Three men who spent Sunday night lost in Lamington National Park made their way out to safety yesterday as emergency services conducted a search operation.
Officer in charge of Rathdowney Senior Constable Grant Miers said a 20-year-old from Marsden, and a 33-year-old and 31-year-old from Underwood set off to Running Creek Falls on Sunday morning.
They reportedly reached their destination but took a wrong turn on the way back and with no GPS or compass became disorientated.
About 7pm Sunday night, as the light faded, the men contacted a family member to notify that they were unable to navigate their way out of the bush.
While talking to the family member, the battery for the group's only operational mobile phone went flat.
The concerned family member contacted emergency services but a search could not be activated until the next morning.
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At 8am on Monday, the Scenic Rim State Emergency Service, with support from the police helicopter, launched an operation to find the errant hikers.
Armed only with the information that the bushwalkers had been heading to Running Creek Falls, SES teams scoured the tracks leading to the location, as PolAir flew overhead hoping to catch a glimpse of the missing trio.
With no way to communicate with the men, the SES crews were hoping they had stayed in the vicinity of Running Creek Falls but the hikers had other plans.
In the morning, they attempted to make their way out of the bush and were lucky enough to find a track somewhat familiar to them which they followed to safety.
The men exited the bush onto Christmas Creek Road about 2.30pm where they were picked up by a local who dropped them back at their car.
Emergency services were notified that the men were safe and the search was called off.
Senior Constable Miers said it had been a difficult search because emergency services did not have a precise location or any way to contact the men.
He said it had been further complicated by the men not staying in the same location after the search had been activated.
"We went straight to Running Creek Falls but they were not even in that area." he said.
Senior Constable Miers said people lost in the bush waiting to be rescued by emergency services should remain in the location stated during the distress call and try to be as visible as possible.
He said the men were inexperienced, unprepared and poorly equipped and they were lucky the weather conditions were favourable throughout the night.
"They had nothing," he said.
"They had lost their compass and the batteries on their torches and phones were flat.
"They had no warm clothing, which could have been an issue had conditions cooled overnight.
"And they had insufficient water which also could have been problematic if they were lost for a longer period of a time."
Senior Constable Miers said it was extremely frustrating for emergency services to see people place themselves in these situations without adequately preparing.
He said the Scenic Rim SES was entering its busy part of the year, with the number of rescues typically rising in the cooler months as more people enjoyed the region's national parks, reserves and recreational areas.
The incident serves as a timely reminder to anyone entering the Scenic Rim's national parks, reserves and recreational areas to ensure they are sufficiently equipped and prepared for any situation.