Grandfather of Mt Isa caravan kids: “I’ve never felt like this” 58



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As details begin to emerge about the family that was so tragically killed in a gas explosion in Mt Isa, the grandfather has spoken out about his young grandchildren, taken too soon.

Robert Smith, who lives in Perth, told the Brisbane Times he spoke to his grandchildren about once a month in the remote mining town but had not seen them since 2013.

He described seven-year-old Nyobi, who was known as “Bibi” as outgoing and chatty.

“Everyone says their kids are the best kids, their grandkids are the best grandkids – but she was a good kid,” he said. “When Kath would say, ‘I’ll put Bibi on the phone’, you go ‘Oh golly, I’m never going to get off now’. She doesn’t stop talking. She’s like her granddad, she’s full of it,” said Mr Smith.

As for four-year-old River, “He was wide-eyed and just curious, you know, asked a lot of questions, asked a lot of silly questions like we all do.”

Mr Smith was on his way to Mt Isa to be with his daughter, Kath, the children’s mother, and his ex-wife.

He has confirmed that Kath and Charlie Hinder, the kids’ father who was also killed in the explosion, had separated and that the children were probably having a “sleepover at Dad’s” – the caravan in front of the family home.

“The kids used to go and have a camp out when Kath was on night shift,” said Mr Smith. “They’d go and sleep over with daddy outside.”

“I absolutely loved (them). Absolutely devastated, I am. I’ve never felt like this in my life,” he added.

The family is yet to come to terms with the loss, and a full explanation of what caused the explosion could be a long time coming.

In the meantime, federal MP Bob Katter has called for an inquiry into the gas industry, akin to the Grantham floods inquiry.

“An industry that makes it so easy to cause personal harm and injury better start looking very hard at itself,” he said in a statement.

How do you feel about Bob Katter’s call for an inquiry? Do you think gas bottles are inherently dangerous? 


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Safety with gas in enclosed spaces. Needs better caravan design and more safety warnings/education.

  2. As a proud Grandparent of children Bibi and River’s ages my heartfelt sympathy goes to you and the other family , all who have lost so much. A Grandparent’s love and relationship with their Grandchildren is so special.

  3. Such a tragic situation. I imagine there will be a coronial inquiry as a matter of course. There also seem to be a number of deaths as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning within enclosed spaces. Sometimes it seems a cheap option. With the use of gas heaters in tents and camper vans and caravans along with cooking and refrigeration options, an education and safety campaign is essential. Having lost a mother in a caravan fire, my heart breaks.

  4. Very sad, nobody is a winner in this situation, reading what the grandfather said, it sounds like it was a amicable relationship, the dad used to stay over in the caravan with the children when mum worked, let’s hope it was an accident for the family left behind

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