Helen McKenzie with the letter she received on school camp from her late father.
Helen McKenzie with the letter she received on school camp from her late father. Supplied

Letter's words still echo

HELEN McKenzie shared a close bond with her father. Ms McKenzie said she knew he had died the day she received his letter on a school camp.

“We had a concert at Simpsons Gap that day and when a woman started singing Amazing Grace I just had this feeling he was gone,” Ms McKenzie said.

Her father, Ian McKenzie died suddenly from a cerebral haemorrhage.

The letter, posted from Mr McKenzie in Melbourne to his daughter in Alice Springs has been selected in the Top 200 Letters of a Nation, run by Australia Post.

The Gold Coast high school teacher said she saw a pamphlet in the Miami Post Office in April advertising the competition.

“I thought of that letter from dad straight away,” Ms McKenzie said.

“It wasn’t unusual for dad to send letters and he used to leave notes for me on the kitchen table in code.

“I would have to figure out the code and then reply in code.”

Mr McKenzie’s letter, dated Sunday, May 9, 1982, asked about the sights of Alice Springs and reminded his 16-year-old daughter to wash.

“When the letter went on the web I realised my mum had never read it, my younger brother never knew I got the letter and my older brother was with him when he wrote it,” Ms McKenzie said.

“We were all close to dad in our own ways. Dad and I shared poetry and an affinity with nature.

“We painted to music and we’d just paint what we were hearing.”

Ms McKenzie said she had kept a lot of her father’s letters but didn’t read them so often.

“I always just know they are there,” she said.

Australia Post received more than 2000 letters from across Australia.

Ms McKenzie’s letter from her father along with the other 199 letters can be viewed at www.auspost.com.au/200years.

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