Shock Hits Home Following Dreamworld Tragedy
The sun was out and families descended on Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld on Wednesday morning, but this was far from the normal scene of happy holiday memories.
Shocked locals came in a steady stream to place floral tributes outside the popular tourist destination after an horrific accident on Tuesday afternoon which killed four people.
Parents with children of all ages and adults making an unscheduled stop on their way to work walked past a large media pack as Dreamworld itself sat silent and closed.
Flowers, handwritten notes, a teddy bear were all placed on a wall outside the park's main entrance.
Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd also laid a bouquet on behalf of the police after his morning press conference, updating reporters on the seemingly inexplicable incident on the Thunder River Rapids ride.
Local resident Michael Jones, who came with his son to honour those who died, has been coming to Dreamworld since he was a child.
He described the rapids ride as family friendly and was struggling to come to terms with what had happened.
"People should be out here having fun today, not mourning the loss of four people we shouldn't have lost," Mr Jones said.
Coomera resident Peter Kennedy, wife Alexandra and 17-month-old daughter Isabella were also among those to pay their respects.
Mr Kennedy said the ride in question was one of his family's favourites.
"It was always the first ride we'd go to," he said.
"I certainly will (go back to Dreamworld). I might be a bit more hesitant to go on rides given what's happened here."
Victims Remembered In Special Memorial
Hundreds of people have attended a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Dreamworld ride tragedy.
The Gold Coast theme park will reopen for a special memorial day on Friday, but on Wednesday night a spontaneous vigil took place outside where hundreds of flowers had been left throughout the day.
Cindy Low, 42, and Kate Goodchild, 32, her brother Luke Dorsett, 35, and his partner Roozbeh Araghi, 38, were killed when a raft they were in on the Thunder River Rapids ride flipped backwards on Tuesday. Ms Low's son and Ms Goodchild's daughter survived.
Ms Goodchild's husband, David, wasn't on the ride but witnessed the accident.
His father Graham said he was so distraught he couldn't talk about what happened.
"They haven't even told us completely what happened but I know that tonight there will be two very traumatised children coming back home," Graham Goodchild told News Corp from Canberra.
The distraught family of Ms Low, a New Zealand expat living in Sydney, are shocked by the "catastrophic" event.
"The family are traumatised, and kindly request that their privacy be respected as they try to come to terms with this tragic loss," they said in a statement on Wednesday.
Mr Dorsett and Ms Goodchild's mother Kim Dorsett said her devastated 12-year-old granddaughter was blaming herself for the tragedy.
"I have three children and have lost two of them ... my whole family has been wiped out."
Ms Goodchild, her daughter, brother and Mr Araghi were on holiday from Canberra and did not know Ms Low and her son.
Only smaller rides will operate at Dreamworld on Friday and all proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross.
The Thunder River Rapids had passed maintenance testing four weeks ago.
This included a mechanical and structural inspection by external engineering firm DRA Safety Specialists.
"Annual audits have resulted in continuous improvement in the management of safety," DRA managing director David Randall said in a statement.
The entrance to the park has become a makeshift shrine, with locals dropping off flowers and wreaths in memory of the four tourists who lost their lives.
Meanwhile, Ardent Leisure's annual general meeting will go ahead in Sydney on Thursday.
It will be the first time CEO Deborah Thomas, who flew to the Gold Coast on Wednesday, has appeared public since the accident.
A sharp drop in the the company's shares on the Australian stock exchange on Wednesday wiped more than $310 million off its value.
AAP; Photos: AAP