Kirsty Cini pictured with her mother Glynnis.
Kirsty Cini pictured with her mother Glynnis.

Two families’ Australia Day changed forever

THE Australia Day long weekend was celebrated by millions, but for two Queensland families it was a painful reminder of what happened a year earlier.

It was in the afternoon when an Australia Day party on a rural property at Julatten, northwest of Cairns, went horribly wrong.

Caboolture cheerleader Kirsty Cini, 24, was using a 40m makeshift waterslide that led to a dam when she went limp just before hitting the water.

As bystanders rushed into the muddy water, the tragedy took an even more harrowing turn.

The body of 15-year-old Zack Jenkins, who hadn't been noticed missing, was also found.

Kirsty and Zack were pulled from the water but desperate attempts to revive them were unsuccessful.


Kirsty Cini loved the outdoors...
Kirsty Cini loved the outdoors...
 did Zack Jenkins. did Zack Jenkins.

A year on, the two families have forged a unique mateship, something that has helped them cope with every parent's worst nightmare.

"It has helped, it's been really good, really comforting. It's someone you can talk to about it because they know exactly how you feel, " Kirsty's mother Glynnis told The Courier-Mail.

The families remain in touch and catch up, with Zack's mother Natalie echoing the comments

"We've become pretty good mates with Kirsty's mum and stepdad, which has been quite nice because we know what each other are going through," she said.


Zack Jenkins surrounded by his siblings
Zack Jenkins surrounded by his siblings


Both families spent Australia Day remembering the children they lost.

"Zack was your typical Australian - he loved it absolutely everything to do with anything Australian," Natalie said.

"And that's how we've got to remember him now. It's not Australia Day to us it's Zack Day."

The Cini family spent the day at Bribie Island where Kirsty loved spending her days jetskiing and roaming the beach.

"We want to make it a celebration because she was a fun, happy girl and that's the way she would want us to remember her by," Glynnis said.

Zack and Kirsty were both described as fun-loving outdoor types who brought happiness to those around them.

"She was just a beautiful girl, everyone loved her, it was amazing. She was always running around looking after other people before she looked after herself," Glynnis said.


Kirsty Cini with mother Glynnis Cini
Kirsty Cini with mother Glynnis Cini



Kirsty Cini (bottom right) with friends celebrating Australia Day
Kirsty Cini (bottom right) with friends celebrating Australia Day


Zack was described as a "loveable larrikin with a heart of gold".

"He was pretty much happy all the time. And he'd make everybody else around him happy, there wasn't a dull moment," Natalie said.

"He was right in the prime of enjoying the age that he was and looking forward to the future.''

At time of their deaths about 50 people, many of them children, were at the party.

Wanting to spare them further trauma, neither family is pushing for an inquest.

They described the deaths as a "freak accident" that nobody could have foreseen.

"We don't lay blame on anybody for this," Natalie said.