AN OUTPOURING of grief has met news of the death of much-loved Herald photographer Matthew Dwyer.
Police confirmed that a body believed to be that of the 51-year-old was “located at the base of a steep incline” at Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Ranges near Albany on Thursday around lunchtime.
It followed an extensive overnight search involving a high-tech Challenger search-and-rescue jet, which was joined on Thursday by a helicopter and drone from the Police Air Wing, as well as SES volunteers and local rangers. Perth detectives co-opted for the search tried to access his online cloud storage to see if he’d tried to communicate through his photography.
Matthew was spotted on Tuesday afternoon taking photos at the summit, where he later rang a friend for a chat. But his backpack and keys were found on the track early next morning by a hiker.
Herald owner Andrew Smith said “we are heartbroken”.
“Matthew touched all our lives, right across Fremantle and Perth, as he so beautifully documented our life and times,” he said.
Former Herald editor and now Tasmanian Labor MP Brian Mitchell worked for many years with Matthew, fondly remembering him as “an absolutely lovely bloke, just a warm, positive guy – one of the nicest people you could meet”.
Mr Mitchell said one of Matthew’s passions was “capturing birds in their natural environment”.
He’d been a regular visitor to the region where he died; a rare image he captured last August of a quokka in snow on top of the Knoll made headlines around the world.
Former Fremantle Mayor Peter Tagliaferri said he’d also been touched by Matthew’s death.
“Not only was he a wonderful photographer but he was also a great person,” Mr Tagliaferri said.
“Fremantle is poorer for the loss of this remarkable creative. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and former colleagues at the Herald.
“I hope people can take solace in the fact that the amazing images he captured through his lens will continue to live on.”
Matthew was a career photographer for more than 30 years, including from 2003 to 2016 with the Herald and Perth Voice.
He was treasured for his “technical skill and creative eye” as well as his “empathy and respect for people, intelligence, good manners and warm, friendly disposition” said long-time Herald advertising director Natalie Hug.
Describing himself as a “rare moment photographer” for his spectacular wildlife images, in recent years Matthew began specialising in action shots of dogs at beaches.
His once-in-a-lifetime shots can be found at his Instagram account Matthew_Dwyer_Photography.
A coronial inquiry has been launched.
by JUSTIN STAHL