OPEN paddocks create no barrier for Ballarat’s icy winds that sweep across Smarts Hill Road, where a couple and their dog were found dead in a car on Friday night.
The young couple from Ballarat were huddled in their white 1980s Holden Commodore station wagon for the night in an effort to keep warm, relying on a butane gas heater to deter the cold.
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Rather than save them, the heater is believed to have contributed to their deaths.
Smarts Hill Road is a lonely, secluded patch of land in Cardigan, known by locals to be an illegal rubbish dumping hotspot littered with syringes, animal remains and car parts. A once-loved teddy bear lies discarded in the weeds.
After being called in by a concerned passer-by, police found the station wagon in sombre isolation near the intersection of Finches Road just before 9.30pm. A time of death is still unclear.
Nearby residents were shocked after receiving news of the tragedy.
Tarni Gray, who lives on Cuthberts Road, said it wasn’t uncommon for cars to be parked in Smarts Hill Road.
“It does come as a shock for me. Because it is normally quiet around here,” Ms Gray said.
“I’ve seen a few cars parked on Smarts Hill Road that just sit there, and then drive off.”
She said the road is well-known for rubbish dumping. “All I know is people dump a lot of rubbish there and on Finches Road,” she said.
“People have dumped cow carcasses and mattresses there.”
Sandra Jones, who also lives on Cuthberts Road near the intersection with Finches Road, said it was a terrible event.
“You know people are doing it tough, but sleeping in a car ...” Ms Jones said.
Rod Dickson, duty forecaster from the Bureau of Meteorology, said Ballarat had an overnight minimum of 7.6 degrees on Friday.
However, wind chill had the air feeling like four degrees, he said.