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  • Writer's pictureValentine Smith APM

Hiker, hunter, trail bike rider

Who are you and why do you become lost, missing or disappear in the wilderness? Why can’t you stay in suburbia and find your way around with Google maps? Is it a work-life balance thing with the soft comfort and gadget landslide tipping you away from life and into an existence rather than an experience?

An Australian based partnership is asking those very questions. ‘Footprints in the Wilderness’ is a project designed and developed by Valentine Smith APM, CEO and Founder of MiPerNet, and Samantha Kiss, Private Investigator and owner of Enigma P.I. Both are deeply invested into Missing Persons Investigations.

The project is about better understanding lost/missing person behaviour in the wilderness, by understanding the user groups from where they come. From Hunters to Hikers ‘Footprints in the Wilderness’ will survey those user groups to learn what attracts them to the wilderness, who they are, what they think, and what are their vulnerabilities and risks.

Valentine Smith, a former Victoria Police senior detective, well known in the Missing Person Investigative genre and for his appearances as a specialist consultant and field investigator on Australian Media Networks, said from his Melbourne Home, “each year more than a hundred people go missing in the Australian bush, the same is mirrored across the world, to better understand what we are looking at we will be examining every contributing element, starting with the people themselves”

Valentine said that he and MiPerNet have teamed up with Samantha for a number of reasons, which includes her operational location in The Blue Mountains of New South Wales. “Incredibly, the Blue mountains is 60 kilometres from Sydney and the Victorian Eastern Ranges start a similar distance from Melbourne. That’s our first focus as both are the playgrounds for millions of Australians.”

It is just a start, “depending on the qualitative and quantitative responses we get from our targeted surveys, we may expand the project to the whole of Australia and beyond” said Samantha, a former NSW teacher, now criminologist and private investigator. “I am excited to be a partner in this project, as the knowledge we gain through this work can provide us with a better understanding and in turn, can be passed on to others.”

Smith said, “From hunters to hikers, it will draw out the commonalities and the differences, ultimately revealing and providing a better understanding as to who we all are, and what we might all need, perhaps without knowing”.

The project features both qualitative questions specifically targeting known user groups that frequent the target research locations, as well as quantitative questions aimed at all users regardless of specific interest. The graphed data collected as well as the open comment answers provided will be analysed by the researchers and prepared for use in open and media discussion and as support data for other research.

If you want to inquire about ‘Footprints in the Wilderness’ you can make contact with the project team by emailing

If you are a current or past visitor to the Blue Mountains or the Yarra Ranges and Eastern High Country of Victoria and would like to complete the survey, please access it here:

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