David George Arthur HAMMOND

David was last seen near the ‘Big Red’ dune at the edge of the Simpson Desert, 35 km west of Birdsville on August 21, 2004. He had been camping there with the intention of driving back to Birdsville. He failed to return and has not been seen since.

His vehicle, a yellow 1983 model Ford Laser hatchback was later found about 9km north of where he was last seen. It had Queensland registration number plates 376 GQL.

 

May 20, 2005 -
Appeal for information, Birdsville missing man

QLD Police are appealing to the public for information about an English backpacker missing from Birdsville nine months ago.

David George Arthur Hammond, 60 years, was last seen at the Big Red Sand Dune on August 21, 2004.

He is of Caucasian appearance, 165cm tall, thin build, with brown eyes, brown hair and a tanned complexion, and was last seen wearing dark shorts, thongs and a t-shirt.

His yellow Ford Laser was located by Birdsville Police in February this year, but investigations have failed to locate the man.

Anyone who has seen this man or may have given him a lift from Birdsville should contact Inspector Steve Dabinett from Mt Isa Police on 07 4744 1105 or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

Car clue in puzzle of missing tourist
KAY DIBBEN chief reporter
29may05

WHEN missing British tourist David Hammond abandoned his yellow Ford Laser on the edge of the Simpson Desert near Birdsville he left a "finder's keepers" note.

The faded note, which said anyone who found the car was welcome to keep it and anything left inside, was discovered inside the unlocked vehicle.

But when Birdsville police searched the car, the registration plates were gone and there appeared to have been an attempt to hide the vehicle under broken tree branches.

There was nothing mechanically wrong with the car, and forensic tests did not reveal any signs of foul play.

Police are now trying to find out if Mr Hammond, 60, simply hitched a ride with another traveller, became lost, or tried to "disappear" into the desert and died.

The mystery of the missing British man has only been made public after police spent months tracking down Mr Hammond's next-of-kin in England – who were unaware he was missing – and exhausting all other inquiries.

Passport checks confirmed Mr Hammond, who arrived in Australia from New Zealand in April last year, had not left the country.

Birdsville police officer Senior Constable Paul Keightley spoke to Mr Hammond in August last year, about a week before the Birdsville Races.

Locals had reported seeing a man in a "little yellow car" camping rough just north of the Big Red Sand Dunes, on the edge of the Simpson Desert, 35km west of Birdsville. He had been there a couple of weeks.

It was strictly four-wheel-drive territory, so Sen-Constable Keightley drove out with a nurse to check on the man.

"He said he was a bit of a nature-watcher. He had water and basic supplies, but I suggested he might be better off heading back towards town," Sen-Constable Keightley said.

Mr Hammond said he was travelling around Australia, and had already been to Brisbane and Mount Isa.

Five days later when Sen-Constable Keightley returned to check on Mr Hammond he was gone. His car tracks headed towards the road to Birdsville.

But on February 2 this year a property-owner spotted Mr Hammond's car from a plane. It was on a property about 7 km from where he had been camping.

Clothes and a few possessions were found in the 1983 Ford Laser hatch, but nothing valuable.

"In the summer here there are extremely strong winds and quite a bit of sand had built up against the side of the wheels," Sen-Constable Keightley said.

An extensive search of the area failed to find any trace of Mr Hammond.

"There had been six months of shifting desert sands and there are lots of dingoes in the area. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack," Sen-Constable Keightley said.

A local, who described the barren area as rugged terrain, said that if he had walked into the desert he would not have survived beyond four or five days.

Through Interpol, police found Mr Hammond's former wife, Carol Hammond, in April.

Mr Hammond, whose daughters Sarah, 21, and Amy, 18, live in England, had lived in Auckland, New Zealand, since separating from his wife in 1989.

Mrs Hammond said she had had occasional phone contact with him, but he had not kept in touch with his daughters, who were now confused and emotional about his disappearance.

She said it had left a "quite painful question mark".

Her ex-husband had told her of his plans to go to Australia, but she and friends in New Zealand had not heard from him since he left.

She said she was shocked to hear he had been camping out in a remote area.

Mr Hammond is described as 165cm tall, of thin build with brown hair and eyes and a tanned complexion. His car registration number was 376 GQL. Anyone with information should call Mount Isa Police on 474 4105 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.