The body of a Perth photographer has been found at the base of one of Western Australia’s highest peaks, where he had previously gone to shoot wildlife photography.
- Matthew Dwyer had more than 30 years’ experience as a photographer
- His body was found at the base of a steep incline, according to police
- The father-of-three has been remembered as a warm and talented man
Friends of Mr Dwyer, who was known for his striking images of animals and birds, became concerned for his welfare on Wednesday when he failed to return from a trip to Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Ranges National Park.
A widescale search involving the State Emergency Services (SES), police helicopter and drone and AMSA Challenger Search and Rescue Jet searched the park overnight and into the day.
A body believed to be that of the 51-year-old was found about midday at the base of the main bluff, a 1,090-metre-tall peak, 400 kilometres south-east of Perth, which is a popular destination for hikers and climbers.
WA Acting Superintendent Alex Ryan said a coronial investigation would be conducted into the circumstances of his death.
“Obviously it’s not the outcome that we were hoping for, but nonetheless it’s still an outcome that brings closure to the family, and it certainly provides that certainty to them, they’re not going to continue to wonder if we couldn’t find someone actually on the mountain itself,” he said.
“We were very concerned about the changing weather, and tomorrow it looks like a significant front that’s going to hit the state, and this area would be subjected to some strong winds and rain, and as you can see now the weather’s actually changing, so the timing was fairly fortunate for us in terms of finding someone up there.”
Mr Dwyer was a career photographer with more than 30 years’ experience.
His former colleague at the Fremantle Herald, journalist David Bell, remembered Mr Dwyer as a gentle, kind and warm person.
“Definitely a fantastic photographer of humans and animals, as good as he was with a camera he was even better with people,” Bell said.
“He’d come along to meetings where I’d interview people and he was there to take the photos but sometimes he’d come up with better questions than I would.
“Very fair to say he’s beloved.”
Mr Dwyer is survived by three children.
He is understood to have spent a lot of time in the bush, and had previously been up on Bluff Knoll, where he snapped a celebrated picture of a native quokka in the snow.
Bluff Knoll poses risk in peak season
Acting Superintendent Ryan warned visitors to the park to be aware of the risks.
“Anyone who goes up there should be careful, follow the signs, keep to the tracks, keep away from the edges of the bluff itself,” he said.
“It’s very changeable weather, high winds, be prepared for the temperature to change quite dramatically and fairly quickly.
“This is a busy time of year for the park, it’s wildflower season, school holidays so you do have an increase in visitors to the park naturally you’ll get a higher volume of people coming through.”
The carpark and tourist walking track was reopened late Wednesday.
This is the second death at the park this year, after WA mother Lorjie Bautista, 38, was found dead on Bluff Knoll in May this year.
This week’s was the third search and rescue operation at Bluff Knoll since the long weekend, with two injured hikers winched to safety off the mountain by helicopter.
At least one SES member had to camp out on the mountain on Sunday night after a late night rescue.