When the news first hit ‘down south’ the death toll was given as 500+. The official final toll was well under 100. I kept hearing that the media had been slapped with a ‘D’ notice – i.e. banned form revealing the true figures – something about our vulnerability to the Indonesians up north given we had lost all of pour communications and the navy and air force had been hit hard by Tracy. Just in my travels on Christmas Day and the days that followed I saw bodies in bags that would have added up to the entire official death toll. Could I be so ‘lucky’ to have seen them all when I was really travelling in a narrow area? I think that the true toll has been hidden. I well remember being at the Darwin dump and watching air force personnel in half uniform half civvies – with guns – unloading body bags off a truck and putting them into a big newly excavated hole. Then the bags were sprayed with something (disinfectant/lime?) and then another layer of bags was added. It wasn’t rotting fruit and veg. They were body bags. More than 50 in that one location.
We will probably never know the truth of the matter.