Cliff face scoured in perilous search for missing man
UPDATE 2.33pm: RESCUE volunteers are sweeping a cliff face near Nimbin in an ongoing search for missing man Damien Roadley.
Brunswick Valley VRA captain Susan Biggar said those from her squad and Nymboida Wilderness Rescue - both part of the Volunteer Rescue Association - were at Blue Knob Mountain.
Ms Biggar said the Brunswick VRA members who were involved yesterday had returned.
She said it was a two and a half hour hike to the location they were working.
This has included the area burnt by Mr Roadley's campfire, which burnt out of control when he was camping alone on the mountain last Wednesday night.
"My guys left some of their equipment up there so they could hike up quicker (today)," Ms Biggar said.
"They got up there quicker this morning and started to work around that area.
"It's still pretty tough … it's hard going.
"It's not an easy job."
Ms Biggar said the team had moved along from the fire-scorched area of bushland and were using vertical rescue processes to search the steep terrain.
"They are leaning over the cliff face, to a degree, and just searching that area," she said.
She said this involved anchoring off trees along the ledge.
While the VRA is preparing crews to be available tomorrow and into Sunday, Ms Biggar said they hoped to resolve the search soon.
"We're all hopeful they'll find him," she said.
UPDATE 10.50am: THE Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter crew say they have every reason to hope for a successful outcome in the search for Blue Springs man Damien Roadley, and bring with them some impressive tools to help with the task.
The helicopter arrived from Sydney yesterday to help with an aerial search of Blue Knob Mountain.
Chief Executive Officer of the service Stephen Leahy said the terrain "rated up there" in terms of the most challenging conditions they operated in.
"We're working with Police Rescue today, winching specialised police search and rescue teams into bushland," he said.
The helicopter will winch the crews to the base of a cliff where Mr Roadley's belongings were found on Thursday last week.
Mr Leahy described the area as very remote, with lots of rock walls and lots of obstacles at the bottom.
"It will be tough work today," Mr Leahy said. "But it will be well worth the effort, hopefully we'll find him."
The ability to drop the team directly to the search site saved valuable time and effort, meaning an extensive rope set up to safely repel down the cliff face was not needed.
"A lot of time and effort is saved," he said.
It also meant a much quicker exit from the site via winching if Mr Roadley was located.
He said depending on Mr Roadley's condition when found, he would either be winched out via stretcher or in a harness.
"That's all this helicopter does," he said. "it's completely set up for this."
More equipment could also be dropped into the site, allowing for an area to be cleared for the helicopter to land if needed.
Once teams had been winched in, the helicopter crew will resume their aerial search.
Mr Leahy said the thick tree canopy at the base of the cliff was almost impenetrable and made winching difficult, but it also hampered a visual search by normal eyesight.
This is where their state-of-the art thermal cameras and image-stabilised binoculars became invaluable.
Mr Leahy said there is always movement in the helicopter hampering aerial searches, but the vision from the stabilised binoculars "is quite spectacular". The thermal cameras help to cut through the thick tree canopy.
Mr Leahy said they had committed to keeping the helicopter on the Blue Knob search for an extra 24 hours, initially expecting to fly back to Sydney this afternoon. Crews will now stay another night in Lismore and resume the search again tomorrow if needed.
Despite the obstacles, Mr Leahy said there was always a level of hope Mr Roadley would be found alive, and that hope was what kept crews bouyant.
"Apart from time, we have every reason to hope for a successful outcome.
Mr Leahy said if the outcome was not what everyone hoped for, then at the very least, they wanted to bring Mr Roadley home to his family.
Original story: IT'S nine days since family last heard from Damien Roadley.
Almost every daylight hour since he was reported missing on Blue Knob Mountain, Thursday morning of last week, members from his community have been trying to bring him home to his partner and three children.
Despite the odds being against them, they steadfastly refuse to give up hope their friend is still alive.
The terrain on the mountain where he made his last phone call to family Wednesday night last week has been described as horrendous.
Police, the SES and a helicopter were called in Thursday last week to look for Mr Roadley, but their search came to a halt on Friday night, Richmond Police District Chief Inspector Nicole Bruce saying: "We've had to organise far more complex resources and staff to reach more inaccessible areas".
Friends and family however simply could not wait for those resources to arrive, and began to collate maps and organised an expert climber from the Blue Mountains to help organise a co-ordinated search.
Extra police resources arrived yesterday - Police Rescue, the dog squad, State Emergency volunteers and Volunteer Rescue Association and a Westpac search and rescue helicopter all joining the effort to locate Mr Roadley.
He was not found yesterday, but the crews are all on the ground again this morning, hoping to bring Mr Roadley home.