'We found him': Julio 'Lester' Ascui alive after five days missing in Grampians

Just as Julio Ascui's family were fearing the worst five days after the avid hiker went missing in rugged bushland, the 50-year-old was putting his bush skills to good use to survive.

Mr Ascui, better known as Lester, chewed on eucalyptus leaves and drank water from a nearby stream while lost in the Grampians National Park.

Privately, the family had started to talk about the possibility of making funeral arrangements, but were putting on a brave face as they continued to search and plead publicly for information.

Their five days of anguish ended on Wednesday morning with one simple text message: "We found him".

Lester Ascui emerges from the forest after being missing for five days.

Photo: channel 7 news

Mr Ascui's son Joshua was preparing for another day of helping to search for his missing father when the message came through around 10.30am.

The father of two was found with only cuts and bruises. He was taken to Stawell Hospital for assessment.

Parks Victoria rangers found Mr Ascui sitting next to a creek which he drank from in order to survive.

"I was just coming to trek and I was lost for five days," Mr Ascui said as he emerged from the national park.

Mr Ascui was found by park rangers and led from the park by police.

Photo: channel 7 news

"There's a little river, I came every morning to fill up my bottle."

Asked how he felt after being rescued, he described the moment as amazing.

Paramedics checked Mr Ascui over after his rescue.

Photo: Supplied

"I was really thirsty," he said. "I'm feeling really well."

Mr Ascui appeared to be in remarkably high spirits after his rescue, walking with police and eating a banana, his tattered clothes the only sign of his incredible survival story.

Halls Gap Police Sergeant Karen Bain, who escorted Mr Ascui ouf of the park said: "He ate eucalyptus leaves. His son said he was born in Chile in the mountains and he goes there all the time."

Joshua had just arrived at his accommodation in Halls Gap for another three days of searching when he got word that his father was alive.

"I had decided to head back to Melbourne for a break after the previous day's hiking and as soon I got back to Halls Gap here we got a message saying 'We found him'," he said.

"We ran out of there and stormed straight to the CFA and jumped into the paramedic's car to head out to the site where they found him.

"I told the paramedic: 'I don't care what you say, I'm getting in.'

"But then it came over the radio that they had airlifted him back to the CFA complex."

"There are no words that can describe how I'm feeling right now. I thought I knew what happiness was. I didn't know what happiness was until today. I'm just overwhelmed."

Joshua described his father as "the heart of the family".

"We've even got relatives overseas boarding flights as we speak on the way to come and help. Everyone just loves him."

Cousin Luis Ascui said he was "ecstatic".

Sergeant Bain said everyone was elated. "The family's all here and they're just so happy that he's OK," she said.

"I've been in the the job for a long time, I've never had anything like this, such a good result after such a long time."

Up to 30 friends and relatives spent the last five days searching for Mr Asqui alongside SES workers, sleeping in caravans and their cars.

Stawell Times, with Ebony Bowden and Tammy Mills

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