The search for Céline Cremer ended yesterday when NSW police cadaver dog ‘Wags’ failed to find the missing Belgian tourist at Philosopher Falls in Tasmania. Which mere fact alone leads me to an unpopular opinion.

Wags is sniffing in the wrong place.

What if she succumbed to foul play instead of misadventure? I’ve been a bushwalker since my first solo overnighter aged ten and never once questioned the motives of another person I met on the track.

But let’s not be naive.

Instead, let’s be factual.

Cadaver dogs are VERY good at their job. The range of their ability is almost impossible to comprehend. A body one-month dead above ground anywhere within ‘whoops!’ distance of the track would have been an easy find for Wags.

No find tells me Céline did not die by accident on or near the track. She could be underwater, but the swift-water crews have ruled that out already, and you have to trust they conducted a thorough search.

So if she’s not dead above ground or below water in the vicinity of Philosopher Falls, then there’s really only one other option.

Céline could have met somebody on the track to Philospher Falls who overpowered her. More likely, he saw her on the track and waited until she returned to her car and then overpowered her.

Céline is taken to a property within reasonable driving distance of the Falls and becomes a prisoner. The intense media attention excites or panics her abductor, but either way it sways the outcome.

If he releases Céline then the chances of being arrested and gaoled increases exponentially. If he murders her, the chances decrease. But this assumes Céline has no say in the matter. Let’s assume instead that she’s fighting for her life.

Céline may be alive today if she remains valuable to him, and/or offered him a plausible outcome that gives hope of escape. I hope she’s smart and persuasive because her life depends on it.

I trust bushwalkers as a rule.

But I accepted a lift once from a guy in a utility, which saved me a long walk back to Blackheath from Pierce’s Pass after an overnighter in the Blue Gum Forest. When I dropped my backpack into his tray, I saw a role of gaffer tape, a coil of rope, a folded tarp and a handaxe in the footwell behind the passanger seat.

I probably should have passed on the lift, but I was a big, ugly, albeit exhausted bloke, not some pretty young thing. My driver played the good samaritan and–who knows–maybe went back for another try.

Eventually a pretty young thing may come along.

Not everyone who dies on the trail is killed by a dropbear. While dying of exposure is vastly more probable, if I were a predator of the two-legged variety it would be difficult to think of a better place to go hunting than the Tasmanian wilderness.

Bonne chance, Céline.

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