AFTER years of heartbreak, a Bundaberg father has finally laid his treasured daughter to rest - a few days before what would have been her 37th birthday.
Mick Peet's daughter Lateesha Nolan went missing in 2005 and in 2012 former fugitive Malcolm Naden was charged with her Dubbo murder.
The break-through that would lead to the 24-year-old mum's burial came in December last year when campers found a bone at Butlers Falls in New South Wales.
After a search by Mr Peet, police and the community, more bones were found and tests confirmed they belonged to Lateesha.
On Friday, at Lateesha's funeral service, Mr Peet had just one question.
"Why am I burying her and she's not burying me?," he said.
"I was trying to think of all the good times, and then I thought of what happened.
"You just think of everything in that 13 years rattling through your mind 100 miles an hour."
Mr Peet and his son, Lateesha's brother Chris, were at the front of the coffin.
"It was hard when they had the coffin right in front of us... the looks on the grandkids' faces.
"I had a poem there and I actually got the lady to read it, the minister. I just wanted her to read it, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to do it myself.
"They had the traditional Aboriginal service there with the blessing of the coffin.
"Now Lateesha lays next to her nan and pop and (her mother) Joan's brother."
The funeral was a bitter-sweet occasion for Mr Peet, who said the warmth of the community helped to shine some light on his broken heart.
Many people turned up at the funeral and in the streets and pub, Dubbo locals showered Mr Peet with hugs and encouragement.
"I was never going to give up, one lady said I was the strongest man she'd ever met," Mr Peet said.
"When I saw a place there where she could rest I thought 'it's worth it'.
"I went out to the cemetery and put some flowers down for Lateesha's birthday which was (Tuesday)."
"It was an emotional trip all the way down there. I don't think I've had that many tears on a 12-hour trip like that before."
Mr Peet camped out at Butlers Falls during his trip, in the hope he could find more of his daughter's remains.
The urge to search, he said, would always stay.
"When I was out the river there I walked up and down that river and I just wouldn't stop looking," he said.
While Mr Peet said he was glad there was finally somewhere for Latessha's children to go and remember her, coming home, and leaving Lateesha's resting place, wasn't easy.
"The further I was driving away the sadder I was feeling," he said.
"When I got home I just couldn't sleep. It's just a long trip and all the songs I've got on the six-stacker in my car was just memories of Lateesha - every song just reminded me of her."
Mr Peet persevered in the search for Malcolm Naden and the belief that someday he would find his daughter and give her a burial.
"I'm just glad it got this far. I promised myself I would never give up."
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