Carved message sends police on $800,000 rescue of tourist

Mr Keys carved the SOS message 'HELP 2807' with an arrow pointing downstream
Mr Keys carved the SOS message 'HELP 2807' with an arrow pointing downstream

A BRITISH tourist has been rescued in the Australian outback after emergency services spotted an SOS message carved in sand.

Self-described explorer Geoff Keys, 63, was found in the Jardine National Park in North Queensland after being lost for two days. The retired AA mechanic was barefoot, alone and without food after getting lost while swimming along a creek in search of Eliot Falls, an isolated waterfall.

Writing on his blog, My Keys explains that when he was unable to find the waterfall he decided to return to his campsite.

"That red blob swinging about in mid air is me and Chris," he wrote on his blog

"Instead of turning round and swimming back upstream I decided to take to the bush and cut across to the track. It was nearly dark. I had no shoes. What was I thinking of?" he wrote.

Should tourists be forced to pay the cost of their rescue?

This poll ended on 24 September 2015.

Current Results

Yes, our emergency services are not a charity


Yes, but only in cases where the tourist has done the wrong thing


No, you risk people not calling for help


No, we help people in need. That's what Australians do.


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Mr Keys wandered around until 2am, before settling for the night.  "As the morning went on, I heard helicopters over in the distance and guessed they were searching for me," he wrote. "Nothing to do but keep swimming and that's what I did."

After spending the day attempting to retrace his footsteps, he carved the SOS message "HELP 2807" with an arrow pointing downstream, in the sand to attract the attention of the search party.

Rescue coordinator Senior Constable Brad Foat
Rescue coordinator Senior Constable Brad Foat

Rescue coordinator Senior Constable Brad Foat, spotted the message. Mr Foat said, "I was stoked as this was the first good clue we had.

"I made a decision to scout a little further before returning to reassign all the helicopters.

"After we travelled another 6km I asked the pilot to turn back so I could head back to the drawing board, when out of the blue we spotted our missing man standing in the middle of the creek, waving at us."

When found Mr Keys was so exhausted, that he could barely move and had to be winched from the water, in a rescue that police say cost $800,000 (£370,000).


Topics:  editors picks queensland tourism

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