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09 December 2023

Man, 60, walks 50km in 45-degree heat after car breakdown, dies 2km from safety

The man was travelling in the Northern Goldfields, about 900 kilometres inland from the coastal city of Perth, when his car broke down between Wonganoo and Windidda stations. (Shutterstock)


A 60-year-old man who walked almost 50 kilometres (30 miles) in searing heat after his car broke down in Australia's inhospitable Outback died some two kilometres from safety, police said Friday.

The unnamed man was travelling with a woman in the Northern Goldfields, about 900 kilometres inland from the coastal city of Perth, when their car broke down on Sunday between Wonganoo and Windidda stations.

The following morning, he set out for help, walking towards Windidda Station 48 kilometres away with a "small container of water", Western Australia police said.

Conditions were harsh and temperatures had soared to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), The West Australian newspaper reported.

Tuesday morning, the woman also left the car to find help before being picked up Wednesday afternoon by people from another station, who then later located the man's body approximately two kilometres from Windidda on Wednesday.

The woman had not suffered any apparent injuries, a WA police spokeswoman told AFP.

Australian police have long warned of the dangers of outback travel and strongly advise people to remain with their vehicles rather than walk for help in case of breakdown.

"Police and emergency services utilise varying types of search resources, including aircraft and vehicles," WA police said.

"In remote areas, it is much easier for searchers to spot a vehicle from the air, than it is a person.

"If people end up in this type of predicament we advise them to try not to panic, and stay with their vehicle at all times."

A 26-year-old German backpacker last year survived for two weeks in Australia's harsh interior in remote Queensland on a diet of insects. He had reportedly tried to walk solo more than halfway across Australia.

A 14-year-old Scottish boy died after collapsing in blistering heat four hours into a walk at a Western Australia national park in 2012.