CANBERRA, July 6 (Reuters) Two German tourists missing for almost three weeks in Australia's vast outback were found today, more than 3,300 km from their supposed destination.
Holger Richter and Kathrin Kleinbauer, both 31 and travelling by four-wheel-drive, had been missing since June 19 when they contacted friends by mobile phone while visiting Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in the unforgiving desert interior.
They had been expected in the northern city of Darwin on Monday, and Northern Territory police had planned to launch a full-scale search at the weekend.
But police said today they had found the couple after other tourists spotted them on a boat tour of Ningaloo Reef, in Coral Bay, Western Australia.
''The operator reports that they were in good spirits and police from Exmouth will attempt to locate the couple,'' Northern Territory Detective Senior Constable Kerry Harris said, reprimanding the pair for their unexpected detour.
''It is imperative that people understand that given the vastness of Australia any person travelling in remote areas must have a fixed plan and regular contact points while travelling,'' Harris said. ''Changes of plans should be notified to avoid unnecessary concern for families and friends.'' Australia's outback can proves deadly for foreign tourists.
British traveller Ethel Hetherington, 52, died near the aboriginal community of Mutijulu, near Uluru, in 2004. British tourist Peter Falconio was murdered on an outback highway in 2001.
Australian tourist Oswald Orman, 37, vanished hitch-hiking along the Barkly Highway near Tennant Creek in January, while New Zealander Jamie Herdman was last seen trying to catch a ride at Daly Waters, south of Darwin, last November.
REUTERS RC HT1225