Michael Keith GRAHAM

Michael Graham  Michael Keith Graham, 46, is missing.

Missing man Michael Graham  Mr Graham's vehicle was found at a campsite north-east of Menzies.

MISSING: As the search for Michael Graham continues today. police released these images of the camp site, or last known point for Mr Graham. Source: PerthNow

Search for missing Goldfields prospector Michael Keith Graham

THE search for a missing prospector in Menzies will continue for a fifth day tomorrow.

WA Police and State Emergency Service volunteers have been searching for Michael Keith Graham, 46, since Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Graham was last seen on Sunday.

Police will continue their search for as long as possible tonight while SES volunteers will return to the search area at first light tomorrow morning.

Police said this afternoon a crew on board a helicopter identified a number of mine shafts in the area which will be searched further.

Nearby mining company Norton Gold Fields Paddington Operations have provided a specialist emergency response team to help with the search of the mine shafts.

The Shire of Menzies is also providing logistical support while local contractors have provided specialist equipment.

Police yesterday issued photographs of a bush camp as they continue the search. 

Photographs of the site where Mr Graham was believed to have been staying show his abandoned car, tent and belongings.

It is not known if Mr Graham has access to food, water and shelter, and police said there were serious concerns for his safety because his supplies were still with his vehicle.

Police went to his campsite Tuesday afternoon and found his vehicle, but officers could not find the prospector.


Search intensifies for missing prospector

Updated Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:00pm AEDT - ABC

A specialist police team with tracking and bush survival training has arrived in the Goldfields, as the search for a missing prospector enters its ninth day.

Michael Graham, 46, was last seen camping with a friend near Lake Ballard, west of Menzies, 11 days ago.

A number of items belonging to Mr Graham were recovered yesterday, with the focus of the search operation shifting further south.

Four officers from the Tactical Response Group joined the search operation overnight and will attempt to track Mr Graham.

A police search plane will also join the search today.

Lost prospector's wife feels strain

James Purtill, The West Australian January 25, 2013, 6:38 am

Staunch, generous and quick to crack a joke, the wife of missing prospector Michael Graham is privately riding waves of anger and frustration.

When police told her they had found signs her husband was still alive, the only emotion she felt was blissful relief.

Mrs Graham and her husband's sister Lisa Dodson had spent the past 12 days hoping for news.

Early each morning they have left the Menzies Hotel and taken the dirt road 70km to the police camp where they have waited for some sign that Mr Graham was still alive.

Each morning they have watched emergency services patrols set out.

Through the day reports came in over the radio of dry creeks and trackless earth.

They had been told Wednesday would be the last day. The search could not go on for ever. The cherry-red search helicopter had already been sent home.

That morning, on schedule, they drove out to the police camp. "We had faced the fact the search was going to be called off," Mrs Dodson said. Mrs Graham had been steeling herself for the lunchtime phone call to her son and daughter at home in Lake Macquarie, NSW.

As the two women arrived at the camp, they were met by three police vehicles leaving. A window rolled down and Acting Insp. Ricky Chadwick greeted them.

"Ricky said: 'We've found something. Follow us.' There was a realisation that this was it," Mrs Graham said.

After they were briefed about the discovery, she called her daughter on a satellite phone.

The 15-year-old was "stunned" by the good news. "It was the first sign of hope," Mrs Graham said.

"We were elated."

Mrs Graham and Mrs Dodson had been planning to drive back across the Nullarbor today in the Nissan X-Trail Mr Graham had driven in the opposite direction weeks earlier.

Now they will stay, "until we get resolution", Mrs Graham said. She said the pair felt immense gratitude to the volunteers, police, shire officers and others who had contributed to the search.

"These people are willing to just drop everything," she said. "They give their time, they leave their families, they leave their jobs for someone they don't know."

The pair plan to join emergency services volunteers when they return home.

Alongside this gratitude are feelings of helplessness. Mrs Graham and Mrs Dodson are unable to help in the ground or aerial searches for their loved one.

They make sandwiches for police and volunteers, and fetch supplies from Kalgoorlie.

Mrs Dodson left her two-year-old daughter with her husband in Taupo and took leave to support her sister-in-law.

"If nothing was found, I would have to come back," she said. "There would be no closure."

Mrs Graham, a paralegal for a multinational company with offices in North Sydney, said if her husband of 21 years was found, she would never let him go prospecting again.

"Then he'll get a good slap on the head," she said. "But whatever the conclusion, I don't think I could bring myself to come back here. I still feel like it's a nightmare."

Missing prospector: SOS notes found

James Purtill, The West Australian January 25, 2013, 4:51 am

Bush trackers are on the trail of missing prospector Michael Graham after a Goldfields station owner stumbled on makeshift camps and SOS notes left by the 46-year-old who has been missing, feared dead, for 12 days.

Police were about to scale down the search for the NSW tourist when they were contacted by Riverina station owner Don North, who found an SOS hacked in the dirt. He made the find outside a trough shed at the Five Mile windmill, 15km from where Mr Graham was last seen, 140km north of Menzies.

Search volunteers yesterday dropped 20 survival packs containing water, matches, food and vitamins at strategic sites in the hope that Mr Graham would find one and light a fire to alert them.

Police said the trail left by Mr Graham suggested he was still alive on Monday. Four elite trackers have been airlifted to join the search.

The items found on Tuesday afternoon included a small magnifying glass on a lanyard hung in a tree and a pair of underpants.

In the shadow of the remote windmill, SOS had been scraped in the dirt. Police found more messages in the dirt 5km down a road to the east. They read "walking" and "very weak". Another 5km east, police found a line drawn across the road, a second SOS message and an arrow pointing west.

Acting Insp. Ricky Chadwick said police believed Mr Graham was at the mill in recent days. "He walked 10km east and then began walking back," he said.

When police visited the mill the previous Thursday, there had been no sign of the missing man.

Mr North and his nephew had been making a mill-run when they noticed wire mesh had been pulled across the shed doorway.

"We presumed this was to keep the animals out," he said. "The trough was very clean and there was evidence he had been lying there. We immediately took photos and brought them to the police."

At an abandoned sandalwooders' camp 500m north, the cattlemen found a shelter made from an old swing-set and empty cement bags.

Five Mile is about 15km south-east of where Mr Graham and a friend, Peter Hollaway, had been camping and panning for gold when Mr Graham was last seen on January 13.

Acting Insp. Chadwick said Mr Graham may have sought respite in the trough shed during 40C heat. If he had heard the search helicopter, he may have been unable to get out in time to alert the pilot.

Police had been using dozens of SES volunteers and a stock-mustering helicopter to search 640 sqkm.

But the search is now being carried out by the tactical response group, the helicopter and a spotter plane from the police air wing.

A downpour on Wednesday night obliterated ground markings, but may help trackers find fresh prints, one tracker said.



Signs deliver new hope for man missing in Goldfields


RAIN has given police trackers hope that lost NSW tourist Michael Keith Graham could still be alive in Western Australia's harsh but wooded eastern Goldfields, 13 days after he went missing.

The search area was widened yesterday on the advice of four members of the West Australian police tactical response group whose members are trained in bushcraft, survival and tracking techniques. Mr Graham, 46, disappeared while camping with his friend Peter Holloway in the Lake Ballard area northeast of Menzies.

Mr Holloway has told searchers he last saw Mr Graham at 10pm on January 13.

The search for Mr Graham was being scaled down this week when Riverina Station owner Don North found signs of life at the Five Mile windmill. There was an SOS scratched in the dirt.

About 500m north there was a shelter made from an old swing set and empty cement bags, and police found more messages in the dirt 5km away.

One said "walking". Later, there were the words "very weak".

A police spokesman said rain over the past few days might have made it possible for Mr Graham to survive for such an extended period in extreme heat.

There were shade-providing trees in the area where he went missing.

In the nearest town to where Mr Graham got lost, the pastoral and mining centre of Menzies 730km east of Perth, the average daily maximum temperature in January is 35.1C, but temperatures climb higher in the vast Lake Ballard area where he was last seen.

Last night, it was decided SES volunteers would search from the air while trackers continued on foot.

Today, five police will join the search on dirt bikes.

Earlier in the week, six police were searching on horseback.


'If he's still alive, he's a pretty tough guy'

- WA Today
The station owner who this week found traces of  Michael Graham says the missing prospector would be a "pretty tough guy" if he has survived the Goldfield desert heat for almost two weeks.

NSW tourist Mr Graham has been missing since January 13 after going camping and panning for gold with a friend Peter Hollaway north of Menzies.

Police had been set to scale-down the search for Mr Graham but there is renewed hope he may still be alive after Riverina station owner Don North found traces of him on Wednesday.

Among the signs found by Mr North were a "big SOS" scratched in the ground, a clean water trough and a couple of temporary shelters.

"When it gets hot here, it gets really hot - well into the 40s . If you were moving round in that heat I would think your chance of survival would not be good," Mr North told Radio 6PR.

"It's the $64 question and I believe he wasn't a well man either. It's 13 days since he went missing, so if he's alive he's a pretty tough guy that's all I know. We don't know if he had a container for water."

Mr North said his property covered half a million acres and that there were many areas on it into which even he did not even venture.

He said he suspected Mr Graham may have stumbled across a road maintained by "sandalwooders", which could have been in good condition but could have led east to "nowhere".

The signs discovered of Mr Graham led Mr North to believe the 46-year-old have still have been alive on the weekend.

Aerial searches for Mr Graham were continuing on Friday and five off-road motorbikes were due to arrive in the Goldfields on Saturday to provide further assistance.


Search resumes for prospector missing in Goldfields

Updated January 27, 2013 11:27:28 - ABC

Authorities have resumed a land-and-air search for a prospector missing in Western Australia's Goldfields region.

Police and emergency services have been searching for 46-year-old Michael Graham in remote bushland, north of Menzies, for almost two weeks.

Mr Graham was last seen prospecting with his friend Pete Holloway, who says he woke up one morning to find him gone.

"I took off because I thought he [had] the jump on me," Mr Holloway said.

"You just hope he shows up - your hopes are always up when you hear good news on the radio."

Mr Graham has not been seen since, but hopes were renewed a few days ago when a station owner found SOS messages and personal belongings.

Police say they will start using off-road motorbikes to help search efforts.


Search ends for missing prospector

James Purtill, The West Australian January 29, 2013, 5:12 am

Police have called off the ground and aerial search for missing prospector Michael Keith Graham, two weeks after the 46-year-old NSW tourist was last seen at a campsite north of Menzies.

Emergency services will continue daily checks of the 20 survival packs hung at strategic points about the search area - including at the gold-panning camp where Mr Graham was last sighted and at the windmill where a station owner found SOS signals hacked in the dirt one week ago.

The 13-day search deployed three aircraft, trail bikes, mounted police, specialist trackers and scores of emergency services volunteers combing several hundred square kilometres of mulga forest.

Mr Graham's wife Helen, who was on the drive home, was contacted outside the town of Nullarbor and said she was not surprised to hear the news.

She and Mr Graham's sister Lisa Anne Dodson said earlier this week that they hoped his remains would be found intact.

It is expected the search will continue in an unofficial capacity with three civilian quad bikers still operating in the area and several more declaring they would stay on until a body was found.

Mrs Graham and Mr Graham's younger brother, Ian Graham, offered their support to the searchers and thanked police and emergency services.

Police believe Mr Graham was sheltering under a tin roof for several days up to last Monday, just 15km from the search headquarters.

Mr Graham and a friend, Peter Hollaway, were camping and panning for gold when Mr Graham was last seen on January 13.

The enthusiasm that sent Mr Graham across the country to remote mulga country in the Northern Goldfields began 12 months ago when he watched a TV show named Goldrush Alaska.

Until then, he occupied himself with breeding reptiles. He converted the family home in Lake Macquarie into a centre for bearded dragons, shinglebacks, bungarras, pythons, snapperhead and longneck turtles, as well as the mice bred for meals.

Search for missing prospector abandoned


Aleisha Orr

Reporter - Wa Today

A 13-day search for a missing prospector feared dead in the West Australian Goldfields has been called off.

Michael Keith Graham, 46, from New South Wales, was reported missing by a friend who had been prospecting with him near the small town of Menzies, 135 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and about 700 kilometres from Perth.

He was last seen on January 13 at a makeshift campsite he was sharing with friend Peter Holloway as part of a prospecting holiday.

Despite an intense search of more than 1500 square kilometres and signs of life after he had been missing for more than a week, searchers were unable to locate Mr Graham.

Police say the various search techniques implemented dictate that Mr Graham would have had a very high probability of being discovered if he was within the search area alive.

Aircraft, motorbikes, horses and expert trackers had assisted in the search.

A number of abandoned mineshafts in the area had also been searched.

Survival packs that have been placed at strategic locations across the search site had not been touched but will continue to be monitored for the next week and a half.

Part of the search area is a mine site and people need to be aware that they should not enter the site without written permission.

Mr Graham's wife, who had come to Menzies while the search was taking place, is understood to have begun the return drive home on the weekend.

Mr Graham's disappearance will continue as a missing person investigation.

Police recommend that people camping or working in remote areas should always carry an EPIRB in the event of an emergency.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.