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Tony Jones, Backpacker Disappeared Mysteriously

Tony Jones was an Australian backpacker, from Perth, Western Australia. He was coming to the end of six months of a working vacation, having already toured Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, and Sydney.

Tony With his Brother

Tony was touring in tandem with his brother Tim, having already met up in Mackay and Airlie Beach, and had expended some time together in Townsville, North Queensland, before making the trip home to Perth. Whilst Tony was hitchhiking lonely, his brother Tim was cycling lonely from place to place. In Townsville, the brothers met up and shared a caravan with two fellow travelers at the Sun City Caravan Park in Rosslea for a week. On October 28, 1982, the brothers went their different ways, Tim, by bicycle towards Mount Isa, and Tony on foot, planning to take a minor trip to Cairns, Queensland for five days.

When Tony came back to Townsville on November 3rd, 1982, he called his girlfriend and family back home in Perth from a payphone on Bowen Road and was amazed to discover that his brother Tim had already arrived at Mount Isa, a 900km trek through the scorching outback along the Flinder’s Highway. Tony also discovered that his mum had deposited $150 into the bank account that he and Tim shared. Tony was never heard from again, his bank account stays untouched. He never made it to Mount Isa.

Sighting Of Tony

Disappearance of Tony Jones - Wikipedia
Credit: Wikipedia

The last unconfirmed sighting of Tony was at the Rising Sun Hotel, (as per the Townsville Bulletin) now named just The Sun Hotel at the crossing of Bowen Road and Ross River Road. It is assumed that after his phone call from a now long gone payphone on Bowen Road, he walked along to the Rising Sun for a drink. He was observed dining in the bar with an unidentified man on what is presumed his last day on earth. An identikit published on the tenth anniversary of his demise disclosed a stunning similarity to a former police officer, Mervyn Henry Stevenson. The Townville Bulletin reported at the time that the identikit was that of a “former police officer”, and observers claim that the man glimpsed dining with Tony was in the cattle trade and had promised him a lift to Charters Towers, a 1 hour 30 minute, 131km path, en route to Mount Isa, along the famed Highway of Death.

The Police Cover-up

Stevenson was a Queensland police officer from 1947 until he retired in 1982. He began as a bush cop and rose through the grades to become Superintendent of Townsville Police. In 1984, despite being praised for his successes by various high-level supporters of Stevenson, including Assistant Commissioner Bill McArthur, his reputation was damaged by the publication of a private police report regarding cattle stealing offenses in north Queensland and their subsequent cover-up. Within this report, it was also recommended that Stevenson face penalties for the obvious suicide of his colleague Detective Sergeant Jack Connor as well as a handful of drug offenses due to statements made by Stevenson which indicated that he had not entirely interrogated these matters to the best of his mastery and had covered up a lot of indication. Due to his friends in high places, the inquiry into the corruption of former Superintendent Stevenson was not only stopped but Stevenson was inducted into the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame in 2001. He then perished peacefully of cancer in December 2001, with a police guard of honor at his burial, taking his mysteries to his grave.

Why was a former superintendent feasting with a 20-year-old backpacker in a minor hotel in Townsville? Did he kill Tony Jones? Did he know someone who did and decided to cover it up as he had been rumored to do in the past?

Mishandling of the Case

In 2011, a retired grazier in Cloncurry (784km from Townsville and a stone’s throw away from Mount Isa) notified the Jones family of information that he didn’t think had been appropriately investigated. 29 years earlier, he and a companion had happened upon some physical information on the outskirts of the town, namely some camping gear, and a letter addressed to Tony Jones from his mum. The observer was baffled at the lack of reaction when he enquired about the information in 2010, 28 years after he submitted it. The Jones family then notified the coroner, who persuaded the police to work on this potential lead. In October 2011, a search party of six police officers and four volunteers combed the campsite, a 50m2 patch of soil by the Barkley Highway. Nothing was discovered. There is still an inquiry into the handling of evidence by the Cloncurry Police.

Back to the Highway

Tony’s activities around Townsville are relatively well documented, but no one is obvious of his activities after. Founded on Tony’s strategies to meet his brother in Mount Isa, it appears as though he would have taken the Flinders Highway to arrive at Hughenden instead of Hervey Range Road, which outskirts the Pinnacles National Park and would have taken twice as long. From Hughenden, one can either continue on the Flinders Highway, take the Kennedy Developmental Road which directs to Winton or take the Hughenden Muttaburra Road, which takes you further south towards Brisbane. Because we know that Tony was leading the way for Mount Isa, he would have taken the Flinders Highway, if he just made it that far. From Bowen Road near Hermit Park, Townsville, to the outskirts of town towards the highway, it is a nearly 40-minute drive. What occurred between the sighting of Tony in The Rising Sun Hotel and arriving on the highway?

Hughenden Leads

Hughenden is crucial, as there is a fascinating story regarding Tony’s decisive resting place hidden there. Hughenden first became a place of attention when various observers came forward and said to police that they had talked with someone who greatly matched Tony between November 12-14th. Nonetheless, once queried, observers, contended to have noticed Tony with a full beard – which he had shaved off days prior – so all guides were later dismissed as not valid. Since his disappearance, in the intervening years, three different women have come forward with an admission from their boyfriend as to the whereabouts of Tony. All three women tell an identical tale – their vicious, now ex-partner admitted to them whilst drunk that he had “murdered somebody and that’s why he was upset” and that he had “disposed of a corpse”. Going forward, I will refer to the suspects as Mr. X and Mr. Y, as even though it is probable to analyze their identity quite handily, neither man has been accused of a crime.

The Slaughteryard and a confession

Mr. X was 17 years old in 1982. He was an apprentice butcher at his dad’s slaughter yard in Hughenden. His best friend, Mr. Y was an inhabitant at Townsville Grammar School, but his family was based in Hughenden. X and Y had been best friends since adolescence and were known for drinking extremely and fighting. Somewhere between the years of 1990 and 2010, Mr. X admitted to two women he was involved with, and a friend, in a drunken trance that he had assisted his friend “Y” dispose of a corpse. He detailed that Mr. Y had come to him in anxiety in the middle of the night when they were 17 and told him that he required his help because he had murdered someone. According to Mr. X, Mr. Y had gotten into a confrontation with a man, so he had slammed him, then beat him, and broken his neck. Mr. X contended that he left with Mr. Y, picked up the corpse, and put it through a band saw at his dad’s slaughter yard. He then took the chunks and hurled them into one of the burning pits they utilized to dispose of cattle carcasses and set it on fire, demolishing the remains of Tony Jones. Whilst reasonable, there are various discrepancies in his tale. In each retelling of the tale, Mr. X contends the person they murdered was a truck driver, then a backpacker, then a hitchhiker. Detectives believe that this was a try to not self-incriminate. For decades before and decades after Tony’s disappearance, he was the just hitchhiker to ever go missing on that span of road, therefore, effortlessly identifiable as the man they supposedly murdered. Mr. X also never remembered this person he assisted dispose of by name, making it difficult for detectives to substantiate anything.

The three women contend that when inquired about his admission when sober, Mr. X refuted everything, contending he never said such a thing. They also make assertions of terrible physical and mental abuse at the hands of Mr. X, although no objection was ever made against him in this regard, therefore no police inquiry into his alleged abuse. Mr. X is now a 52-year-old businessman residence in Townsville. An inquiry is now underway into this new guide, and there are hopes that it will bring an end to this decade’s long dilemma.


I am heavily invested in this case as I resided a street away from where Tony vanished. My ex-partner unknowingly helped alongside one of the suspects. I have traveled down Flinders Highway several times. I have expended time in both Cloncurry and Hughenden. I have noticed hitchhikers up and down the stretch of road between the city and the outback, yet I had never listened to Tony Jones before. The more I investigate, the more lost I become. There are numerous different guides and theories here that I’m not confident which one I believe. Knowing the layout of Townsville and North West Queensland as well as I do, I don’t think Tony did not make it to Cloncurry for his aspects to end up there. Nonetheless, I’m also of the mind that he never really made it out of Townsville, founded on the meeting with the skeptical policeman and the fact that there are numerous rivers, ravines, and hiding spaces around the city and the outskirts where one could hide a corpse. If he never left, there are a hundred spots to hide a corpse where it would never be discovered. I don’t know how much I believe the admissions of Mr. X, nonetheless, there must be some value to it if the police are examining it so thoroughly – alternatively, though, they could be so thorough as to make up for the botched preliminary investigation. Both of Tony’s brothers have told that the police did not take his disappearance seriously for years, impeding any activity in the case and losing likely crucial evidence.

Who do you think is credible for his disappearance? No remains have ever been discovered, people go missing or are killed particularly on the Flinders Highway a lot more than any other highway in the country, and there are no sightings of him after The Rising Sun Hotel on the junction of Ross River and Bowen Road. If he was killed in Hughenden, how did he get there? If he was killed in Cloncurry, how did he get there? If he was killed elsewhere, why did his belongings turn up in a Cloncurry campsite 784km away from his final known location? What is the connection between his disappearance and the rumored offensive police officer? Do you think Mr. X and Mr. Y were credible or are they three scorned women out for revenge? Where do you guess Tony Jones is? Do you think he will ever be discovered?

Source: Reddit

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