Charlwood: 'What I'll do first, I'll just get you to go through what happened from here to the incident so that I - '
Chamberlain: 'From the time we left here?'
Charlwood: 'Well, just very
Charlwood: 'So we can work out, leading up to Ayers Rock, then in some depth there. Just so that I can get a clear picture of what happened, and then we can get another statement.'
Chamberlain: 'Yes, all right.'Charlwood: 'We could start on the statement first, but then things could get out of sequence, I guess. During this, I'll just make some notes, so my memory's clearer. So, you left on what day?'
Chamberlain: 'I was just trying to work it out. We left Wednesday morning. We would have left Tuesday, but the dry-cleaner's had the blankets, and we had to wait till the following morning. So we left here, I suppose it would have been about nine, and we headed more or less straight through. Stopped at Tennant Creek for a while had a look around. Camped at the Oevil's Marbles that night. We actually camped out that night. She slept in the car.
And the following day on to Alice Springs, Stayed at Heavitree Gap, in our other tent. Looked around town that day, and we had a petrol-pump fault, which we had to get fixed. Fixed it up on Friday. Stayed there that night. We were going to stay the following night, but the rodeo was on and it was rowdy, so we decided to take off. We left, probably about lunchtime Saturday. We got there just after sunset. We tried to beat the sunset, to get the sunset on the Rock, but we missed out that night. We pulled in at the ranger station. I suppose it was three quarters of an hour after the actual sunset by the time we got there, at a guess. It was dark, anyway. You know, the glow had gone. The camping-ground was crowded out. There were, I don't know how many, bus-tours. It could have been anything up to eleven of them there, I guess....
The next day my husband got up with the sunrise. And then we took off around the Rock at about, I guess, ten by the time we started. Maybe it was a little bit later than that. We went around, had a look at the Brain. That side around. We came back. No, we stayed, went up the Climb. My husband went up the Climb, and I waited down with the kiddies. Then he took Aidan and Reagan up. Then we took some photographs. No, the photographs we took of Azaria were in between him coming down and the boys going up....Then he came down - so we all came – Reagan was down there with me....He'd had it, by this time, because he climbed the hard section three times in the one day. He was feeling tired. And on the way home I said to Michael I'd promised the kids they could have a look at the water out there, because they reckoned there wasn't any. We were going into Maggie Springs, and we were sort of looking to see where it was, and we saw the bus pulled in just ahead of us. No, it pulled in just after us. We pulled in, saw the sign, then the bus pulled up, and actually they got into the Echo Cave before we did.
And there were some tourists there, and a couple about, I suppose, mid forties, with a child of, I'd say, eight, and another about ten or twelve, walking around the rocks. We met them at the back of that Fertility Cave, and we were standing there talking and looking around, and wondering what the Aboriginal legend of the rock above was, and where the Echo part of it was. And I looked -I sort of sensed as though I was being watched - and I looked up. I would have been standing about where the corner of this desk is, I think. On a rock, just above, there was a dingo looking down over the top at us.'
Charlwood: 'This is, what, sort of right at the back of the Fertility Cave?'
Chamberlain: 'Yes. Well,
you could get in it
either way. But we had come through the cave. Half of us went through,
and half of us went back again. Michael went back around the other way,
and the kids wanted to know what the cave was.
Charlwood: 'What time was that?'
Chamberlain: 'Sunset was six-thirty. I would have been bathing them somewhere between quarter to six and six o'clock, I should think.... Meanwhile Michael started to look after tea. Then I picked the baby out of the carry basket in the car, took the carry-basket into the tent, and then carried her down to the campsite. She had wind. I was patting her, walked around with her for a while.'
Charlwood: 'And what time was that?'
Chamberlain: 'It was dark. Between seven and eight. She finally went to sleep. At a rough guess, she would've been asleep half, or three-quarters, of an hour before I put her down. Another young couple arrived there and were using the opposite stove to cook their tea on.'
Charlwood: 'This is in the barbecue area, directly down from your camp?'
They had a little
eighteen-months-old baby girl. And there was a dingo in the area,
actually. It had been there the night before. We'd been talking a bit
about them, because the hikers that had been camped around there the
night before said to us, "Don't leave any food out, because they
scrounge for it." And we'd read the notices in the toilets, and I'd
only seen them that afternoon. We were actually watching this dingo,
when Aidan spied some sort of animal. He didn't know what it was. It
turned out to be a little kangaroo-mouse. The husband of the young
couple was sitting on the fence, about that far from the railing that
goes around it.'
Chamberlain: 'Yes. Over by that concrete...thing'.
Chamberlain: 'Michael said he'd seen a
dingo the day before
doing the same thing to others. We picked all that up and put it back.
Of course, because of this I thought, well, they're scavenging for
anything. If they go for nappies, you know?
Charlwood: 'She was, at that time,
Chamberlain: 'The clothes or the blankets?'
Charlwood: 'Clothes. '
Chamberlain: 'She was wearing a throwaway nappy, a sing let, white stretch. suit - it was all white, with white booties underneath - and a little white matinee-jacket, with very pale lemon edging around the collar and cuffs. It was one of those matinee-jackets that's just got two or three buttons on the yoke, and then none coming down, and the button holes were a bit loose. She was wrapped up as I showed you this morning, in the blue bunny-rug and the larger of the two blankets. She slept with her arms up, and her head on the side, and her arms would be this angle, and her head back that way.'
Charlwood: 'She had her arms level with her head?'
Chamberlain: 'Yes, or slightly back a
bit. And then Aidan said, "Is
that all the tea I'm getting?" He's at that stage, where, periodically,
he decides he's got hollow legs, because he eats a huge feast, and he's
still hungry. So I said, "Well, I'll get you some more. What would you
like?" He didn't know. He rather likes baked beans.
Charlwood: 'When you first saw the dingo, it was still inside the tent?'
Chamberlain: 'It was still inside the
tent, its head was out, and it was trying to get something through the
doorway and swinging its head around, now with its head down. That's
what made me think it was a shoe, and I thought, He's got it by the
shoelace, and it'd be swinging, and he can't get it through the door.
The dog wanted to get out. It was unzipped, not only down the middle,
but at both sides, across the bottom.
Charlwood: 'At that stage, you could
only see the back of the dingo and its head, when it
was at the back of the car?'
It was almost as if people had them on their laps. There were three torches that came almost immediately. They must have been sitting beside their torches, came out and called to me as they sort of ran towards me, "Which way?" And I said, "It's gone in there," and pointed to the direction as they went in. Michael realized he couldn't see and rushed back to the car. By this time, the lady in the tent beside us called out, "Have you gone for the police?" And I said to her, "No, it's only just happened, and we need a torch. We've got to look for her, if someone could go?" And she said, "Well, would you like my husband to go?" And I said, "Yes." And she ran back for her torch and for her husband, and she came back and she said, "He's going straight around for the police and ranger." Michael was back by this time, and we offered him the torch. It was one of those fluorescent ones. And the only thing that did penetrate into his mind at the time was that they don't give enough beam. They shoot around, but it's not a beam. And we went to our car and looked for a torch, and asked people if they had torches could they go and look....' About that time, Michael went back out, with a torch. They would've spent, I don't know, quite a few minutes out there. Say ten, fifteen minutes. Then the police arrived and the ranger was there within two or three minutes after him.
By this time, there would've been anything from thirty to fifty people out with torches, looking. Then the police went around and got more, and they just kept coming from the bus tours. Within the hour there would have been about two hundred or more, out in different directions.
And Michael said, "Did you check to make sure she's not there?" And I said, "Yes, she's not there, but do you want to come back and look with me, just to make doubly sure that there's nothing I've missed?" And we checked the tent again. And as we were crawling out of the tent the second time - he had the torch this time, and he was using it everywhere, just to make sure that there was nothing - he shone the torch on the end of his sleeping-bag, and I saw the drops of blood which I hadn't seen before.'
Charlwood: 'This was on the one that he was sleeping in? His sleeping-bag?'
Chamberlain: 'His sleeping-bag.'
Charlwood: 'On Michael's?'
Chamberlain: 'There were only half a dozen of them or so. We didn't see anything else at that stage, and he said to me, "Look, Honey, she's bleeding, so I don't think there will be any hope." She also had a very - a very - tail end of a cold. She was just sniffling, and it had been very, very cold when I changed her nappy earlier on. Because of the cold she had, and the temperature - which had frozen the water around - we had a saucepan half full of water the night before, and it had frozen ice on the top of it. I said to him, "With the cold she's got, if she's alive anywhere, we've got maybe three quarters of an hour, an hour and a half, for them to find her, or she'll be - she'll be either - have very bad pneumonia, or she'll be frozen to death, with no blankets on or anything. After about two hours we just hoped that we would never - We initially said to the police if they found anything of her, it didn't matter what it was, we wanted to see her. Then we decided that, if they found her, we'd like to see something of her clothes, but we didn't particularly want to see her, in a morbid state at all. As the night wore on, the ranger said he felt that they wouldn't find anything. He said we'd be very lucky to find clothes; it'd probably taken it back to its den. Very occasionally they would savage without killing. Then he was asking heights - And I said to Michael that I had no reason to say that, except for a mother's instinct that I felt it was a female that had taken her that it was like the first dingo we had seen at Maggie Springs that afternoon. And Michael said to me, "Now listen, you be careful. It's one thing to say what you saw, and it's another thing saying what you suppose to be. If you go around saying it's the same as that dingo, there seem to be dozens of dingoes around here, and they all look alike, you know. You're getting into the realms of probability." So I never said anything about that then. Although the next day, when Inspector Gilroy came and talked to us, and he asked me to describe the dog at the barbecue, I said to him, "Well, it was so like that one I'd seen at Maggie Springs, even when I saw it coming out of the tent, I thought, Oh, you're the rascal we saw this afternoon. But it's a bit far away, I guess. They're too alike, around here. And when they said, afterwards, that they'd found the clothes near Maggie Springs, I said to the inspector, "Can you tell me if they were found just behind the opening of that cave? What do you call this cave?'
Charlwood: 'The Fertility Cave.’
Chamberlain: 'And the inspector said, "Oh, it wasn't far from there, as a matter of fact." He said, "You're thinking what I'm thinking. I remember you saying to me that it was so like that dog, and your husband shutting you up." And then afterwards, discussing different things with the ranger. He was talking about that, the different habits, the different heights, and etcetera. To my mind it was a female. Of course, you know, it's supposition. Of course, you probably know more about that than me, by now.'
Charlwood: 'No. I don't know a great deal about the dingo. What, then, was the baby wearing when it was taken from the tent?'
Chamberlain: 'I've ready explained to you, before. The booties, stretch-suit, the singlet, a throwaway nappy, and the matinee-jacket. '
Charlwood: 'The matinee-jacket.'
Chamberlain: 'They've got them all back, except that matinee-jacket, and it wasn't a tight one. It had light elastic around the wrists and the buttons were loosish. So there is as much chance of it being off on a bush, on the way from the Rock somewhere, as there would be down a den, and left away from the other clothes, I should think.'
Charlwood is joined by Sgt. Morris.]
Charlwood: 'The coroner hasn't fixed a date yet.'
Sergeant Morris: 'You know what the finding will be?'
Charlwood: 'So, on the Sunday night?'
Chamberlain: 'Michael said, by his watch, when it happened it was about eight-thirty.' So the searching went on into the night. At midnight the ranger came back and said, "I feel that there's not much chance of finding her," What went on from there?'
Charlwood: 'So the searching went on into the night. At midnight the ranger came back and said, "I feel that there's not much chance of finding her," What went on from there?'
Chamberlain: 'Was it the ranger, or the
police? I don't think we saw the ranger again that night at all. The
police came back two or three times. We didn't see the ranger until the
following morning. We'd seen both police, off and on, and they said
that by the habits of the dingoes in that area there wasn't much hope
of finding her at all, and it's cold. Now, Aidan - which I missed
out, before - Aidan, as I came back to the tent, I hadn't realized that
he was following her, following me. But as I saw the dog, I'd glanced
back to the others as I told them. They looked up, and I said that a
dingo was in the tent, and I glanced back, and noticed Aidan was four
foot, six foot, behind me, following me back where he went then I don't
know. He wasn't near the tent. He must have been coming, but he didn't
get into the tent when I was there - Reagan is still there. Reagan is
still there - and - I knew Aidan
was there, and - he came running out from around the car. He must have
been near the tent, or looked in the tent. I don't know. As I came
back, these people were starting to come everywhere, and he arrived, to
me, just before the lady who asked if I was sending for the police.
Charlwood: 'When did she arrive?'
Chamberlain: 'Could have been anything between nine and ten o'clock. That's a wild guess. She stayed with us for a while and then she went away.'
Charlwood: 'Where had she gone?'
Chamberlain: 'She went somewhere, to the motel, I think. Then she came back, and she said she had a place for us. And the policeman was coming over to pick up our stuff. I think it was quite a while, somewhere between twelve and twelve-thirty we packed up. We decided to pack the lot. I went with the policeman, and took some things in the back of his car, and the rest we just threw in the back of our car. I took the kids in their sleeping bags. And Michael grabbed the last few things, and came in our car. The Western Australian lady, and the other lady, said they would tidy up our dishes at the barbecue for us, and send them over in the morning. They sent everything back except the tin of baked beans, which I thought was rather diplomatic of them. And I think we finally settled, by the time we were all ready, at about half past one, or just before. I was the last one. It was half past one when I looked at my watch, just before we climbed into bed....'