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Still No Answers On 46th Anniversary Of Girls' Disappearance

It has now been 46 years since two young girls disappeared from a packed sporting ground, sparking one of Australia's leading unsolved child abduction cases.

The disappearance and suspected murder of two young South Australian girls, Joanne Ratcliffe, 11, and Kirste Gordon, 4, has left investigators baffled for more than four decades.

The pair were watching a SANFL match with their families at a packed Adelaide Oval on August 25, 1973, when they left the Edwin Smith stand together to go to the toilet.

It was the last time their families would ever see or hear from them again.

Joanne Ratcliffe, 11, and Kirste Gordon, 4. PHOTO: AAP Image/Supplied by SA Police

Joanne's father, Mr Ratcliffe was the first person to begin the search for the two girls when they failed to return from the toilet a short time later. But they were never found.

Investigators believe the girls may have been forcibly removed from the oval by an unknown man, after witnesses reported seeing the pair leaving the area with a man near Port Road, Thebarton.

Witness accounts suggest the girls may have been sighted on a number of occasions up to 90 minutes following their disappearance.

Since then, investigators have pursued more than 2,000 lines of inquiry, Crime Stoppers SA said in a statement on Sunday, highlighting the anniversary of their disappearance.

Despite having no trace of the two girls, who would today be aged 50 and 57, investigators have refused to give up hope.

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Between 2013 and 2014, detectives combed a number of sites in the South Australian town of Yatina for any clues into their disappearance, including two wells which had to be excavated.

The previous owner of one of the properties had been one of the numerous people linked to the case. He had been interviewed by detectives before his death in 1999, Adelaide Now reported at the time.

South Australian police excavating a well on a SA rural property as police continue investigation into 1973 abduction of two girls from Adelaide Oval. PHOTO: AAP/SA Police

Over the years, a sketch of a man who may have been linked to the girls' disappearance has been shared as part of the investigation.

In 2014, the South Australian government offered up to $1 million to anyone who could provide information leading to the recovery of the girls' remains or that could lead to a conviction in the case.

At the time, Suzie Ratcliffe, Joanne's sister, made an emotional address pleading for the community to help their family find answers.

Suzie Ratcliffe, sister of Joanne Ratcliffe, speaks at an AFP launch in 2017. PHOTO: AAP

"Living day by day not knowing where our children are is incomprehensible, it's a pain no one should have to endure," Suzie told reporters.

"My family have missed out on seeing my sister grow up, go to school, all the highs and lows of her life ... getting married and having children of her own."

Sadly, Joanne's mother Kathleen died in March this year, never knowing what happened to her daughter.

A $1 million reward is still being offered for information that could lead to the recovery of the girls' or a conviction in the case.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at www.crimestopperssa.com.au