Bushwalker found safe
FOR three days Goonellabah woman Deborah Axford roamed the Nightcap National Park after becoming hopelessly lost.
Without food and drinking from waterfalls the 56-year-old experienced bushwalker followed bush tracks which "just seemed to end" desperately trying to find her way back to where her walk began on Mt Nardi, near Nimbin.
She became lost after missing a turn-off after visiting a lookout while on a walk she expected to take just 1.5 hours.
Her husband reported her missing on Friday and a major land and air search swung into action.
"I could hear the helicopters just out of range," she said.
Sleeping within the roots of giant fig trees, Ms Axford said the nights were freezing cold.
The lowest point came on the second day when she was weak, tired and dry retching, possibly from creek water.
However, on Saturday she found new resolve.
"This is it, I am going to get out," she told herself and that day she found one of the main walking tracks.
She knew she was on her way home when just before nightfall she saw a sign "Mt Nardi 800m".
"I almost got down and kissed the earth," Ms Axford said.
Her ordeal came to an end at 8.40pm when she emerged from the forest into a pitch black car park, badly bruised, blistered, covered in scratches and severely dehydrated.
She got into her car and telephoned her husband.
Ms Axford said she was never frightened, but felt foolish for getting lost. She spent Saturday night in Lismore Base Hospital, mostly as a precaution.
Police, the SES, the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter and the Volunteer Rescue Association were all involved in the search.