Reflecting on Bali bombing
PAUSING TO REMEMBER 202, INCLUDING 88 AUSSIES, 16 YEARS AFTER EXPLOSIONS AT BALI TOURIST HOT SPOT
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.
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.