The pair left on Friday for the Thomson Dam, near Walhalla in West Gippsland, and were expected to return the next afternoon. When they didn’t return on Saturday, the family put it down to a decision to stay an extra night and poor phone reception, Ms Lowden said.
The alarm was raised when Mr Forbes failed to show up to work on Sunday and again on Monday.
While temperatures have been at freezing or near-freezing in the area, police and the campers’ families have been buoyed by the fact the pair stopped for supplies on the way and that the region has ready water sources.
“They’ve got sleeping bags … so if they stayed with their car they should be OK,” Inspector Cashman said.
Their car is green 1994 Nissan Patrol wagon with the registration FQC 467. Police suspect they may have become bogged, trapped in snow or had a flat battery along one of the region’s hundreds of tracks.
More than 20 family and friends, along with many more locals familiar with the area, have joined police and SES volunteers in the search.
“They’ve had some contact with family on Saturday, but we’re not exactly clear what their intentions were and we haven’t heard from them since,” Inspector Cashman said.
Ms Lowden said she was “nervous, worried and a little bit scared” but was trying to stay positive.
She said her daughter was outgoing, bubbly and the type of woman who would do anything for her friends.
“I’d say I love you, come home,” Ms Lowden told reporters. “I’ve made you some chocolate muffins. They’re sitting here waiting for you, just come and get them.”
Ms Lowden praised the region’s “country spirit” after businesses provided free accommodation for the family and pizzas for the search teams.
She also thanked the pair’s many friends, who have mobilised on social media, sending out alerts and updates about the search.
Zach is a reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org