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Queensland man rescued after 18 days says he was trying to take shortcut home

Guardian staff
·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Queensland Police Service Handout/EPA</span>
Photograph: Queensland Police Service Handout/EPA

A Queensland man who survived 18 days in a remote area says he got lost after trying to take a shortcut on his way home from the pub.

Robert Weber was initially reported missing after his empty Ford Falcon was found bogged on a road near Kilkivan, west of Gympie, on 15 January.

What should have been a two and a half hour drive turned into a two and a half week ordeal after he decided to turn off the main road to avoid traffic.

Related: Man found clinging to ocean beacon after falling off boat in Queensland

“It turned out to be detrimental because that road went nowhere. When it says ‘no through road’ that is what it means,” Weber told ABC TV on Monday.

The 58-year-old said his car got bogged and after three days his water supplies ran out so he went off on foot to search for water.

He ate wild mushrooms, drank dam water and slept on the ground out in the open.

Weber told Channel 7 that the experience was “lonely”, and said one night when it poured with rain, he “lost it”.

“I had no shelter. I passed out. My body couldn’t cope,” he said. “That was the misery part of it.

Meanwhile, police and State Emergency Service personnel searched for days, scouring bushland, rivers and dams for any sign of Weber.

As time passed hopes of finding him alive faded and officers finally decided to call off the search on Thursday.

However, a local property owner, who turned out to be local MP Tony Perrett, found Weber sitting under a tree near a dam about 9am on Sunday morning.

Weber said being rescued was “one of the greatest moments of my life”.

He was taken to hospital suffering exposure but he was otherwise safe and well.

His dog is yet to be found.