SON’S TRAGIC HUNT FOR THE BIG ONE

Albany Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

A kind boy who lived life to the fullest and died do­ing some­thing he loved with some­one he loved.

Ge­off Bignell’s griev­ing fa­ther, Matt, has paid trib­ute to his son in the wake of the lat­est rock fish­ing tragedy on WA’s rugged south coast.

A body be­lieved to be Ge­off Bignell, 20, was found on Fri­day near a rocky ledge off the Bald Head walk trail.

His part­ner, Vic­to­ria McCloy, 22, is still miss­ing.

Mr Bignell said his son had been try­ing to catch a big groper that had bro­ken a fish­ing rod and snapped his line on pre­vi­ous trips to the area last month.

Ge­off Bignell’s griev­ing fa­ther has paid trib­ute to a “re­ally kind boy” who lived life to the fullest and died do­ing some­thing he loved with some­one he loved.

Ge­off, 20, and his part­ner Vic­to­ria McCloy, 22, went miss­ing on Satur­day, Novem­ber 23, af­ter they were seen buy­ing a gaff for their rock fish­ing trip on the Bald Head penin­sula in Torndirrup Na­tional Park.

Po­lice be­lieve the Northam cou­ple fell from the rocks on the south side of Bald Head that af­ter­noon dur­ing a 4m swell.

Mr Bignell’s fa­ther Matt said his son had been try­ing to catch a big res­i­dent groper which had bro­ken a rod and snapped his fish­ing line dur­ing other vis­its in re­cent weeks.

“Twice that groper had come up to the sur­face and he hadn’t been able to land it,” Mr Bignell said. “The first time it broke the fish­ing rod, the sec­ond time it broke the line. That’s why you saw him buy­ing the gaff and stuff like that. He was try­ing to catch the big one.”

A so­cial me­dia video shows Mr Bignell fish­ing from the rocks with his rod bent back on it­self as he strug­gles with what he de­scribes as a “mon­ster”. A still frame from the video is pic­tured above. It is un­der­stood the video was cap­tured dur­ing an­other visit last month.

Matt Bignell said his son worked with his broth­ers build­ing sheds and was also an avid BMX rider.

“Fish­ing was one of his new loves that he picked up. He was re­ally keen,” he said.

“It’s some­thing he loved. He’d men­tioned to one of his broth­ers if he died do­ing some­thing he loved, he’d be quite happy about that.”

A young man with a sense of ad­ven­ture, he also had a soft side.

“He was a re­ally kind boy. He was al­ways will­ing to help any­body,” Mr Bignell said. “He loved his nieces and neph­ews.”

A body be­lieved to be that of Mr Bignell was found at West Beach about 2.30pm on Fri­day.

Po­lice divers sus­pended their search for Ms McCloy on Sun­day af­ter fail­ing to find her body, but rangers will keep look­ing.

A Go­FundMe ac­count has been set up from Northam to h help fund an on­go­ing search.

More than $7000 was raised in t the first 24 hours.

“We’d re­ally love to have Tori’s body found,” Matt Bignell said.

“That’s the ini­tial plan (with the Go­FundMe ac­count) be­cause they ba­si­cally stopped the search be­cause they had done all they could do. If she does ap­pear, well that money will be use­ful for later on.”

Mr Bignell, who works at Mitre 10 and vol­un­teers as the man­ager of Northam Air­port, said he would like to do some­thing in the Bald Head area to com­mem­o­rate his son and Ms McCloy.

Main pic­ture: Lau­rie Ben­son

Matt Bignell with his son Ge­off, who was fish­ing from a rocky ledge near Bald Head, be­low.

Pic­ture: Al­bany Sea Res­cue

Surf life savers search around the rocks.

Ge­off Bignell fish­ing off the rocks at Bald Head.

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