Crowds in Bondi
Hundreds of people have gathered in Bondi for a candlelight vigil for the Sydney stabbing victims. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

Mourners gather for beach vigil as baby leaves hospital

Jack Gramenz April 21, 2024

A community has gathered to mourn the victims of Australia’s worst mass killing in years.

In a rare sight, the crowd kept growing at Bondi Beach as the sun went down while mourners gathered to grieve for six people killed in the stabbing massacre at Westfield Bondi Junction on April 13.

The pavilion’s flag flew at half mast as the crowd filed in, some wearing black ribbons in mourning, many opting for a seat on the grass hill rather than the plastic chairs closer to the stage.

Inspector Amy Scott
 Inspector Amy Scott (centre) joined crowds at a candlelight vigil for the Bondi stabbing victims. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS 

A local brass band played as those gathered lit their candles, while a police officer moved through the crowd handing tea lights to those without.

The scent of melting wax filled the air as compere Geraldine Doogue welcomed attendees.

“None of us are delighted to be here, but we’re happy to be here … to grieve, to bond, just to be together,” she said.

Mothers held their babies and candles simultaneously as a choir sang Keep Your Loving Arms Around Me.

NSW Governor Margaret Beazley lit the first candle on-stage, followed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Premier Chris Minns – joined by Opposition Leader Mark Speakman and Waverley mayor Paula Masselos – state ministers Penny Sharpe and Yasmin Catley, and federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton among other dignitaries, sound-tracked by the low bellow of a didgeridoo.

It will take time for the Waverley community to come to terms with the events, Ms Masselos said.

“We are all in mourning … but let me say this – our spirit must not and will not be diminished,” she said.

Bondi vigil
 Family and friends of the Bondi attack victims were among those gathered at the candlelight vigil. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS 

A first-time mother defending her baby, the daughter of a millionaire advertising guru and an on-duty security guard were among the six people killed in the attack by 40-year-old Joel Cauchi.

Five of them were women – Ashlee Good, 38, Dawn Singleton, 25, Jade Young, 47, Pikria Darchia, 55, and Yixuan Cheng, 27.

Faraz Tahir, a 30-year-old refugee fleeing persecution in Pakistan, was also killed.

At least 12 others were taken to hospital after suffering stab wounds.

The overwhelming proportion of women among the victims has prompted the nation’s leaders to call for men to take a central role in addressing violent behaviours and attitudes.

Mr Minns said the exact motives behind the attack might never be known, but everyone should have the right to feel safe.

“We will not be a state where a woman is forced to change her behaviour,” he said.

Anthony Albanese
 Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was among the dignitaries who lit candles at a vigil at Bondi Beach. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS 

The vigil offered a chance to grieve for the victims, and for those left behind to begin coming to terms with the hole left in their lives where their loved ones should be, Mr Albanese said.

“We keep this vigil for them, to honour all they were, and to pay respect for all they meant,” he said.

NSW Police Inspector Amy Scott, who brought an end to the rampage when she shot Cauchi on level five of the shopping centre, watched on as Mr Albanese praised her courage in responding to danger.

The vigil came after the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre re-opened for trade on Friday, and carried the same eerie silence that fell over the usually bustling shopping centre during a day of community reflection on Thursday.

Earlier on Sunday, a nine-month-old baby wounded in the stabbing massacre was released from hospital.

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park said that the baby continues to receive care from clinicians but has been allowed to go home from Sydney Children’s Hospital.

Five others injured in the attack remain in hospital.

A temporary floral tribute remains in place near the shopping centre.  

A formal memorial service will occur at a later date, with plans for a permanent memorial to honour the victims.

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