A bush camp has been discovered in the desperate search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez.
The campsite was reportedly found in the Byron Bay hills near The Pass, the same area where Mr Hayez’s mobile phone ‘pinged’ off a communications tower about 1.40am on June 1.
Mr Hayez, 18, was last seen being escorted out of popular bar Cheeky Monkey’s on May 31. He has not been seen or heard from since.
A Dutch newspaper reports a bush campsite was stumbled upon during the search for Mr Hayez on Thursday.
A bush camp has been discovered in the desperate search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez
‘The police are said to have discovered a camp site in the forests around the bay,’ Belgian journalist Cathérine Moerkerke reported for HLN.
The newspaper said the camp ‘could hold vital clues in the search for the missing 18-year-old’.
Theo Hayez (pictured), 18, was staying at the WakeUp! hostel when he disappeared on the night of May 31
NSW Police – who are leading the search for Mr Hayez – have been contacted for comment.
Volunteers have rallied their efforts to assist the official police land, sea, and air search which is now in its 20th day in the holiday hot spot.
Search teams including divers have been combing popular beaches as oblivious surfers caught waves nearby.
It’s understood a Belgian journalist has a source ‘that is very close to the investigators,’ but the news is yet to be confirmed by police themselves. Pictured: NSW Police combing Cape Byron State Conservation Area
Volunteers have rallied their efforts to assist the official police land, sea, and air search that is in full swing in the holiday hotspot for Belgian Backpacker Theo Hayez
Search teams including divers could be seen combing popular beaches on Friday as oblivious surfers caught waves nearby
‘It’s a complete mystery for everyone concerned,’ one of the organisers of the community led search told The Courier Mail.
She said the Hayez family had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from locals as they anxiously hold out hope of finding Theo.
‘I think the fact that there’s no clue whatsoever, Theo’s just vanished into thin air but they’re doing the best they can. We’re trying to give them the support as we can,’ she said.
‘This is something you can’t walk away from. He’s a young boy, he’s 18, he’s very sensible by all accounts and he’s just vanished and that’s just a ridiculous thing to happen at 11pm on a Friday night in Byron Bay because the town is absolutely buzzing.’
The police search is focusing around the Cape Byron Headland while the community volunteers are focusing their efforts on bushland between Broken Head and Suffolk Park.
A missing persons poster is seen plastered to a sign on the entrance to a beach
Police teams search the water off Cape Byron Headland on Thursday
A friend who was drinking with missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez the night he disappeared has previously revealed security staff kicked the teenager out of the bar where he was last seen alive.
Backpacker Antoine Van Laethem, 19, became friends with Mr Hayez at the WakeUp! hostel in Byron Bay where the pair had been staying and had gone to a bar with him on the night he vanished.
The pair were seen on CCTV at The Northern Hotel bottle shop in Byron Bay about 7.45pm before heading to Cheeky Monkey’s Bar later in the night.
Backpacker Antoine Van Laethem (pictured), 19, became friends with Theo at the WakeUp! hostel where the pair had been staying and had gone to a bar with him on May 31 – the night he disappeared
‘We went out together after leaving the hostel and we arrived with some other people from the hostel and then everyone talked with other people,’ Mr Van Laethem told The Daily Telegraph.
‘I didn’t see him leaving before me, I don’t know when he left the bar before us. An hour later he was kicked out of Cheeky Monkey’s.’
Mr Van Laethem said he sent Mr Hayez a text message the next day but he never replied.
Six days later he received a message from Mr Hayez’s cousin saying he had been missing for about a week.
‘I feel worried about him, we still don’t know what happened to Theo,’ Mr Van Laethem said.
Mr Hayez was last seen leaving the Cheeky Monkey’s bar about 11pm before his phone emitted its final signal near cliffs by the town’s lighthouse a few hours later.
He was supposed to check out of his room at the hostel on June 3 but staff did not report him missing until June 6.
Police previously released footage showing Mr Hayez walking from the Cheeky Monkey’s nightclub wearing a black hooded jumper, beige pants and black shoes (pictured)
A woman who has been assisting in the search for Mr Hayez slammed the hostel staff for failing to raise the alarm earlier.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told Daily Mail Australia, the staff had only alerted to police to Mr Hayez’s disappearance when his cousin Lisa called.
‘The first 48 hours are the most important.’
The woman had been with Mr Hayez’s family when they first went to the hostel. She said the staff were not helpful.
‘They ushered us off into a room, it was like they were trying to hide us away.
‘They have been difficult from the start.
‘They have palmed off all responsibility.’
WakeUp! hostel declined to comment when contacted by Daily Mail Australia.
Police divers were brought in on Thursday as the search widens.
On Tuesday there was a change of approach in the search for Mr Hayez as rescuers turned their attention to the headland around the lighthouse.
Dozens of people, including State Emergency Service volunteers and members of the public, searched in the area where the last ‘ping’ from his phone was recorded on June 1.
The search was suspended that evening with nothing of interest found, NSW Police said in a statement.
Volunteer Rescue personnel are seen in the Cape Byron State Conservation Area as the search continues for missing backpacker Theo Hayez at Byron Bay
Theo Hayez, 18, was staying at the WakeUp! hostel (pictured) when he disappeared on the night of May 31
Rescuers look for Mr Hayez around the Cape Byron Lighthouse where the last ‘ping’ from Theo’s phone was recorded on June 1
The operation resumed mid-morning on Wednesday with specialist police forces.
Theo’s distraught father Laurent made an emotional plea for help on Monday, 17 days after his son went missing.
He said he feared his son was in grave danger and begged for any information that could lead police to his whereabouts.
‘Before I left Belgium I promised Theo’s little brother Lucas that I would bring his brother home. Please, help me keep my promise to him,’ he told reporters through tears.
Theo used encrypted messaging service Whatsapp the night he disappeared and his father asked for help obtaining access to the messages.
WhatsApp confirmed it had provided all the information it has to police.
However, the company was only able to access and disclose some data – which can include a user’s name, last seen date, IP address and basic information – but not the encrypted content.
Theo had been preparing to return home after eight months travelling Australia.
Homicide detectives are helping the investigation along with Belgian authorities but police hold hope he is still alive.
More than $65,000 has been raised via a GoFundMe page for the Hayez family, part of which was used to help his father Laurent Hayez fly to Australia.
Laurent Hayez arrived in the country late last week and has vowed to stay until his son is found.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Cheeky Monkey’s Bar for comment.
The disappearance of Theo Hayez
May 31 7.45pm: Theo Hayez and an unnamed friend were caught on CCTV camera at a local bottle shop in Byron Bay.
May 31 11pm: The last confirmed sighting of Hayez. He was spotted leaving the Cheeky Monkey bar and appeared to be heading in the direction of the WakeUp! Backpacker hostel where he was staying.
June 1 AM: The last confirmed WhatsApp message was sent from Theo’s phone.
June 1 1:42pm: Theo’s phone pinged for the last time.
June 6: Theo was reported missing to local police.
June 9: Police conducted a major land, sea and air search in the Byron Bay area with the assistance of rescue officers, the State Emergency Service, a lifesaver helicopter and lifesavers.
June 10: Locals and other backpackers joined in the search for Theo.
June 10-June 16: SES crews, the dog squad, lifeguards, local volunteers and police are continuing to search the Byron Bay headlands, east and north of the town, as well as beaches and swamps.
June 16: Theo’s mother Vinciane Delforge, told a French broadcaster in Belgium she is holding out hope her son is safe and well, but said his disappearance is entirely out of character.
June 17: Theo’s father Laurent Hayez travels to Byron Bay to help search for his son Theo. He makes an emotional plea asking Australia to keep looking for his son and vows to stay in the country until he is found.
He says he hopes WhatsApp will cooperate with police to decode the messages that Theo last sent – a feat, he says, which could change the course of the search.
Police confess they are still ‘baffled’ by the case, and are keeping all lines of inquiry open.
Homicide detectives join in on the search for Theo.
June 18: The search continues around the headland near the town’s lighthouse with no results
June 21: Belgian media reports that NSW Police discovered a camp site in the forests around the bay