Hopes of finding NSW woman alive diminishing after she disappeared on night-time bushwalk

<span>Photograph: Stephanie Gardiner/AAP</span>
Photograph: Stephanie Gardiner/AAP

New South Wales police say the disappearance of a woman on a night-time bushwalk near Orange is not being treated as homicide, but believe the likelihood of finding her alive is diminishing.

Tottenham resident Esther Wallace, 47, has been missing since 30 November, after she became separated from her partner while bushwalking at Federal Falls in the Mount Canobolas state recreation area.

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Acting Supt Gerard Lawson said officers would continue searching over the weekend, while awaiting results from DNA testing on garments they believe may belong to Wallace that were found near the location earlier this week.

“Sadly, the tragic reality is that day by day, the chances of finding her alive are diminishing,” he said on Friday.

Police have not ruled out the possibility that Wallace had walked out of the area and chose to disappear.

Lawson said that while she had the “right to be anonymous”, he would urge her to come forward and let them know if that was the case.

The missing woman’s partner was not a person of interest and there were no suspects, he said.

“We have an open mind to all possibilities, but we certainly don’t believe at this stage that it looks like a homicide,” Lawson said.

“Her partner has been very, very cooperative with police.”

According to police, Wallace and her partner had set out on a bushwalk at 1am and had planned to watch the sunrise. By 8am, Wallace’s partner raised alarm with police, saying she had gone missing.

Wallace’s adult son, Tyrone Stewart, has told local media his mother was not to type to go on a walk to see the sunrise.

“My mum doesn’t go to watch the sunrise, she doesn’t go bushwalking, especially in sandals,” he told the Central Western Daily.

On Friday the Lachlan shire mayor, John Medcalf, said Tottenham was a small tight-knit community where everyone was ready to help in any way they could.

“She’s a part of our community,” he said.

“The community is definitely thinking of her. We’re looking out for her. That’s about all we can do. We’re just hoping she might turn up on the doorstep.”

Medcalf said nothing like this had happened in the area in recent memory, and believed the community would be relieved to know police weren’t treating the disappearance as a homicide.

Wallace had moved into the area recently and had already made friends, according to locals.

A worker at the town’s pub said the mother was a regular at the bowling club and the community was worried about her.

“She’d come into the pub every now and then,” the worker said.

“We’re all concerned for her welfare more than anything.”

Police have been joined in the search by members of the State Emergency Services, the local council and the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service.