Gympie women tell of close call on Colombo terror
CHATSWORTH woman Lyn Day took a quick holiday snap through the tour bus window as she drove away from Colombo's Shangri-La Hotel on April 14.
Scarcely a week later, on the most sacred day of the Christian calendar, the hotel - and the world - would be rocked by a terrorist bomb blast that ripped apart the hotel restaurant.
The Gympie party - Linda Percival, Fay Groves, Gloria Portas, Jenny Murray, Kaye Conley and Mrs Day - had dined in the restaurant a week before the blast, almost to the hour.
The horrors of civil war and international terrorism were the last things on anyone's mind as the six Gympie women pursued their shared passion for gardening, taking in the sights of some of the most fertile land on Earth.
"We had breakfast in that restaurant," Mrs Day said yesterday. "We spent a bit of time driving around Colombo and then went back to the airport.
"Apparently they had a device planted at the airport as well, but they got to it before anything happened," she said.
"I am feeling for the people who work in that restaurant.
"We met some nice waiters and waitresses. Everybody we met there was so nice."
And, as she told her daughter, Sharon O'Brien (wife of Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien), the goodwill of the Sri Lankan people has nothing to do with material wealth.
"A few Australians should go over and see how well off we are in comparison to people in some of these places," she said.
"I would have recommended people go there and have a look, but now...
"It doesn't matter where you are really.
"It's a reality these days and you could just as well go to New Zealand and find disaster.
"I was in Christchurch years ago and was in the cathedral that was hit by the earthquake.
"There were 22 people in our tour to Sri Lanka that was organised by a lady from Nambour who is in a garden club.
"That's why we do the trips, to visit gardens. I didn't really think it was dangerous, except for the driving.
"Our bus driver was really good, but the other vehicles on the road - it's an experience," she said. It is one experience she will never forget.