A ‘vanlife’ family stranded in the South Australian desert for eight days after their vehicle got bogged in heavy rain has now been airlifted to safety.
A mission to rescue the Zavros family from the Simpson Desert finally began on Tuesday after efforts were stymied by poor weather.
A South Australia Police collected Orios and Lindsey Zavros and their children Zoe and Zane just after 4pm local time on Tuesday.
The rescue team winched them all to safety.
‘The family are being flown to Coober Pedy to stay the night, where they will then make their own further travel arrangements,’ a police statement said.
A paramedic was on board as a precaution but there were no reports of anyone being injured.
‘Vanlife’ couple Orios and Lindsey Zavros and their children Zoe and Zane (pictured) have finally been rescued after becoming stranded in the Simpson Desert in outback South Australia
A helicopter has winched the young Perth family to safety after they were bogged in the outback for eight days
The Zavros family, who were travelling around Australia in their campervan, set off an emergency beacon on Friday morning after they got stuck about 150km northwest of Oodnadatta.
The beacon led to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority sending a plane from Melbourne’s Essendon Airport to deliver essential supplies to the Perth family.
Along with food and water, DVDs, sweets, and nappies were included in the delivery, as well as a letter from Mr Zavros’ parents.
AMSA and SA Police are coordinating a rescue effort, which initially planned to dig the campervan out of the mud so the family could make their own way out.
However, they resigned to flying the family out of the area after digging no longer seemed like a feasible option due to bad weather.
Orios, Zane, Lindsey and Zoe Zavros (pictured) have been travelling around Australia in a campervan
Mum Theo and dad Lagis Zavros spoke with their son and his family on ‘a very crackly satellite phone’ on Sunday.
They were hugely relieved to find the family is coping well with their predicament.
‘If you could pick the worst place in Australia to break down it would be there,’ Lagis Zavros told The West Australian.
Mrs Zavros said the four-hour wait to get confirmation her family was safe was ‘hectic and horrible’.
She said three-year-old Zoe and two-year-old Zane were both coping well, but that the older child is more sensitive and understands some of what is going on.
Zane told his grandmother on the call: ‘Yaya, I love you’. Yaya is Greek for grandmother.
Just hours before the disaster, the Zavros posted on Instagram announcing how excited they were for the next leg of their journey.
‘After three days of driving, we made it!’ they wrote, sharing a photo of their van parked at Birdsville, near the Queensland-South Australian border.
‘Bring on the Simpson Desert.’
Mr Zavros said the family waited two days before setting off their emergency beacon as they had hoped someone would be travelling past.
But when that didn’t happen they realised they needed to alert the authorities about what happened.
The family shared a photo of themselves in Birdsville, Queensland on Thursday, writing: ‘after three days of driving, we made it! Bring on the Simpson Desert.
Posts on the family’s Instagram account shows little Zane and Zoe enjoying a swim in Fraser Island, a paddle-board in the Whitsundays and moments of everyday life in the van
The cold front responsible for the heavy showers hit South Australia on Wednesday, bringing gale-force winds and a near-record amount of rain.
The wild weather caused power outages in Adelaide and the Alberga River in the state’s far north to flow for the first time in 18 months.
The family has been careening across Australia since November 2020, with the modified vehicle taking them from the west coast of WA, across the south and east of South Australia, Darwin, and Queensland.
They documented their outback adventures in their ‘truck and home built camper’ on an Instagram account Trucking Oz.
The account boasts more than 4,000 followers with an accompanying YouTube channel also giving followers an inside look at the highs and lows of van life.
Mr Zavros built the modified Mitsubishi Canter (pictured) the family calls home from scratch