Woman Who Went Missing In Australian Bushland Survived 5 Days On Wine, Lollipops

Photo Credit: Victoria Police / Twitter
Photo Credit: Victoria Police / Twitter

Becoming lost in Australia‘s vast bushland can be a terrifying prospect. For one woman, it became a reality. For five days, the 48-year-old was missing in the dense vegetation. When she was rescued by authorities, she revealed that she’d survived on wine and lollipops.

View of the Mount Buffalo plateau
Mount Buffalo plateau. (Photo Credit: Zoltan Olah / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

In a press release shared to their website on May 5, 2023, Victoria Police shared that the woman, named Lillian Ip, went missing while on holiday at Bright, a popular tourist spot known for its hiking and cycling trails, wineries and museum. It’s also a base for those looking to climb the peaks that make up Mount Buffalo National Park and Alpine National Park.

Ip’s relatives raised the alarm on April 30, when she failed to check in with them. This prompted local authorities to launch an extensive search of not only Bright, but nearby Wodonga, Albury and Mitta Mitta. However, their initial efforts uncovered no sign of the missing woman.

On May 4, Ip’s car was spotted by Victoria Police’s Air Wing, which had been conducting a sweep of the Mitta Mitta bushland. A ground team was directed to the location by the helicopter crew, with the day ending in her rescue. She was taken to hospital and treated for dehydration.

“Lillian was found a good 60km away from the nearest town and due to health issues she was unable to try and walk for help so stayed in her car,” said Wodonga Police Station Sgt. Martin Torpey in the media release. “She used great common sense to stay with her car and not wander off into bushland, which assisted in police being able to find her.”

After speaking with Ip, authorities determined that the woman had been traveling to Dartmouth Dam when she accidentally took a wrong turn and wound up at a dead-end road in Yankee Point Track. When she tried to retrace her steps, her car became bogged down in the mud. To make matters worse, she had no cell service, meaning she couldn’t call for help.

They also learned that she’d survived her ordeal on only a bottle of wine she’d purchased “as a gift for her mother,” lollipops and some snacks – all she’d taken with her for what she’d assumed would be a short trip. To keep herself warm at night, she used the heater in her car.

Trees in the Australian bushland
Bushland in New South Wales, Australia. (Photo Credit: Bai Xuefei / Xinhua / Getty Images)

Speaking with 9News Australia, Ip revealed that she doesn’t drink wine. After four days, she’d accepted that she may not survive the ordeal and wrote a letter to her family, telling them how much she loved them and asking that they not cry over her death.

“I thought that I was going to die there,” she shared. “My whole body shut down on Friday. I was about to give up.”

Following her rescue, she told the authorities that she only needed two things: a smoke and some water. “Thank god the policewoman had a cigarette,” she said.

Overhead view of Mitta Mitta
Mitta Mitta. (Photo Credit: Wombat3701 / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

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After being lost in the dense bushland for nearly a week, Torpey revealed that Lillian “was extremely relieved and grateful to see us and we were happy to see her.”


Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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