More than 200 residents bearing flowers gathered to form a human chain across a far north Queensland beach this morning to remember Toyah Cordingley, who was found dead there three weeks ago.
The 24-year-old pharmacy worker was walking her dog in broad daylight on October 21 at Wangetti Beach, south of Port Douglas, when she was fatally attacked.
In silence, residents moved to the water and linked arms to form a line stretching out along the beach’s shoreline to symbolise their stand against Ms Cordingley’s death and to support each other as they come to grips with the tragic event.
A smoking ceremony was held as the crowd cast flowers into the ocean, with roses, lilies and sunflowers scattered along the breaking waves.
Resident Bronwyn Farr, who organised the event, said the community was in shock because the beach had always been known as a vibrant, friendly and popular place for families, children and their pets.
“We thought we were one of the last bastions of innocence that you could walk safely on a Sunday on this local stretch of beach and get home safely, and it’s turned out that we’ve had that taken away from us,” Ms Farr said.
“Everyone comes to this beach to walk their dog here – today has somewhat helped us to some extent reclaim our beach.”
Despite an ongoing large-scale police investigation, Ms Cordingley’s killer has not been found.
Ms Farr said the community also wanted justice for Ms Cordingley and to find those responsible for her murder.
“The perpetrator has picked the wrong community – we are not going to let this become yesterday’s news,” she said.
“Somebody somewhere knows something.
“No amount of flowers in the water will bring Toyah back but … we’re not going to forget about this – we’re going to keep this in the public eye until this person is brought to justice.”
Police are still appealing for information, particularly dashcam footage from motorists travelling past the beach on the day Ms Cordingley was killed.
Ms Farr said Cairns and surrounding regions had large populations of tourists moving through the region all the time.
She said it was possible someone had inadvertently captured vital footage on their dashcam while driving past the beach on that day and were not yet aware they had that crucial information or that it could be useful in the investigation.
Crime Stoppers continues to receive a large number of calls from the public about the case and have so far opened 800 files, with Queensland police saying detectives, forensic specialists and general duties officers were working around the clock on the investigation.
Contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.