Major Development In Search For Missing Man After Ute Found In Bushland Near Cessnock

The search for a missing Central Coast man has been narrowed down to bushland near Cessnock after his abandoned vehicle was found.

It has been about a week since Craig Wheatley was last seen at a licensed venue in Doyalson around 3am on January 26.

There are serious concerns for the 48-year-olds welfare as family say his disappearance is out of character.

Efforts to locate him, including an appeal for public information, failed to turn up many leads until about 8 o’clock on Tuesday night when Craig’s 2022 Toyota Hilux Workmate was found along a track off Georges Road in the Watagan Stage Forest.

The discovery sparked a large search operation that is now in its second day.

Officers from the Hunter Valley Police District, the Dog Unit, the RFS, SES and the VRA have been canvassing the area on foot, while PolAir scans from above.

A NSW Police spokesperson has confirmed the search will continue until last light this afternoon and pick back up early tomorrow.

Craig is described as caucasian, about 190cm tall, with grey hair and a beard – he was last seen wearing a black shirt and shorts.

Anyone with information into Craig’s whereabouts is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Police are also particularly interested in speaking with anyone who may have seen his vehicle in the Watagan State Forest over recent days.