Relieved tears flowed at the foothills of the Barringtons after an elderly couple and their daughter, who were reported missing in the wilderness overnight, were reunited with family.
Henryk and Elaine Pinkowski, both aged in their 70s, set out with their 44 year-old daughter Angela from Cardiff on Wednesday morning bound for Upper Allyn, north west of Dungog.
Concerned family members reported them missing after they failed to return by 5pm and set out to search the area.
Police and SES joined the search but, as darkness and temperatures fell, nothing was found.
You see it on TV but you don’t think it’s going to ever happen to your family.
The relief – I just want to thank everyone.
The search resumed on Thursday morning with the help of police on trail bikes, helicopters and an army of SES volunteers.
Dozens of family members crowded around Gresford Police Station to anxiously wait for answers.
Just before lunch time Central Hunter Police Inspector Peter Vromans recieved good news.
The three had been found safe and well – though exhausted after the ordeal.
Inspector Vromans told Fairfax Media the trio’s sedan had become bogged while driving up a dirt track near popular swimming and camping spot Ladies Well.
The region’s notorious lack of phone reception meant the three were unable to contact help and were forced to sleep in their car as temperatures plummeted overnight.
“I can’t belief this has happened,” The couples’s niece Tracy Eade said.
“You see it on TV but you don’t think it’s going to ever happen to your family. The relief – I just want to thank everyone.”
Ms Eade said the couple regularly come up to the Allyn River area to search for green tree frogs, something she believes they were doing when they went missing.
“They come up here every fortnight, it’s not like they don’t know what they’re doing, it’s just an accident that happened, but it turned out in a good way,” she said.