The years that followed ...
June 23, 2010
Tears flowed in Childers on this day as about 70 people – survivors, families of victims and locals – gathered to remember the 15 backpackers who died in the Palace Hostel fire 10 years ago. The moving memorial was opened by Sheila Webb, who wept as she told of the horror of losing her 24-year-old daughter Claire to the blaze.
June 18, 2011
Childers police officer in charge Sergeant Geoff Fay was one of six recipients of the Australian Police Medal as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Sgt Fay was commended for an outstanding career served throughout rural Queensland and a remarkable contribution to the community of Childers in the chaotic weeks following the infamous Palace Backpacker Hostel fire in 2000.
As one of only four police officers stationed in Childers at the time of the tragedy, he co-ordinated the police response to the disaster and tried to bring the town back to something that resembled normality.
June 28, 2012
A children’s book, written by the sister of English backpacker and fire victim Claire Webb, was placed at the Palace memorial on this day. Karen Kelly’s book is titled Angel Tree and honours her lost sister.
March 6, 2014
Almost 14 years after the Palace Hostel fire claimed the lives of 15 young backpackers, survivors broke their silence to speak out against a “disrespectful” move by the council to transform the memorial building into a social venue.
A media release issued by the Bundaberg Regional Council to promote the jazz event stated the afternoon promised “jazz tunes, wine and good times” at the Palace space.
One of the 70 survivors, Richard Tempest, voiced his fury at the council’s decision to use the memorial building as a social venue.
“I, along with other survivors around the world, and the families and friends of those young lives who were tragically taken that night, feel that using this memorial room in such a way is inappropriate, unthinkable and unbelievable,” he said.
March 17, 2014
Dutch traveller Rob Jansen survived the Palace Hostel fire. On March 17, 2014, he and his partner Karin welcomed their baby daughter into the world. Lea Isis Jansen was named after the district as a special tribute.
November 10, 2014
Col “Curl” Santacaterina led the recovery effort for the Palace Backpackers Hostel fire in 2000. He retired on this day after 35 years with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.