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Brothers who drowned in Townsville farewelled at home in Darwin

By Jane Bardon, Monday March 25, 2019 - 17:25 EDT
ABC image
Pallbearers carry the small coffin for Barak Austral and Jhulio Sariago. - ABC

The family of two young boys who drowned in a Townsville river has thanked members of the public and businesses who helped to cover the cost of the funeral in Darwin.

Jhulio Sariago, 3, and Barak Junior Austral, 5, went missing from their Townsville home at Cranbrook on February 25.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following story contains images of people who have died.

After a major search by emergency services and members of the public, they were found drowned in the Ross River the next day.

The boys were buried together in one small coffin in Darwin after a funeral service at the city's Catholic cathedral.

Their grandfather, Gary Sariago, told the hundreds of mourners gathered that the boys had been inseparable.

"Junior and Jhulio were not just brothers, they were best friends," he said.

"Everything they did, they did together."

He said the brothers sought fun and adventure together and loved being outdoors.

Parents 'overwhelmed with emotion'

The boys' parents expressed disbelief at the loss of their sons.

Leeann Eatts said she would always cherish the short time she had with her boys.

Barak Junior's father Barak Austral said he had no words to describe his sorrow.

"Not in my life I have ever thought I would be standing here today farewelling my son and stepson," he said.

Jhulio's father Nathan Sariago said: "I haven't fully come to terms [with the fact] that my boys are no longer here — I have been so overwhelmed with emotion."

Barak Junior was born in Darwin and Jhulio in Queensland.

Darwin's Catholic Cathedral was packed with family from both states.

Relatives wanted the bodies to be returned to the Northern Territory for burial because of the boys' ancestral links to Arnhem Land, the Tiwi Islands and Daly River.

Donations from businesses and members of the public from across the country helped make that happen.

"There have been no words that can capture the deep appreciation for what they have done for us," the boys' uncle Phil Sariago said.

"To all of you here today, and across the nation, we have felt your embrace, you have touched our hearts, and it has helped ease our pain."

After the funeral mass, Junior's father Barak said: "We just want to thank the businesses and everyone who helped, right down to people we don't know, and everyone who helped to look for them.

"We're just so overwhelmed. People involved have done so much for us."

He said it was important to the family to bring the bodies of the boys back to their own country.

"We wanted to bring them back here because of their great grandmother from the Jingili tribe and we also have connections to the Gurindji."

He said he would never forget his son's energy.

"I'll always remember him through his brothers and sisters and his smile," he said.


© ABC 2019

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