Port Arthur: Brave nurse who helped cafe victims says visions of massacre haunt 20 years on.

By Madeleine Morris

Twenty years ago Lynne Beavis was one of the first people to see the murderous devastation Martin Bryant had inflicted in the Broken Arrow Cafe at Port Arthur.

“I don’t really like going to a coffee shop around this time of year,” she said.

“The smell … and the whole atmosphere, it just brings it really rushing back.”

While Bryant was still on the loose, she ran from her position of relative safety to administer first aid to his victims, first on tourist buses and then at the cafe.

Her selflessness won her a bravery award, but it also left a legacy that lives with her to this day.

“I became a bit of a ‘shut-in’. Didn’t really like to go out, didn’t really want to go anywhere,” Ms Beavis said.

“It’s made me suspicious and a little bit overcautious and also fearful.

“Sometimes when I’m trying to go to sleep I find images forming … there’s probably about 10 of the worst things that I saw that flash through my mind.”

‘You can be brave and scared at the same time’

Ms Beavis rose to national attention when she described what she had seen just two days after the event in a mesmerising interview on the 7.30 Report.

“Being a nurse I’ve seen dead people … but what I saw in there, nobody, perhaps a soldier would know what it was like. It was awful,” she said at the time.

“I saw a young man sitting there, just sitting there, with blood all over his hair and his face, holding his girlfriend, or wife, I don’t know’s [sic] hand.

“And she was very dead.

“And I just looked at him and I said, ‘I’m so sorry, I can’t help you’,” she said as she broke down in tears.

For years Ms Beavis did not recognise her act in risking herself to help people as an act of bravery, because she was so terrified.


“I’ve since learned that you can be brave and scared at the same time,” she said.
In her 1996 interview with the 7.30 Report she also said even though she could not have stayed in her relatively safe position knowing there were people who needed her help, she regretted going into the Broad Arrow Cafe.

“For a long time I really believed that,” she now reflects.

“But in doing some things to some people may it have prolonged their life long enough that they were still alive when the other help arrived.

“Then meeting those people later on, and realising, ‘hey you did make a difference’.

“I slowly came to realise that, yeah, I am glad I did go in there.”

Friendships with survivors the silver lining

Ms Beavis said the friendships she forged with other survivors had been the silver lining to the tragedy.

“In the beginning reunions were mainly about Port Arthur. Where were you? What happened?” she said.

“And then gradually we moved on to other things, especially exciting news, marriages, births, things like that.”

Ms Beavis said her Christian faith was fundamental to getting through the past 20 years, but she acknowledged she was yet to forgive Martin Bryant for what he did.

“I [want to] because it will release me,” she said.

“It’s one thing to say the words, but you have to actually mean it in the heart.

“And that’s why can’t say it yet because my heart’s not quite ready.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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