THE WEST AUSTRALIAN
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 13:25
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.
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