Tributes for Nigel Harris flow after Finke Desert Race tragedy

Kim Treasure 16 June 2021 19
Nigel Harris

Nigel Harris was a passionate amateur photographer. Photo: Facebook.

Tributes have begun to flow for a Canberra man killed when a vehicle competing in the Tatts Finke Desert Race near Alice Springs left the course and ploughed into spectators on Monday.

Nigel Harris, 60, was struck by a vehicle that left the off-road track on 14 June. He died at the scene.

The Tatts Finke Desert Race is a multi-terrain two-day race for bikes, cars, buggies and quads through desert country from Alice Springs to Aputula (Finke).

Recently retired, Mr Harris was on holiday taking photos trackside when the car veered off the road and into spectators about 35 km from the finish line.

Social media has featured tributes from people who knew him and from those whose lives he’d touched in passing.

One spoke of a “lovely man” who took the time to engage with strangers and share his passion for photography.

“Thank you, Nigel Harris, for this amazing gift,” one read. “No one knew these would be some of the last photos you would take. We will treasure these photos and always remember that you took them.”

Mr Harris’s wife, Sheryl, thanked the public for their condolences on social media.

“My husband was a wonderful man, husband, father, and grandfather to his beautiful Evelyn, and would have been touched by your words,” Mrs Harris said.

“My sincere hope is that the driver manages to get over this and that the race continues as is in the future. Those would have been his wishes.”

According to reports, Mr Harris was at the end of a trip of a lifetime travelling around Australia after retiring last year. He was looking forward to getting home to his family in Canberra after the race.

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Northern Territory Police Commander of the Southern Command, Craig Laidler, acknowledged the tragic circumstances of this year’s event.

“Our thoughts are with the man’s family and friends during this difficult time and with the second spectator who was injured in the incident yesterday,” he said.

“I want to commend the police officers and first responders who I worked alongside, in difficult circumstances, for their dedication and professionalism.”

Police and race organisers undertook the challenging return of 406 motorbike competitors from Finke back to Alice Springs after the bike leg of the race was cancelled following the fatal crash.

“Each year, members of the Police, Fire and Emergency Services work tirelessly with other dedicated front line services to ensure the safety of not just the local community, but of the thousands of visitors who travel to Alice Springs to attend the event,” Commander Laidler said.

“This year was no different.”

Held annually on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June, the Finke Desert Race is one of the biggest annual sporting events in the Northern Territory and said to be one of the most difficult off-road remote courses in the world.

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19 Responses to Tributes for Nigel Harris flow after Finke Desert Race tragedy
De Eagar De Eagar 9:38 pm 19 Jun 21

A lovely man and a true gentleman. RIP Nigel

Brad Jones Brad Jones 8:31 am 18 Jun 21

Condolences to Nigel's family. I always enjoyed talking tech with Nigel and a couple of drinks after work. RIP Nigel, mate you will be missed. A drink in your honour🍷🍻

    Melissa Dean Melissa Dean 1:09 pm 18 Jun 21

    Brad Jones so sad Brad, they were great years working all together. ❤

    Brad Jones Brad Jones 4:45 pm 18 Jun 21

    Melissa Dean Yes there were and it is very sad considering Nigel had just retired.

Desmond Woods Desmond Woods 10:56 pm 17 Jun 21

I am the Navy’s Bereaved family’s liaison officer. I should be pleased to be in touch with Sheryl so I can offer to get permission for the use of the Australian White Ensign for Nigel’s funeral. My mobile number is 0427 663 449. Email is: ⚓️🇦🇺

Joey Heeps Joey Heeps 9:05 pm 17 Jun 21

R.I.P mate

Jennifer Elsey Jennifer Elsey 7:25 pm 17 Jun 21

Such sad news❤

Judith Adraskan Judith Adraskan 5:49 pm 17 Jun 21

A lovely man who will be missed. I worked with him as a colleague for over 20yrs & he was forever gentle, polite & kind. RIP Nigel, it was great knowing you. Sincere condolences to his family.

Melissa Dean Melissa Dean 11:18 am 17 Jun 21

Such a wonderful, hard working, caring man and friend, taken to soon. I will miss our chats. I learnt so much from him, and enjoyed our working years together. My sincere condolences to his family . RIP dear friend. 🙏

Trevor Trubs Reeves Trevor Trubs Reeves 10:18 pm 16 Jun 21

I first met Nigel when I worked at Customs in 1999/2000. He had just left the Navy back then. He and I used to enjoy a brew occasionally when we had time at one of the local cafe's. After I left Customs, we would bump into each other occasionally in town (Canberra) or a QANTAS Club somewhere as we were flitting around the country with our jobs. He was a good, decent, person who was dedicated to his job and proud of the roles he had undertaken in the service of his country. I am shocked to read of his demise in such circumstances. Rest in peace mate, duty watch has been relieved. My condolences to his family. Australia has lost a quiet achiever.

Shane Drew Shane Drew 9:47 pm 16 Jun 21

Danny Weatherley Jesus, did you know about this? I assume you do? 😞

Garry Muir Garry Muir 7:45 pm 16 Jun 21

A good man indeed. Very sad.

Peter Groves Peter Groves 5:07 pm 16 Jun 21

Nigel was an absolute gentleman, husband, father and friend to all. I knew Nigel for over 36 years and will miss him greatly. Condolences to his family and very close friends.

Drew Forrest Drew Forrest 4:57 pm 16 Jun 21

Josie Forrest.... an old Colleague over many years :(

    Georgia Usher Georgia Usher 11:11 pm 16 Jun 21

    Drew Forrest oh no that’s so sad. I’m so sorry.

    Kelly Salapak Kelly Salapak 12:09 am 17 Jun 21

    Drew Forrest devastated

    Lauren Kay Lauren Kay 7:52 pm 18 Jun 21

    Drew Forrest I've got a condolence card, but happy to put more cards in a larger envelope if you or anyone up your way wants to sign one and send to me via internal mail. Just message me first, because my surname has changed and I'll let you know where to direct it.

    Ashleigh McHugh Ashleigh McHugh 8:02 pm 18 Jun 21

    Lauren Kay isn’t it so sad

    Lauren Kay Lauren Kay 8:05 pm 18 Jun 21

    I was gutted when I found out Ash. Nigel was so lovely and it feels like I knew him forever.

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