IT WAS the crime that broke a town’s heart.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of Simone Strobel’s disappearance from a Lismore caravan park.
Five days later the young German backpacker was found brutally murdered.
She lay just 200 metres away at the Continental Sport and Recreation Club, her body covered with palm fronds.
The club has since folded and the building is gone, but the area remains a difficult reminder for the people of the Lismore region.
Today, though it remains unmarked, few can pass it without thinking of Simone.
Across the road a polished stone bench was quietly placed last year.
It is simply inscribed with one of Simone’s favourite quotes:
“… defenceless I will be and vulnerable, I know, on the open sea and only protected by love, your love”
A quiet, low-key gathering will occur today at 11.55am on the corner of Uralba and Dawson streets where the huge temporary memorial appeared in the days after the discovery of Simone’s body.
The scale of that memorial reflected the shock and the grief felt by the whole community – that a young visitor could suffer such a fate in this town.
The gathering has been organised by Nimbin resident, Chibo Mertineit, himself a German backpacker who came to Australia 20 years ago and fell in love with the region, much like Simone.
“I met Simone and Tobias (Suckfuell) several times when they stayed in Nimbin and we connected because of our backgrounds and because we were attracted to this area for the same reasons,” he said.
“She absolutely loved this region, the people and the lifestyle.
“She touched so many people in her life and her death so this is to honour her and her life.
“We will light candles and observe a minute of silence and perhaps a few people will speak.”
Alex Charles from Nimbin let Simone and Tobias camp on his property and said the community of Nimbin was equally shattered at the time, and still felt the loss deeply.
“She was a lovely, adventurous girl who fell in love with Nimbin,” he said. “Her smile said it all.”
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell was a councillor at the time of Simone’s death and still struggles to speak about it.
“It was an awful time for our community,” she said.
“Just the pain of a young visitor’s life cut so horribly short resonated deeply with everyone.”
Cr Dowell remains in regular contact with the Strobels.
“They sent me a beautiful card and a little red heart which I have here on my desk,” she said.
“They were overwhelmed by the outpouring of grief in Lismore – that a community so far away could care so much for their daughter.
“I will carry that heart with me today.”
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