After turning on his phone after an eight-day trip without reception, Layton Keddy was shocked to see his face tackled on social media and listed by Victoria Police as a missing person.
The intrepid Canadian traveler set off on a 330-kilometer bike trip from Marysville to Omeo in the Victoria High Country and told his family and friends he would be out of touch for the next two weeks.
“I told my colleague that I couldn’t reply to his messages, but he just didn’t think it was possible to travel without reception for eight days,” he says.
Mr Keddy’s co-worker contacted his mother in Canada, then contacted Victoria Police to report him as missing.
“My mother is generally calm and collected, but she started to think, ‘Am I the naive mother who doesn’t realize my son is actually missing in Australia? Mr. Keddy said.
Mr Keddy first realized something was wrong when he walked into the small town of Woods Point and caught the attention of locals.
“Everyone was pointing at me, then the police came. They knew my name and I was like, ‘uh oh… what have I done now?’ “
His mother Betty Keddy was delighted to have discovered that her son was alive and well.
“I wasn’t worried about him initially… because it’s very common for him to be out of service for weeks at a time,” she said.
“As time went on and Layton got more experienced with traveling, I learned he was fine.
“But I admit I used to have little panic attacks while waiting for him to check in with me,” she says.
Mr Keddy said one of the main reasons he enjoyed being in remote parts of Australia was that he could disconnect from the world and really feel in the moment.
“It’s part of the call,” he says.
“I like it more if there is a minimum of distraction.”
After checking in with his relatives back in Canada, Mr Keddy continued the remainder of his trip and eventually made it to Omeo, where he had another encounter with the police.
Steep and isolated terrain
Senior Constable Diane Bloom recognized Mr. Keddy from the missing persons report.
“I stopped Layton on the side of the road because I recognized him in the photos,” she says.
“I wasn’t worried about him because he had been found a few days before, but I just wanted to understand where he was going because I’m a bit of a cycle tourist myself,” said Constable Bloom.
“We had a rescue the week before in one of the difficult areas he was heading to… so I wanted to give him some local knowledge.
“It is not uncommon for people to go missing in our region… the terrain in our part of the world is very steep and isolated.”
In the past two years, four people have gone missing within a 60 kilometer radius in the Victoria High Country.
Luckily, Mr. Keddy is back on his bike and traveling the back roads to ACT with minimal phone signal. Just the way he likes it.