The Stinson Plane Crash
Queensland is among the best places in the world for hiking tracks, Just south of Brisbane, the Lamington National Park is host to some of the very best of them. Among the many hikes that can be taken in this area is “Oreilly’s Track”.
Known by locals as "The Stinson Plane Wreck", this hiking trails follows the nearly 23km path cut out of the Mountainous Sub Tropical Rainforest by Bernard O’Reilly in Feburary 1937, during his successful rescue of two airplane crash victims.
The story of the Stinson Wreck is well known across Australia for having prompted the largest air crash search the country’s history. On this page you will find a much shortened account of the rescue made by O’Reilly (and many others), you can find a link at the bottom of the page to the complete story as written by the man himself in 1940 shortly before he left to take part in WWII.
As the story goes, the Stinson Airliner VH-UHH crashed on one of the peaks that make up the McPherson ranges on the border between N.S.W. and Queensland. The major problem at the time was that a number of conflicting eyewitness accounts placed the last sighting of the aircraft in a multitude of different places.
This naturally caused the ensuing air search to look in all the wrong places, Bernard O’Reilly however lived at the base of the McPherson range and both he and other locals felt that the search was being conducted far from where it should have been.
Nine days after the plane went missing and a few days after the search was called off, O’Reilly decided to go out in to the area he felt the plane should have passed through had it followed it’s intended flight path, after 2 full days of cutting his way through dense vines and scrub, up and down these peaks, he found two survivors in need of urgent medical attention, they also told him of a third survivor who had gone to try and find help.
Pointing him in the same direction, O’Reilly took off at a rush at about 4:30 in the afternoon, a short time later he came across the third man sitting with his back to a large rock beside the river they had both followed, the man still had the burnt out stub of a cigarette in his hand but had been dead for some time, it appeared that the man had fallen over a waterfall a short way upriver and had crawled to that position to rest.
Continuing on, O’Reilly made a dash for help eventually finding the end of the rainforest at about 10:30 that night. Exhausted and having nearly been injured a number of times himself, he found someone to raise the alarm and arranged for a rescue party to begin cutting a shorter track to the men. A day later the men were rescued and the story of The Stinson Wreck was a huge media event and later became entwined in the history of both Australia and Queensland.
Lamington National Park is located about 110kms south of Brisbane in the Gold Coast hinterland.
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