Potential clue could aid search for missing Victorian campers

Russell Hill and Carol Clay had been close friends for years, family members say.

Russell Hill and Carol Clay had been close friends for years, family members say. Photo: Victoria Police

An item handed into police could be a potential clue linked to the baffling case of missing Victorian campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay.

Victoria Police said they’re examining the item, which was handed in at the weekend, “to determine if it has any relevance to the investigation”.

Police have not confirmed what the item was.

It is almost a year since the pair went missing at Wonnangatta in Victoria’s high country.

The last time the pair had made contact was on the night of March 20 when. About 2pm the next day, campers found Mr Hill and Ms Clay’s camp site burnt out, with their car still there.

The ABC reported Mr Hill and Ms Clay were missing from the camp site, along with Mr Hill’s drone and mobile phone.

On Friday, missing persons squad chief Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper made a fresh plea for assistance, especially to any travellers heading to the state’s high country over the long weekend.

Detective Inspector Stamper said police could not leave any “what ifs” in their investigation and it could not be done without the public’s help.

Mr Hill, 74, left his Drouin home on March 19 last year and collected his friend Ms Clay, 73, from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota LandCruiser.

They then travelled through Licola, spending one night at Howitt High Plains before heading into Wonnangatta Valley on March 20.

Mr Hill was last heard from on that day over HF radio, while Ms Clay had told friends she was heading away and was expecting to return by March 29.

At the time of their disappearance, police said Mr Hill was a “meticulous” camper, but suffered from a number of medical ailments –  including heart and skin conditions.

“We know that he had spent quite a bit of time up here and he was described to us as being quite meticulous when camping,” Acting Inspector Dave Fyfe said at the time.

“With that in mind we don’t believe he would have come up here unprepared.”

Acting Inspector Fyfe also revealed Mr Hill had purchased an expensive drone before the camping trip and appealed to the public to “come forward” if they discovered a similar model.

-with AAP

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