One man’s mission to find a missing plane Crash scene: In this rare picture, the wrecked Stinson aircraft is removed from near the Gully Line in 1958. Photo by Bill Hitchcock
Nanjing Night Net

REMINDER: To mark the 80th anniversary of a famous rescue, a replica Stinson Model A is on display outside O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, in the Gold Coast’s hinterland.

TweetFacebookThe Riddle of the Stinson. It starred a young Jack Thompson as Bernard O’Reilly, the laconic bush hero involved.

REMINDER: To mark the 80th anniversary of a famous rescue, a replica Stinson Model A is on display outside O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, in the Gold Coast’s hinterland.

My interest started with an email from Weekender reader Vit Lapp.

“A famous Stinson rescue occurred in mountains south of Brisbane. The story is well remembered there. There were pictures in the foyer of what used to be a guesthouse, but is now called O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (on the Gold Coast hinterland),” Lapp said.

“When all had given up, this bushman O’Reilly went out. He knew exactly where to go and found people still alive at the crash,” Lapp said.

More background then came from Newcastle’s East End reader Jim Donnelly.

“Your article on the Stinson aircrafts which operated from the old Newcastle airport is very interesting. You state that two Stinsons were imported from the USA in 1939,” he wrote.

“You are probably aware that in February 1937 a Stinson crashed near the Lamington Plateau, in (southern) Queensland. Seven men were aboard. The two survivors were near death and not found until 10 days after the crash. They had no food during that period. They were injured and suffering burns, as the (three-engine) aircraft had burned fiercely.”

He said a cyclone had been raging the night the commercial airliner flew over the farm of bushman Bernard O’Reilly, the dogged lone searcher who eventually found the wrecked Model A airliner. He later wrote about the subsequent rescue in his 1940 book Green Mountains.The two pilots involved were killed on impact as were two of the passengers.

“The three survivors were John (later Sir John) Proud, a member of the Prouds the Jewellers family and two men called Joseph Binstead and Jim Westray. As Westray could walk, he set off to find help (then vanished).”

Proud had a compound facture of the leg and the others could only crawl to a nearby creek to find water. After O’Reilly found Proud and Binstead, he returned to get more help before coming across Westray’s body en-route.

“Later O’Reilly heard a gunshot and contacted the shooter who was able to guide him the rest of the way out. Horses were provided for the rescue and Proud and Binstead were taken to hospital,” Donnelly wrote.

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