2018: Counting the loss of extraordinary lives
AS THE old saying goes, death comes to all, but throughout 2018 Australia lost some extraordinary women and men, from actors and judges through to sporting legends, writers and politicians.
In January this year the nation mourned Home and Away actor Jessica Falkholt, 29, who was taken off life support following a car crash near Ulladulla, on the NSW south coast, that also claimed the lives of her parents, Vivian and Lars, and her sister Annabelle, 21.
Another Home and Away star, Cornelia Frances, 77, died in May after a protracted battle with cancer. Her work on other local television shows like Sons and Daughters, Prisoner, Young Doctors and Kingswood Country made her a national icon. This month, actor Judy McBurney, 70, and star of TV drama Prisoner, lost her own four-year struggle with cancer.
And on Boxing Day night, A Country Practice star and renowned actress Penny Cook died from cancer. She was 61.
The literary community lost two of its most significant crime writers in 2018. In August, the "godfather" of Australian crime fiction, Peter Corris, died at 76. His rough and tumble detective, Cliff Hardy, featured in 42 of Corris's books, and launched the homegrown noire detective genre. Five months earlier, in March, Peter Temple, the creator of the Jack Irish novels, died of cancer. He was 71. Temple was the first crime writer to win Australia's most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin, in 2010.
In July, showbiz figures here and around the world mourned the loss of the larger-than-life celebrity agent Harry M Miller. He was 84. His clients included Lindy Chamberlain, horse trainer Gai Waterhouse and Judy Moran of Melbourne's infamous underworld family. In the art world, beloved Melbourne artist Mirka Mora died at 90 in August. In the same month, the great Sydney artist Charles Blackman also died at the age of 90.
It was also a big year for notable deaths in sport. Car racing champion and tyre entrepreneur Bob Jane, 88, died of prostate cancer in late September. He was a titanic figure in Australian motorsports for decades.
The golfing world lost both a legend and a young champion in the passing of Peter Thomson and Jarrod Lyle. Thomson, 88, a five-time winner of the British Open, died in Melbourne in June.
And in August popular golfer Lyle died of cancer at 36.
It was a tough year for rugby league. In Queensland, the tributes flowed for Brisbane league legend Fonda Metassa, or the "Golden Greek", who died in a Brisbane nursing home in May aged 80. During the 1960s and '70s the colourful and entertaining Metassa was a household name.
Former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs player and coach Steve Folkes died in late February aged just 59. Astonishingly, he won five national premierships as a player and a coach, and was considered the heart and soul of the Bulldogs. Graeme "Changa" Langlands, arguably rugby league's greatest ever fullback, died in his sleep in January, aged 76, having suffered from dementia for some years.
He played for his country and won four premierships with the St George Dragons during the 1960s and '70s, but his stellar career was tarnished when he was charged in November last year with several counts of indecent treatment of a child under the age of 16.
The rugby league community was shocked by the sudden death in August of league hard man Lance Thompson, 40. He played for both the Dragons and the Sharks before retiring in 2008 due to injuries. Also that month, Brisbane Broncos executives, staff, and former and current coaches and players mourned the loss of one of the club's founding fathers, Gary Balkin. He died at 78 from pancreatic cancer.
In politics, Queensland lost two of its ALP greats. Former Labor leader Nev Warburton died in August, aged 82. He was a minister in the Goss government that took power from the National Party in 1989. And in April, Terry "The Fox" Mackenroth, the former Labor treasurer and deputy premier, died of a lung tumour at 68.
Respected former Tasmanian senator, Jocelyn Newman, died in early April after a long struggle with Alzheimer's. She was 80. A woman of many accomplishments, she was also the mother of former Queensland premier Campbell Newman.
In November, the distinguished educator and indigenous rights activist Dr Ernestine "Bonita" Mabo, and wife of Eddie Mabo, died at the age of 75. She was remembered as the "mother of native title".
Conservationist and environmentalist Ian Kiernan, founder of Clean Up Australia, died of cancer in October aged 78. His idea for the transformative organisation came after he sailed solo around the world and was horrified at the rubbish he witnessed in the ocean.
Also in October, the "little Aussie battler", Quentin Kenihan, died at just 43. Kenihan, a powerful advocate for people with disabilities, was himself born with the bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta. He captured the hearts of Australians in the '80s and '90s with interviews he did with journalist Mike Willesee on A Current Affair.
And in June the legal world lost one of its greatest practitioners, the former NSW chief justice, Sir Laurence Street. He was 91.
Several leading lights in the media were also taken, including sports broadcaster Darrell Eastlake, award- winning Four Corners reporter Liz Jackson, and distinguished writer and journalist Evan Whitton.