Nearly two months have passed and we are no closer to solving the puzzling disappearance of a well prepared Edith Falls bushwalker.
Missing Queensland man Alex Rosenberg has not been seen since August 19 despite an extensive air and land search a few days after he carefully set up his solo camp at the popular Edith Falls campground.
The track to Sweetwater, however, where the 67-year-old was last seen, has been thoroughly retraced, both by police and rangers at the time of his disappearance, and today by hikers – out for their morning jaunt.
The professionals have failed, tourists are the best bet for finding Alex now.
I had been hesitant to tackle the popular walk myself, having been involved in covering the extensive search, I couldn’t quite bring myself to go further than the short 2km Leliyn Track.
But having marched the few kilometres to the Southern Rockhole at Nitmiluk so many times I could probably do it with my eyes closed, I needed something different.
I found it impossible to retrace Mr Rosenberg’s last known steps and not think about him and what could have potentially been his last day.
So, I started to take note of everything around me instead.
The last time he was seen alive, it appeared he was returning from the direction of Sweetwater Pool – which is about 4km from the car park at Edith Falls.
This makes sense.
The 8km round trip to the large, third swimming spot along the trail is just too well marked for someone to veer from it. Blue triangles hang from trees showing you the way, the whole way.
You can barely walk 10 metres before the next little sign is right up ahead, confirming that yes, the path you are on is in fact the correct one.
Granted, there were about three places where I stopped, stumped.
Just three places where someone could potentially have taken the wrong path.
But Mr Rosenberg wasn’t just someone, he was equipped with hiking boots, a hiking pole, water and a phone – much more than most people.
Although it is widely known among locals, perhaps the lack of any phone signal in these areas is not made clear to visitors.
The preparations made by Mr Rosenberg are of someone who has hiked once or twice before, who knows what he is doing.
The trail is just too well marked for someone to accidentally veer from it.
By 8am it was hot and sticky and I was just starting out. The sun was beating down in true Top End style.
After the very first hill, which starts right at the car park, the walk evens off.
The track is an easy one, flat most of the way.
Weaving through low shrub and bare skinny trees, there is little shade and no hiding from the sun.
When the wide expanse of Sweetwater Pool comes into view after what is admittedly a rather mundane path, it comes as a relief.
Number one, I am definitely on the right track, it looks fantastically cool and now I’ve made it, I can turn back towards home again.
I can’t imagine anyone would want to continue further. There is no path to take and the cool water would be too much of a temptation – especially during the height of the grey nomad season, when there would have been others in the area.
I didn’t pass a single person on my way.
And the small camping area which sits on the edge of Sweetwater was eerily bare too.
I was happy to turn back, opting for a swim in the Plunge Pool instead, safety in numbers.
But Mr Rosenberg went on his walk at a time when hundreds of visitors flock to Edith Falls.
At the time of his visit cars spill out of the car park and the campgrounds book out.
Hikers, like marching ants, take to the trails in large quantities.
He must have seen others on his way.
Did Mr Rosenberg leave too late in the morning? Late August is a very hot time of the year.
Was the heat too much? Did he unknowingly wander off the signed path?
Likely not, police and rangers covered too much ground for that, both on foot and by air.
Police divers swept the depths of the Plunge Pool and the Top Pool, but did not find a trace.
And maybe the hikers who saw him returning from Sweetwater got it wrong – maybe he was on his way.
But where are his belongings?
Where is he?
People just don’t go missing without a trace.
For his family’s sake, we all hope this is a mystery which will soon be solved.