Devastated family and friends have paid tribute to the two young campers who were found dead after they were reported missing.
The bodies of Shannon Lowden, 21, and Caleb Forbes, 22, were found in their car on Trig East track, east of Thomson Dam, about 11am on Friday – seven days after they had left for their trip.
Ms Lowden’s family and friends have shared their heartbreak over the loss of the ‘bubbly and adventurous’ woman.
Caleb Forbes, 22, and Shannon Lowden, 21, set off near the Thomson Dam in West Gippsland on Friday. A week later the pair were found dead in their 4WD
Ms Lowden’s brother Matt said on Friday his family had been visibly distressed by the young woman’s disappearance.
‘I’ve never seen my dad cry before [today],’ he told the Herald Sun.
Her other brother, Callum, shared a statement with the ABC about his sister’s death.
‘Rest in paradise to my beautiful sister Shannon, the first best friend I ever had,’ he said.
‘My heart is truly broken right now and we miss you so much already. Every day of my life I will remember the loving and kind person you always were. Forever in all of our hearts, you will always be by my side. I love you.’
Before the couple were found, Ms Lowden’s mother said she believed the couple were simply stuck, and told reporters she would not go home until her daughter was found.
Police launched a large-scale search for the couple after they were declared missing, using more than 100 people on foot, motorbikes, four-wheel drives, in helicopters and planes over an area of 1,000km
The young couple have been camping a couple of times before, and Ms Lowden’s mother Debbie told Nine News she believes they have known each other for about six months.
‘We will be here as long as we need to be here,’ she said. ‘We will be here until we find them.’
She wanted her daughter to know she loved her and that there were fresh chocolate muffins waiting for her at home.
Once their bodies were discovered touching tributes were shared for the pair.
Ms Lowden would be ‘dearly missed’, Croydon North-MLOC Football Club president Graham Hewitt said.
‘She loved the outdoors. She is just an outgoing, lovely 21-year-old girl. She did not miss a social night, she loved having a giggle,’ he said.
‘She is loving, caring, friendly. We are a new women’s footy club and all the girls are aching. The 32 girls just love sport and love each other as a family.’
The pair were expected home on September 7, but when they did not return, Ms Lowden’s family had presumed they had decided to stay another night and had no phone reception.
The vehicle (pictured) was found off a steep and ‘difficult to negotiate’ track, and police said the pair were still being released from the vehicle, which would be moved at a later date
Inspector Shane Cashman told reporters on Friday he could not go into detail about what had happened to the pair, but said their car was found off the track, which he described as ‘difficult to negotiate’.
Insp. Cashman said there would be an investigation as to how the car came off the road.
‘It’s a very difficult track to negotiate, it’s almost a sheer drop to the side, and we will put some work into working out what’s happened to make the car leave the road,’ he said.
Specialist Police Search and Rescue teams combed through small bush roads and rugged terrain, but were not able to find Mr Forbes’ vehicle for days
‘We will get Caleb and Shannon out of that car, and in time we will get the car out of there also.’
Insp. Cashman said he had spoken with the families who are ‘understandably devastated’.
‘It’s very very difficult for everybody concerned, including Victoria Police and SES.’
A search for the pair was launched after Mr Forbes did not show up for work on Sunday.
Caleb Forbes (pictured left), 22, failed to show for work on Sunday after embarking on a trip two days earlier with 21-year-old Shannon Lowden (pictured right)
Police launched a large-scale search for the couple after they were declared missing, using more than 100 people on foot, motorbikes, four-wheel drives, in helicopters and planes over an area of 1,000km.
The search was impeded by snowy conditions, with sub-zero temperatures reported over the weekend.
The Walhalla area has a population of just 20, but is a popular location for hikers and campers due to the surrounding hills and trees.
A statement from Victoria Police said officers will investigate the circumstances of the couples’ deaths and prepare a report for the coroner.
The search is based out of Rawson and local police units including air wing and SES are searching into the Walhalla Thomson Dam area