Nicola Sallese

                                                                                                                                                                    Above - this car is similar to Nicola's




***A message from Nicola's family -

Nicola Sallese has been missing since the 17th of November 2008. He was last seen driving through Sheffield, Tasmania in his silver Toyota Camry sedan which has some damage on the passenger side. Rego Number FH 2973.

The search is still a statewide one, we know if we can locate his car, it will unlock some clues as to where he could be.

Any information can be forwarded to Tasmanian police on 131 444.

The Sallese family would like to thank everyone for their support and great efforts to help find Nick.

Please forward this note to all your Tasmanian contacts.




Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
Rule 11

I, Timothy John Hill, Coroner, having investigated the disappearance of 



I have decided not to hold an inquest into the disappearance of Mr Sallese because the investigation into his disappearance has sufficiently disclosed his identity, the time, place and date of his disappearance and relevant circumstances concerning his disappearance together with the particulars needed to register the death under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999.

Having conducted an investigation I do not consider that the holding of an inquest would elicit any information further to that disclosed by the enquiries conducted.


 (a) Nicola  Sallese was born in Italy on 10/10/1939 and was aged 69 year(s);

 (b) Mr Sallese was widowed and a retired electrician at the time of his disappearance;

 (c) I find that Mr Sallese went missing on or about 17 November 2008 and is presumed deceased.


Mr Sallese was born in Vasto, Italy. At the age of 21 years he emigrated to Australia moving to Tasmania in1961.He worked for the Hydro Electric Commission (HEC) until his retirement in the late 1990’s.  Mr Sallese wife passed away in 2000 and this had a major impact on him.  His two sons both live in Tasmania. In retirement he formed a close association with the Sheffield Bowls Club. He regularly played bowls in Saturday competitions.

Mr Sallese was suffering from dementia and high blood pressure. He also had difficulty sleeping and was under the care of his general practitioner. Mr Sallese’s son Nicholas had been given power over his financial affairs due to his deteriorating mental health condition. I note that there had been some discussion with Mr Sallese about his ability to retain his driving licence.  This arose after he had been involved in a couple of minor traffic crashes.  Mr Sallese was concerned about the loss of his driving licence.

At about 8.45pm on Sunday 16 November 2008 Mr Sallese rang his son Nicholas.  Arrangements were made for Nicolas Sallese to attend at his father residence at 139 Vinegar Hill Road, Sheffield the following day.

Around lunchtime the following day the local ‘Meals on Wheels’ dropped Mr Sallese’s meal off at a friend’s address.  Mr Sallese would ordinarily pick the meal up later.  The meal was never picked up.

Later that afternoon Mr Nicholas Sallese rang his father to inform him he would not be able to attend as arranged.  The phone was not answered.  Mr Nicholas Sallese left a message indicating he would attend the following day.

On Monday 17 November 2008 Mr Sallese was observed driving his Silver 2005 Toyota sedan registered number FH2973 on Sheffield Main Road towards the junction with Bridle Track Road. This is the last confirmed sighting of Mr Sallese.

Following a number of further calls by Mr Nicholas Sallese to his father that went unanswered that evening, Mr Sallese went to his father’s home.  He found the residence locked up and secure. His father’s dog was in its kennel.  Mr Sallese was not present and his vehicle was missing.  Mr Sallese was reported as a missing person later that evening by his son.

Tasmania Police have conducted an extensive investigation into the disappearance of Mr Sallese since he was last seen on the 17 November 2008.  Those investigations, in part included the following lines of enquiry.

• Numerous media releases have been generated since the disappearance of Mr Sallese
• Checks were made at major airports and seaports and airlines. There is no evidence that Mr Sallese left or attempted to leave Tasmania.
• Enquiries with the Immigration Department revealed that Mr Sallese had not left Tasmania since his return to the country in 2006.
• There is no evidence that Mr Sallese had accessed his accounts since the date of his disappearance.
• Telephone records of Mr Sallese home telephone did not reveal any evidence as to the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.
• A number of further reports were made to Tasmania Police concerning sightings of Mr Sallese.  None of those have been confirmed.
• Tasmania Police have conducted a number of targeted searches at various locations throughout Tasmania to locate Mr Sallese.  All have met with negative results.
• An extensive ground search was conducted of the yard and paddocks surrounding Mr Sallese’s residence. 
• A forensic examination was conducted of Mr Sallese’s residence at 139 Vinegar Hill Road.  There was no evidence of foul play.
• The Westpac helicopter was used to conduct a search of the Sheffield area by Tasmania Police.
• The disappearance of Mr Sallese was the subject of a commercial television ‘Missing Persons’ program.
• Mr Sallese’s disappearance was included in publicity associated with the ‘National Missing Persons week’ campaign by the Australian Federal Police.

The investigation file into the disappearance of Mr Sallese has been overviewed by a senior investigator from Tasmania Police. Detective Inspector Wright concluded that, ‘there is no available evidence to suggest that any person is responsible for the disappearance of Mr Sallase….It is remarkable that Mr Sallese’s vehicle has not been located in the (time) since his disappearance, however that fact alone does not suggest foul play is involved’.

I note from the information contained on the police investigation file there that is no evidence to suggest that Mr Sallese is still alive.  His vehicle has never been recovered.

Mr Sallese has made no contact with his family since his disappearance in 2008.  This is completely at odds with the close relationship he enjoyed prior to his disappearance.


Having carefully considered the material on the investigation file, I find that Mr Sallese died on or about 17 November 2008.

I am unable to make any findings as to the cause and manner of Mr Sallese’s death.  His body and his motor vehicle have never been located.

However, I am satisfied based on the information that has been made available to me that the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Mr Sallese are not suspicious.

I note that Tasmania Police maintain a watching brief in respect to the disappearance of Mr Sallese.

Before I conclude this matter, I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased.

This matter is now concluded

DATED: 19 April 2012 at Launceston in the state of Tasmania

Timothy John Hill





Call for help to find missing man

Posted Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:38pm AEDT - ABC

The family of a northern Tasmanian man who's been missing for two nights hold fears for his safety.

69-year old Nicola Sallese from Sheffield has not been seen since Monday morning.

His family believe Mr Sallese is travelling in his silver sedan and is known to visit areas around Sheffield and Devonport.

His son, Nicholas, says his father is in the early stages of dementia.

"This is totally out of character," he said.

"For him to be away for one night it was a concern but now to be missing for actually two nights we hold grave fears."

Town hunts for missing man

19/11/2008 1:00:00 AM


THE "whole township of Sheffield" was out looking for missing local man Nicola Sallese, his worried son, Nick, said yesterday.

"At this stage we don't know (what has happened)," Nick Sallese said.

"It's starting to get a bit of a worry.

"He has got an ongoing medical condition ... but he has never gone overnight and that is what the concern is."

Police said they held concerns for the welfare of Mr Sallese, 69.

They said he had not been seen or heard of by friends and family since early on Monday morning.

It was believed he was travelling in his silver Toyota Camry sedan (FH2973).

"This vehicle has recent accident damage to the left-hand side and has a small `nodding brown dog' on the rear parcel shelf," police said.

Police said Mr Sallese was known to frequent the areas around Sheffield and Devonport.

He had also lived at Gowrie Park and George Town and may return to these areas. It was also believed Mr Sallese may have tried to drive to Launceston or Hobart for personal reasons.

Police said Mr Sallese was described as about 150cm, of stocky build with closely cropped white hair.

The top of his head is bald and he has a neat, white moustache.

Mr Sallese is of Italian descent and has an accent.

He was most likely wearing a blue driving cap and a green jumper.

Anyone with information about Mr Sallese's whereabouts is asked to contact police on 131444.



Chopper joins search for missing man

Posted Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:14pm AEDT - ABC

A helicopter search is underway for a 69-year-old north-west man missing since Monday.

Nicola Sallese from Sheffield is described as about 150 cms tall, with a stocky build and short white hair.

His son, Nicholas, hopes an air search can locate his father's car, a silver Toyota Camry sedan.

"There's been no real new information come through," Mr Sallese said.

"So after having two days of the community and friends and family and anyone else out there having a look for him, we've got to now assume that he's off the beaten track, or he's taken a wrong turn and got lost."

Fears held for missing man

Posted Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:00am AEDT  - ABC

Tasmanian Police have issued a fresh appeal for information which could help in the search for a missing north-west man.

They say they hold grave concerns for 69-year old Nicola Sallese of Sheffield.

He was last seen driving a silver Toyota Camry sedan through the town's main street.

His son, Nick Sallese, says there have been no strong leads.

"We've got to assume that maybe he's off the beaten track and maybe taken a wrong turn and got lost, or possibly ran out of petrol," he said.

He is described as balding with a stocky build and neat white moustache.

Nick Sallese says a helicopter search of the town and surrounding area yesterday failed to find the vehicle.

"We really need to find the car, once we find the car, we can go from there," Mr Sallese said.

Sheffield man's son is going to all lengths to find him

23/11/2008 1:00:00 AM - The Examiner


NICK Sallese has spent the past week in a desperate search for his father.

He has combed the streets around Nicola Sallese's Sheffield home, organised a helicopter to search from the air, urged the media to run reports and photographs and called or visited everyone his father knows.

Still nothing. Only a half- sighting in Launceston that has led nowhere.

"Someone must have seen something," Mr Sallese said. "We don't know where to look."

Nicola Sallese, 69, was last seen driving his silver Toyota Camry sedan, registration number FH 2973, in Main St at Sheffield, heading towards Railton.

He must have left his home between 11.15am on Monday and 12.30pm, Mr Sallese said.

"We know he was home at 11.15am because we talked to him on the phone, but when Meals on Wheels arrived there was no one there."

The Camry he was driving should stand out from the hundreds of others. It has recent accident damage and a small brown dog nods in the rear window.

"We've asked has anyone seen an old man driving a silver Toyota - I thought there would have been a 100,000, but apparently not."

Mr Sallese said his father was in the early stages of dementia, hence the worry.

He might have confused days and gone to visit a friend or a place from when they lived in George Town three decades ago.

Mr Sallese has asked people in Launceston particularly to think back over their memories.

Saturday last week was the anniversary of the death of Nicola Sallese's wife. He would visit her grave in King Meadows' Carr Villa cemetery on that day every year. This year he forgot.

Nicola Sallese is described as being 150cm tall and of stocky build with cropped grey hair, balding on top, and he has a neat white moustache. He speaks with a thick Italian accent.

Anyone who has information, or who thinks they might have seen him, is asked to contact Tasmania Police on 131444.



New sighting of missing man

November 24, 2008 06:27:00 - ABC


There's been a fresh sighting of an elderly North-West man who's been missing for seven days.

Sixty-nine year old Italian immigrant Nicola Sallese (pron suh-LEASE) was last seen driving a silver sedan through Sheffield early last week.

Mr Sallese's son, Nic says he's now heard his father was spotted heading west between Penguin and Burnie on Tuesday.

"At least it's given us an area now to start having a bit more of a search," Mr Sallese said.

"The car is a silver Toyota Camry, damage to the left hand side panel, the registration number is FH2973.

"So we are asking anybody out on the roads, especially now on the north-west coast, just to keep an eye out."

Mr Sallese has been described as balding, with a neat white moustache and stocky build.

The family is urging anyone who has seen him or the car to contact police.


New police fears for missing Latrobe man

26/11/2008 1:21:00 PM - The Examiner


POLICE say they now hold grave concerns for the wellbeing of missing Sheffield man Nicola Sallese who has not been seen for nine days.

A renewed public appeal for any information concerning the whereabouts of Mr Sallese was issued today.

He has been missing since Monday, November 17, and was last seen driving his vehicle, a silver Toyota Camry sedan, registration number FH 2973 in Main Street, Sheffield, east towards Railton.

The vehicle is distinctive in that it has recent accident damage to the right side and an ornamental dog on the rear parcel shelf.

Mr Sallese is described as being 69 years of age, approximately 150cm tall, of stocky build with closely cropped white/grey hair, balding on top with a neat white moustache.

He is also described as having a broad Italian accent.

Anyone with any information concerning this matter is asked to contact police on 131 444.

Family of missing man expects the worst

Posted Mon Dec 8, 2008 8:44am AEDT

The family of a Tasmanian man who has been missing for three weeks now fears he is dead.

There has been only one sighting of 69-year-old Nicola Sallese since he was seen driving a silver Toyota Camry sedan through Sheffield.

Mr Sallese's son Nic says with more tourists on the road in the lead-up to Christmas, he is hoping the car might be found.

"Christmas just you know three weeks away, my oldest boy just had his birthday, life goes on you know I understand that but there's just that hollow feeling obviously that you just need to finalise these things," Mr Sallese said.

"We're not expecting obviously now three weeks down the track that we're going to have the best result that we could have had but all the same you still need to have closure."

Police revise Sheffield man's last sighting

Posted 6 hours 33 minutes ago - December 8th 2008

Police say there has been a mix-up over the sighting of a man missing on Tasmania's north west coast.

Some reports have said 69-year-old Nicola Sallese was seen driving erratically on November 17th, a day after he was last seen in his home town of Sheffield.

Inspector Lauchland Avery says that information is now known to be incorrect.

"That matter was reported at the time by two passing motorists," he said.

"We revised that and identified that that particular incident occurred on the 13th.

"That means that that actual sighting was prior to the person being reported missing."

Missing man appeal

POLICE have renewed their appeal for information about Sheffield man Nicola Sallese, who has not been seen for nearly a month.

Mr Sallese, 69, was last seen driving his silver Toyota Camry, registration FH 2973 in Main St, Sheffield, on Monday November 17.

It is believed he may have driven to Hobart or Launceston.

Mr Sallese is 150cm tall, stocky, with some close-cropped white hair and a moustache.

He speaks with a broad Italian accent.

Yesterday police said they held grave concerns for his safety.

THE son of missing Sheffield man Nicola Sallese says his family is heartbroken to be facing Christmas without its loved one.

Missing dad heartbreak

                                                                                      DESPAIR ... Nick Sallese at Devonport yesterday as police plan an air search.

Nick Sallese has been frantically helping police search for his 69-year-old father since he disappeared almost five weeks ago.

He has followed up many tip-offs and even paid for a helicopter search three weeks ago but there is still no trace of his father, who was last seen driving his silver Toyota Camry sedan, registration FH2973, in Main St, Sheffield, on Monday, November 17.

Police yesterday conducted their own air search for Mr Sallese, scouring roads and bushland around Sheffield.

Nick said it had been a tough few weeks made more difficult by the fact it was Christmas, when he usually spent time with his father.

Nick and his wife have two young children, aged five and two, who miss their grandfather. Nick's brother also has a young family.

"It's going to be a bit subdued," he said of Christmas Day.

"We usually spend Christmas with dad as a family.

"My mother died eight years ago -- we're a small family so that makes it even harder."

Nick said yesterday's police search, although unsuccessful, helped put the family's minds at ease.

"We needed to have the police do this for us," he said.

"We have exhausted all leads and we're really back at square one ... for peace of mind, with Christmas just around the corner, we need to know that we've searched the local area and searched it well."

He urged people to continue looking for his father, who speaks with an Italian accent and is about 150cm tall, of stocky build with close-cropped white hair and a neat moustache.

Mr Sallese has early signs of dementia, but the retired Hydro worker regularly drove into Sheffield to play bowls, pick up supplies or visit friends at the RSL club.

"It's Christmas and people will be out on the roads, so we want them to know that we haven't found dad and his car is still out there," Nick said.

"I get about six calls a day from people asking if we've found dad and just wanting to let us know they are thinking of our family.

"I think it's harder not knowing -- you need to have that bit of closure.

"We never got the chance to say goodbye."

Devonport police inspector Lauchland Avery said there was little they could do since the two-hour police search found no trace of Mr Sallese.

"We wanted to satisfy the family that everything possible was being done in the lead-up to Christmas," he said.

"Obviously at this time of year in particular it is playing on the family's minds."

Insp Avery said it was likely Mr Sallese's car had run off the road and was in the water or down a ravine where it couldn't be seen.

Anyone with information about Mr Sallese's whereabouts is asked to contact police on 131 444.


Chopper fails to find missing man

Posted December 19, 2008 08:33:00 - ABC

A second helicopter search around Sheffield in Tasmania's north-west yesterday has failed to find any trace of a missing 69-year-old man.

Nicola Sallese was reported missing a month ago.

Inspector Lauchland Avery says police will continue to keep an eye on the case.

"At this stage we don't intend, unless there's some concrete information, to use aerial searches again," he said.

"We will be appealing to the public to keep an eye out and report anything they know and obviously if there's any sightings we'll be investigating."

Search continues for missing NW man

Posted Mon Jan 5, 2009 8:31am AEDT - ABC

The family of a missing north-west Tasmanian man are continuing their search for Italian immigrant Nicola Sallese.

The 69-year-old was last seen driving a silver Toyota Camry in the main street of Sheffield in November.

Aerial searches have failed to find any trace of him.

Posters have been put up around the state.

His son, Nick Sallese, says the family have searched the state.

"We just keep going at this stage," he said.

"Everybody's baffled as to why the car hasn't turned up.

"So we've just got to keep the word out there I guess that the car hasn't been sighted and hopefully with people out and about on holidays they might just see something that someone's missed and it might lead to some closure."

Fresh appeal over missing man

Updated Tue Aug 3, 2010 3:08pm AEST

Tasmanian police are renewing a call for public help in locating an elderly man who has been missing for more than 18 months.

Sheffield man Nicola Sallese has not been seen since November 2008.

Police are asking the public to report any cars they have seen down embankments or off the road.

It is believed Mr Sallese was travelling in his silver Toyota Camry when he went missing.

Mr Sallese's son Nic says the family hopes the renewed public appeal will solve his disappearance.

"It's hard to believe that in a state like Tasmania a car can go missing for so long without being found but every situation's different for us. We're kind of at peace to what's happened with Dad. We just want to find the car and his body now and put that side to rest," he said.

Police are highlighting his case during Missing Persons Week.

Where are you, Nicola Sallese?

Despite the number of discounted sightings, the Salleses have not lost hope of finding their cherished family member.

'The mafia up on the hill'


Each year, more than 38,000 people are reported missing in Australia. Although 95 per cent are found within a week, about 2,000 people remain missing long-term. Nicola Sallese is one of them. His story is part of an SBS series on missing persons from multicultural backgrounds.

Wearing his trademark flat cap, Nicola "Nick" Sallese gazes out from the window of the Don Store grocery in the main street of Sheffield, in north-west Tasmania. Ann Ridgway passes the portrait, drawn by a local artist and encircled with loving words penned by Sallese's younger son, Jason, almost daily.

"It absolutely haunts me at times," she says. "You think, 'If only you could answer us. Where are you, Nick?'"

A long-time family friend, Ridgway was one of the last people to see the 69-year-old before he vanished in November 2008.

She had been close to Nicola's wife, Jill, who died of cancer in 2000. The pair shared a love of lace-making and other crafts.

A talented wood turner, Sallese – an electrician with the Hydro-Electric Commission (now Hydro Tasmania) for 36 years – made Jill's spinning wheel and lace bobbins.

Picturesque Sheffield, 90 kilometres west of Launceston, is surrounded by forests and rolling fields.

The Salleses settled there in 1981 after spells in Gowrie Park and George Town, the moves dictated by Nicola's job.

After renting a "Hydro home" in town, they bought a property on Vinegar Hill, overlooking Sheffield; Sallese did the renovations, installing an Italian tiled fireplace and cross-hatched timber window frames.

Locals joked that Sallese, an Italian migrant who never lost his thick accent, was "the mafia up on the hill", Ridgway recalls, and, "he'd play on that, he'd tell them to 'watch out!'"

She and her husband, Selwyn, were often up at Vinegar Hill, while their house in town was a second home for Nick and Jason. Although often away working, Sallese – a dapper figure with a neat moustache – always made it back for his soccer-mad sons' weekend matches.

On Friday, 14 November, the eve of the anniversary of Jill's death, Sallese visited Ann Ridgway and paid for his daily Meals on Wheels – friends of hers ran the service.

A keen lawn bowls player, on the Saturday he travelled to Turners Beach, on the north-west coast, for a match. On Sunday evening, he phoned Nick, who lives in Devonport. Nick promised to call over after work the following day to fix the timer clock on his father's microwave: something he had been promising to do for a while.

On Monday the 17th, at about 12.30, Meals on Wheels volunteers arrived at Nicola's house. No one was in. As was usual when he was not home, they took the meal to Ridgway's place – Sallese normally collected it later in the day.

Ridgway was surprised to see them, since Sallese had told her he planned to spend the day gardening and doing odd jobs. She rang him at about 2pm; there was no answer.

Nick, meanwhile, had decided to postpone visiting his father until the following day. However, despite repeatedly calling, he could not get hold of him.

Concerned, he drove over to Vinegar Hill that evening, where he found the house locked up, washing hanging on the line and Sallese's dog, Milo, in his kennel. Letting himself in, he noticed his father's toiletry bag half-packed and an open, empty suitcase.

After waiting a couple of hours, Nick called Ridgway. As she tells it: "He rang me and said, 'Dad's still not here, when do we panic?' I said, 'I think we'd better do it now.'"

The best dressed man you ever met


On a sunny afternoon in autumn, Sheffield Bowls Club buzzes sedately as a dozen members rehearse their throws on the spotless green. In the past, Nicola Sallese would probably have been among them.

A long-standing member, he rarely missed a match or practice day – or, in the off-season, one of the regular teas or social gatherings.

"He was a very likeable person, very decent and sociable, and he mixed well," remembers fellow member Jean Bailey, perched at a table in the little clubhouse.

"If you saw him in town, he would greet you very politely. He was the smartest dressed man you ever met, always immaculate, often in a collar and tie."

Nicola was "a thorough gentleman, full of humour", agrees Nick Sallese's wife, Dana,  describing her father-in-law as "a very friendly, lively man".

Sallese had his routines. Wednesdays and Saturdays he was at the Bowls Club – and, sometimes, the RSL, for a meal. He shopped in Devonport, always choosing the same spot in the supermarket car park.

He filled up at the Caltex service station in Sheffield, where he knew the mechanic, David Archibald. Driving to Launceston, Devonport and local towns, he always followed the same routes.

In the 12 months before he disappeared, Bailey and her husband, John, noticed him becoming forgetful. He would turn up for a Saturday afternoon home match as early as 9am, when the green was still being mowed.

Once he travelled to an away match in Latrobe without his kit. The Bowls Club's president, Dennis Rockliffe, would phone him to alert him to club meetings, but – uncharacteristically – he did not attend.

The family was also worried. According to Jason, Sallese had to ring Nick almost daily "to ask what day it was and what he was supposed to be doing". Ridgway says he was "really very embarrassed" about his memory problems. The Baileys helped to arrange a mental health assessment; the diagnosis was early dementia.

Sallese began taking dementia medication. Realistic about the future, he put his house on the market and looked into buying a unit in town. Jean Bailey suspects he fretted, needlessly, about becoming "a nuisance" to his family.  

His driving grew increasingly erratic, and he wrote off his silver Toyota Camry while trying to swat a fly. After replacing it with another silver, second-hand Camry, registration FH 2973, he hit a parked car in the Bowls Club car park, damaging his left-hand panel.

He ran a red light and on one occasion drove on the wrong side of the road. There were family discussions; Sallese was desperate to hang on to his licence.

Waiting for him to come home

Not far outside Sheffield, on the road leading east, is the turn-off for Vinegar Hill. Between 1pm and 2pm on 17 November, mechanic David Archibald passed Sallese about 500 metres beyond the turn-off. The pair exchanged waves. And that was the last confirmed sighting of Jason's and Nick's father.

That night, waiting in vain for him to come home, Nick called Jason, who had moved to Seven Mile Beach, near Hobart, 18 months earlier. Did his brother have any clue where Sallese could be? Jason was at a loss.

Nick filed a missing persons report. He also contacted police in Launceston, in case the anniversary had prompted Sallese to head to the city's Carr Villa cemetery – Jill's cremated remains are there.

On Tuesday, Jason phoned. "So, where was he?" he asked Nick, who had stayed at Vinegar Hill overnight. Hearing that Sallese was still missing, he packed a bag, took leave from his electrician's job and drove to Sheffield, just over three hours north.

Initially, the family assumed Sallese had broken down – it would just be a matter of finding him by the roadside, they thought. "There were only so many roads he used to travel," explains Jason. However, police searches of the area failed to uncover any trace.

The family threw themselves into the hunt. While Nick remained at the house in case Sallese returned, and to conduct media interviews, Jason spent up to 18 hours a day on the road, ranging as far afield as Smithton, in Tasmania's far north-west, and George Town, way over east.

He would drive, stop somewhere and walk for two kilometres, then drive, stop and walk for another two kilometres, checking every back road, every forest track, down every embankment. Returning to Vinegar Hill at night, he would find a meal waiting for him, dropped off by some thoughtful local.

Although exhausted, Jason could not sleep. "Your brain's going at 100 miles per hour, and every bump you hear, you think, 'Was that the back door?' I didn't even lie down; I just sat on the couch in front of the TV, watching infomercials."

The family's anxiety was heightened by the knowledge that Sallese, who had high blood pressure, was without his hypertension drugs.

At the Bowls Club, and in the wider Sheffield community, people were dismayed by his disappearance. Shops and businesses displayed missing posters and flyers. Many locals, including the Ridgways, joined the search. So did Sallese's elder brother, Guiseppe, who lived in Devonport; he trawled forests and river banks, looked near canyons and dams.

"The place was scoured," says Gerald Davies, the estate agent who was negotiating the sale of Vinegar Hill. Davies, who relays a puzzling story of discovering the house open but no one home when he arrived with prospective buyers a day or two before Sallese went missing, adds: "Some of these roads were searched three and four and five times."

Early on, police were diverted by what proved to be a false sighting of Sallese at Penguin, on the north coast. Another sighting at Southport, in Tasmania's far south, at 7pm on the 17th, seemed more promising.

A tourist from Sydney, Richard Robinson, reported being approached outside some public toilets by an elderly man fitting Sallese's description, down to the Italian accent. He seemed vague and asked for directions to Seven Mile Beach, according to Robinson, who consulted his road atlas and told him it was 100 miles to the north.

After seeing a TV report about the case a few days later, Robinson told police he was "certain that this was the person that I had spoken to at Southport".

Seven Mile Beach is where Jason lives, and Sallese had been looking forward to travelling there the following Saturday with Nick and Dana to celebrate his granddaughter Olivia's first birthday.

Did he mix up the dates, forget the plan and try to drive down by himself? Dana thought it likely, particularly as he had been mortified at forgetting another grandchild's birthday and determined not to repeat the lapse.

Police searched the Southport area – eventually. Jason and Nick were exasperated by the sluggish pace, as they saw it, of the official operation. They organised their own two helicopter sweeps of the north-west, including Cradle Mountain. But Sallese was nowhere to be seen, nor, bafflingly, was his car.

After nearly three weeks, the brothers wound down their intensive efforts. "There comes a point," says Jason, "where you just go, 'Well, where have you gone? How have we not found him?'

"I was almost at breaking-point. I was so tired, it was like I was drunk. The worst thing was letting go, because that's the last thing you want to do. But it just took over everything, and I had to step away."

Hydro in his blood

The grounds of the house where Nick and Jason grew up are overgrown and neglected now, the property having been rented out for nearly a decade. Wandering through, Ann Ridgway recalls when they were lovingly cared for, when there was a rose garden, and grapevines, and a lemon tree.

Jill Sallese's chook shed is still there. She kept sheep and goats in the paddocks. Once a year, Sallese sheared the sheep; she spun the wool and knitted jumpers.

They were "an ideal couple, devoted to each other", relates Jason. "She was dad's priority, and that never changed, his whole life." When she became ill, he quit the Hydro to look after her.

The second of six children, Nicola was born on 10 October, 1939, in Vasto, a hilltop town on Italy's Adriatic coast. The family moved twice, settling in the western port of Livorno.

During Nicola's wartime childhood, he was struck by an Italian Army truck while playing by a roadside and knocked unconscious into a ditch.

After being apprenticed to a cobbler, in 1960 Sallese migrated to Australia, where, following a brief stint in Fremantle, he followed Giuseppe to Tasmania and joined the Hydro as a trades assistant.

He met Jill Pitman, as she then was, at a dance in Launceston, and the couple married in 1967. Nick was born the following year, Jason in 1969.

The family relocated to Italy when the boys were small, but returned to Tasmania after six months. Sallese became a troubleshooter for the Hydro, travelling all over the state.

"If there was anything wrong, he was the first man they sent for," says Jason. "Pretty much every dam, every power station, every sub-station, if he wasn't in the crew that built it, he'd worked on it or done maintenance."

Jason remembers backyard footy games with Sallese. He remembers his father cheering him and Nick on at the soccer and cricket, taking them on fishing trips and tending his vegetable garden.

The family holidayed at St Helen's, on Tasmania's east coast, and piled into an old station wagon one summer for a camping adventure on the mainland. Nicola and Jill "went without a lot just so that Nick and I could progress", Jason thinks.

Despite working away, Nicola was heavily involved in his sons' lives, always ready to lend a hand or offer advice. A "strict but fair" father, he passed on good manners and a piercing sense of right and wrong.

"Whenever we needed him, like when we got our first cars and they broke down, he was very generous with his time," stresses Jason.

"He was always interested in what we were doing, and that pretty much carried on when we had our own kids." 

He wouldn't leave the dog by himself

When Jill died, Sallese was bereft. Yet Dana was struck by how her father-in-law found "positive ways to fill his life" – including his beloved bowls, and gardening, with his "best buddy" Milo at his side.

He enjoyed weekly  dinners with friends, and in 2007 took a TAFE English course, writing that he was "really enjoying his life" and hoped to "get even more time on this earth".

Above all, he doted on his grandchildren. Nick and Dana had two sons, Ben and Zachary; Jason had Olivia.

"He just loved them and spoiled them rotten," smiles Jason. At least once a week, Sallese would call over to play with the boys, staying for a cup of tea or a meal. Occasionally he babysat. To Dana, he was a "very involved grandfather".

Jason was close to his father. "We had a lot in common, and we were always bouncing ideas off each other," he says.

"He was my dad, but he was a mate as well." They kept in regular phone contact after Jason moved south.

As the dementia took hold, Sallese became frustrated by his own forgetfulness. The drugs did not seem to help. The family had to remind him to keep medical appointments.

In November 2008, two weeks before he disappeared, Sallese dropped in on Guiseppe; however, he stayed for only five minutes and declined a coffee – which was "very strange behaviour for him", his brother, who died a few years ago, told police. Nicola also acted oddly towards family members visiting from Italy.

On 9 November, he forgot to show up for Sunday lunch at Nick's house. The following Thursday, he visited the grandsons on his way home from Burnie, where he had been supposed to see his specialist – he hadn't been able find him, he told Dana. Otherwise, he seemed fine, departing with his customary, "Well, I'd better get home, that dog will be wondering where I am!"

On Saturday the 15th, at Turners Beach, Sallese appeared "in good spirits", according to the Bowls Club's Dennis Rockliffe, and he joined fellow team members for dinner back at the club that evening.

When he failed to return home on the Monday, his sons knew something was wrong.

"Put it this way," explains Jason, "we knew dad wouldn't leave the dog at home by himself. If he was capable of getting home, he'd get home."

'He's still out there somewhere'

In January 2009, police used sonar equipment to try to locate Sallese's car in Lake Barrington, west of Sheffield.

In May, and again in September, they searched the Southport area once more. In February 2010, search and rescue officers scoured the Dasher River Gorge, outside Sheffield.

Detective Inspector David Wright, who reviewed the investigation in December 2008, termed it "remarkable" that the Camry had not been found.

In April 2012, the Tasmanian Coroner concluded that Sallese died on or about the day he went missing, and that there were no suspicious circumstances. (Police had ruled out foul play after combing his house and grounds.)

Sergeant Anthea Maingay, now in charge of the case, believes it "quite possible" that the car went over an embankment in a remote spot, out of sight of searchers and the public, and that vegetation has since grown up over it.

Alternatively, she notes, it could be submerged in water. "But with the significant floods here last year, you'd think that had the car gone into one of the rivers, it would have washed up. We've had a lot of water through and nothing has come up."

The last reported sighting of Sallese was in southern Tasmania last December; like numerous others, it was investigated and discounted.

Since his father vanished, Jason has married Leah and had another daughter, Phoebe. Nick has had a daughter, Gabi. Recently, the family erected a plaque in the Carr Villa cemetery, next to Jill's ashes. "Nicola (Nick) Sallese, dearly loved and missed," it reads.

Those who cherish him have not given up hope. Whenever Jason sees a silver Camry, "I'll always glance at the number plate, even now," he says. Ann Ridgway does the same, looking out for the brown nodding dog on Sallese's rear parcel shelf. At the Bowls Club, members stage an annual competition in memory of Jill and Nicola.

Last January, the family parked a mobile billboard plastered with large photographs of Sallese and his car in a prominent spot in Sheffield. In March, a local drone pilot recorded footage of inaccessible bushland outside the town.

Jason runs a Facebook page, 'Help Find Nicola Sallese'. "You just hope the next person to like your page might be the person that goes, 'Hang on a minute, I know something about this,'" he observes.

Jason's biggest worry is that responsibility for finding Sallese will eventually fall to his daughters. "You hope there's never a day when they've got to say, 'Right, now it's our turn.'"

He reflects: "He's still out there somewhere, which does your head in a bit. I remember meeting a lady whose dad is over 90 and missing. She said the thing she didn't like was, every time it rained, knowing he was out in it somewhere.

"There's not much you can say to that except, 'Yep, I understand where you're at.'"

If you have any information regarding a missing person, please contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.