Fears of suicide have turned to suspicions of murder for Aaron Flynn’s family.
Fears of suicide have turned to suspicions of murder for Aaron Flynn’s family.

MISSING: ‘He’s been picked up by the wrong person’

HOW does a loving dad simply disappear? From daily calls to the daughter he adores to not a trace other than a report from a motorist passing him on a desolate road in western Queensland carrying a jerry can and looking for a ride?

The questions haunt the family of Sunshine Coast father of one Aaron Flynn.

They've asked themselves every day since the 29-year-old vanished almost one year ago on a lonely stretch of road near Rubyvale in Queensland's gemfields.

On his way to this uncle's funeral in the Northern Territory, Aaron was headed inland into a part of Queensland few Queenslanders visit but where he had worked a few years earlier.

He knew the area and knew how to survive there.

It's hard, killing country. Where police survival experts only give you days to live if you don't have gallons of water and plenty of shade in the summer.

Dozens of locals turned out to search for the missing dad, on horseback and trail bike, four-wheel drive and on foot. But not a trace.

Even the indigenous trackers brought in to apply their incredible search skills failed to turn up any clues.

Aaron Flynn has last seen walking with a jerrycan near Rubyvale in central Queensland.
Aaron Flynn has last seen walking with a jerrycan near Rubyvale in central Queensland.

With temperatures soaring past 40C last November, police had little choice but take the advice to call off the search for Aaron.

Without water, the experts said Aaron could not have survived the more than a week he'd been missing if he was still in the bush.

He'd called home on November 11. On November 12 he was seen walking along the road beyond Rubyvale with a jerry can and esky in his hand. His 2002 Volvo was found soon after, but not Aaron.

"The reason we stopped that search was based on survivability," Inspector Dave Peff said then.

"A person leaving that position on foot, given the heat and the amount of water, it's believed from expert advice it wasn't survivable."

He said police hoped Aaron had been picked up by a passing motorist and was safe and well. But in the bush alone, it was unlikely he would be alive.

It was a terrible moment for his sister Renee Napthali and mum Ros Flynn.

But instead of give up, the family funded their own hunt for their adored Aaron, hiring a chopper and scouring waterholes for footprints, plastering the west with posters asking for any information.

They covered the country between Charters Towers, Capella and further east, putting up missing posters and appealing for information to find the missing dad, son and brother.

Every roadhouse, pub and shop had a poster of Aaron. The family also spent a week checking CCTV along make routes for any hint he had passed that way.

"We got down low, went around all the waterholes and checked all those for footprints," Renee said then.

"We've done really detailed searches.

"There's just no traces."

Concerted efforts to find Aaron Flynn have so far failed.
Concerted efforts to find Aaron Flynn have so far failed.

They clung to hope her brother, who had worked near Capella in the past, had been picked up along the road and was not in the bush.

"We are confident he is not out there - it's such a vast land," Renee said in the days after the search.

"We've got to hope someone's picked him up and given him a lift."

For the mass search from members of the community, the gemfields are also a wild place. They draw out the best and worst in people according to some in the towns around.

It is only 10km from where Aaron's car was found to Rubyvale where he was headed for fuel.

He was spotted about 6.30am by a woman driving a car full of kids to a swimming carnival. He's not been seen since. But neither have the red jerry can or blue esky.

Mum Ros believes Aaron ran out of fuel and was headed to Rubyvale when he met with foul play.

She says she understands the woman not stopping - she wouldn't have stopped herself for a man when she was transporting a car of kids - but can't understand how nothing more can be found of her son.

His final text message at 11.30pm talks of being stuck, out of fuel and out of smokes.

The Volvo is back with the family and even now has a dodgy fuel gauge.

"None of us believe he's still with us," Ros said.

"There's no way he wouldn't have contacted his little girl.

"She was two-and-a-half at the time. He absolutely adored her.

"What's happened to him, I just don't know.

"We swept that area so thoroughly.

"There were no sightings of the red jerry can or the blue esky.

"The only way that could have happened was if he was picked up by somebody and he's been picked up by the wrong person.

"It's one thing to bury your child but it's something else to not be able to know.

"It's a nightmare you just don't ever wake up from.

"It was only 10km."

She believes her young, strong and fit son could have made the walk into town if he hadn't been lured into taking a ride.

"I think he slept that night and he was off early in the morning when it's that little bit cooler," Ros said.

"He had a jerry can in one hand and an esky in the other."

But despite the police, SES, volunteers and finally the family combing those kilometres, nothing of Aaron, the jerry can or the esky has been found.

The family marked what would have been Aaron's 30th birthday in August, supporting a charity that helps disabled people go fishing, one of his passions.

"There's very little we can do," Ros said.

"We'd love answers.

"We just don't know and that's the hardest thing.

"I'd love to think there are answers out there.

"You never give up hoping that someone might have seen something.

"Somebody knows something."

Anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers.



Train drivers blow the whistle CQ motorist near misses

premium_icon Train drivers blow the whistle CQ motorist near misses

Shocking accounts of poor driving endangering train driver's lives.

Former Mount Morgan swimmer becomes coaching immortal

premium_icon Former Mount Morgan swimmer becomes coaching immortal

Bill Sweetenham has come a long way from his humble beginnings in CQ

New partnership to roll out tech for students in CBD

premium_icon New partnership to roll out tech for students in CBD

Students from 20 universities will be able to utilise the technology

Local Partners