The carnage cafe

from page 33 of The Sydney Morning Herald, May 4, 1996

by Robert Wainwright, Greg Bearup and Helen Pitt

  Most of the tourists gathered in the Broad Arrow Cafe at lunch-time on Sunday were in a relaxed frame of mind. Kate Scott and Mick Sargent were in more of a hurry; in less than three hours, they would be on a long flight back to Perth. Kate was starting a job the next day at a gold mine near the town of Meekatharra. It was in this anticipation that the couple sat eating, facing each other across the square pine table.
  A few rows down, a group of elderly victorians were laughing and joking about a party the previous night. The group, all members of the Kilmore Golf Club, had flown and ferried to Hobart for a 70th birthday party. The trip was organised by the club's vice-president, Walter Bennett. Brothers Ray and Kevin Sharp and their wives also made the trip.
  Built a century after the other buildings at Port Arthur, the cafe reflects 60 years of architectural trends and short cuts, culminating in a 1980s refit with pine and glass. Its outward ugliness is offset by an interior ambience dominated by a double-sized brick fireplace, ablaze year round, seperating the dining area from a souvenir shop.
  Though the car park is clearly visible through the windows, none of the 50 or so people in the room would have noticed the arrival of a yellow Volvo a few minutes before 1 pm.
  But Martin Bryant, the young man carrying the oversized white tennis bag, did attract some attention. He dumped the bag at one of the few tables on the decking outside and sauntered into the cafe, casting his eyes around.
  Picking up a plastic tray, he stood quietly in the busy queue in front of the bain-marie. After considering and then rejecting some sandwiches, he chose a hot meal and walked back outside.
  A staff member later told how the young man wolfed down his food "like a pig". It is not clear if he even finished before he reached down into his bag and pulled out a video camera.
  The couple next to him, the only others eating outside, were startled as he began interviewing them. "Great day, isn't it?" he said. "Hey, there's not a lot of Japs out today. What do you think about that. There a lot of WASPS, though, a lot of yuppies." Unnerved, the woman he was quizzing moved away.
  Bryant put the camera back into his bag, put the bag over his shoulder, collected his tray and walked back inside.
  It was a struggle to manoeuvre through the narrow glass foyer and through the double wooden doors. A customer at the nearest table got up from his seat and held the door open. Bryant calmly walked into the restaurant and placed the tray back at the bain-marie.
  He turned, walked to the front of the room, dropped the bag and pulled out an SKS assault rifle fitted with a 60-round combat clip.
  Jason Winter had no time to react as he walked back from the servery to the table where his wife, Joanne, and their 15-month-old son, Mitchell, were sitting. Bryant took aim from his hip. Winter, a young man regarded as a potential champion wine-maker, dropped dead at his feet.
  Bryant's moves were methodical. There was time to take aim, no need to spray the room with the semi-automatic weapon.
  Mick Sargent, sitting a few metres from Bryant, ducked as a bullet whizzed past his head. The next shot was aimed at the back of Kate Scott's head. She never knew what hit her.
  A Malaysian couple sitting near a side window were next. Sue Ling Chong and William Ng Mokyah, on a business trip from Kuala Lumpur, presented a grisly sight when found later by paramedics. They sat in their chairs staring at the meals they had not finished.
  Bryant walked left, swinging his rifle back across the dining area to pick out the table where Walter Bennett and the Sharp brothers sat shocked. Instinctively, they stood to protect their wives. There was no mercy.
  A Sydney man, Tony Kisten, was with his wife, Sarah, and a friend, Andrew Mills, near the middle of the room. Mills, a human resources manager, stood and tried to reason with Bryant. There was no reasoning.
  Kisten moved to shield Sarah and was also hit. As he law dying in his wife's arms, the Salvation Army member said: "I'm going to be with the Lord".
  Anthony Nightingale, a Melbourne loans manager, was eating along when the gunman entered the cafe. As the bullets flew around him, it is likely he tried to fun towards the exit in the souvenir shop, but was killed before he got there.
  In the confusion, Carolyn Loughton could think of only thing: to protect her daughter, Sarah. Carolyn moved the shield the Melbourne schoolgirl. It was to no avail. Winifred Aplin, a South Australian mother of four, was also hit as she ate.
  Mervyn and Mary Howard, a Victorian couple on their first trip off the mainland, had been seated near the back of the room. As diners began to flee, the Howards followed towards the kitchen, where many hid in cupboards. A few reached the back door. The Howards never made it to cover, shot as Bryant moved through the middle of the dining area and turned towards the kitchen and servery.
  Ronald and Gwenda Neander were browsing in the gift shop. There were shelves of books about Australia's convict heritage, racks of "I escaped Port Arthur" T-shirts. Ronald hid out of the line of fire. He saw a woman -- probably Pauline Masters from Victoria, who had ducked into the shop leaving her mother and sister outside -- hit in the temple. Two local cousins, Nicole Burgess and Elizabeth Howard, were killed as they cowered behind the counter where they were serving the customers.
  Ronald Neander watched his wife die next. She was shot in the face as she stood at the counter. The back of her skull was shattered by the blast. Bodies piled around her; people trapped as they tried to escape through a door leading to the craft shop next door.
  Bryant lost interest, and turned back to the dining area.
  Peter Croswell was lying on the floor, prostrate across Thelma Walker and Pam Law. The three were unharmed but frozen in the hope the gunman would believe they were dead.
  Others, already injured, were crying out in pain. Bryant stood over one man who pleaded for his life. The gun roared again. Bryant did not hesitate; he stepped over bodies looking for anyone still alive. Those who could not help but cry out in pain or fear were doomed.
  He fired at Crosswell, hitting him in the buttocks. Still, the ex-RAAF officer did not move. It savd his life.
  Within two minutes 20 people were dead, and another dozen injured. Bryant had fired 60 times. Most bullets hit their targets. Only one window was smashed.
  Bryant was out of ammunition. He pulled the spent magazine from the rifle, threw it on the floor, reached into his bag and clipped in another 60 rounds. He had not finished.
  Peter Crosswell watched him leave. He ushered the two women out the back door and stumbled back inside.
  "I could see two other people alive; everyone else had hoffific head wounds or were obviously dead. There was not much I could do," he recounted from his hospital bed.
  "The first time I saw him with that gun, walk up and shoot someone dead from three feet away. The whole time he did not say a word. He never ran, he walked everywhere."
  It was 90 minutes before the ambulances arrived. Tourists, some of them doctors or nurses, like Lynne, a Melbourne woman, did their best in the meantime.
  "I knelt down. There was a man calling for help and he was spitting out teeth, his teeth -- broken teeth -- and he was asking me to lift up his head.
  "A lady grabbed me round the leg. She was squatting down and then I looked and saw people hiding behind a big outdoor umbrella.. they were all deeply in shock.
  "I tried to coax a gentleman out of the cupboard. I couldn't stay there any longer."
  The Broad Arrow Cafe will almost certainly be demolished. It does not belong at Port Arthur.

[image: "Inside the Broad Arrow
50-60 customers, 20 dead, 4 wounded
1. Gunman eats lunch on deck. Interviews couple with video
2. Walks into cafe, drops bag and starts shooting
3. Walks along line of tables, shooting methodically
4. Turns toward kitchen, firing as diners flee
5. Walks into souvenir shop. Shoots shop assistants and customers
6. Returns to dining area. Shoots injured diners who plead for help
7. Stops by door. Reloads and leaves" (33x13) ]

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