Matthew James BALE

    Matthew Bale.Missing man Matthew Bale.




Matthew James Bale, born 1977, was last seen on Rottnest Island, WA at 5:30pm Monday 21st March 2016. He was wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt, shorts and thongs. He had no money, phone or identification. He was carrying a return ferry ticket.

Inquiries to date have failed to locate the Matthew. If you have information that may assist police to locate Matthew please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Missing Man - Matthew BALE

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Fremantle Police are seeking assistance from the public to locate 38 year old Fremantle man, Matthew James BALE.
Mr Bale was last seen at 6.00pm on Monday 21st March 2016 near Geordie Bay on Rottnest Island. It is unknown if he has since returned to the mainland or not.
Mr Bale is described as being fair skinned, approximately 185cms tall with a slim build. He has a full, but well-trimmed beard and several tattoos including a kookaburra on his lower right arm, an abstract pattern on his upper right arm and a star on his lower back. He has a hoop earring in each ear and a gold signet ring with a motif of two feathers on his left ring finger. 
He was last seen wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt, black and white shorts and black thongs. 
Police have serious concerns for his welfare and ask anyone who sees Mr BALE, or knows of his whereabouts to call police immediately on 131 444



·  · in News. ·

POLICE have issued a missing person’s report for well-known Fremantle milliner and businessman Matt Bale (pictured).

The manager of the MANY business incubator in the old Myer building and co-owner of its Kate and Abel cafe, hat and ephemera pop-up shop, was last seen near Georgie Bay on Rottnest Island just before dusk on March 21.

Police spokesperson Susan Usher told the Herald Mr Bale had a return ticket but the ferry company was unable to check if he had used it.

Ms Usher said friends and family he’d normally be expected to contact since then had not heard from him, and police enquiries hadn’t turned up any clues.

“We need to know if we need to expand the search on Rottnest,” she said.

Mr Bale and his wife, Kate Hulett, started the St. Saviours hat brand as a weekend hobby in 2009 back in the UK. They sold them at London markets and festivals, and within a year had been picked up by hip fashion outlet Topshop for its flagship store on Oxford Circus. The hats were also carried by Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge and Anthropologie on Regent Street.

Mr Bale is about 185cm with a full beard and distinctive tattoos, including a kookaburra on his lower right arm, an abstract pattern on his upper right arm and a star on his lower back. He usually sports a hoop earring in each ear.

He was last seen wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt, black and white shorts and black thongs.


Posted in fremantle, missing person, western australia by freoview on May 10, 2016

On the afternoon of March 21 this year the delightful Matthew Bale went missing on Rottnest Island and has not been seen since, so his wife Kate Hulett wants to do her own search for him on Rottnest. Police have searched the populated parts of the island but Kate now wants to see if Matt is in one of the more remote parts.

Matthew and Kate have been very active at Fremantle’s Many 6100 at Kings Square and well-known to many shoppers for their the Kate & Able hat shop.

Kate wrote on Facebook:

For my own peace of mind – and for my best friend, and husband, Matt – I am asking for help from friends of ours, to search the rest of Rottnest, so we can rule-out him being on the land. This is the uninhabited, rough, shrubby parts of Rotto. Its not a fun task, and it will be hard work walking through scrub and looking under trees and through dense foliage. Of course, it’s not an activity suitable for everyone, and it’s absolutely not a measure of your friendship if you do or don’t come! Honestly, I can’t articulate how well supported and loved I’ve felt over the past six weeks!
But – if you are fairly fit and can offer a day’s help searching an allocated area – that would be super. The search will start on the afternoon of Saturday 21 May, and hopefully be done by Tuesday 24 May in the afternoon. So the full search days will be Sunday 22, Monday 23, and Tuesday 24 May. Rottnest Express have very generously offered free ferry tickets to volunteers, but I need to know names and dates – so if you are able to join us, please send me your email address and availability, so I can arrange things and provide you with more information.  

If you have time to help with the search please do contact Kate! It is very heart breaking that this good man has been missing for so long and there is no trace of him.




THE worried partner of missing Fremantle businessman Matt Bale will lead a team to Rottnest Island in two weeks to search for him in its remote, scrubby areas.

Kate Hulett recently made an emotional plea on Facebook for volunteers to help in the search: so many locals responded it’s threatened to get out of control.

Mr Bale, the manager of the MANY business incubator in the old Myer building and co-owner of its Kate and Abel cafe, hat and ephemera pop-up shop, was last seen near Geordie Bay on Rottnest just before dusk on March 21.

Three weeks later, no clues to his whereabouts have been found.

Ms Hulett told the Herald police had focused their search on the populated third of the island so her group will search the rest. She says it will be through fragile scrub so she didn’t want to send an army of people who’d do too much environmental damage.

“The case is soon to be handed over to the missing persons department, which manage the long-term missing,” Ms Hulett had posted on Facebook.

WA Police media adviser Susan Usher says police searched all areas on the island and Mr Bale may not be on it.

“To clarify – police have not said they believe Mr Bale did not leave the island,” she says. “It is unknown if he left the island and as it is unknown, we will not limit our inquiries to the assumption that he is on the island. Police continue to make inquiries and will follow up on any information received regarding the whereabouts of Mr Bale.”

Rottnest Express will give the volunteers a free trip to the island.

Mr Bale is about 185cm and when last seen wore a full beard. He has distinctive tattoos, including a kookaburra on his lower right arm, an abstract pattern on his upper right arm and a star on his lower back. He usually sports a hoop earring in each ear. He was last seen wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt, black and white shorts and black thongs.

Mr Bale and Ms Hulett started the St Saviours hat brand as a weekend hobby in 2009 back in the UK. They sold them at London markets and festivals, and within a year had been picked up by hip fashion outlet Topshop for its flagship store on Oxford Circus. The hats were also carried by Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge and Anthropologie on Regent Street.

The phone call that shed new light on Rottnest Island disappearance two years later

A popular Fremantle businessman told two Rottnest Island workers he would swim back to the mainland just before he disappeared on the popular tourist destination more than two years ago.

An investigation into the unexplained disappearance of Matthew Bale, co-owner of Fremantle pop-up shop Kate + Abel, was ordered after an extensive land and marine search failed to find the 38-year-old following reports he had gone missing in 2016.

Mr Bale had been holidaying on the island with his parents visiting from the UK and his wife Kate Hulett on March 21, 2016.

After arriving at the island, having lunch and picking up groceries, the family went to their accommodation in Geordie Bay, which they had booked for the week.


However, Ms Hulett confronted Mr Bale over the fact he had been drinking and appeared to be intoxicated.

In a statement, Detective Senior Constable Chris Hitchen said Mr Bale appeared to have become agitated and “self-deprecating” after the minor confrontation, and made remarks about his own self-worth.

It's understood he said he was “screwed up”, and “couldn’t do this any longer”.

He asked his wife for his mobile phone and money, but she refused. She instead gave him his return ferry ticket, and he left their Geordie Bay accommodation.

Mr Bale returned to the chalet once more before leaving without telling his family his intended whereabouts.


Later in the evening, his father had gone on a walk around the island when he happened to see Mr Bale sitting on a beach with two young women.

His father said he watched from afar as Mr Bale followed them from the beach but when he spotted his father, he told him to “piss off” and gestured at him to leave him alone.

He was last seen walking towards the Longreach Bay area.

When he failed to return, his family stayed on the island as they believed he had caught one of the early ferries home to Fremantle.


Ms Hulett later raised the alarm when the family returned to the mainland on March 29 and realised Mr Bale was still missing.

She contacted the Fremantle Police station, which along with Rottnest Police station launched a large-scale search to find Mr Bale.

Water Police, emergency services, Rottnest rangers, local businesses and volunteers all joined the search, but no trace of the missing man was found.

After months passed with no bank activity, missing person’s posters were distributed and Mr Bale was formally added to the national missing persons register.

Two years after his disappearance, a young woman phoned Crime Stoppers claiming she had been one of the women on the beach Mr Bale was last seen speaking to.


She said her friend in Queensland had seen the missing persons poster in a police station and recognised Mr Bale from their time as a live-in housekeeper and island worker two years prior.

The woman said on the night of Mr Bale’s disappearance, she and her friend had walked down to the beach to watch the sunset.

She saw Mr Bale leave a liquor store with a box of wine and he asked if he could join them on their walk and drink wine on the beach.

They agreed and the group went to Little Bay.

“He told her he had used heroin for 20 years and he had many problems,” Senior Constable Hitchen said.


They encouraged him to stop using drugs, but Mr Bale said he wanted to go back to Fremantle. They told him the last ferry of the evening had already left and he said: “Then I will go swimming.”

The women thought he was joking and carried on their evening.

At one point Mr Bale took off his clothes so he was completely naked and said he was going to go for a swim and asked if they would like to join him.

The women said they were uncomfortable and declined, but they later took a photo of Mr Bale with one of them before sunset, which they emailed to WA Police as proof they met him.


Senior Constable Hitchen said the women's information suggested it was likely Mr Bale had tried to swim to the mainland, although his body has never been found.

“Undertaking a 19km swim in darkness ... would have been a huge task, even for the strongest of swimmers,” he said.

The inquest also heard Mr Bale had struggled with substance abuse for some time, seeking help for his addictions and spending time at Cyrenian House for meth and alcohol use.

Coroner Barry King heard while Mr Bale was not suicidal, he had experienced drug-induced psychosis in the past and had left for Bali on one occasion to deal with his issues.

From 2011 onwards, Mr Bale had been sober and planned to begin a certificate IV in mental health studies at TAFE the month after he disappeared.

Coroner King heard both Mr Bale and Ms Hulett were well-respected and liked, and had contributed extensively to the Fremantle community.

“He was described as funny, smart, interested, excited, and always willing and able,” Senior Constable Hitchen said.

Mr Bale had a love for fashion and physics, and was extremely active. He had participated in triathlons, the City to Surf run and the London Marathon, and had plans to take on the Rottnest Channel Swim.

Coroner King said while there were signs Mr Bale had been struggling mentally in the lead-up to his suspected death, it was more likely he had died of misadventure or accident.


“I can tell you in the fact of the information presented today, that it is likely he has in fact died,” he said.

“At the face of it, I can’t see any other outcome.”

Coroner King is expected to hand down his findings later this year.



Kate Hulett
1 JunePerth, WA


From Matthew's partner Kate - "I took this last week in Rottnest, early one morning as the sun rose. Many of you will know that we didn't find any trace of Matthew, despite the incredible kindness and effort of over 100 volunteers (plus the many more people sending such appreciated support).

Through a weird mix of emotions (nervousness, sadness, disappointment, relief, exhaustion) I'll be eternally grateful to have experienced such a wonderful show of community spirit - even if it was through terrible circumstances.

Thanks to everyone for checking in/ offering support/ sending love. Especially to my wonderful gal pals, who are magnificent beings. I'm ok. Life can be an arse; and that's ok too. X"


                                         Coroner’s Court of Western Australia


                                    RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH


Ref No: 24/19


I, Barry Paul King, Deputy State Coroner, having investigated the suspected death of Matthew James Bale with an inquest held at Perth Coroner’s Court on 19 June 2019 find that the death has been established beyond all reasonable doubt and that the identity of the deceased person was Matthew James Bale and that death occurred on or about 21 March 2016 in the waters of the Indian Ocean off Rottnest Island from an unascertained cause in the following circumstances:


Counsel Appearing: Sergeant Lyle Housiaux assisting the Coroner


1. Matthew James Bale (the deceased) disappeared on the evening of 21 March 2016 while holidaying at Rottnest Island with his wife and parents. Searches uncovered no sign of him, and he had no further contact with banks, phone companies or government agencies.

2. On 22 August 2018, Detective Acting Inspector Gorton of the Major Crime Division of the Western Australia Police submitted to the State Coroner a report by Detective Senior Constable Christopher Hitchen pertaining to the deceased’s disappearance.

3. On 18 September 2018 Sergeant Housiaux spoke to the deceased’s wife, Kate Hulett, by telephone. Ms Hulett informed him that she believed that the deceased was dead, and she requested that an inquest be held into his disappearance.

4. Under section 23 of the Coroners Act 1996, where a person is missing and the State Coroner has reasonable cause to suspect that the person has died and that the death was a reportable death, the State Coroner may direct that the suspected death of the person be investigated. Where the State Coroner has given such a direction, a coroner must hold an inquest into the circumstances of the suspected death of the person and, if the coroner finds that the death of the person has been established beyond all reasonable doubt, into how the death occurred and the cause of the death.

5. On 29 October 2018, the State Coroner directed that the circumstances of the suspected death of the deceased be investigated.

 6. On 19 June 2019, I held an inquest at the Perth Coroner’s Court into the deceased’s suspected death. The documentary evidence comprised a brief of evidence, which included the report by Detective Senior Constable Hitchen, together with relevant material.1 Detective Senior Constable Hitchen also provided oral evidence.

 7. I have found that the death of the deceased has been established beyond all reasonable doubt, but I have not been able to find how death occurred or the cause of death.


8. The deceased was born on 17 September 1977 in Greenwich, a borough of London, England, so he was 38 years old when he disappeared. He grew up with his parents and an older brother, a younger sister and a younger brother. His younger brother died of colon cancer at the age of 27, and his death affected the deceased deeply.

 9. From his late teens, the deceased worked in the film and TV industry in London. In 2008 he met Ms Hulett, who was living in the United Kingdom during her 20’s and early 30’s. They started dating and then began living together in 2009. The deceased managed pubs and bars in between working as an editor on TV shows and movies.

 10. The deceased and Ms Hulett started a business making and selling hats, which they did on weekends while keeping their regular jobs. By about 2010, their business was sufficiently successful to enable them to quit their other jobs.

 11. In early 2013 the deceased and Ms Hulett moved to Australia, and on New Year’s Eve that year they were married. They bought a unit in Fremantle and opened a shop at which they sold their hats and other goods. They also managed a project which organised the activation of vacant building space for temporary businesses. The deceased was particularly involved with that project.

 12. The deceased was physically fit. He had run marathons, had competed in triathlons and was determined to swim the Rottnest Channel swim.

 13. However, the deceased had psychological problems. Though he had a passionate enthusiasm for life, he had experienced depression for which he had been prescribed citalopram, and he became an alcoholic in his 20’s. He made use of rehabilitation providers and psychologists, and for the most part he was able to overcome the alcoholism from 2011 onwards.

 14. Towards the end of 2014, the deceased used methylamphetamine, which in 2015 resulted in his admission to a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Cullacabardee and follow-up at a mental health/rehabilitation clinic in Nannup.

 15. The deceased’s experience in rehabilitation left him feeling mentally strong and positive. On 21 March 2016, the day he went missing, he had booked and paid for the Certificate IV Mental Health course with view to working in the mental health area, especially with young men.

 16. However, a psychiatrist who saw the deceased five times from 26 June 2015 to 11 March 2016 noted that, on the last time he saw the deceased he was continuing to use methylamphetamine and had developed a drug-induced psychosis for which the psychiatrist prescribed lurasidone. The deceased had insight into the psychosis and was not suicidal.


17. On 17 March 2016 the deceased’s parents, Alan and Brenda Bale, came to Perth to visit the deceased and Ms Hulett. On 21 March 2016, the four of them took the ferry to Rottnest Island to stay for three nights at a unit  on the beach in Geordie Bay.12 One reason for the holiday at Rottnest Island was that the deceased was finding sobriety difficult.

 18. They arrived on Rottnest Island around lunchtime, so they went to the pub for a meal. The deceased had only water to drink.14 After lunch, they went to the shops and Ms Hulett went to the Rottnest Island Authority office to pick up the keys for their unit. The deceased left his parents at a shop after telling them that he wanted to look at magazines in the general store. He asked Ms Hulett for some money for a magazine, but she refused to give him any.

19. At about 1.45 pm the four of them met at a bus stop and boarded a bus that took them to their unit. They unpacked their bags and went for a swim at the beach at the front of the unit. At about 3.00 pm, they went back to the unit, had showers and drank cups of tea on the front balcony of the unit.

 20. At about 3.30, the deceased and Ms Hulett went to the Geordie Bay shop to get some things for dinner. While they were back in the unit, she smelled alcohol on his breath and confronted him about it. In his bag she found a one litre bottle of vodka that was two thirds empty. She poured the remaining vodka down the sink drain and he became upset and agitated. He stormed off through the back door that led to the roadway.

21. Ms Hulett went to the balcony and told the deceased’s parents about what had happened. The deceased returned to the unit after about 15 minutes. He was obviously heavily affected by alcohol. He went onto the balcony in an upset state, crying and angry. He said things apparently calculated to isolate himself. He told Ms Hulett that she should leave him because he was screwed up. He also said things like ‘I can’t do this anymore’ and ‘You’re not my friends; alcohol is my friend.’

22. The deceased asked Ms Hulett for his telephone, his ferry ticket and some money. She gave him the ferry ticket since the ferries had stopped running for the day, but she did not give him his phone or any money.17 He left through the back door after punching the screen door.

 23. The deceased then went to the Geordie Bay shop where he bought a cask of wine. As he was walking out of the store, he met two women who were on their way to watch the sunset. The women were working as housekeepers on Rottnest Island. He asked if he could join them for a walk on the beach and to drink some wine together. They agreed, so the three of them walked to a small bay nearby, possibly Fays Bay, where they sat down.

24. The deceased told the two women that he was on a holiday with his wife and parents but that he had left them and gone to the liquor store after an argument. He said that he had used heroin for 20 years and that his life was a big mess and that he had troubles he could not fix any more. They tried to encourage him to get his life together, to stop using drugs, to think about his wife and family and to take care of them and himself.

 25. The deceased showed the women the ferry ticket and said that he wanted to go back to Perth that night by himself. When they explained that no other ferries were leaving that day, he said that he would then swim back to Perth. They thought he was kidding.

 26. At about 4.30 pm, the deceased’s father went out to look for the deceased. By chance he saw the deceased talking with the two women at what he understood to be Fays Bay. He kept a distance and then went back to the unit to pick up his phone and to tell Ms Hulett that he knew where the deceased was.

 27. The deceased’s father then returned to a spot on high ground behind the beach at Fays Bay where he could see the deceased and the two women. The deceased went for a swim and encouraged the women to join him but they declined and walked up the hill from the beach. The deceased started to follow them.

 28. The two women went towards Geordie Bay. As the deceased crested the hill, he saw his father and told him, ‘Piss off, Dad’. He then headed towards the next bay along towards Thompson Bay, presumably Longreach Bay. The deceased’s father did not see him again.

 29. The deceased did not return to the unit. Ms Hulett and the deceased parents were worried about him and stayed up late, but they were aware that the deceased had done similar things in the past. He had once gone away to Bali on his own for drugs, though in that case he was in daily contact with Ms Hulett after he got there. He had also been absent for a day or two due to alcohol abuse.

 30. When the deceased had not returned to the unit by the next morning, Ms Hulett and the deceased’s parents assumed that he had caught the ferry back to Fremantle. They decided to stay on Rottnest Island for the remainder of their booked holiday.

 31. When they returned to Fremantle on 24 March 2016, it became apparent that something was wrong. There was no sign of the deceased at home or work, and his bank account had not been used. On 29 March 2016 Ms Hulett and the deceased’s mother went to the Fremantle police station to report that he was missing.


32. CCTV records of the Rottnest ferry did not capture the deceased leaving the island on the ferry.27 Due to the short duration of the voyage between Rottnest Island and the mainland, no register of passenger names was kept.

 33. On 7 and 8 April 2016, police and Rottnest rangers conducted a land search on Rottnest Island without finding any sign of the deceased. High probability areas were initially searched, and then searchers concentrated on less accessible and out of view areas with foot and vehicle patrols.

34. A sea search was not conducted since a lack of the last known location, together with wind and tidal movements, would have made the search fruitless. A request was made for volunteers from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, but the request was denied due to the long passage of time since the disappearance.

 35. After the police had conducted the land search, Ms Hulett arranged for her own search from 22 May 2016 to 24 May 2016 with the assistance of 19 volunteers. The searchers found some little-known caves and other rarely-accessed areas, but found no sign of the deceased. Ms Hulett came to believe that if the deceased had died on Rottnest Island, someone would have come across his body.


36. As part of the investigation into the deceased’s disappearance, police investigators conducted proof of life checks which established that, since he disappeared: a. the deceased had made no claims under Medicare or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme;31 b. the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages had received no certificates to show the deceased’s death or a change of his name;32 c. the deceased had not registered any mobile phone numbers; d. the deceased’s last contact with Centrelink was on 26 February 2016; 33 e. the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s records indicated that the deceased had not left Australia; 34 f. records of the deceased’s bank accounts showed no transactions other than overdraft and interest fees after 11 March 2016; 35 g. the Australian Federal Police and missing persons units in all States have had no contact with the deceased;36 h. there were no unidentified bodies or remains at the State Mortuary which could be the deceased;37 and i. the Department of Corrective Services had no records of the deceased being in custody.

37. Public awareness strategies were implemented by police by: a. disseminating a state-wide broadcast on 2 April 2016, b. issuing a media release on 7 April 2016, with the deceased’s disappearance featuring on several news and police media outlets; c. adding the deceased’s image and profile to the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre and Crime Stoppers websites on 10 May 2016; and d. disseminating a National Missing Persons poster in October 2016, with the deceased featuring on it.

38. In March 2018 the two women who had spoken to the deceased at Fays Bay saw the National Missing Persons poster and contacted Crime Stoppers. They provided  evidence to investigators, including a photograph of the deceased taken shortly before he was last seen.

 39. Detective Senior Constable Hitchen noted that all possible avenues of investigation had been exhausted. He stated that, if the deceased had attempted to swim to the mainland as he indicated to the two women, predicting his movements and determining how far he would have swum before succumbing to fatigue, hypothermia or his state of mind would be almost impossible.

 40. Detective Senior Constable Hitchen concluded that the evidence suggested that it was unlikely that the deceased was still alive.40 41. Ms Hulett noted that she has the deceased’s phone, laptop, passport, drivers licence and SmartRider in her possession, and his bank account, email, Facebook and other connections with the community have not been accessed since he went missing. She stated that the deceased was married and had a business, a new apartment and exciting plans for the future, so she did not believe that he had walked away from his life and was still alive.


42. I am satisfied that the deceased’s death has been established beyond all reasonable doubt, having regard to the following circumstances a. the deceased has made no contact with family or friends; b. searches found no sign of the deceased; c. the deceased had been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and had developed druginduced psychosis; d. the strongest likelihood is that the deceased entered the ocean in darkness, with the inherent dangers; and e. the deceased has had no interaction with authorities, financial institutions or phone providers.


43. There were several possible causes of the deceased’s death. Ms Hulett hypothesised that he could have been swimming at night and was caught in a current which took him away from the island, he could have been overcome with cold, he may have been taken by sharks or he may have passed out from exhaustion while trying to swim to land. She noted that he may have also slipped and fallen into the ocean, where he drowned. I agree that any of those events was possible.

44. I am satisfied that the deceased entered the waters of the Indian Ocean off Rottnest after which he died from an unknown cause.

45. There is some evidence which is consistent with the possibility that the deceased may have been considering suicide; for example, his ambiguous statements to the effect that he ‘could not do this anymore’ and that he ‘had problems that he could not fix’.

46. But other evidence, notably the psychiatrist’s assessment that the deceased was not suicidal when seen earlier in March 2016 and the women’s description of his interaction with them, suggests otherwise. The photograph taken by one of the two women shows the deceased embracing the other woman in a friendly gesture that appears inconsistent, in my view, with a person contemplating suicide.

47. While it is not possible to determine the deceased’s state of mind as time passed after he was last seen,  particularly given his intoxication and possible psychosis, on balance I am satisfied that, when he entered the water, he had not intended to end his life.

48. I find that death occurred by way of misadventure.


49. While, on the basis of the limited evidence available to me, I am unable to form any considered view as to the deceased’s character, the impression I have is that he was a personable, vibrant man with a passionate approach to aspects of life which interested or challenged him, of which there were many.

50. Unfortunately, the deceased was afflicted with depression and alcohol and drug addiction. Despite the opportunity afforded by extended rehabilitation and the ongoing support of his wife and family, he was unable to beat that addiction entirely and, as a result, made apparently impulsive choices which cost him his life. 

B P King Deputy State Coroner

1 August 2019