Water Minister Tim Holding says he thought he would die after falling on Mount Feathertop while attempting a solo hike.
Recounting his two-night ordeal to a packed press conference today, the 37-year-old said he fell "a couple of hundred metres very quickly".
"It was not a controlled descent," he said.
It was then, he said, that "I thought I was going to die'".
"I thought I'd go off a cliff or hit a rock and that would be it," he said.
He thanked his rescuers and family and partner for their support, while apologising for "any anxiety" he had caused.
Mr Holding said he had never hiked with an EPERB (emergency beacon) before, but given what his family had been through, he would carry one from now on.
A police helicopter winched Mr Holding to safety from Feathertop yesterday in a dramatic and expensive air rescue operation.
When asked about the cost of his rescue, he praised Victoria's emergency services and said they had been "well-deployed".
The Minister was speechless when asked how the ordeal would affect his political career.
He joked that his partner, Sunday Herald Sun reporter Ellen Whinnett, had "grounded" him after the ordeal.
"I'm happy to be grounded," he said.
Explaining his brief kiss to Ms Whinnett when reunited at Bright airport, he joked that he hadn't brushed his teeth in four days.
He also said the media scrum was intimidating and that he felt uncomfortable when talking about his personal life.
Earlier, Premier John Brumby said Mr Holding, who was winched from Mount Feathertop yesterday in a dramatic and expensive air rescue operation, was treated the same as any other hiker lost in the Victorian Alps.
Mr Brumby and Victoria Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe today denied that Mr Holding, who is expected to be released from The Alfred today, received special treatment.
"The AFP routinely lease aircraft to support operational activity across the country and provided aerial support in this matter," the AFP said in a statement.
"This capability has been utilised previously in a search capacity."
An AFP spokesman refused to say when the aircraft had previously been used or what kind of plane was involved.
The Age revealed this morning that an AFP plane with secret experimental night surveillance equipment had helped locate Mr Holding.
The AFP denied yesterday that it had any planes.
It is believed advanced thermal imaging technology, designed to track fugitives by detecting body heat, was fitted to the plane.
Police said today that Mr Holding wouldn’t have to foot the bill for the rescue operation.
An 80-person search party including police spent two days looking for Mr Holding in freezing conditions after he was officially declared lost on Sunday night.
The ordeal finally ended yesterday when he was winched off the slopes of Mount Feathertop by a police helicopter, having slid 100 metres down a ridge while trying to climb towards the summit.
The Premier conceded today that senior police only became involved in the operation because of Mr Holding’s media profile.
Mr Walshe said Mr Holding was not favoured because he is a politician.
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