A close friend of a mother who plunged to her death with her two-year-old daughter from a cliff lookout has recalled their last conversation together.
The bodies of a mother, 33, and her daughter – now reportedly identified by police as German woman Tanja Ludwig and her daughter – were found at the bottom of the 100m cliff at Mount Keira near Wollongong on Tuesday, in what authorities are reportedly treating as a suspected murder suicide.
Now her walking companion and friend Jenae Johnston has recalled to The Age how she walked through the forest in the same area with Ludwig less than a fortnight before, listening as the mother commented on the beauty of the area and how much she loved visiting it with her daughter.
“She shared how much her daughter loved the trees and how she ran along the pathway enjoying it so much,” Johnston told the news outlet. “She was just so bloody lovely. She loved that place so much.”
Ludwig attended meditation sessions with Johnston and would comment on how she enjoyed being close to nature when visiting the forest.
“Her last conversation with me, less than a fortnight ago, we walked along the pathway together,” Johnston added. “[Tanja] just loved this place and was always so thankful for the experience of being in nature, meditating and staring up into the tree canopy.”
Meanwhile, Johnston also spoke to The Daily Mail of her memories of Ludwig and said of their last meditation session together: “Our last session, she was beaming and talking about her child… she said she’d see me next time.”
Johnston urged people not to judge Ludwig and added to the news outlet: “It’s important that people realise she’s not a monster, she was clearly trying to help herself.”
In one of Ludwig’s final social media posts in December last year, she spoke about mental health and the importance of finding support.
“Its ok not to be ok. We all need support sometimes,” she wrote on Facebook alongside a list of numbers for counselling services.
Meanwhile, neighbours have also spoken of their shock over the deaths, with one telling Nine News: “I really feel sorry, she was so young, such a nice person, I can’t believe it.”
Speaking at the scene this week, Wollongong Police District Commander Superintendent Chris Craner described the incident as “horrific” and a “tragic” loss of life.
“It’s going to be absolutely devastating for the community who don’t know these people and hear this and what it’s about,” he said, according to The Daily Telegraph.
“And it’s going to be devastating for the family. My thoughts are also with the emergency services that have been going about their day, had a good shift then turned up to this horrific incident.”
If you are concerned about suicide in your family, friends or workplace, contact Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978, Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 for confidential support, advice and referral that will help you explore your options.