Reporter vanished in Aussie outback

Former Evening News reporter Alan Edmonds who disappeared in Australia in 1959.

Former Evening News reporter Alan Edmonds who disappeared in Australia in 1959.

A picture believed to show the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Denis Daly, visiting Marchants Hill, 1940

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A few weeks ago I mentioned Alan Edmonds, a former Portsmouth Evening News journalist who vanished in 1959.

I asked if anyone knew more and I received a cutting of a story written by a Hampshire Telegraph reporter and published on July 4, 1974.

Alan, who lived at 60, Highbury Grove, Cosham bought a postcard at Alice Springs in the heart of the Australian outback. It was posted from there on September 7, 1959, and told his parents all was well and he was hoping to get to Adelaide.

On the postcard to his father Eddie and his step-mother Kitty he wrote: ‘Dear Dad and Kitty, 1,000 miles Darwin-Alice in two hops, three days. Doing fine. Heading for Adelaide now. Left the tropics 18 miles back, much cooler now. Must catch the 11.45 camel. All my love Alan.’

He airmailed the card home, picked up his box brownie camera, his few belongings and £60 he had saved from his pay as a steward in the officers’ mess of the Australian army’s northern command headquarters at Camp Larrakeyah, Darwin, which he had left a few days previously.

From Alice Springs, 1,000 miles ahead down a dusty, rocky road was Adelaide. By air it is just four hours away, by bus a three-day journey. How long would it take Alan?

We will never know because after he left Alice Springs he was never seen again.

Alan had left England on April 16, 1958. His plan was to work his way around the world collecting material for a book and returning via north America after two or three years on the road.

He later decided to pay a surprise visit to his sister Hazel Tait in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Back home, Mr and Mrs Edmonds received the postcard. They had decorated Alan’s bedroom with a wall map of the world so they could track his progress.

They were looking forward to hearing from their son when he reached Sydney which was expected to be about October 1.

But that was the last contact they had with him.

It was assumed Alan disappeared on that long road from Alice Springs.

Early in the new year there was a report that he had been located on a fruit farm in Tasmania but this was proved false.

Another man told the police he had seen Alan in Victoria, but again nothing came of it.

Much assistance was given by Australia House and the then prime minister, Robert Menzies, sent a letter saying no stone would remain unturned in the search for Alan.

Three years later, in April 1963, Mr Edmonds visited Australia in a blaze of publicity after reports from many people claiming to have seen Alan, but again there was nothing substantial.

Some months after arriving home came a report of a decomposed body found in a car 280 miles from Alice Springs on a lonely desert road. Experts identified the remains as someone else.

And so it remains, his disappearance without trace, a mystery.

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