Missing Cessna VH-MDX : Where in Barrington Tops is it?

Do a search for “VH-MDX” in Google and you’ll find all sorts of things. Unfortunately, what you won’t find (yet) is the location of this missing Cessna aircraft, that disappeared over Barrington Tops National Park, north-west of Sydney in August 1981.

It truly is Australia’s greatest aviation mystery and one that has confounded everyone from search & rescue and aviation experts, locals, bushwalkers and conspiracy theorists for over 30 years.

The main reason I started this blog was to encourage people to get out into the great outdoors and to demystify some of the dark arts of moving and living in our wild places.

But I also want to use my blog to encourage people with the necessary skills and experience to get involved through volunteering in their local outdoors community.

I produced this video above to give a glimpse into some of the work that has gone on behind-the-scenes this year to help bring closure to this long standing mystery. To hopefully answer some of the unanswered questions.

For many years, Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad has been running an annual SAREX (Search and Rescue Exercise) in different parts of this rugged and wild National Park, to not only test and train ourselves, but to inch closer to knowing the truth.

Each year, we’ve been supported and joined by other squads, in particular the NSW Police Rescue and Bomb Disposal Squad and PolAir and our volunteer brothers and sisters in WICEN, the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service.

Next weekend is a big one. This year has seen the great guys over at Police Rescue really throw themselves into seeing this SAREX as an opportunity for all squads to work together, train together and learn from each other, under the authority of the State Rescue Board. The logistical exercise of this type of activity can’t be underestimated and the teams from Police logistics have been heavily involved in bringing this together.

Personally, this is my 3rd SAREX for this missing plane over the years and the weight of the families, the sense of expectation and the management of risk for us sits heavily upon all our shoulders. We’re certainly not going in with gung-ho hero attitudes. We take this serious terrain, very seriously indeed.

I’ll be heading up one of the small teams in the primary search box and we’re preparing ourselves for a gruelling few days, looking out for any clues and for each other.

Maybe this year, next weekend, we will know the answer.

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Hiking on the Gold Coast… Really?

It’s fair to say that there are different types of hikers out there and that the outdoors is a very subjective place. What is one person’s Everest, is another’s anthill.

Mt Tambourine Rainforest

Mt Tambourine Rainforest

For those of us who venture out weekly and find that the weight of an overnight pack on our backs brings a comforting sense of home, it can be easy to forget what it’s like for the rest of the population.

For all those friends and family who think we’re a little nuts and no matter how much we bang on about the unwordable moments of delight we experience in wild places, they will simply never get it.


Recently, I had a great day being hosted by Gold Coast Tourism as part of the ProBlogger Conference which was held at the QT hotel (totally rate it!) at Surfers Paradise. It was a day packed with various adventurous activities, but the one I looked most forward to was the visit to the Skywalk in Mt Tambourine. It was to be the closest I’d get to my beloved wilderness amidst other action packed moments which included jet boating (yes, that’s me clapping and laughing like a child in the front row yelling, ‘faster! faster!’), screaming

Never too old for roller coasters!

Never too old for roller coasters!

down rollercoasters at Movieworld and beer drinking… just not at the same time.

The incredibly lush, green colour of the Mt Tambourine rainforest was a stark contrast to the white sand and blue waters of the coastal areas I’d cycled past in the morning.

A perfect day cycling along the coast to breakfast

A perfect day cycling along the coast to breakfast

As I ventured out onto the raised walkway, high above my normal route, suspended in the canopy I found myself looking around at the other people enjoying the moment. You couldn’t get further away from my usual ragtag bunch of smelly hikers (sorry guys!), but standing in the sunny moment, I was loving this.

Suspended high in the canopy at Mt Tambourine

Suspended high in the canopy at Mt Tambourine

Here was a family business that was set up to allow “the rest of the population”, to enjoy a taste of what us hardened types get to see regularly. All shapes and size, cultures and backgrounds, were breathing in deeply the lush green atmosphere.

Boutique Beer Tasting at MT Brewery

Boutique Beer Tasting at MT Brewery

To be honest, before I went on this day out, I couldn’t think of anywhere less I would want to go, than the Gold Coast. In my head, it was all about highrise buildings, casinos and schoolies (shudder).

However, I very quickly had to change my mind, when I realised that that picture belongs only to Surfers Paradise – one small aspect of the Gold Coast. I can’t wait to go back and discover more hidden gems of this much maligned Aussie holiday icon.

Q: What’s one place that you’ve had to change your mind about when the reality was not what you had been led to believe?

Witches Chase Cheese Platter... to die for!

Witches Chase Cheese Platter… to die for!