Attack targeted cafe, and street, at the heart of Sydney society

Lindt Chocolat Cafe tragedy puts things in unwanted perspective

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The Lindt Chocolat Cafe on Martin Place became infamous almost four years ago when it played a central role in a political corruption scandal.

It was there on March 18th 2001 that former New South Wales lands minister Tony Kelly, signed a letter approving the purchase by the state of a $12.2 million (€8.06m) holiday retreat. The letter was backdated to February 28th and Mr Kelly was later found to have acted corruptly.

For almost four years, I worked around the corner from the Lindt cafe. I passed by it twice a day, every day.

It looked nice, and I had always intended to go in one day, but it always seemed too packed to be worth waiting for on a morning or afternoon coffee run.

I was supposed to meet two friends for lunch about 200 metres from Lindt on Monday.

It was a beautiful summer’s day in Sydney and I was looking forward to a pre-Christmas catch up with people I had not seen for ages.

But shortly after 10am we started texting each other to cancel. The news of the siege had broken. One of those friends works in the state library, which is at the top of Martin Place on Macquarie St.

She and her colleagues, along with library patrons, were locked in for hours as the building was shut until it was eventually evacuated.

Opera house

My plan for the day had been that after meeting my friends for lunch I would meet my 13-year-old daughter off the bus at the nearby Wynyard Station before we went to Sydney Opera House for a performance by English musician Damon Albarn. As the Opera House was also in lockdown, I figured the concert would be cancelled (it was, and has been rescheduled for tonight).

I was then frantically trying to get in touch with my daughter at school to let her know that under no circumstances was she to get on the bus to the city after school and was instead to go straight home.

After a call that went to voicemail (which she never checks), and an unanswered text, she eventually called. She was disappointed, of course, but we weren’t caught up with the tragedy unfolding in Martin Place.