Ben Tullipan had a successful Balinese furniture import business on the Gold Coast.
On 12 October 2002, Ben was in Bali on one of his many buying trips. Later that night, Ben called into the Sari Club to buy a bottle of water. It was at the same time that a suicide terrorist had parked a van containing a one tonne car bomb outside the Club. Ben chatted to some Aussie guys in the Club and was walking out when the car bomb was detonated.
Ben was about 5 metres from the van when he saw the explosion come out of the vehicle and he was blown metres away. He knew he was in a bad way. He could see the horrific injuries his legs had received, he could see shrapnel throughout his body and knew that he was severely burnt. He believed he died for a few moments, floating above his body, looking down on the scene. But he came back to as people were shouting at him. It wasn’t his time to leave this world. He was taken on the back of a ute to Sanglah Hospital where he was placed in a corner with a sheet over his face as nurses thought he was dead. An Australian man saw the sheet on his face move and got whatever assistance he could to Ben.
The Australian Air Force came in and numbered the injured starting from number 1 being the worst injured and so on. Ben had the number one written on him. He was conscious throughout his entire ordeal and was fully aware of what was going on around him. Outside the Sari Club he saw bodies of many others around him and sights that no one should have to see in their lifetime. It was like a warzone. He was flown by Hercules to Darwin where upon landing he went into a coma where he remained for some months. Ben was taken by Lear Jet from Darwin to Sydney’s Concord Hospital where he underwent many operations and skin grafts.
He lost both of his legs, most of his stomach muscles, received more than 63% full thickness burns to his body and is deaf in one ear. He was given a 5% chance of survival and was told he would never walk again. He was 26 years old.
Ben is Australia’s worst injured survivor of the 2002 Bali Bombings and the closest person to the car bomb to have survived.
Not only did he fight on and survive his horrific injuries, but he walks again thanks to his two prosthetic legs and his unbelievably ‘never say die’ attitude as one of his goals was to get himself out of his wheelchair for good. Achieving this goal showed himself as well as others, that with a positive attitude you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. He endeavours to be as independent as possible given the severity of his life long injuries. He has had his vehicle modified with hand controls to enable him to drive himself around.
Ben’s determination and strength of character to triumph over personal adversity earned him a 2006 Pride of Australia Medal for Courage and he was awarded a Moncrieff Community Award last September.
Ben’s personal endeavours and achievements are awe inspiring and endless.
At the beginning of 2007 Ben decided to start playing Golf as a viable form of rehabilitation and recreation. He wasn’t sure how and if he would be able to play but he attempts anything. He now plays Golf regularly and is a great role model encouraging other amputees to the sport. He competed in the Australian Amputee Golf Championships held in Sydney in March last year (8 weeks after taking up the sport) in which he finished 3rd in the bi-lateral amputee division. He plays in as many Charity Golf Days as he can and he amazes every able bodied golfer he is teamed up with, even beating them regularly.
He also competed in this year’s Australian Amputee Golf Championships which were held in Canberra which he WON his division. He then won his division at this year’s Queensland Amputee Golf Open.
But first and foremost, Ben tirelessly volunteers his time for The Zero to One Foundation which supports victims of Terrorism and Natural Disasters and was established on the Gold Coast by the Thwaites family after the loss of their son Robert in the Bali Bombings.
When Cyclone Larry hit around Easter of 2006, as Australian Manager of Zero to One, Ben was immediately on the phone organising thousands of Easter Eggs for the children of Innisfail and then got himself on a plane and went to Innisfail to see what assistance they needed so he could return and organise help for the victims.
When he heard that Australian Cynthia Banham suffered similar injuries to him on the Garuda Indonesia plane crash in Jogjakarta last year he was straight on the phone to the hospital in Perth where she was recovering to offer his support.
He has spoken at Youth Justice Conferences to young offenders who have been charged with making bombs and setting/testing them in random letterboxes, to get the message across to them the affects these sorts of offences have on individuals and the community as a whole.
He is also an inspirational speaker at local Rotary Clubs.
This October marks the 6th Anniversary of the 2002 Bali Terrorist Attacks and Ben has been working extremely hard bringing the public’s awareness back to the fact that 202 innocent victims, 88 of these Australian lost their lives 6 years ago and that survivors and families and friends of the deceased continue to live with the atrocity everyday. It is very sad that the news of yesterday gets forgotten too quickly with the public.
He is a perfect example to the community that a positive and happy attitude allows you to achieve whatever you set your mind to, even if others tell you it can’t be done. If Ben had listened to Doctors he would still be in a wheelchair.
While Ben was in a 6 week coma after the Bali Attacks, he received hundreds of cards from well wishers in Queensland, across the country and even from around the world which contained many inspirational words which he has utilised in helping him achieve his life pursuits.
His life has had and continues to have a positive impact on the lives of many. He proves that life is about living and not wasting time wallowing in self pity. It is about re-building your self esteem and sense of worth, developing skills and building new friendships.
In January 2007 he welcomed to the world his beautiful daughter Sheridan and continues to be an inspiration by setting yet another example, this time to parents with disabilities, that bringing up a child whilst having a disability is achievable.
Ben was awarded the 2008 “Gold Coast Citizen of the Year” and has been nominated for an upcoming “Gold Coast Honours” Award.
I am so proud to be nominating Ben for an Award within the “Order of Australia” and I hope when you have finished reading this that you too are proud that our wonderful country has someone like this amongst us.