The Southern Cloud's Crash Site is Discovered

The wreckage was not discovered until October 1958 and the fate of the aircraft, its crew and passengers ascertained.

The loss of the "Southern Cloud" was regarded as one of Australia's most baffling air mysteries. It was the subject of a major official search for 8 days and an unofficial one for ten.

The crash of the "Southern Cloud" claimed the lives of six passengers and two crew: Travis "Shorty" Shortridge (pilot), Charlie Dunnell (co-pilot/engineer), Charles Hood (stage producer), Bill O'Reilly (accountant), Julian Margules (electrical engineer), Hubert Farrall (businessman), Elsie Glasgow (maid), Clara (Claire) Stokes (artist).

The Southern Cloud's fate remained a mystery for 27 years until 26 October 1958. On that day, Mr. Tom Sonter, a worker on the Snowy Mountains Project, accidentally discovered the wreck. The crash site was in heavily timbered mountainous terrain within the Snowy Mountains about east of the direct Sydney-Melbourne route. Investigations concluded that the severe weather conditions at the time of the flight most likely contributed to the crash.

The Southern Cloud's fate remained a mystery for 27 years until 26 October 1958. On that day, Mr. Tom Sonter, a worker on the Snowy Mountains Project, accidentally discovered the wreck. The crash site was in heavily timbered mountainous terrain within the Snowy Mountains about 25 kilometres (16 mi) east of the direct Sydney-Melbourne route. Investigations concluded that the severe weather conditions at the time of the flight most likely contributed to the crash.

Mr Sonter knew nothing of the enigma when he decided to climb Mount Blackjack on Sunday October 26, 1958. But when he realised he had not left enough time to reach the summit, he headed back to photograph a spectacular gorge. It was then he spotted "a mound of earth that was a different colour to the surroundings. I went to investigate … it was the plane."

Mr Sonter took two souvenirs - a fuel cap and a small plate bearing the manufacturer's name. "I'd never heard of the Southern Cloud," he said. "I was born nine months after the crash."

Two days later Mr Sonter led police and civil aviation experts to the crash site. "A major reason the Southern Cloud was finally found in 1958," Mr Higgins said, "was that the Snowy scheme had opened up the mountains. There were roads and people where previously there had just been a few stockmen."