Four children were forced to end what could arguably be Australia’s longest run away from home on July 14.
Queensland Police Service (QPS) intercepted four teenagers who allegedly took one of their father’s four-wheel drive vehicles and made the 931-kilometer (578-mile) journey between the Central Queensland city of Rockhampton and Grafton, south of the New South Wales state border.
“The four missing children subject to an urgent appeal for public assistance yesterday afternoon, have been located safe in Grafton, NSW,” QPS said in a statement.
Police believe the suspects, aged between 10 and 14, executed a calculated plan to run away from home and even took turns driving the car for the journey that would take an experienced driver at least 10.5 hours to make without stopping for a break.
“It is a long way, in excess of 1,000 kilometers (622 miles) from Rockhampton down to Grafton, so I couldn’t imagine one person driving all that way,” QPS Acting Inspector Williams told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
Four Queensland children, aged 10 to 14, have made an epic 1000 kilometre road trip in a 4WD, running away from home and making it all the way to Grafton in NSW. https://t.co/qth2ScAe1z
— SBS News (@SBSNews) July 15, 2019
Police believe the group chose Grafton as the destination because the eldest boy, 14, originally came from the area. The boy was accompanied by two 13-year-old boys and a 10-year-old girl, according to AAP.
Officers recovered a note allegedly written by one of the children to say goodbye to the family shortly before they left sometime either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
Four children between the ages of 10 and 14 drove an SUV 600 miles down the Australian coast over two days, failed to pay for gas twice and led authorities on a brief chase before being stopped, police say. https://t.co/KlpyIyc6Z8
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 15, 2019
The children even packed fishing rods and cash in the vehicle, possibly with the intention of saving money on food by catching their own fresh fish to eat.
However, the group only drove 149 kilometers (93 miles) south before they had to refuel the vehicle and allegedly stole a tank of gasoline from the Banana Truck Stop service station in Banana, Queensland at 4:45 a.m. local time.
— Nine News Queensland (@9NewsQueensland) July 14, 2019
The teens were later seen across the state border in Glen Innes where police canceled a high-speed pursuit due to the risks associated with the young age of the driver and unfavorable road conditions.
“It was believed the vehicle had traveled across the border to New South Wales and had been sighted near Glen Innes,” QPS said.
Four children aged 10 to 14 drove more than 600 miles down the Australian east coast before they were stopped by police https://t.co/GpiLzRugAO
— Bloomberg Australia (@BloombergAU) July 15, 2019
When police finally caught up with the teens in Grafton they locked themselves in the car, prompting police to open the window by force.
“The children were directed to open their doors, they’ve locked themselves in the car and police have had to use a baton to unlock the vehicle to arrest them,” Williams told AAP.
Four children drove more than 900km from Gracemere in Queensland to Grafton in New South Wales before finally being stopped. pic.twitter.com/MCfCYTubCw
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) July 14, 2019
Police plan to charge the children after their parents gave consent to interviewing them about their escape.
Anyone with information is urged to contact police by phoning 07 3055 6206 or visiting www.police.qld.gov.au