Tough terrain for volunteers in search for missing mum

Melissa Meehan |

People travelling to Ballarat to help search for Samantha Murphy have been warned of tough terrain.
People travelling to Ballarat to help search for Samantha Murphy have been warned of tough terrain.

Melburnians making their way to Ballarat to join the search for missing woman Samantha Murphy are warned to take safety precautions so resources are not unnecessarily diverted away. 

Dozens of volunteers continue looking for Ms Murphy despite police suspending their foot search.

The 51-year-old mother of three left home on February 4 to go jogging and has not been seen since.

Ballarat Mayor Des Hudson said it had been heartwarming to learn that people had made the trip from Melbourne, but also concerning because newcomers did not know the area.

“What we don’t want, and what emergency services don’t want, is to then need to mount another search for other people,” Cr Hudson told Sky News on Sunday. 

He said police had an information board at the local police station that newcomers could get some safety tips before starting their own search.

“Ideally people would be (travelling) in twos at least so they can work as a team, but people do need to be careful,” he said.

“Ballarat is a town that was built on gold, lots of gold mines are out there – and people have to be mindful of that when they are searching.”

Signboard for volunteers searching for missing woman Samantha Murphy.
Police are turning to CCTV and dashcam footage to piece together Samantha Murphy’s movements. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Police have turned to CCTV footage to try and piece together Ms Murphy’s final documented movements, saying a full scale search will only resume if fresh information emerges.

Investigators are keen to review footage from the three suburbs even if it does not show Ms Murphy.

Police on Saturday said there were no sinister factors about Ms Murphy’s disappearance, but there were significant concerns for her wellbeing.

Police said they remain in regular contact with the Murphy family about the investigation.

Ms Murphy regularly jogged about 14-15km through nearby remote areas.

She left her home on Eureka Street in Ballarat East at 7am the day she disappeared.

CCTV footage from the family home shows her about to depart.

Police have been working with telecommunications staff to try to identify her route, given she carried a smart watch and phone.

Ms Murphy has been described as physically and mentally strong.

She and her husband Michael run a car repair business called Inland Motor Body Works at Delacombe, a few suburbs from their home.

Anyone with information about Ms Murphy’s disappearance is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.