Sad family farewell
Ava ‘lived for the cattle and farming’
GENEROUS and loving.
Fearless and Dad’s little mate.
Tributes have flowed for Juanita Bendel and her 10year-old daughter Ava Cole, of Tumoulin (right), who were electrocuted at their Eriksen Rd property on New Year’s Eve.
Their deaths have sad- dened the Tablelands community which gathered at the Mountain View Chapel yesterday to say goodbye.
AVA Cole has been remembered as a fearless country girl with an affinity for animals beyond her 10 years.
Ava and her mother Juanita Bendel died when they were electrocuted at their Ravenshoe family farm on New Year’s Eve.
Advance Cairns CEO and cattle owner Nick Trompf had seen Ava at work at the Malanda Show, where she would be at her dad Mitch’s side.
“I have known her since she came up as a four year old,” Mr Trompf said.
“She and Mitch would have their cattle opposite ours at the Malanda Show.”
He said Ava was in her element around the towering animals.
“I have watched this young girl grow from being not far out of nappies to being totally confident around livestock,” he said.
“She lived for the cattle and farming. She had a passion for it. She was like a duck to water.”
Ava had made a name for herself on the show circuit.
“In the handling competitions she’d be out there and won her age group this year,” Mr Trompf said.
“She would confidently handle a beast twenty to thirty times her weight. She always looked the part and was an absolute professional in the show and had a formidable talent.
“She was fearless – but smart enough to know the dangers. She respected the cattle but at the same time was able to get the beast on to its feet and rolling over.
“She was a young cattle handler with a lot of talent.”
Ava was at her dad’s side at the show and during the Malanda Show cattle camps held in May, where school students would be taught how to prepare the animals for showtime.
Former show steward and Mareeba Shire councillor Anthony Ball remains close with Mitch Cole.
“They are deadset a typical Australian country family – they are hard working, wonderful people,” Mr Ball said.
“Ava was just one of a kind. She was a very special kid.”
He said Ava was at home in the show ring with her cattle.
“She had showmanship and had a wonderful way with cattle,” Mr Ball said.
“She was just unafraid to show these animals who was boss – she just had a way with them.
“She’d walk into the ring with her animal and as far as showmanship goes, she would command the attention of the judges as if to say, ‘Look at me, look at my animal’.
“She had a confidence that was amazing for her age.”
It would not be unusual to see Ava out with the cattle at night, tending to them and comforting them.
Mr Ball said that at 10 years of age she had developed an affinity for the animals that was the envy of stockmen decades her senior.
“She had a great ability for such a young age – she certainly was a great cattle person, just a natural.”
A fundraising appeal has been launched to raise money for the family of Ava Cole and Juanita Bendel. Donations can be made at http:// www.juanitaandavaappeal.com.au
COUNTRY GIRL: Ava Cole, at the age of seven, was the youngest junior judge at the Malanda show.