MISSING: Jason McNamara, 36, who disappeared after attending a lecture at Southern Cross University in Lismore.
MISSING: Jason McNamara, 36, who disappeared after attending a lecture at Southern Cross University in Lismore. Northern Star

Mum's frantic search for missing uni student

ELAINE McNamara is living every parent's worst nightmare.

No one has seen or heard from Mrs McNamara's son Jason, 36, since he attended a lecture at Southern Cross University on April 17.

No one saw him leave the university grounds. His bank account has not been touched. His clothes and university text books have been left uncollected at the Lennox Head Beach House Backpackers Hostel.

It is as if Jason McNamara has vanished into thin air.

Mrs McNamara didn't find out about her son's disappearance until May 8, when staff at the backpackers sent her a letter to say Jason had left his belongings there three weeks earlier.

She had spoken to Jason on April 15, but had not been worried she hadn't heard from him for a few weeks.

"I knew he was busy with his studies. He's an adult, you can't follow them around," she said.

But after she spoke with staff at the backpackers at Lennox Head, she immediately took leave from her job in Sydney and drove north.

Since May 10 she has been staying with her niece in Ballina.

Her days are spent driving around the region, showing Jason's photo to anyone who will take the time to look at it.

"I am not sleeping. All these thoughts go through my mind. Did he hitch a lift with someone from the uni? Did he go out for a surf? Is he out there lying in the bush somewhere?" she said.

"Driving around I look at everyone and think, 'is that Jason?' I can cry in the car without people seeing me."

Since Jason was reported missing, local police have searched bushland around Lake Ainsworth, contacted hospitals, canvassed hostels and businesses in Byron Bay and looked as far afield as a community farm near Mullumbimby often frequented by travellers.

Mrs McNamara said she had racked her brain to think of all Jason's friends and acquaintances in the local area so she could ask for their help.

Knowing her son is a surfer and was involved with the Lennox Head Alstonville Surf Club when he lived in the region for a number of years in the late 1990s, she has shown his picture to surfers along Seven Mile Beach.

She said people from Southern Cross University would also remember Jason from that time as he was studying a Bachelor of Applied Science in Coastal Management there.

He returned to live at Lennox Head in February this year to continue his studies in the School of Education. Lecturer Ryan Carter remembers seeing Jason at his lecture, entitled Professional Experience, on the morning of April 17.

Mrs McNamara said her son was loving his studies and was keen to travel to India to teach the underprivileged.

"He has a quiet and reserved manner, he is a very thoughtful young man," she said.

Jason is described as being 180cm tall, with short brown/blonde hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information about Jason's whereabouts is urged to contact Ballina police immediately on 6681 8699, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Mrs McNamara said she was finding it difficult to keep telling people the details of Jason's disappearance.


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