Horror at Australian forest tour where backpackers buried

2015-07-14 12:42
(David McNew, AFP)

(David McNew, AFP)

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Sydney - An "extreme terror tour" of the Australian forest where a notorious killer buried seven backpackers in the 1990s was on Tuesday attacked as "horrendous" and insensitive to the families of victims.

Goulburn Ghost Tours was advertising a small number of nighttime visits to Belanglo State Forest, where Ivan Milat dumped the bodies of two Britons, three Germans and two Australians over 20 years ago.

Milat is serving consecutive life sentences for the murders of the young travellers which terrified Australia in the early 1990s. Their remains were found in Belanglo, 120 km southwest of Sydney.

Tour 'bad taste' and 'horrendous'

"You asked for it and we have delivered - Goulburn Ghost Tours extreme terror tour is here," the company said on its website.

"Come with us to Belanglo where Ivan Milat buried the bodies of his victims! Once you enter Belanglo State Forest you may never come out..."

New South Wales state Premier Mike Baird said he was shocked to learn of the tours which he described as "completely and utterly outrageous".

"It's not only in bad taste, it's just terrible," he said. "Horrendous."

Baird said the group would require a permit to operate in the state forest but would be refused permission if they applied.

New South Wales Victims of Crime Assistance League chief executive Robyn Cotterell-Jones acknowledged the fascination with the macabre.

"But from where I sit, caring for the families of people who have been harmed in all sorts of vicious and violent crimes including murder, every time something like this arises it rips the scars open again," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"The idea so soon after his crimes in the Belanglo, and more recent crimes as well, of having people tramping over the sites that are still very special is very concerning to the families."

In 2010 Matthew Milat, a teenage relative of Ivan Milat, murdered David Auchterlonie on his 17th birthday in the same forest with an axe, in what the sentencing judge described as a "thrill kill". He was jailed for at least 30 years in 2012.

Sensitive to concerns

David's grandmother Sandra Auchterlonie told The Sydney Morning Herald the $111 tours were taking advantage of the family's grief.

"I can't stop people from running these ghost tours, but I think it's disgusting," she said.

Goulburn Ghost Tours could not be reached by AFP but manager Louise Edwards told the Herald that the tours were sensitive to concerns.

"We thought about it for a long time before we did it. We wanted to make sure it was sensitive. We really don't want to upset anyone. That wasn't our intention," she told the paper.

Ivan Milat was only caught after sensational evidence from Paul Onions, a British hitchhiker who escaped death in 1990 by jumping out of Milat's vehicle when he pulled a gun on him.

Onions reported the incident to police at the time, and years later when he saw news reports of bodies found in Belanglo he contacted the Australian High Commission in London, eventually providing crucial evidence to the trial.

Read more on:    australia

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