Re­flect­ing on Bali bomb­ing

PAUSING TO RE­MEM­BER 202, IN­CLUD­ING 88 AUSSIES, 16 YEARS AF­TER EXPLOSIONS AT BALI TOURIST HOT SPOT

Shepparton News - - NEWS -

Six­teen years af­ter explosions ripped through a Bali tourist hot spot — killing 202 peo­ple in­clud­ing 88 Aus­tralians — a griev­ing Syd­ney father has pledged to keep mov­ing for­ward like an in­domitable ‘‘Aus­tralian thong’’.

Sur­vivor Dave By­ron yes­ter­day told a memo­rial ser­vice he mourned his teenage daugh­ter, who was killed in the at­tack, ev­ery day. ‘‘Ev­ery day is dif­fi­cult,’’ he said. ‘‘I wake up ev­ery morn­ing and the first thing I think about is my 15-year-old daugh­ter. The last thing I think about when I go to bed is my 15-year-old daugh­ter Chloe.’’

The 2002 Bali bomb­ings were Aus­tralia’s bru­tal in­tro­duc­tion to the era of mod­ern ter­ror­ism — the at­tack was di­rected specif­i­cally at the Kuta nightlife strip which was filled with Western tourists.

Mr By­ron wears a pur­ple Hawai­ian shirt, bought in Bali just two days be­fore the blast, to the cer­e­mony each year be­cause it would make Chloe laugh.

He re­fuses to dwell on aw­ful things such as the bomb site, the smells and sounds he wit­nessed and the hospi­tal.

‘‘Life may not be fair but it’s still good,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s real good and we have a chance to keep liv­ing that and keep it good.’’

Mr By­ron de­scribed look­ing down at his legs, just hours af­ter pick­ing through the de­bris of the at­tack site, to see his feet cov­ered in soot and grime but mirac­u­lously un­harmed.

‘‘They were pro­tected by the hard­est thing on the planet,’’ he said, un­wrap­ping a pair of bat­tered rub­ber thongs he wore through the ordeal.

‘‘So I’m go­ing to live my life like an Aus­tralian thong — I’m never giv­ing up.’’

Syd­ney’s eastern sub­urbs lost 20 peo­ple in the at­tack, in­clud­ing six mem­bers of the Coogee Dol­phins rugby league club.

Four memo­ri­als were erected across the sub­urb in­clud­ing a bronze sculp­ture on the head­land above Coogee Beach.

The Aus­tralians killed in the blast were in the In­done­sian city for fam­ily hol­i­days, surfing trips and what Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son de­scribed as nor­mal Aus­tralian cel­e­bra­tions of life.

‘‘That’s what makes that night so shock­ing,’’ he said at the Coogee ser­vice.

‘‘The re­al­i­sa­tion our daily liv­ing and our daily free­dom could arouse such warped fury and ha­tred. It was a tragedy of evil.’’

A flock of white doves was re­leased into the dark sky over the head­land be­fore Mr Mor­ri­son led the crowd in lay­ing ger­bera flow­ers at the base of the memo­rial.

Many paused to lay a hand on the bronze sur­face and whis­per a mes­sage in the wind.

Memo­rial: A ser­vice at a Bali memo­rial at Coogee Beach, Syd­ney.

Pic­tures: AAP

Trib­ute: Flow­ers were laid dur­ing the cer­e­mony.

Sur­vivor: Dave By­ron speaks dur­ing the 16th an­niver­sary com­mem­o­ra­tion ser­vice in mem­ory of vic­tims of the 2002 Bali bomb­ings.

Tak­ing a mo­ment: Mourn­ers dur­ing yes­ter­day’s com­mem­o­ra­tion ser­vice.

Show of re­spect: Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son.

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