The skeletal remains of what is believed to be missing man Matthew Leveson have been exhumed from a forested burial site, bringing a decade-long search to an end.
Homicide detectives carried the remains, which were placed in two large cardboard boxes, out of bushland in the Royal National Park on Thursday afternoon.
The remains will be taken to the morgue in Glebe where forensic examinations will likely confirm what police and Mr Leveson's family suspect.
Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin said the circumstances under which the bones were found made him believe they belonged to 20-year-old Mr Leveson.
"It's been a long journey for the family in their efforts to find their son and hopefully this will bring them some relief," he said on Thursday.
The human skeleton was found, about 60 centimetres underground and under a cabbage palm, by an excavator on Wednesday afternoon.
The long-awaited discovery marked a monumental turning point in the case for Matthew's parents, Mark and Faye Leveson.
Matthew disappeared after leaving ARQ Nightclub in Darlinghurst in September, 2007.
The man who led police to the burial site under the protective umbrella of immunity, Michael Atkins, 54, remained in Queensland on Thursday.
He was acquitted of Mr Leveson's murder and manslaughter after a trial in 2009 only to lead police to the body five years later.
Mr Leveson's parents said the development showed how flawed the justice system was.
"They painted us into a corner," Mrs Leveson said. "They pained us into making a decision to bring our son home and for the killer to walk free."
Her husband added: "If any of the jurors on Matthew's trial see this, what the hell were you thinking?"
"This could have have been solved many years ago [by] yourselves."
Last year Mr Atkins agreed to take police to the area where he buried Matthew's body after he was enticed with two separate immunity deals.
One involved immunity from prosecution stemming from anything he said in evidence during Mr Leveson's inquest last year.
However that did not protect him from perjury or contempt of court charges if he lied in his testimony.
The second protected him from perjury charges if he took detectives to Mr Leveson's body.
In darkness in the early hours of November 10, Mr Atkins led police to an area off McKell Avenue in the southern end of the national park.
He told police he believed he buried his boyfriend's body somewhere in that area.
However it took three separate searches, over 20 days in total, to finally find Mr Leveson.
As the search was winding down on Wednesday afternoon, an excavator came across the human skeleton.
Police were shown the startling discovery before Mr Leveson's parents walked over to the site and spent a few minutes alone with their son.
Mr Leveson said this was what his family had worked towards for nine and a half years.
"Of course there is a lot of work for the police and the coroner to do yet so we might not get Matt home for a while yet," he said.
"But at least Matty is coming home."