The Mystery of Tim Chalaer, the Chinese Student Who Went Missing in a Bush Doof

Tim Chalaer

Do you remember Tiemuzhen “Tim” Chalaer, the 24-year-old Chinese student who went missing in an unregistered bush doof in Lower Portland, New South Wales way back in 2016 and was never seen again?

The NSW Coroners Court did their inquest on Tim’s disappearance and death on February 18. On the first day, the court heard the testimonies of the people he went with to the GEOHectic music festival where he was last seen. What the court found out was Tim could have been alive today if his friends kept an eye on him at the doof.

Here are the facts of the case:

  • Tim went with friends to the GEOHectic music festival in the bushland near Hawkesbury on August 6, 2016. There, he took what his friends called “a cocktail of drugs.”
  • The following morning, Tim went off to urinate in the bushes. His friends claimed he was acting paranoid and left on his own.
  • He didn’t return to the campsite. Friends assumed that he left the festival venue with other people, so they left without him. Tim was diabetic—his belongings, including his insulin, were still in his friends’ car. It was the last time anyone has seen Tim alive.
  • These friends didn’t report Tim as missing to the festival organisers or the police because they were afraid the incident would cause GEOHectic to get shut down.
  • It was Tim’s flatmate who called the cops after Tim didn’t show up to the flat more than 12 hours after the event.
  • After an initial search, using drones, dogs, and volunteers, cops only found Tim’s shoes and socks some 200 metres from the campsite. The search went on for a month.
  • Tim’s parents flew in from China after learning about the incident from his sister Esin. Esin was the only family Tim had with him in Australia. After the cops called off the search, Tim’s family kept it up.

What really happened with Tim is still a mystery, and will likely remain so. But we could all learn a lesson from this case – we should all keep an eye on our mates while we’re partying in the bush. And we should all let our mates know where we’re going when we leave our campsite. This is the only way we can prevent a tragedy like Tim’s occurring to someone we know.

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