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CCTV shows Esther Wallace at Orange Ex-Services' Club hours before early morning disappearance

December 8, 2022

Orange Ex-Services' Club. Google Street View.

By Peter Holmes

Esther Wallace, the woman who vanished into the night around Federal Falls last Wednesday morning (November 30, 2022), was at Orange Ex-Services Club in the hours leading up to her disappearance.

Multiple sources have told The Orange News Examiner that in-house cameras at the club show Wallace and her companion at the venue late on the evening of Tuesday November 29.

Police have kept enquiries on a need-to-know basis, with a number of senior staff and directors at the club said to be unaware of the request for the footage.

The search is focusing on Boree Creek. Google Maps.

It is believed that after leaving the club Wallace and the man she was with went to another location before heading to Federal Falls in the early hours of the morning.

Police are thought to have retrieved separate footage that confirms the pair was heading towards Federal Falls.

Police told The Orange News Examiner early on Thursday afternoon that the search for Esther Wallace was continuing into its ninth day, with major resources again being deployed.

"The search for the missing person continues with resources from Central West Police District, Police Rescue, PolAir, Police trail bike, and staff and volunteers from NSW SES, RFS (including trail bike operatives), National Parks and Cadia mine volunteers," police said.

On Wednesday The Orange News Examiner revealed that flat footwear prints consistent with sandals had been found by searchers on Tuesday, and it was understood they had been sent for laboratory testing.

The prints were one of a number of items of interest found during Tuesday’s operation.

The search for 47-year-old Wallace, who was reported missing from Federal Falls by a friend last Wednesday morning, was due to be shut down at sundown on Tuesday.

It was felt that there was no way someone could survive without food in the bush for this long.

According to a source the flat prints had maintained their integrity, meaning they hadn’t been damaged by wild pigs and kangaroos. This suggested they may only be a few days old.

The Orange News Examiner understands the prints were not located in an area that would normally be traversed by bushwalkers. If they were created by Wallace’s sandals, it could suggest that she had been following a water source but become disorientated.

The staging post for the search shifted from Federal Falls campground to a site on Boree Creek on Wednesday, sources said.

One source said that the discovery of “another couple of items of interest we can’t exclude as signs of life” meant the search would continue.

“Even as remote as that possibility is, we can’t discount it.”

Boree Creek runs from Towac Way through Federal Falls and Glenwood State Forest to Cargo Road at Lidster.

Google Earth/NSW Police.

On Tuesday police said the man who was with Esther Wallace around Federal Falls before she vanished had “been very helpful with the enquiries”.

“[He has] provided a lot of information that's been able to help us focus where the search should be,” said acting superintendent Gerard Lawson, relieving commander at Central West Police District.

Police have given little away during the search.

Federal Falls, generic image. VisitNSW.

They have held no formal press conferences and kept details supplied to enquiring media to a minimum, only releasing the agencies involved in each day's search, and information about the times of day the search was conducted. Other questions relating to the search have been left unanswered in email responses.

Two reporters - from the ABC and The Orange News Examiner - were able to speak briefly to acting superintendent Lawson when he attended the aftermath of the fire at Glenroi Heights Public School early on Tuesday morning.

Asked by The Orange News Examiner if there was a reason for this low-key approach, Lawson said on Tuesday: “No, there's no reason for that. It's just us getting on with business.

“We've been focused on the search for this woman, trying to find her because as you can appreciate, the longer she's missing the less chance of finding her well. [It] evaporates.”

He said the search was “rugged and quite difficult”.

“We have had the family kept informed, but everyday we reassess," he said. "I can tell you the search won't continue indefinitely, but we do make an assessment every day about what will happen the next day.”

Asked if he was confident Esther Wallace was somewhere around Federal Falls, Lawson said: “There's always that possibility that she's been able to find her way off the mountain and is elsewhere, and if that's the case and people know where she is, please come forward and tell us. There's a reason why we're concentrating our search here.”

The multi-agency search for Wallace was initially extended following the discovery of two items around Federal Falls on Sunday.

The Orange News Examiner revealed that a hi-vis jacket thought to belong to Wallace was found at the base of a wall of blackberry during the search on Sunday. Sources would not comment on the second item.

When Wallace was first reported missing NSW Police said she was wearing an orange jacket, black pants and sandals.

It is believed the jacket was located in an area that had been searched multiple times, and was said to be in reasonably good condition.

Those in the search parties were updated on Sunday on the chances of someone surviving in the bush under different scenarios, such as if Wallace had access to drinking water, or had been injured or become disorientated.

They were told that in the best case scenario a fit person with bush smarts could survive for up to seven days, but that if Wallace had been injured after going missing survival could be limited to three days.


Those involved in the search have faced challenging conditions. The terrain is dense and muddy. There are landslides, and plenty of snakes and insects, including armies of vicious jumping jack ants, on the move. Searchers are said to be coated in stinging nettles.

About 8.30am last Wednesday emergency services responded to reports that a woman had become separated from a companion while bushwalking at Federal Falls through the Mount Canobolas State Recreation Area, approximately 20km southwest of Orange.

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