Missing Person from NSW Michael CroakerA young man resting on a car in an old black and white photo.


Michael Croaker and siblings

Michael with his brother and sister

Missing since: 
Saturday, October 20, 1973
Last seen: 
Little Bay, NSW
Responsible jurisdiction: 
Year of birth: 



Michael Croaker was last seen at Prince Henry Hospital in Little Bay, NSW. He was 18 years old at the time of his disappearance.

If you have any information that may assist Police in locating Michael, please contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


NSW Police are renewing their appeal for information into the disappearance of a man from Sydney’s south more than 46 years ago, as part of this year’s Missing Persons Week.
Michael Croaker, then aged 18, was last seen at Prince Henry Hospital in Little Bay – where he was staying as a patient – on Friday 20 October 1973.
Hospital staff reported Mr Croaker missing to police the following day when they could not locate him.
At the time of his disappearance, Michael was described as being of Caucasian appearance, with a pale complexion, about 162cm tall, with a solid build, brown hair and brown eyes.
During the investigation, police received information that Mr Croaker may have travelled from Sydney to Western Australia across the Nullarbor Plain in April 1974.
There was also an unconfirmed sighting of him in the Kings Cross area in May 1995.
In April 2009, a coronial inquest found that it was likely that Mr Croaker had died, but the date, place and cause of death was undetermined.
The Missing Persons Registry continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Mr Croaker, who would have celebrated his 65th birthday in March this year.
Michael’s sister, Ms Trish Croaker, is encouraging people this Missing Persons Week to take time out to visit www.missingpersons.gov.au.
“This October will mark 47 years since Michael disappeared, and the search for answers has been as devastating as it has been long,” Ms Croaker said.
“To avoid other families going through what we have, please visit the official Missing Persons website. It may spare someone else a lifetime of grief.”
Anyone with information about Michael Croaker’s disappearance is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Information is treated in strict confidence. The community is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

National Missing Persons Week launches with aim of saving families from 'a lifetime of grief'

By Sarah Thomas ABC


Saturday, October 20, 1973, was a significant day for many reasons.

It was the day the Sydney Opera House was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II, with more than half a million people lining the harbour foreshore to celebrate, flanked by thousands of police officers wrangling the jubilant crowds.

It was also the last day Michael Ian Croaker, known to his family as Mick or Micky and then aged 18, was ever seen.

Mick's story is one of eight long-term missing people at the centre of this year's National Missing Persons Week campaign, which runs until August 8.

The annual campaign, now in its 32nd year, aims to spotlight cases to jog people's memories in the hope of throwing up the vital nugget of information that could change everything.

If still alive today, Mick Croaker would be 65 years old.

He vanished from Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay nearly 47 years ago and there are still no clues about what happened to him.

Mick's sister Trisha, who is four years younger and one of his three siblings, says missing person cases leave an unshakeable "lifetime of grief" for the families left behind.

Trisha, an architecture writer and media adviser, says her mother, Airlie, never got over the loss before she died 10 years ago.

She says her mother harboured a lifelong dislike for the Opera House and Trisha never understood why — until one day she twigged what was going on.

Airlie "partly blamed" the opening ceremony for delays in police investigating Mick's immediate disappearance, because they were tied up with the event.

"There was this real joyous celebration of one of the world's best buildings, and there was this tragic story playing out underneath with no one helping, is the way my mother thought," Trisha says.

'Sad and enduring puzzles'

About 38,000 people go missing in Australia every year — more than 100 a day.

There are around 2,600 long-term missing cases, defined as missing for 90 days or more.

This year's National Missing Persons Week campaign, organised by the Australian Federal Police, is titled "I'll see you later", and features Mick's story, as well as seven other cases from each state and territory.

Information and short videos will be rolled out across social media and advertising boards all week.

Police say they hope it will help to draw out new leads on "sad and enduring puzzles".

In NSW, advances have been made with a new specialised unit, the Missing Persons Registry (MPR), launched in July 2019.

On Saturday — although a tragic ending — police confirmed remains found from a search last month from a fresh lead from the MPR were that of Thea Liddle, who had been missing since October.

Detective Inspector Glen Browne heads the unit and says the MPR investigates every missing person report from around the state within 24 hours, and continuously works with the police command which took the report to guide cases.

All historical records for long-term cases have undergone a "massive" digitisation process and are being reviewed for new lines of inquiry, and several other new tools have been developed including greater access to live data from people's phones and devices.

Reviews since the MPR launched have led to to 57 long-term missing people being located over the past year, police said.

Inspector Browne says the state has about 11,000 cases a year, with 769 unsolved long-term cases, scrutinised by a team of nine investigators and four analysts.

On average, NSW sees 76 new long-term cases a year but, as of the end of July, that number stands at just seven so far, including four people missing from boating accidents.

"The improvement is because of the close supervision the MPR now provides to all missing person cases, from the day they are reported until they are resolved," he says.

A suitcase never unpacked

Mick Croaker had already experienced a difficult life by the time he got to Little Bay.

Trisha says he was a quiet, gentle, kind and happy boy, but learning difficulties and a severe stutter had seen him bullied and teased through a number of boarding schools.

His parents were concerned he might need advanced help and sent him to Prince Henry Hospital to be assessed.

He disappeared after just two days at the hospital in "mysterious circumstances", says Trisha.

His case file was missing, the doctor in charge of his case was on leave the day Mick disappeared and later refused to be interviewed.

Mick took none of his possessions, and apparently walked freely out of a ward full of people having psychiatric assessments, Trisha says.

From then on, her parents, did "everything imaginable" to find their son, she says.

They were on every radio program, newspaper front pages and TV shows and travelled the country from Adelaide to Cairns following tip-offs.

The family lived on a cattle, sheep and wheat farm in Scone in the NSW Upper Hunter and, growing up surrounded by animals, they had been quite aware of the idea of life and death, says Trisha

"It was like this blanket of grief had been thrown over us. And it just didn't lift. And I didn't know how to lift it, and I didn't think I was allowed to lift it."

"You have the people who are at the centre of that grief, which was in this instance my Mum particularly. I remember thinking, it's not OK to feel happy. She was so traumatised."

She says it was only after her mother died that she began to move beyond that.

"To have a life and [to feel] lucky to have that … [despite] whatever happened to Mick."

An inquest in 2009 found that Mick was dead "on balance of probabilities" but no date, place, cause or manner of death was able to be determined.

The family farm at Scone is still there, and among its many possessions is Mick's suitcase from the hospital, still unpacked.

Trisha says it is vitally important for anyone to come forward if they have information about any missing person cases.

"It is so, so important if anyone can do anything to help in any way," she says.

"If you have any idea that you might have seen that person or know that person, or have some information — you can save everybody a lifetime of grief."

Anyone with any information relating to missing person cases can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.