SYDNEY: Stranded by floods and lost, a German backpacker survived for around two weeks in Australia’s inhospitable Outback on a diet of insects, police said Friday.
Daniel Dudzisz, 26, went missing in February south-west of Longreach in remote Queensland as he reportedly tried to walk solo more than halfway across Australia.
Police said a motorist picked up the bedraggled tourist on Thursday near Cooper Creek outside the town of Windorah.
Dudzisz — who is diabetic and insulin-dependent — told police he waded through floodwaters and ate flies to survive his ordeal in the vast and wild Outback.
“If you hadn’t heard it with your own ears — and my officers have — you certainly wouldn’t believe it,” Inspector Mark Henderson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“He joked about never going hungry in the Australian Outback because of the amount of flies you can eat for their protein apparently.”
The German had been walking through New South Wales and Queensland states for several months and kept in regular contact with police.
But when he set off from Windorah on February 17 heading to Jundah, about 90 kilometres (50 miles) away, he lost his way and became stranded between two flooded areas of the Barcoo River.
“He had some baked beans and cereal when he left Windorah and exhausted that pretty quickly, and said he’d been eating flies ever since,” Henderson added.
Aerial and ground searches were launched when the tourist failed to reach Jundah.
“He did see the choppers looking for him but they couldn’t see him due to the tree coverage,” the inspector said.
Dudzisz spurned medical treatment when he returned to Windorah.
“He certainly was hungry, but other than that he was in reasonable spirits,” Henderson said.
The German told police he was determined to continue his journey to Australia’s Northern Territory and was last seen heading beyond the remote town of Mt Isa to cross the state border.
The Brisbane Times reported that he planned to walk 4,000 kilometres (2,400 miles) from New South Wales to Uluru — Ayer’s Rock — in the heart of Australia.
In a February 6 interview with the southwest Queensland weekly Warrego Watchman, Dudzisz admitted his walk was “quite hardcore”.
But he said he could handle it after being homeless for two years.
“What I enjoy about the walking most is just how much closer nature feels… And all the little unexpected encounters and adventures that tend to accumulate along such a journey.”
He related a night-time fight with an aggressive kangaroo in a national park.
“I jumped at it and started to beat it up. The kangaroo was a little smaller then me and offered almost no resistance.
“I think it was surprised by the decisiveness of my attack.”
Dudzisz also met with opal miner Andrew Plax while passing through the Queensland mining town of Yowah.
Plax told Fairfax Media the German was the most intriguing traveller he had met in years and that he had no doubts he would be found alive when he was missing.
“He was very friendly. He told me… how he’s already walked in other continents,” Plax said.
“I’m not worried about him yet. He lives on the smell of an oily rag food-wise.
“Water’s not a problem at the moment, and he drinks from cow troughs and puddles.”