A memorial service and plaque unveiling will be held on April 10 to mark 20 years since Caroline Stuttle tragically lost her life while visiting the Bundaberg Region.
Caroline grew up in England and was known for her enthusiasm for life, compassion and talent for the arts.
In 2002 at the age of 19 she decided to travel Australia with her best friend Sarah during a gap year before commencing university.
Tragically Bundaberg became her final destination.
On the evening of April 10 Caroline was attacked by someone wanting to take her bag and, as a result of the struggle which ensued, was thrown from the Burnett Traffic Bridge.
Her attacker was found guilty of murder in 2004 and was given a life sentence.
Mayor Jack Dempsey encouraged the community to pause and reflect on this tragic loss in honour of the 20th anniversary of Caroline’s passing.
“In 2010 local artist Marilyn Batty created a lovely rainbow mosaic memorial as a tribute to Caroline which was proudly displayed in Buss Park, a popular place for visiting backpackers,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“Unfortunately time and weather impacts had caused that mosaic to deteriorate so last year, ahead of this anniversary date, Council sought the blessing of Caroline’s family to revitalise the memorial.
“The community is invited to help us honour Caroline’s memory by attending the memorial service at Christ Church which will be followed by the unveiling of the new plaque in Buss Park.”
Mayor Dempsey said a delegation from the UK consulate would be in attendance.
Caroline’s family has also honoured her legacy by launching the Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation.
Her brother Richard Stuttle said the family was deeply touched that Caroline was still remembered in Bundaberg 20 years on.
“At the time of her murder our family was incredibly moved by how much the people of Bundaberg cared so passionately about what happened to Caroline and took our family into their hearts,” Richard said.
“It is a great honour of us to have a new memorial to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her passing.
“The memorial fits perfectly with Caroline’s love for nature, the location is perfect.
“I can easily imagine Caroline sat in the park enjoying the sunshine and watching the world go by.
“We still feel that a rainbow of hope extends from Caroline’s hometown of York in the United Kingdom all the way to Bundaberg.”
To mark the anniversary, the Stuttle family has donated two copies of the recently released book Chasing Rainbows – the stolen future of Caroline Anne Stuttle, authored by Richard himself, to the Bundaberg Region community.
The books will be made available to loan through Bundaberg Regional Libraries.
Richard said he felt the book was incredibly important to share their memories of Caroline and highlight the importance of travel safety.
The fact that it was published 19 years after Caroline’s passing was also significant for the family.
“She was 19 when she tragically lost her life and I wanted to show what we had achieved in the 19 years to help prevent what happened to Caroline happening to another young people and their families.
“I included diary entries from my backpacking adventure so people could read about what travelling was like day to day. Dispelling some of the myths around travel and show the real life of a backpacker.
“It is a privilege to have my book on the shelves of the library.
“My hope is that the book would be available for residents who knew Caroline’s story and would like the opportunity to find out a little more about the person she was and the work we have done with the charity.”
The memorial service will commence at 5 pm on Sunday 10 April at Christ Church, 59 Woongarra St, following which the new plaque will be unveiled in Buss Park.
Community members are welcome to attend.