Friday, 6 March 2009


Time to get this out of the way before we head to Victoria for a holiday. It had been filed under the "cone of silence", but our kids bring this up regularly and I don't want to explain this in person when we are with our relatives (plus it upsets me for days after talking about it, so I really don't want to go through this while on a holiday). It's not spoken about with hushed tones, it's more said as a fact and whatever point was being made is made without any argument from anyone.

It was also filed under the cone because I am aware that some people thought we were irresponsible to our childrens safety for bringing them to Indonesia, I didn't want to prove them right (this doesn't by the way, but it can be misconstrued).

We went to Bali for Idul Fitri. The holiday started on the last Sat in Sept. We flew in to Bali and went to our luxury villa. We were sharing the villa and in total there were 7 adults and 10 kids. There was more than enough bedding (in fact two rooms remained empty), there was a pool table, pool, library, 6 tvs (but only 1 used for the wii and the other for dvd's when kids needed to chill). It was nice, cozy, roomy and also great to catch up with a friend (JW) who had moved back to Aus the christmas before and her two kids.

Some of us were energetic. Some of us just wanted to chill. On the first afternoon the energetics went in search of the beach. We found it not long later, walked a bit and came home happy to have found surf, sand, shops and fresh air.

On the sunday afternoon we planned to go to the beach. It was 3 in the afternoon before we got ourselves organised. Dear Dad didn't really want to come. He wanted to stay on his computer and chill. Another parent wanted to stay home as well. As Dear Dad was travelling on business the next day (only for one night) I tried to guilt him to come and spend some time with his kids (he did have time to himself so don't defend him too much). 10 kids and 5 parents set off - Dear Dad came running down the road to catch up with us after we had left.

When we got to the beach, we stopped in the shade and applied sunscreen, took the clothes off and ran out to Seminyak Beach. We didn't look at anything, flags, signs, nothing - just ran straight out to our friends.

There were 3 dads and 3 mums. 1 mum of 2 kids, 1 dad of 3 kids, us and another couple with 2 kids. The single dad and my hubs decided very quickly to run out and join the surf - out the back. They didn't ask anyone - they just agreed and ran out (I am getting over that, truly I am). The surf out the back was wild, we wanted no part of it - we were happy with just going up to our knees/thighs.

I remember looking at the couple holding their two kids hands, I remember thinking - smart. I had my two youngest, one in each hand. The single mum JW had her youngest by the hand. 4 girls were off to the side and the youngest child of the single dad was safely playing on the sand. I remember looking out to sea and not being able to see either of the men's heads. I remember staring intently, looking for a head, not being able to see that much because of the glare and no sunnies (I was there to swim). Later we found out that the men, although experienced surfers/swimmers had gone out the back, realised it was huge and very dangerous and then struggled to get back to shore.

After a while? I remember seeing one head, then recognising his top, then turning to JW and saying - well, the breadwinner is alive, that's a relief, I was really worried. 4 girls to the left of my eye. I went over towards them, they were up to their thigh. I told my youngest two to go play on the sand with their friend.
Two girls had come in, I was on my way over to the other two (C girl and her friend G). When I was about 2 m away I yelled, "come on girls - come back"........"we can't" they said. Not that nervous, but a little scared. I went over to them. I held them by the arm to keep them from going out. We were all swept under and out.

I remember pulling them up, waves crashing, don't know how long for. I remember seeing G in, she had lost her top or her bottom, but I knew she was okay. Don't know how she got in.

We got sucked out so quickly. I remember being in really deep water, with waves crashing and being under the water and it being black. I remember going the wrong way, but my ears hurt, so I turned around. I felt C girl with my foot and went back and got her. I remember getting her up by her sunshirt, waves crashing, coming up, looking for her, diving under, holding her arm. Always looking for her, she was always behind me, being swept out, holding her arm. She was really calm, she didn't cling to my neck, she didn't cry. She asked how we were ever going to get in, the beach was a long way away. I told her that her father would come get us, she believed that, I did too. I remember waving to the shore. She was calm. I knew I could swim, I knew she could swim, we can swim for km's, we have done it in the pool. We were both swimming freestyle when the waves weren't crashing on us, but we were going backwards.

After a while I could see both of the "surfer" men coming out towards us. Her dad broke through the crashing waves , I remember seeing him just 10 meters in front of me (not sure I have ever been so happy to see him), she was behind me again, being sucked out further, I went back and got her again. He came, he took hold of her, got her on a massive wave. I remember her catching that wave to about 2 m from our other friend that had tried to come out. We were screaming his name, he turned, he saw her. He would get her in.

My lifesaver (husband) came back through the waves, held my arm while I could catch my breath. Then, the waves calmed down, they stopped crashing continually and we started to make our way in. I remember the life saver coming just as my feet touched the ground. That's when I saw my beautiful strong girl stagger onto the beach naked but very much alive, thanks to the efforts of her dad and our friend. No one on the beach seemed to know what was going on.

The lifesaver dragged me onto the board, I looked behind, looking for my man. As we hit the beach I could see that he was behind me. I remember being amazed that we had all made it out. He later told me that although he hadn't put a seconds thought into the fact that he was coming back out, he does remember thinking - Oh NO, I just exhausted myself getting into the beach, now I have to go back out.

I was on the beach, I could hear everything but I couldn't do anything. Shock. Luckily our german friend (the attentive father from the start) was calm and knew what to do (they had no idea anything was happening until it was finished). The ambulance officer kissed me on the forehead a few times on the way to hospital - I found out later that it was because so few people make it to the ambulance alive.

The next day a 25 year old French woman died on the same beach. She was the 70th person that year to have died on that beach (similar number for Kuta beach). It wasn't even October.

On the monday, my hero picks me up on a motorbike - was he kidding? He wasn't taking this seriously at all.

The whole incident had taken about 5 - 10 minutes. Our friend JW asked the next day why we decided to go swimming out the back - she had no idea that C girl and G had been swept out.

The rest of the holiday wasn't a total bust. We went back to that same beach. We walked 500m up the beach to where it said it was safe to swim. We taught the kids to look at the waves, was the tide going in, going out, how much undertow. If it's flat near the beach and massive at the back, don't even go in up to your toes. There is a reason why the surf is like that.

We were total idiots to have just gone in where we had, we practically had done everything wrong. We were over confident Aussie Yobos (Aussies die on the beach as well, even ones who have had a lot of experience (as I have)). We were so keen to go surfing/swimming that we put our kids lives at risk. Don't comment that, we know.

(She really is a tough as she looks)

What did we learn.

  1. Swimming lessons save lives (I had had 1 hour lessons every week for the semester before and C girl has had 1 hour lessons for the last 5 years, both where 1km - 2km is regular). If she had panicked and clung to my neck - I would not be writing this.
  2. Don't be too confident - the ocean is a massive place (and before you say we should have swum paralel to the beach - well we would have had to swim about 2km to actually have made a difference).
  3. All available adults should be in the ocean while their kids are in the ocean - if I was watching from the shore line it would have been too late.
  4. Don't ever rely on Life Savers in Bali (or probably any third world country) - they are there in name only, I tried to find the one who dragged me in, but I could only find people cleaning their motorbike watching the road (not the beach). Don't blame them, they have not been trained.
  5. Read the warnings - they aren't just for tourists without swimming/beach experience (I grew up in a coastal town and went to the beach regularly). Google the area you are going to, I had no idea that so many people had died in Bali until after I got home.
  6. Every day is a gift - make sure the people you love know that you love them.
  7. Coming here didn't endanger their lives (we wouldn't be here if they were in danger), we did through 5 - 10 minutes of stupidity (which is worse).
  8. Our kids know that when it comes to it, their Mum and Dad WILL do everything to save their lives.

Our family became closer due to this incident. She is still toxic to my sleep though. If I happen to be touching her while I fall asleep (like on an airplane trip for instance), I am transported back in time to when I almost lost her. We booked our holiday to Canada while we were still there. Life is too short.

Anyway, it's out there now. No photos - we have some, but I don't really want to see them.

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