THE worried partner of missing Fremantle businessman Matt Bale will lead a team to Rottnest Island in two weeks to search for him in its remote, scrubby areas.
Kate Hulett recently made an emotional plea on Facebook for volunteers to help in the search: so many locals responded it’s threatened to get out of control.
Mr Bale, the manager of the MANY business incubator in the old Myer building and co-owner of its Kate and Abel cafe, hat and ephemera pop-up shop, was last seen near Geordie Bay on Rottnest just before dusk on March 21.
Three weeks later, no clues to his whereabouts have been found.
Ms Hulett told the Herald police had focused their search on the populated third of the island so her group will search the rest. She says it will be through fragile scrub so she didn’t want to send an army of people who’d do too much environmental damage.
“The case is soon to be handed over to the missing persons department, which manage the long-term missing,” Ms Hulett had posted on Facebook.
WA Police media adviser Susan Usher says police searched all areas on the island and Mr Bale may not be on it.
“To clarify – police have not said they believe Mr Bale did not leave the island,” she says. “It is unknown if he left the island and as it is unknown, we will not limit our inquiries to the assumption that he is on the island. Police continue to make inquiries and will follow up on any information received regarding the whereabouts of Mr Bale.”
Rottnest Express will give the volunteers a free trip to the island.
Mr Bale is about 185cm and when last seen wore a full beard. He has distinctive tattoos, including a kookaburra on his lower right arm, an abstract pattern on his upper right arm and a star on his lower back. He usually sports a hoop earring in each ear. He was last seen wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt, black and white shorts and black thongs.
Mr Bale and Ms Hulett started the St Saviours hat brand as a weekend hobby in 2009 back in the UK. They sold them at London markets and festivals, and within a year had been picked up by hip fashion outlet Topshop for its flagship store on Oxford Circus. The hats were also carried by Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge and Anthropologie on Regent Street.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK