Bones mystery

THE discovery of bones in the Grampians National Park has rekindled memories of a 26-year-old mystery surrounding Melbourne photographer Rex Sutherland.

Students from a Bendigo school discovered the bones off a walking track near Mt William carpark on Saturday.

Police have sent the bones for forensic testing in Melbourne to determine whether they are human.

Detective Senior Constable John Bongiorno from Stawell Criminal Investigation Unit said police had started to look at some missing persons cases but were waiting on the forensic test results before narrowing down a list of cases.

"We certainly have things in mind," he said.

"When we get the age and sex it will narrow down the list a lot more.

"Unfortunately it's a bit of a wait and see."

Mr Sutherland, 60, from Brunswick, disappeared without a trace in July, 1978, after leaving his Lincoln Continental at Stanton's Nursery in Halls Gap and heading to Mt William to take photographs.

He had told Halls Gap residents he was visiting the Grampians to film waterfalls, caves and possibly pumas.

A massive search involving police from Melbourne, Stawell and Ararat, the police helicopter, State Emergency Service people, workers and volunteers failed to find Mr Sutherland.

Then nursery owner Ida Stanton remembers Mr Sutherland stayed at the caravan park and had left the car at the nursery before heading into the Grampians.

"He said not to worry if he was 24 hours late," Mrs Stanton said.

"He was last seen on Delley's Bridge heading to Mt William."

Mrs Stanton said Mr Sutherland had previously ventured into the Grampians with a group picking wildflowers for the annual show.

"He was supposed to be doing a story on flower show picking, but we never saw it," she said.

Mr Sutherland made headlines on August 4, 1978, when it was revealed he had offered to buy champion trotter Maori's Idol two weeks before he went missing.

The Mail-Times reported Mr Sutherland had made a $500,000 bid for Maori's Idol, but the deal fell through when he failed to appear at Rick Healy's Marnoo farm.

Inspector N. Nunn was reported in the Mail-Times on August 8, 1978, as saying the search for Mr Sutherland, which had cost $20,000, had been abandoned and he was now regarded as a missing person.