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Woman rescued from Australian Outback after going missing two weeks ago

A woman who was stranded in the arid central Australian Outback almost two weeks ago has been rescued, with a search continuing today for her two friends.

Dirt road leads through the saltbush plains to the ranges in outback Australia. Source: istock.com

Tamra McBeath-Riley, 52, is being treated in an Alice Springs hospital for dehydration and exposure after she was found late yesterday, Police Superintendent Pauline Vicary said.

The air search continues today for her friends Claire Hockridge, 46, and Phu Tran, 40.

The three set out from Alice Springs for an afternoon drive on November 19 and their car became bogged in a riverbed southwest of the town.

Tamra McBeath-Riley, Phu Tran and Claire Hockridge went missing in Alice Springs on November 19. Source: Northern Territory Police

Ms McBeath-Riley found water about 1.5km north of the car.

"Sensibly she appears to have stayed where the water is and has been drinking that and that's probably what kept her going," Ms Vicary said.

Ms McBeath-Riley said after she and her companions found a waterhole, her companions began trekking 20km toward a highway on Thursday. They planned to avoid the desert heat, which came close to 40 degrees Celsius in recent days, by walking at night and carrying up to 7 litres of water.

Ms McBeath-Riley said she decided to stay at the waterhole with a dog that she did not think would survive a walk to the Stuart Highway, which connects Australia's north and south coasts. They did not know anyone was looking for them.

"When the helicopter found me, I thought that Claire and Phu had reached the highway. That was my immediate thought. So to find that's not the case is worrying," Ms McBeath-Riley told reporters.

Ms Vicary said searchers had found one set of footprints.

"It's quite a diverse terrain. There's sandy dunes, there's hard clay, there's areas of dense trees, but there are also rocks and ranges in the area," Ms Vicary said.

The pair had little food with them, she said.

A cattle rancher played a key role in saving the woman, telling police that he spotted tire tracks in an area that had not been searched.

"As a result of that information, we were able to locate the vehicle and then from there they have followed some of the other tracks and have located her," Ms Vicary said.