SHE was surrounded by the dead and injured in the hours following the 2002 Sari Club bombing but what disturbed Katrina Maja the most was the realisation that a piece of paradise had been brutally violated.
‘‘It was just the shock of it happening in such an idyllic and peaceful place because the Balinese are very non-confrontational and very culturally and racially aware,’’ Ms Maja said.
A native Merewether girl, Ms Maja fell in love with Bali and a local man while on holiday when she was 20.
It became her home for the next 22 years.
In October, 2002 she was the acting manager of the Bali International Medical Centre, about a kilometre away from the Sari Club.
She had just pulled into the driveway on the evening of the bombing when she received a call advising her of a massive explosion.
‘‘We thought it might have been the petrol station behind the centre,’’ Ms Maja said.
‘‘I picked up the acting medical director who lived close by and we went to work.’’
More than 200 victims were brought to the medical centre over the next 30 hours for emergency treatment before they were triaged to other medical facilities on the island.
Ms Maja has chosen to forget most of the things she saw that night.
‘‘The power of the mind is very good. If I try I actually can’t remember [the injuries],’’ she said.
‘‘I can remember certain people and certain sounds, that’s all.’’
Ms Maja’s work continued for the next 10 days, liaising with Australian consul staff and working to help non-Australian victims who were not evacuated.
‘‘There were people who were helping the victims who needed counselling. Some of them had post-traumatic stress from working in the morgue,’’ she said.
Ms Maja’s actions were formally recognised the following year when she received an Order of Australia medal for providing assistance to the bombing victims.
She moved back to Newcastle four years ago with her children Yaegen, 17, and Talia, 14, and works for Hunter New England Health as an administrative assistant.
She will spend the 10th anniversary of the bombing in quiet reflection rather than travelling back to Bali for the official commemoration.
‘‘I don’t look back, I look forward,’’ Ms Maja said.
‘‘I have been through the process of feeling for the victims. There’s nothing I can specifically do for them any more than I did for a couple of weeks after the bombing.’’