17.5 C
Byron Shire
June 21, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Missing You

Latest News

Travel declaration required for travellers entering Queensland

Queensland Health says that all travellers from a state or territory with a declared COVID-19 hotspot (currently Victoria and from 1am Saturday, June 19 also New South Wales) are required to complete a Queensland Border Declaration Pass prior to entry.

Other News

Art headed for the bin after Lismore competition

Making rubbish look great is the outcome of a resent art competition in Lismore – Indigenous art, koalas, rainbows, bats and lorikeets all feature in artwork that will soon be printed onto new bins in Carrington Street.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The End of an Era

As the Entertainment Editor I have interviewed some very interesting people. Like the multi-orgasmic man; a Dutch orgasm coach living in a yurt, and Tim (Pricasso) who paints with his penis. I have also interviewed musicians. Probably not quite as interesting as the aforementioned group, but whose stories and chats have formed a wonderful part of my week over the last two decades. I have had the privilege of talking to some of my heroes.

Dunoon Dam from a Rocky Creek perspective

R Musgrave, Rocky Creek Here’s a simple question about the proposed new Dunoon Dam and some local observations from a long-time...

Youth stage features at Byron Music Festival

Byron Youth Service says it is proud to be partnering with Byron Music to host the first ever Youth Stage event at the Byron Music Festival, to be held around the CBD and beachfront from June 18 to 20.

Catch Flock’s Brice Fundraiser: Cycle For Brighter Futures

Matt Brice cycled through India solo in 2014 under the name of Cycle for Brighter Futures (CFBF), raising funds...

New case of COVID-19 in Brisbane

Queensland has recorded one new case of COVID-19 in the community yesterday, with contact tracing underway after an international cabin crew member tested positive.

I woke thinking of Theo and his parents and their insurmountable loss.

The 31st of May marks two years since Theo Hayez went missing. The Belgian backpacker was asked to leave Cheeky Monkeys around 11pm on what was noted as one of the coldest and darkest nights of 2019, his life forever changed by turning left and not right. He went the wrong way home, and wasn’t seen again. He was just 18. Somehow this sweet fresh-faced boy is gone. Gone on our watch. Missing from a town where everyone wants to be. What happened on that dark night? It’s a shadow that lurks in our town. We lost a boy. We lost a boy who belonged to a family that loved him. I wonder what it is to have a child missing?

How do you move on? How do you mark the moments of your grief when you don’t know what happened? How do you bury hope? This morning I woke thinking of Theo and his parents and their insurmountable loss. I thought of his father having to travel to a strange land, to a tiny town on the coast of Australia, to retrace the steps of his beloved boy. What did it feel like to be that man walking our coastline, not marvelling at whales, or the sparkling beauty of our sea; he walked looking for his son. He looked, not at the sky or the sea, but at the ground. That is not the Byron we see on Instagram.

How does a person navigate loss without closure. Where there are no answers – just more questions. The vast abyss of the unknown opens up and takes your loved one, and you just stand on the precipice peering into the darkness. It is hard to grieve in this situation because it’s complicated. Grief is delayed and often it is unresolved. There are so many people living with this ambiguous loss. In Australia, about 38,000 people are reported missing every year. About 64 per cent of the reports are resolved in 24 hours. So, every year, families and friends of the rest are left waiting. The rest live in this new country where the pain and fear and hope are unrelenting.

How do you move on with a child missing? How do you resolve the trauma of not knowing? How do you not go to the worst places when you imagine the things that could have happened? How do you not revisit, time and time again, the scenarios in which your child could have died? How do you not see that face? Remember that child snuggled up next to you in bed, reading a story. Tasting ice cream for the first time. Smiling in a photo after a summer swim. Standing awkwardly in a school photo. That child who you pulled close, when he cried, for comfort. Whose golden head you can still smell. How do you reconcile these moments with the vast reality of nothing-ness? This is a terrible place. This is a place that no parent wants to know. It is a club that no one wants to join. Only those in it know what it means.

I am sorry we lost Theo. I am sorry that even after months of our local volunteers combing kilometre after kilometre of bushland that we are no closer to knowing what happened. After walking the whole of the Arakwal National park in Broken Head and 50 metres in along the dune at Tyagarah, we are no closer. His hat was found. But no boy. It’s perhaps the saddest of all. Yes, he was there. Yes. He is gone. Just a hat marks a place where Theo once was. What was he doing there in that remote place on that cold dark night? What happened? Does someone know something? It seems unlikely he would have found his way to that area of bushland alone.

I would have said that ours is a safe town. So how can a boy just vanish? There are theories of what happened – but until he is found, they are only that: theories. We need to know what happened to Theo. We need to find him. Because it’s not just a beloved boy that is missing. The truth about our town is missing too.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. So well saod Mandy and this piece of writing just tears my heart into pieces. Its all those things that we never ever want to experience. So many of the local parents and locals grieve Theo.

  2. My heart goes out to his family
    May love all surround and heal u💜
    And thank to Mandy and everyone who did their best
    May he rest in peace and love were ever he maybe knowing he is loved and missed

  3. The dark Side of byron needs light to shine upon it and all those involved. Thank you Mandy. I can only imagine the pain of unresolved grief of a child gone. It would be a hole in the gut never healed. Never being closed.

  4. We are all diminished by the loss of Theo. Diminished…Byron in all its claimed essence. We all need closure on the fate of Theo…how can we rest when such darkness befell Byron. Thank you so much Mandy for your heartfelt words.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

‘Technically no longer human’ – can mRNA COVID-19 vaccines meld with your DNA?

It’s becoming increasingly common to see social media posts claiming that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, which include those made by Pfizer and Moderna, could alter a person’s DNA.

Lantern parade and fiery finish a blast

With just under 5,000 people including performers, workers, schools and volunteers, the 2021 Lismore Lantern Parade and accompanying festival was a sold-out event celebrating light.

Art headed for the bin after Lismore competition

Making rubbish look great is the outcome of a resent art competition in Lismore – Indigenous art, koalas, rainbows, bats and lorikeets all feature in artwork that will soon be printed onto new bins in Carrington Street.

Locals to fight back with a series about the REAL Byron Bay

News that Netflix was planning to film a vacuous docudrama in Byron Bay brought a collective snort of derision across the Shire.