Australian researchers caught up Wednesday with a family of seven in the Middle Desert, who spent five days hungry and frightened without help.
“God wanted us to get here,” the family, led by Isaac Ivanov, said at a news conference. “We didn’t. God meant that we would be here.”
Ivanov, a New Zealander from the Western Australian town of Devonport, said he was at the bottom of a rocky slope near Elderslie when he saw his wife and three of their children start a steep descent toward the sea on Friday night.
The family was told they could no longer drive because there was no cell phone coverage, so they all hiked down the slippery slopes.
Ivanov said they walked about three hours to a hut where they could sleep. But at some point, he said, they stopped at a point the family has described as a “lovers’ lane” in a rural area north of the city of Broken Hill.
The car of a well-known “spirit guru” was on the side of the road, abandoned with its engine running, a tupperware cart blocking the road and a chain dangling from the engine.
Ivanov grabbed his children and their luggage and headed for the car. He saw on a screen of the dashboard that the car’s owners were dead.
There was a chance to save the stranded woman, he said, but she was clutching a bottle of water.
Ivanov and his wife and children hiked more than nine miles before they were picked up by two private employees of expedition company Woomera Alpha Conservation Alliance on Tuesday.
Brendan Donegan, a road safety co-ordinator with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said the home would have needed to be very well maintained to pass New Zealand’s Great Train Robbery. The 1976 rail robbery involved an elite New Zealand gang that stole 600 train cars and $250 million, one of the biggest heists in history.