Merrijig, Australia — One fall morning, Laclan Calican had a foggy blanket hanging in front of him, saddled a horse, and went to a remote highland in southern Australia, where two campers went missing. I found it.
Upon arriving at the grassy plains where they set up their tents, Mr. Kalikan was amazed at what he saw. The campsite was burned down and the burnt belongings of the camper were piled up. Dead deer were scattered around the valley. The camper was not found anywhere.
“There was nothing natural about it,” said Culican, a 26-year-old cowherd.
More than a year later, the disappearance of 70’s campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay remains unresolved. Speculation is swirling. Was it a deadly break-in with illegal deer hunting? A trick for unmarried campers to escape together?
Around the campfire, tales are flourishing without an answer. Often, they revolve around a local recluse known as Buttonman, who lives in the woods near the campsite and spends time carving buttons from the antlers.
There is no evidence that Buttonman had anything to do with his disappearance or saw Hill and Clay at the campsite. Nonetheless, his mere presence in this forbidden terrain captured the imagination of the nation — a strange attraction to a vast country, far enough to swallow people without sound. Realization of unchanging fear.
Rumors and stories about both Buttonman and the missing camper reflect the innate desire to find an explanation for what can’t be explained. But for more than a century, these mountains have kept their secrets more firmly than most places.
Cowherds who once roamed the rugged country hundreds of miles northeast of Melbourne say it’s an easy place to disappear if you’re not careful or if you wish.
Dingos roam the land, barking in the darkness of the night. Fine weather can turn into snow in an instant even in summer. Most of the landscape is only accessible by horse or four-wheel drive during the warmer months and not at all in the winter.
“It’s far away, beautiful and unpredictable,” said local cowherd Graham Stoney, 81. “It creates its own legend and its own mystery.”
In this wilderness, a series of hikers and campers have recently followed the same fate as Hill and Clay.
In 2008, experienced hiker Warren Meyer, 57, began walking about six miles in a national park on a warm autumn day and never showed up again.
Accumulated potential clues. A murder-prone psychiatric ward escape was found around the area where Mr. Meyer disappeared. Some people in the area reported hearing the shootings within the same period. During the search, a marijuana plantation was discovered. However, Mr. Meyer’s disappearance has not been resolved.
Three years later, the head of a prison in Melbourne, David Prideau, 50, went missing while hunting deer in the mountains. Some speculate that his disappearance may have been related to the prison killing of a gangster leader under his supervision. Over the years that followed, Prideau’s sightings were reported nationwide.
In July 2019, Conrad Whitlock, 72, mysteriously left home at 3am one morning and drove to the highlands. His jacket, phone, and purse were all present when police later discovered that his car had been left behind by the side of the road. But he wasn’t.
Three months later, avid bushwalker Niels Becker disappeared during a five-day hike. He had been training for months to go out for his 39th birthday.
And in March 2020, Hill and Clay set out to tell the family that it would be a week-long camping trip, although they didn’t say they would go together.
When they arrived at the campsite, amateur radio enthusiast Hill called in a wide valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains to inform fellow enthusiasts of his whereabouts.
It was the last time everyone heard from either of them.
“Bush is not very tolerant, Australian Bush”, Gregory Paul, At a press conference last year after Hill and Clay disappeared, senior police officers said.
Police do not believe that any of the cases are related. But that didn’t stop people from wondering.
“It’s a very coincidental coincidence that so many people went missing, but I hope they all stepped out and nothing else was involved,” said cowherd Stoney. I will. “
One of the mysteries of this secret country lasts longer than everything else and still plagues the local population. Many are descendants of the main character.
It includes a double murder that occurred 103 years ago.
In the hot summer, Jim Berkeley’s body, 48, was found in a shallow tomb not far from the barn he managed. Allegations soon fell to the only other person who lived there: John Banford, who cooked for Mr. Berkeley. However, Mr. Banford was unable to receive any questions from the authorities. He disappeared, died nine months later, and a bullet fell on his skull.
I have never been charged with murder. The most common theory is that Berkeley was killed by Banford and Banford was shot by Berkeley’s friend for revenge. But people are also speculating about what Berkeley was rumored to have. Others say the two men may have quarreled with the cow thief.
Around the valley, the grandchildren of those who are directly or indirectly involved in the incident are now in their 70s and 80s. Each family inherits its own version of the event, which often conflicts with each other or with official records.
“There have been many criticisms from many families and many names have been hurt,” said historian Keith Raydon, who wrote a book about murder.
The dominant sentiment is that it is best to leave the entire case to ghosts.
“You will try to ask the mountain cowherd, and he will say,’I won’t talk about it here,'” Raydon said.
One of those men is Rob “Choppy” Purcell, who is currently retired. His silhouette (one of the four men on horseback) is on the logo of a local pub in the town of Merijig at the foot of the mountain. It was also in the beer koozie he had.
“Many people write books about the area, but they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Purcell said. He spoke with the belief of someone who knew more than the official record. But he was willing to reveal the details, not to outsiders.
Bruce McCormack, 63, was one of the first people in the family to settle in the area, and his grandfather, one of the best friends of the murdered man, went down into the valley to investigate shortly after the murder. I talked about how. McCormack stayed there for three months and said his message when he returned was “justice is over, leave it alone.”
“Some people know more, but they’re all dying,” McCormack added. “I’m not saying too much.”
More than 100 years after the murder, a new series of stories emerged that blurs the line between truth and urban legend as locals try to re-understand the two dead in uncertain circumstances.
These stories are centered around Buttonman.
Locals emphasize that the recluse in the bush, whose real name is unknown, does not really think that it has nothing to do with the disappearance of Mr Hill and Mr Clay. There is no sign that police consider him an interested person.
However, his name first became relevant to the case after telling police that he had encountered a hiker, Mr. Becker, who had disappeared for five months …