Australian Croat And His Brilliant Legacies Since Port Arthur Massacre

Walter Mikac and lost daughters: Alannah and Madeline Photo: Screenshot Alannah and Madeline Foundation

Walter Mikac and
lost daughters: Alannah and Madeline
Photo: Screenshot
Alannah and Madeline Foundation


April 2016 marks the month of the 20th anniversary of Australia’s worst massacre by a single gunman (at Port Arthur, Tasmania) – and the 20th anniversary when the son of Croatian immigrants in Australia, Walter Mikac, became widely known, a household name and the national symbol of the Port Arthur Massacre. Walter Mikac lost his wife and two daughters on that 28th day of April 1996 at Port Arthur when a deranged gunman (whose name I will not mention here out of respect for the victims and their loved ones) went on a killing spree armed with semi-automatic assault rifles and killed 35 people and wounded 18. Out of that tragedy, out of Walter Mikac’s profound grief arose giant and brilliant legacies of tight gun ownership control laws, of love and remembering through a charitable foundation he set up that has so far helped more than 1.5 million children who are victims to violence worldwide.


Walter Mikac , born in 1962 Melbourne, the son of Croatian immigrants, married nursing sister, Nanette ‘Netty’ Patricia Mikac (nee Moulton, born 1960 Shepparton, Victoria) in 1985 in Melbourne. After Alannah ‘Lani’ and Madeline ‘Maddie’ were born, the family moved in 1994 to the town of Koonya, near Nubeena in Tasmania, where Walter became the local pharmacist and Nanette occasionally helped behind the counter. On Sunday morning 28 April1996, Nanette and her two daughters went to picnic at the picturesque Port Arthur Historical Site, only ten minutes by car from their home, while Walter went to play golf nearby. In the early afternoon, Walter and his golf friend heard gunshots from the Port Arthur site but continued playing their game, thinking that the gunfire was due to a re-enactment of some historical event.

Family photo of Port Arthur massacre victims, Nanette, Alannah (left) and Madeline Mikac, with Walter Mikac. Source:News Limited

Family photo of Port Arthur massacre victims,
Nanette, Alannah (left) and Madeline Mikac,
with Walter Mikac.
Source:News Limited


Not long after, our family friend and local GP, Dr Pam Ireland, came and told me what had happened. She took me to the site, insisted the police let us through, and took me to see my family. For acceptance, that was very important. It meant there was no need for someone to describe or hide the details. I was able to hold each of them. The police didn’t cope with that very well, but Pam’s insistence made that happen, “ Walter said during a recent interview.
I truly believe the power of love and creation will always triumph over the power of destruction and revenge,” he said.


Mikac struggled hard and no matter how hard he tried he could not understand what allowed someone to kill that many people at the same time without being stopped! This terrifying puzzle led him to write a letter to the then-Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard focusing on the need to prevent such carnage in the future, highlighting the need for tough gun controls. If people didn’t have such powerful guns in their possession or easy access then such massacres would not have a chance of occurring. Prime Minister Howard phoned Mikac the next day after receiving the letter and subsequently read it to a police ministers’ meeting to get some resolution about changing Australia’s gun laws.

Walter Mikac (centre) with family and friends at Memorial service after Port Arthur massacre Photo: Rick Stevens

Walter Mikac (centre)
with family and friends
at Memorial service
after Port Arthur massacre
Photo: Rick Stevens

The resulting gun reforms were a big thing. The laws were changed across Australia and many different types of guns were banned from civilian ownership and over 640,000 weapons were bought back by the Australian Federal Government and destroyed. It became harder to apply for a licence to own a firearm and difficult to own more than one. Prior to this legislative change, prior to prior to Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass killings/shootings in Australia in 10 years – since then not a single one.
Around this 20th anniversary of Port Arthur massacre there have been some moves to relax Australia’s gun ownership laws somewhat. At times of terror attacks and “ingrown IS terrorist cells” and increased violence in the streets why would anyone want to change the laws that have been keeping Australians safe for the past twenty years. But, regretfully, like it or not, lunatics and those who want to make money in gun sales – do exist. Hence, Mikac is currently very active and has started a petition for Australia to keep its tight gun laws. The legacy of tight gun laws that arose form Mikac soon after the Port Arthur mass killings two decades ago – lives today. Petition link click HERE.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Walter Mikac 2011 Photo: EPA/William West/Alamy stock photo

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark
and Walter Mikac 2011
Photo: EPA/William West/Alamy stock photo


Alannah and Madeline (Mikac) Foundation was set up in 1997, a year after the Port Arthur massacre, and with Crown Princess Mary of Denmark (an Australian, a Tasmanian) as its ambassador the charity has spread to help children victims of violence and bullying beyond the shores of Australia. This too is a legacy, which arose out of the Port Arthur massacre, and the terrible grief it caused.

Walter Mikac 2016 Photo: Jay Town

Walter Mikac 2016
Photo: Jay Town

In 2001 Mikac married again and has a new family but the one so tragically lost at Port Arthur twenty years ago still lives and shines in his legacies and daily existence: in tough gun laws and in the Alannah and Madeline Foundation that helps so many children who suffer violence and works at preventing bullying as well as initiating programs that prevent violence. Furthermore, Mikac has written a book “A Circle of Life: replacing hardship with love” and is a motivational speaker of note. “A Circle of Life” is a collection of reflections on love and loss that focuses on the power of love to overcome obstacles, to heal suffering and to provide hope for the future.  He also published “To Have and to Hold”, telling of the loss of his family in the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.
Upon setting up the petition for tough gun laws Mikac recently said there was no reason for Australians to own semi-automatic or automatic guns as legalising these weapons would only raise the risk of danger and death for more Australians. He said it was his own personal goal, as well as the Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s, to ensure no one else experienced the trauma that he went through 20 years ago.

A significant legacy and one of the only good things to come of the 1996 Port Arthur tragedy, the day I lost my wife and children, was the establishment of the National Firearms Agreement 1996,”  Mikac said.

Could not agree more and trust this legacy will hold its ground, for the safety of all, for many many decades to come. Respectfully I bow in respectful memory of all those who perished at Port Arthur in April 1996. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. I’ll never forget that horrible day. I was a 14 but it will stay with me, and most Aussies forever I’m sure. Much love and respect to Walter Mikac and families.

    • Me too, Anna – has stayed with me all the time and looking at today’s mad world we are so fortunate to have had the benefit of Mikac’s courage in gun laws

  2. I’ am impressed of what this very hurt man succeeded in obtaining! Thank you very much for having written about this tragic story. Best regards.

  3. There are no words…thank you for retelling Mikac’s story. I often wonder what it will take for Americans to reach the same conclusion. Deep sigh…

  4. Danijel Kovac says:

    Terrible tragedy that I will never forget. Not only was I shocked at how many people died that day, I was also shocked at how I was branded a criminal for owning firearms. I was shocked and insulted at how our prime minister treated law abiding citizens addressing a rally wearing a bullet proof vest (a mistake he regrets making now). I remember how disgusted I was that on the back of a violent act no-one wanted to address the illegal gun black-market, organised crime and outlaw bikie clubs that harboured criminals intent on harassing our society. Don’t forget the biggest massacre that took place on Australian soil where tens of thousands of native Australians were systematically slaughtered in the name of the “Crown” and the “rule of law”. Don’t forget the Martin place attack recently (illegal weapon used) or Curtis Cheng, gunned down by a radicalised muslim with a pistol that was not registered, the exact category of firearm ownership these gun laws completely ignore “POSSESSION AND USE OF ILLEGAL UNREGISTERED WEAPONS” Just imagine for a second if hundreds of millions of dollars were spent eradicating the criminal gun market instead of focusing on punishing law abiding firearms owners like myself who have never broken the law; how much safer would our community be? Finally, you mentioned ’11 mass killings/shootings in Australia in 10 years – since then not a single one.’ in your article, I have not heard this before, could you please tell me where you got that information from? Anti-gun lobby groups are renowned for their lies and misinformation, The Mikac family deserve our respect and I support their desire for a safer community to raise our children in. Nothing good came from the Port Arthur massacre. Illegal firearms are just as prevalent today as they were back then. It is very difficult to have a conversation about this topic without getting emotional. I feel saddened by the attacks on innocent victims of these crimes, and I feel saddened by the way others respond irrationally to these tragic events driving their own agenda. Mostly I feel sad because we have not had a leader in this country who would be brave enough to stand up against organised crime and eliminate as mush as possible the real threat to our safety. If you ban all firearms then the only people who will have them are criminals…..imagine living in that world?

    • Thank you Daniel for your comment but even you have an agenda, so agenda’s when it comes to preventing or at least preventing as many deaths on the streets as possible through gun ownership control is a good agenda as far as I am concerned. True there are many good law abiding citizens but there are also many who are not or who become violent due ti personal life’s circumstance and if a screening for future actions in gun buyers could be possible then that would be a way a adding to safety. The murders of the indigenous by British colonisation in the name of the Crown in 19th century is not a topic to be compared with these, but since you asked regarding where I got the information about 11 mass killings in Australia prior to Port Arthur sources are varied but mass (defined as 3 or more) shootings include Hillcrest Murderd 1996 (6 dead), 1993 Cangai Siege (5 dead), Central Coast Massacre 1992 (6 dead), Strathfield Massacre 1991 (7 dead), Surry Hills Shooting 1990 (5 dead), Oenpelli shootings 1988 (6 dead), Queen Street Massacre 1987 (8 dead), Canley Vale Huynh family murders 1987 (5 dead), Hoddie Street Massacre 1987 (7 dead), Top End Shootings 1987 (5 dead). Milperra Massacre 1984 (7 dead), Wahroonga Murders 1984 (5 dead)… gun laws are effective it’s policing them that isn’t, I think and there lies a route for organised crime to thrive and threaten with guns

      • The slaughter of indigenous Australians just highlights the fact that GOVERNMENTS (military) of every country have killed more innocent people than anybody, and if any government really cared about their people they wouldn’t continue to profit from the biggest killer known to humanity (cigarettes) even after they’ve been proven to be carcinogenic, ALL GOVERNMENTS choose to profit from death rather than tax the rich elite more.
        And if law abiding citizens were able to protect themselves and carry guns the PORT ARTHUR KILLER wouldn’t of killed so many people, because a law abiding citizen would of shot him.
        I wonder if WALTER asked John Howard about the 500,000 innocent IRAQI’S killed in the invasion, an invasion he jumped at committing our troops to. Yeah you trust the drug (cigarettes) dealing government who do nothing about the widening gap between rich and poor to look after you, they’ve really got your best interests at heart. Fools.

  5. Gun laws here in the US vary from state to state. Some states permit concealed hand carry, others don’t.
    Gun regulations are hot topic election year or not. Sadly we’ve had a number of high profile shootings that have made national headlines and around the world.
    There are no easy answers. 🙁

  6. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    Australia had one horrific mass murder and legislated gun controls. In America, we lost at least one a day and the National Rifle Association wants more latitude. The GOP wanted to be able to carry guns to the presidential convention. The Secret Service stepped in an said no! Seems like Australia has more on the ball than America does. Hugs, Barbara

  7. Reblogged this on Truth Troubles: Why people hate the truths' of the real world and commented:
    Guns do not kill people, only the idiots who pull the triggers are the murderers.

  8. I read this Ina through misty eyes that had to be wiped several times.. after leaving a comment here I am going straight to sign the petition..
    No words say it better than these of Walter’s when interviewed..
    ““I truly believe the power of love and creation will always triumph over the power of destruction and revenge,”
    So do I..
    Love and Light
    Sue <3

  9. Excellent to learn about Mikac and his story… and how he tried to change things as he tried to contact John Howard focusing in order to do something about those kind of awful rampages and carnage. By raising awareness on the subject he already made his contribution… but there is still a long way ahead when it comes to gun controls, particularly in America.
    Sending all my best wishes, dear Ina. Aquileana 😀

  10. May Earth be a safer home for all..

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