Peter Carrette, Bondi supreme photographer

Peter at his computer, where he died 'at the helm'. Picture: Nate Smith

It’s hard to recall a week of such high emotion – first my dear mate, photographer Peter Carrette died, then all the New Zealand miners were declared dead while I was covering that story and finally came the amazingly good news that three young lads, missing at sea for an incredible 50 days have been found alive.

I had rushed to Greymouth from Auckland (where I was on another assignment for London’s Daily Mail) and watched with sadness the anxiety of relatives of the men who were trapped in the Pike River Mine.
There was hope in their hearts; the explosion on the previous Friday had been huge but perhaps, just perhaps, some of the 29 miners were still OK and, not wanting to move into an area filled with toxic methane and carbon monoxide gases, were waiting for rescue beside a ventilation shaft.
As I waited for further news my mobile phone rang. Another photographer friend, Simon Runting, who lives in Auckland, asked if I’d heard the news, just spreading, about Peter. As soon as he asked that question I knew something was wrong. Then he told me that Peter had passed away at his computer in his Bondi flat.
Like all his many friends, I was stunned. I wandered up the main street of Greymouth, passing a group of relatives waiting for news of their loved ones still missing underground. If grief were tangible, it would have been visible around all of us. There is not enough room here to talk about Peter and the jobs we have been on, the fun we have had. His life was a book. Controversial, non-conforming, jovial, generous, good-natured…put them all after his name and they all belong. His sudden death was a tragedy that hung over me for the following two days when the second shocking news came – that there had been a second blast at the mine and it was not survivable. The town was filled with tears, mine among them but for different, more personal reasons.
I haven’t been able to get home in time to attend Peter’s memorial but I know that what people will have to say about him will remain in everyone’s hearts for a long time to come.
The only joy to come out of a week of sadness was the story I was able to write about the discovery of three teenage boys, missing for 50 days in a small boat in the Pacific Ocean. In days gone by Peter and I might have been winging our way into the Pacific to get the pictures and the interviews. The boys had drifted across 1,000 miles, surviving on raw fish, the flesh of a seagull and a few splashes of rain water before mistakenly drinking sea water. But they survived and were soon on their way to Fiji on the tuna boat which found them.
Farewell my old friend Peter, may the miners rest and peace – and let’s be thankful that at least three young lads have a life to look forward to after their ordeal.
 
I haven’t even got a bloody picture of him, and he’ll be laughing at me for that, but I have the most terrible news to pass on – that Peter Carrette, a wonderful roly-poly, cuddly-bear gentle giant of a man has died, slumped over his computer where he was working away, as usual, at a thousand photographs.
I heard the news today in New Zealand while covering the mining disaster, waiting with anxious relatives who worry about their missing loved ones, and then came the news of Peter, who died in his Bondi Beach flat.
I know no more than that.
We went on numerous stories together and what fun he was to be with. He had all the latest gear but admitted that he never understood how to work it. Yet he always got through because he was a pro. We would laugh about it frequently and I would rib him about it, but he was that kind of fellow. He was jolly, loved a pun, knew more about Fleet Street – as many of us still refer to that old newspaper world – than there are pictures on an 16 gig memory card.
I loved him dearly and he’ll leave a MASSIVE hole behind.
No details yet of his funeral.
Bye Peter, you bugger, leaving us like this.
 
Baby koala shot 15 times

Who could be so cruel? Frodo baby koala that was blasted with a shotgun. Picture: Australia Zoo.

Outraged Australians have called for the person who shot a baby koala

up to 15 times to receive the same punishment.

The tiny animal, nicknamed Frodo, remains in a critical condition in

the late Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo after it was found riddled with

pellets beside its dead mother.

The joey – as baby koalas are called – received a fractured skull and

gun pellets were found scattered throughout her body, damaging her

intestines.

Vets at the zoo said it was touch and go whether Frodo, who was

blasted from a tree with a shotgun on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast,

north of Brisbane, will survive.

‘She’s in a critical condition, but if she can be stabilised she will

undergo further surgery to remove pellets and repair damage,’ said vet

Amber Gillett.

Miss Gillet said Frodo was receiving intravenous antibiotics, fluids

and pain relief, as well as blood transfusions.

‘We are stunned to see this kind of animal cruelty and cannot begin

to fathom why somebody would want to shoot a koala that poses no

threat to them.’

Mr Mark Townend, a senior officer with the RSPCA, said his

organisation would provide any help needed to search for the culprit

and bring cruelty charges.

‘I just can’t believe the ratbags we’ve had to deal with over the

past 12 months.

‘We’ve spent a lot of money on education about animal welfare. If

people don’t like animals why don’t they just leave them alone – they

don’t have to shoot them.’

Sickened Australians have taken their comments further, one writer to

a newspaper’s comment pages saying: ‘Shoot the idiot who did this 15

times. See how they like it.’

Anne of Brisbane said: ‘This is absolutely disgusting. Those poor

defenceless koalas. Whatever did they do wrong? There are some really

sick people around.’

One writer was determined to take the law into his own hands.

He said he was from that area and ‘if you, the perpetrator are

reading this, if I find you first I am going to ensure your “heroic”

act does not go unpunished. Mark my words, it’s a very small place up

here.’

Another commentator said: ‘Words cannot express…these people do not

deserve to live.’

Yet another wrote: ‘Speechless and disgusted at these people’s

actions. I can’t believe you are allowed to walk this earth with us.

Your day will come.’

Scores of people sent their good wishes to Frodo, saying they hoped

she would pull through.

* UPDATE: Surgeons have removed about half of the 15 pellets but admit that it’s ‘touch and go’ whether baby Frodo will survive.

The big fear is that she will succumb to lead poisoning. In the meantime, they are taking the pellets from her at the rate of a few at a time so as to not stress her.

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Pacific Island Beach

Holiday or Business Accommodation - Take Photos Before any Dispute

Here’s a handy, if not pretty darn obvious, tip should you be confronted with the same stuff-up as me when booking your holiday or business hotel room online: take photographs of everything that moves!

Here’s what happened – and what I didn’t do about it at the time.
I was rushing from Australia to Indonesia to write about the double disasters that had occurred there; the awful tsunami which claimed more than 430 lives and the eruption of Mount Merapi, during which at least 38 people were burned to death.
As I couldn’t decide which catastrophe to rush to (and what a terrible confrontation that was), I decided to head first for Jakarta, which was about half way between the tsunami-stricken Mentawai Islands and Mount Merapi, near the city of Yogyakarta.
At Sydney airport I searched online through bookings.com for a hotel that was close to Jakarta airport. The nearest was the Sheraton, which was fully booked. My next choice was an inner-city hotel and most of those were booked out, too – until I found a room at the Merlynn Park Hotel. I tapped in my credit card details and, with a confirmation number soon received, off I flew to Jakarta.
On arrival at the hotel I was informed by the reception staff that they had not received a reservation for me, that they did not recognise the confirmation number and that they have never dealt with bookings.com. And no, I couldn’t stay there anyway because the hotel was full. As I was up against a deadline for filing a story to London’s Daily Mail I asked the reception staff to help me find another hotel. This took a precious 45 minutes and, after a taxi ride across the city, I was finally dumping my bag in another hotel with another 45 minutes lost.
Worried that my credit card would be charged, I wrote to bookings.com the following morning explaining what had happened and asking them to assure me that no charge would go on my card. A series of back-and-forth emails eventually ended with the message that bookings.com had checked with the hotel and had been informed that as I had failed to turn up the night before I would be charged the full room rate.
What must have been a shock for everyone was my decision to zap around to the Merlynn Park and sort the whole affair out. It ended with an apology and the promise that ‘out of kindness to me’ the charge against my card would be refunded. But this did not come about easily. I found myself describing the night staff and saying no, I didn’t take names and no, I couldn’t remember the exact time I had arrived.
What perturbed me was the decision by bookings.com to accept the word of a hotel against the word of a customer. They did not bother to investigate the matter apart from simply asking the hotel if I had turned up or not. And the hotel management had presumably just looked at their books and found I hadn’t stayed there,  but failed to check whether I had actually arrived. Had they done so they would have found out that it was they who had turned me away.
So the moral of this little story is this: if you arrive at a pre-booked hotel and are told your reservation can’t be found, take photos. Take photos of the reception staff, the bellboy, the lobby and even of yourself standing there and the camera will do the rest, recording the date and time. Then let them argue against that proof.
I didn’t do it. But next time – if there is a next time – I’ll be ready!