James Hugh McLEAN
With the search for James Hugh McLean a week old, Inspector Andrew O'Dwyer said authorities were hopeful he would reappear.
"Mr Maclean has been known to deviate from his path, he's also been known to understate the number of days he might be away. So we were prepared for this," Inspector O'Dwyer said on December 20.
"As for preparations, he's known to pack very lightly."
However, six days later and the language about Mr McLean's chances had changed.
Sadly, police hold grave fears for Mr McLean. Given the length of time he has been missing, the lack of food supplies and the difficulty of the terrain, the hopes of finding Mr McLean alive are fading," Acting Inspector O'Dwyer said on Wednesday.
"We remain in close contact with Mr McLean's family and our thoughts continue to be with them at this difficult time."
It is understood Mr McLean was not carrying an emergency beacon when he headed into the wilderness.
Louise Ireland said Jim McLean was widely regarded on Flinders Island as an enigmatic person, who "goes off and has these adventures".
One thing is for sure — if Mr McLean was to emerge from the Tasmanian bush, it would be much more than just the talk of Flinders Island.
If anyone has information as to the whereabouts of Mr McLean, they are urged to contact Tasmania Police on 131 444.
December 28 2018
A search-and-rescue party looking for a missing Tasmanian bushwalker have stumbled on another walker needing help because of an injured ankle.
Search crews unexpectedly located the 38-year-old Hobart man on Wednesday during the search for James Hugh McLean, who authorities admit there is little hope of finding alive.
The bushwalker, who has not been named, became stranded with an injured ankle near Craycroft Crossing in the state's south-west wilderness.
Search crews have been scouring the same area for Mr McLean, who has not been seen since November 12.
The 76-year-old Flinders Island resident had embarked on a 100-kilometre journey in the south-west and was due to return on December 13.
He signed into the Huon Track registration hut on November 13, but has not been seen since.
The search team deployed a helicopter on Wednesday night which failed to find any trace of Mr McLean, despite using highly sophisticated night vision equipment.
Acting Inspector Andrew O'Dwyer said search crews scaled the entire walking track between Mount Rugby and the Huon Track where he began his journey, via ground and air for more than a week.
"Given the length of time he has been missing, the lack of food sources within the area and the difficulty of the terrain, we must be realistic that if Mr McLean is within the South-West National Park, there is now little hope of finding him alive," said Acting Inspector O' Dwyer.
Police are reviewing whether the search will continue.
Mr Mclean is a highly experienced bushwalker and is renowned for venturing off-track without adequate supplies.
The terrain is known for being thick, with Hobart Walking Club president Geoff O' Hara telling the ABC that the wilderness could be unforgiving.
"The really intense [scrub] is very difficult to get through … it's very wearing on your body, you get very, very tired," he said.