Charmaine Margaret Whitton1973 - 2002 (29 years)
Name Charmaine Margaret Whitton Born 1973 Australia Gender Female Died 12 Oct 2002 Bali Bombing cremated Woronora Cemetery Person ID I18150 Whitton Last Modified 22 Jan 2019
Father Living Relationship natural Mother Living Relationship natural Family ID F7513 Group Sheet | Family Chart
- Charmaine Whitton, 29 Bangor, NSW
October 4, 2003
An emotional airport farewell. The promise to "have her back in 10 days". Four hours after reaching Bali the two lifelong friends were partying at the Sari Club. They never wasted a minute.
Every time Pauline Neill opens the fridge, she is reminded of her daughter, Charmaine. On the door are two messages on magnets Charmaine gave her mother: "Always my mum, forever my friend," says one. "If mothers were flowers, you are the one I'd pick," reads the other.
When they went shopping together, Charmaine would hold her mother's hand and carry the groceries. "I'm so short, and she towered over me - it was as if she was the mother and I was the daughter," recalls Pauline.
Charmaine Whitton's other best friend was Jodi Wallace. The two had known each other since kindergarten.
Pauline Neill and Jodi's mother, Lynn Muller, took their girls to Cronulla Beach almost from the time they could walk.
It led to a lifetime of sun, surf and socialising on Sydney's southern beaches and the closest of friendships between the two pairs of mothers and daughters. "We used to take the girls down to Cronulla before school," says Pauline. "They would swim in a little pool there. Charmaine's brother would be out surfing and I would lose Charmaine because she would be off talking to somebody."
Jodi was equally adventurous, forcing her mother to keep hold of her with "reins" attached to her clothes so that she would not stray too far into the water.
As she grew up, Jodi followed her daredevil nature, competing hard on the netball court, riding horses in the show ring and parachuting.
Charmaine stuck by the sea, patrolling Bondi Beach as a lifesaver and catching up with friends at the Cronulla pub and at her favourite cafe overlooking the beach. She was an accomplished water and snow skier and taught children to swim at the local pool.
Jodi excelled in her career in the recruitment industry, first with Manpower and later with Temporarily and Permanently Yours, where she secured several large clients.
"She loved her work," says Lynn Muller. "She was very people-oriented and a dedicated worker, seven to seven, and on Saturdays if necessary."
Charmaine wanted to join the police force after leaving school but there were no openings. She worked in the computer software industry but continued to be drawn to police service, and began doing the induction course by correspondence and weekends at the Goulburn police academy.
Combining work and study became too much of a burden, and in 2000 she went to Britain to join her brother Craig on a backpacking holiday, returning in July last year.
Craig has his own magnet message on the fridge: "There's no friend like a sister, and no better sister than you."
Pauline says: "Charmaine's dream was to get married and have children. All this was cruelly taken away from her. I was blessed to have such a beautiful daughter. My heart and world is shattered, and I miss her terribly."
Jodi invited Charmaine to join her on the trip to Bali, leaving on October 12.
Just before they left, Charmaine and Jodi went out from Cronulla on a motor cruiser. They stood at the bow, arms stretched out in the sea breeze in the style of Kate Winslet in the movie Titanic.
"Charmaine rang me from the boat," says Pauline, "and said, 'Mum, we're having the best time.'
"The day they left for Bali I took them to the airport, and Charmaine had her arm around me. Jodi said, 'You don't have to cry, I'll have her back in 10 days.' Then they just went."
Charmaine and Jodi arrived in Bali about 6pm. By 10 they were in the Sari Club partying.
"She never wasted a minute," says Jodi's mother. "If it wasn't work, it was full-on fun."
Since Jodi was born, Lynn Muller had felt an almost supernatural connection to her daughter. "I'd be just going to call her, and she'd call me. I'd buy a card for somebody, and she would buy the same one - it was like an ESP thing."
About the time the Sari Club exploded, Lynn Muller woke suddenly. Although she had not heard the bad news, she could only get back to sleep by moving to Jodi's bed.
"We were soulmates," she says, her fingers rolling an etched glass image of Jodi attached to her handbag. "That's what makes it so hard. It's like losing your best friend in the world."
Funeral at St Joseph's Church, Como NSW December 2002
- Charmaine Whitton, 29 Bangor, NSW