A formal search is underway to find two missing backpackers believed to have been swimming at Port Macquarie’s Shelly Beach.
The two men from France and East Sussex in Britain, both aged 20, went missing after going for a swim on Sunday, February 17.
It is understood the pair only arrived in Port Macquarie on Sunday morning and several of their personal items were found by walkers on the beach on Monday.
Inspector Michael Aldridge said a number of personal items belonging to the missing men had been found at Shelly Beach.
"About 6.30am yesterday morning (Monday), two walkers identified two towels and some items of clothing on the beach close to the waterline," he said.
"They also located some car keys belonging to a silver Commodore station wagon with Queensland registration plates, parked in the car park.
"Police attended, searched the vehicle then came back in the afternoon and that's when a preliminary search started to commence.
"The concern is that a number of personal items were located in the vehicle we would believe they wouldn't leave, such as personal items."
It's understood keys, wallets, glasses were found on the beach, while personal items such as passports were found in the car.
Englishman Hugo Palmer is described as 180cm tall, caucasian appearance with fair hair and of athletic build.
Frenchman Erwan Ferrieux is between 175 to 180cm tall, has dark hair, brown eyes and a tanned complexion.
"We know that they arrived in Port Macquarie on Sunday morning and we believe from information provided so far that the items may have been there since Sunday evening as well," said Inspector Aldridge.
"Chances are exceptionally slim (someone could have survived in the water since Sunday), the conditions yesterday and the day before were terrible."
Marine Rescue Port Macquarie unit commander Greg Davies said his team had been conducting dye tests in the water to determine currents, and would do so again today.
"Current was running 1.2 nautical miles south yesterday... it will be a challenging one (search) today," he said.
Emergency services, including police, state emergency services, lifeguards and surf life saving volunteers attended a briefing at the popular beach at around 8am on Tuesday.
Police divers, Police air and trail bikes are expected to participate in the search.
"We are seeking anyone who walks this area regularly if they can tell us about the silver station wagon that was parked in the carpark or two males that were seen camping at the beach," said Inspector Aldridge.
"We ask them to contact Port Macquarie Police Station."
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