After turning his phone on after eight days of travelling without reception, Layton Keddy was shocked to see his face plastered all over social media and listed by Victoria Police as a missing person.
The intrepid Canadian traveller set off on a 330-kilometre bike trip from Marysville to Omeo in Victoria’s high country and told his family and friends he would be out of contact for the next two weeks.
“I told my colleague I wouldn’t be able to reply to his messages, but he just didn’t think it was possible to be travelling without reception for eight days,” he said.
Mr Keddy’s colleague contacted his mum in Canada, and then contacted Victoria Police to report him as missing.
“My mum is usually calm and collected but she started thinking, ‘am I the naïve mother that doesn’t realise my son is actually missing in Australia?'” Mr Keddy said.
Mr Keddy first realised something wasn’t right when he rode into the small town of Woods Point and attracted some attention from locals.
“Everyone was pointing at me and then the police showed up. They knew my name and I thought, ‘uh oh… what have I done now?'”
His mum Betty Keddy was delighted she found out her son was alive and well.
“I wasn’t worried about him initially … because it’s very common for him to be out of service for weeks at a time,” she said.
“As time passed and Layton became more experienced with travelling I learned he would be okay.
“But I admit I use to have small panic attacks waiting for him to check in with me,” she said.
Mr Keddy said a big reason he loved being in remote areas of Australia was because he could disconnect from the world and feel truly in the moment.
“That’s part of the appeal,” he said.
“I enjoy it more if there are minimal distractions.”
After checking in with his loved ones back in Canada, Mr Keddy continued the rest of his journey and eventually made it to Omeo, where he had another run-in with police.
Steep, isolated terrain
Leading Senior Constable Diane Bloom recognised Mr Keddy from the Missing Persons report.
“I stopped Layton on the side of the road because I recognised him from photographs,” she said.
“I wasn’t concerned about him because he’d been found a number of days before, but I just wanted to understand where he was going because I’m a bit of a bike tourer myself,” Constable Bloom said.
“We had a rescue the week before in one of the rough areas he was heading to… so I wanted to give him some local knowledge.
“It’s not uncommon for people to go missing in our area … the terrain in our part of the world is very steep and isolated.”
In the past two years, four people have gone missing within a 60 kilometre radius in Victoria’s high country.
Thankfully, Mr Keddy is back on his bike and is traveling on the back roads towards the ACT with minimal phone signal. Just the way he likes it.