By HARRY CLARKE | EXCLUSIVE
THE Caller has confirmed that a man missing since Sunday in Far North Queensland crocodile country was a long time co-host of a popular fishing show on Sydney radio.
There are serious concerns for the welfare of fishing identity Roman “Butch” Butchaski, who was least seen heading off for a solo fishing trip on the Olive River, a remote waterway on Cape York Peninsula’s eastern coastline.
Butchaski had left the well known cattle property Bramwell Station about 8am Sunday travelling towards the Olive River, where he’d told friends he intended to walk along the river bank while casting lures.
Alarm was raised when Butchaski, an experienced fisherman in his 70s who’d fished on Cape York several times previously, hadn’t returned as expected by last light Sunday.
“He’s a keen fisherman, so the expectation is anyone who fishes those areas would take all reasonable precautions in and around those waterways,” Queensland Police senior sergeant Duane Amos told a Cairns press conference Monday.
“He was certainly well prepared for a normal expedition that it would appear he’s undertaken before.”
For several years Butchaski, known by his nickname “Butch”, co-hosted popular 2GB weekend radio program The Fishing Show alongside Michael Guest and Gavin “The One Iron” Pitchford. The program is no longer running.
The Caller understands Butchaski travelled from Sydney to fish on Cape York often and had visited Bramwell Station several times over the years.
On Sunday morning he had borrowed a ‘side-by-side’ buggy from a friend to travel to the Olive River’s main waterway, more than an hour’s drive east.
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The vehicle, along with personal items such as a fishing rod, were found parked near the banks of the river about 6.45pm.
The Torres Strait-based Rescue 700 aircraft, along with privately owned local aircraft, began searching the Olive River area Sunday night. A ground search team comprising police and SES personnel joined the search yesterday.
Large scale search operations are expected to continue tomorrow.
“Everyone has immediately got into the search themselves, while the policing and emergency service have stood up a formal response,” Amos said.
“The difficulty is the remote location is obviously getting resources into those areas. There’s ferry river crossings, so you can only get assets over at certain times of the day.
“It’s been described as significantly dense, and quite an awkward area to get in and out of, on that river system.”
The Olive River is a well known crocodile habitat.
Asked by journalists about whether Butchaski may have become the victim of a crocodile attack, Amos (pictured below) said that was a possibility.
“It is a reasonable expectation and that is always one of the considerations that we have, is what habitat is in that area, and areas of interest,” he said.
“That’s something that the search and rescue coordinators would be taking into consideration and certainly that’s a risk for any of our searches and emergency services.”
Ask about the length of time for which a person could survive in the area, Amos said: “It depends on a person’s background and upbringing, whether they’ve got particular skills in that area, but from all understanding he’s actually taken the appropriate resources for the time that he was going to be expected to be out remotely”.