Tributes to Bali victims eight years on

Relatives and survivors of the Bali bombings have wept in each other’s arms during a ceremony to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the tragedy.


The attacks on two popular Bali nightspots on October 12, 2002 killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

A memorial wall publicly listing all 43 NSW victims was unveiled at the Bali Memorial in Dolphins Point at Coogee, in eastern Sydney, on Tuesday.

For Sandra Hardman, who lost her son James, 28, it was particularly poignant.

“We didn’t feel a connection to this place as we weren’t local and there was no acknowledgement of the names of all the NSW victims,” said Ms Hardman, who lives at Wahroonga on Sydney’s north shore.

Now it could become a place of reflection for all those touched by the tragedy, she told the gathering of about 100 people.

Ms Hardman said her son was like most Australians in that “he loved surfing and outdoor life and was afraid of nothing”. “His was a life with so much potential cut short.”

Forty-three people from NSW were among 88 Australians who were killed in the attacks on the Sari Club and Paddy’s Bar in Kuta on October 12, 2002.

Six of those lost were members of the Coogee Dolphins Rugby League Club. Premier Kristina Keneally said the Bali victims were innocent people.

“The victims of this atrocity were not soldiers, they had not gone to fight a declared enemy,” she said.

“The innocence of those victims (and the) benign and harmless reasons for them being where they are, when they were, only underscores the savagery of those people who took their lives.”

Bill McNeil, a doctor from the NSW north coast, became emotional as he spoke of the trauma he has suffered ever since treating some of the victims while holidaying in Bali.

“I worked desperately throughout the night providing life-saving care and comfort under the most horrific circumstances imaginable,” he said. “Maybe I saved 30 or 40 lives.”

As the memorial was unveiled, family members and friends laid flowers, weeping as they touched their loved one’s name.

Dr McNeil was embraced by a Bali survivor, Erik de Haart, and the two men wept in each others arms.

Mr de Haart met Dr McNeil the night of the bombings as he searched for his six missing friends from Coogee Dolphins Rugby League Club.

He recalled walking through hospital rooms filled with body parts trying to identify his friends.

“I looked at every body, I looked at every arm, checked every watch out, trying to find them,” Mr de Haart told reporters after the ceremony. “I’m dreaming about it all night.”