Mark is very dead. I didn't know him well, and when he drifted away it barely registered. I didn't know his girlfriend Danielle at all. Sergeant Lance Chaffey of the Newcastle Police remembers her. He says: "She was a devil's daughter."

The day school ended, Danielle told Mark she was hitch-hiking to Queensland's Gold Coast, a kind of low-rent Venice, a strip of pastel malls and high-rises along a fetid beach, a magnet for bored kids. Mark didn't want Danielle hitching alone, so he threw some clothes into an army bag and told his parents he was going along. They admired his gallantry. I picture Mark and Danielle thumbing a ride, breathing exhaust fumes, discouraged by the blank phalanxes of passing traffic. Finally a station wagon pulled up.

In it were four men: Stephen Maiden, Leslie Petty, and two of their friends. They were heading for Queensland. What luck.