Tromp Road trip mys­tery solved! d!

The el­dest Tromp child re­veals why they fled – and led po­lice on a bizarre chase

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

Look­ing at a re­laxed and smil­ing Riana Tromp, it’s hard to be­lieve that less than a year ago, she was at the cen­tre of an ex­tra­or­di­nary mys­tery road trip that gripped the na­tion and had po­lice baf­fled.

Riana, 30, is tak­ing a break from har­vest­ing berries on her fam­ily’s farm at Sil­van, in ru­ral Vic­to­ria, when she opens up to Woman’s Day about the bizarre chain of events her fam­ily went through last year.

“We are all very em­bar­rassed,” Riana con­fesses. “We didn’t want to be fa­mous, that’s for fa­mous peo­ple.”

In what made for a grip­ping mul­ti­ple miss­ing per­sons case that be­wil­dered po­lice and the pub­lic, Riana’s dad Mark Tromp in­ex­pli­ca­bly took his wife Ja­coba, 53, and the cou­ple’s three adult chil­dren – Mitch, 25, Ella, 22, and Riana – on an er­ratic road trip from their home east of Mel­bourne. Pack­ing his fam­ily into a car on Au­gust 29, he drove all the way to NSW, stop­ping at Bathurst and Jenolan Caves, with­out any real plan or di­rec­tion.

The spon­ta­neous de­ci­sion ended in a chaotic mix of con­fu­sion, sirens, news­pa­per head­lines and men­tal health units – and the oth­er­wise quiet farm­ing fam­ily quickly be­came house­hold names.

What’s im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent now, how­ever, is that the fam­ily are still a close-knit and lov­ing unit, and are all in good health.

“We are all happy, healthy and just try­ing to get back on track again and get over ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pened,” Riana says in her first in­ter­view since the dra­matic event.

Un­til now, it’s never been con­firmed why Mark, 51, made such a rash de­ci­sion.

But Riana tells Woman’s Day her fa­ther was suf­fer­ing from a men­tal break­down which, in ret­ro­spect, had been build­ing up for some time.

She says his de­ci­sion to leave the farm was the re­sult of him feel­ing he was in dan­ger, but also want­ing to get away as a fam­ily.

“They are both sort of ac­cu­rate,” she says of the ex­pla­na­tions which have been pro­vided for his be­hav­iour.

While many have asked why Ja­coba or the cou­ple’s chil­dren didn’t ques­tion Mark’s strange and un­char­ac­ter­is­tic be­hav­iour, Riana ad­mits she be­gan be­liev­ing her fa­ther’s claims that the fam­ily were in dan­ger.

“You do start think­ing the same,” she says, adding that her fa­ther had never done any­thing like this be­fore.

Dis­cussing the road trip it­self is still clearly trau­matic for Riana, and she doesn’t want to go into too much de­tail while she, her mother and her sib­lings are still com­ing to terms with what hap­pened.

The day af­ter the fam­ily be­gan their pan­icked trip, as their par­ents be­came more and more men­tally dis­tressed, Riana and her two sib­lings de­cided they did not want to con­tinue on.

“I’ve never seen any­thing like this. [He] thinks peo­ple are af­ter him. He’s not in a good state of mind,” Mitch would say later about his dad.

Find­ing the sit­u­a­tion too stress­ful, he left the rest of his fam­ily at Bathurst on Au­gust 30, and made his way to Sydney, then onto Mel­bourne by train.

Ella and Riana de­cided to leave their par­ents later the same day. They made their way to Goul­burn, be­fore go­ing their sep­a­rate ways.

Riana was found that night hid­ing in the back of a stranger’s ute in a cata­tonic state, and was taken to the lo­cal hospi­tal suf­fer­ing from stress-re­lated is­sues.

The whole in­ci­dent was “very scary”, she ad­mits now.

Ella was re­ported to have stolen a car and driven back to the fam­ily home.

In the days fol­low­ing, Mark and Ja­coba were re­ported miss­ing and, as well as speak­ing to each of the chil­dren, po­lice at­tended the fam­ily home to find the doors un­locked, credit cards, pass­ports and mo­bile phones strewn around the house, and car keys hang­ing in ig­ni­tions.

Ja­coba was found wan­der­ing in an “ag­i­tated state” in the town of Yass on Septem­ber 1 and taken to hospi­tal. Mark was fi­nally lo­cated on the even­ing of Septem­ber 3 near Wangaratta, in north eastern Vic­to­ria, af­ter a po­lice search and me­dia ap­peals by Mitch and Ella.

Riana be­lieves it was an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of stress which caused the whole in­ci­dent, say­ing: “You have a few things and they do build up – you can get sick in some way.”

Nine months on, the fam­ily seems to be get­ting back to nor­mal, with Ella and Mitch pur­su­ing their ca­reers and Riana work­ing on the farm with her par­ents. She tells us that dad Mark is “do­ing re­ally well” and work­ing full-time.

Riana says her fam­ily are slowly over­com­ing the repercussions with sup­port from health pro­fes­sion­als and good friends.

“I’ve had help, which helps me get through it,” she says, “Peo­ple think of you dif­fer­ently but you get over that.

“It’s very strange – in the back of your mind you don’t re­ally deal with it. You can still walk down the street and no­body knows.”

But Riana ad­mits there’s more heal­ing to do.

“We still need a bit of time to get over it, as it does take a good year when any­one has drama in their life like that,” she says.

“A lot of peo­ple say it’s like when you break your leg – it takes a long time to heal – but we are all healthy and happy, and that’s the most im­por­tant thing.”

‘We are all happy, healthy and just try­ing to get back on track’

Mitch and Ella ap­peal to the me­dia on Septem­ber 1.

The doors were left un­locked when the fam­ily fled their Sil­van home.

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