Travel + Leisure
April 04, 2018 3:00 pm
Mint Images - Frans Lanting/Getty Images

A three-year-old boy who went missing for 18 hours in Australian bushland over the weekend explained that he tried to hitchhike a ride on a kangaroo to return to his parents.

James Skillen disappeared around 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 31 when he wandered away from a campsite in Central West Australia. He was found the next day at 11:40 a.m. in Sofala, a town three miles away from where he went missing, according the The Australian.

Locals found the boy “safe and well” but barefoot, wandering alongside a bush track with his yellow backpack. He was airlifted back to the campsite and reunited with his parents. Emergency responders examined James and determined that he was unharmed — save some bumps and bruises — from his night in the wild.

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Local police superintendent Peter McKenna said it was “extraordinary” that James was able to travel so far by himself. “Children of that age, when we do these searches, are generally found within 1.5km, so for him to have gotten to that 5km mark is extraordinary,” McKenna said at a press conference.

The fact that James was able to travel so far through rugged bushland is perhaps due to his resourceful approach to travel. “He said he tried to jump on a kangaroo this morning because he thought the kangaroo might take him home,” his father, Peter Skillen, told reporters.

A search group made up of police, ambulance services, firefighters, Volunteer Rescue Association members, and locals spent Saturday night and Sunday morning searching the 100-acre property for James.

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