near Kia Ora hut, to let her know they were travelling slowly and ask that she contact Parks and Wildlife Service for advice.

Unable to reach the service, she then called police.

Ms Koziniec said father and daughter were experienced walkers who had planned for “worse than this”.

“He planned for [-20 degrees] on the sleeping bag, so that is all coming into effect,” she said.

“They’ve been preparing for it for six months. They had checked the weather forecast, they had planned and knew that it was going to snow.

“It’s just because it’s now taking so long – three days to transit one day’s worth of the walk.”

She said although her daughter had done three or four day hikes before, she had not been in snow.

“She wanted to see snow, so this was her first experience in the snow.”

Ms Koziniec believed the specialist survivalist training her husband undertook in Jindabyne, NSW, last year was the reason they were OK.

“It has not been fun, but I’ve also relied on the fact that he has done this sort of stuff before and he’s basically carrying out his plan for when things go bad, and he’s putting it into effect,” she said.

“They’re still healthy, they’re tired and smelly, but they’re not in danger.”

She said she was hoping they could get airlifted out today or tomorrow.

Ben O’Lachlan, a tour guide who has worked at Cradle Mountain, said the amount of snow in the park this week was unprecedented.

During winter, many of the tracks in the park are free to hike, making them more appealing for walkers looking to avoid crowds.

“It’s stunning, there’s no track limit [of people] … walking the Overland Track this time of year and that attracts a lot of people to come because it’s cheaper,” Mr O’Lachlan said.

“But if they put themselves at risk, which could lead to loss of life, then you’ve got to really consider if it’s worth it.”

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Searchers are having to wade through deep snow. Photo: ABC

School students safe

As of Tuesday morning there were about 30 people registered as bushwalkers in the national park, including the group of 10 from The Friends’ School in Hobart, which has since been evacuated.

The principal of the private school, Nelson File, has confirmed that the students who began walking the Overland Track on Saturday as a massive cold front hit the state were safe.

The students left Hobart on Friday to drive to Cradle Mountain, the end of the popular 80-kilometre-long track.

On Saturday there was a bushwalkers’ weather alert in place and snow predicted.

Mr File told the ABC that the party walked 10 kilometres along the track but would now cut the expedition short and return today.

“They’re safe, they’re experienced, they didn’t take any risks and they’re coming home,” he said.

Mr File said the students and their teachers and guides had spent “a lot of time” sheltering in huts, including the Scott Kilvert Hut.

The memorial hut commemorates teacher Ewen Scott and student David Kilvert, who died in near-blizzard conditions at Cradle Mountain in May 1965 on a Riverside High School trip.

“It’s a good learning experience for them,” Mr File said.

On Monday, police airlifted a Brisbane man who was potentially suffering from mild hypothermia from the north-western end of Lake St Clair.

And two other walkers were rescued after being caught in blizzard-like conditions in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.


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