A hiker who smashed his leg and wrist after plunging six metres down a Queensland waterfall has survived after crawling for two days through rugged bushland.
Neil Parker, 54, fractured his leg and wrist in the fall on Sunday while walking alone along what is usually a three-hour trail at Cabbage Tree Creek on Mount Nebo, north-west of Brisbane.
Mr Parker, an experienced guide with Brisbane Bushwalkers, said the thought he might never see his children again kept him going.
“I climbed the waterfall many times before, and this time, with it being so dry, the lichen on the rock, instead of sticking, slipped and gave way,” Mr Parker said from his hospital bed in Brisbane on Wednesday.
“I had too much momentum and over I went,” he said.
“I slid about 20 feet (six metres), cartwheeled and slammed into the rock and then landed in the creek on the bottom.
“I thought ‘I’m now in a lot of trouble because no one knows where I am’.”
“I went to put my phone into my pocket and missed and [it went] into the drink.”
At that moment Mr Parker knew his only way out was to self-rescue, so he bound up his leg and began to crawl.
The Brisbane Bushwalkers community launched a search on Monday after Mr Parker failed to turn up for work and his boss rang his ex-wife – who raised the alarm.
In the meantime, Mr Parker was still slowly crawling through bush and across rock.
“It was two days of lifting my leg and scrambling,” he said
“It took me 40 minutes to walk up, took me two days to crawl down.”
Thoughts of his family “kept driving” him forward in a desperate bid to survive.
A rescue helicopter finally spotted him on Tuesday afternoon.
He was winched to safety and taken to Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital, where he spent the night.
Mr Parker said he was elated but only sorry he didn’t have a pillow during the rescue after lying or crawling on rock for days.
He said he had learned vital survival skills through his time in the bushwalking community.
He had walking splints and snake bite bandages to bind up his leg, and liquorice and nuts from his bushwalking kit.
But he admitted he had made some mistakes, like not telling anyone where he was going, and not having a personal emergency beacon.
He credits his survival to his preparedness and his family, who set out on Monday to find him with the support of the Brisbane Bushwalkers group.
Brisbane Bushwalkers president Steve Simpson said Mr Parker knew the area “intimately” but he was concerned as it was rugged bushland.
“He’s a very confident, capable and experienced walker and he’s learnt survival skills in our club,” he told the ABC.
“You just never know in those terrains what can happen.”
Mr Simpson said he was relieved when Mr Parker was rescued.
“As soon as word got out that he was found and was alive it was a great feeling of celebration,” he said.
Rescue crews said Mr Parker was lucky to be found.