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Local News

Thousands gather to farewell Dame Elisabeth Murdoch

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.
Thousands have gathered today to farewell the matriarch of Melbourne, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.
Amid brilliant sunshine, mourners packed Melbourne's St Pauls Cathedral and the streets surrounding to pay tribute to a life well lived.
Some clutched roses, other sat with heads bowed paying their respects to one of the city's most loved and admired women.
Her son, media magnate Rupert Murdoch spoke first, delivering a heartfelt eulogy remembering his mother's strength.
Clearly moved, the sombre Mr Murdoch began by saying that he was a grateful son whose mother gave more than he can ever repay.
He described her as strong and reliable, and shared treasured family moments, like the smacking he got when he was caught pulling his sister's pigtails.
"Love wasn't something soft or mushy, it was strong and reliable," he told the congregation, saying that his mother's love gave them all comfort and peace.
"The greatest advantage she gave us was that we all knew we were loved."
Garlands of her favourite flowers handpicked from Cruden Farm and arranged by her trusted gardener of 40 years, Michael Morrison, painted the backdrop for Mr Murdoch who recalled his mother's description of the rose named in her honour, "tough as old boots, just like me" she had said.
"But those boots have left footprints that have stretched beyond," Mr Murdoch recalled, "and left an eternally grateful family who stand humbled before her for a life lived always in full bloom."
The cathedral was packed with a who's who of politics, business and the arts, including former Prime Ministers John Howard and Malcolm Fraser, Governor General Quentin Bryce, James Packer and entertainer Barry Humphries, but among the famous faces were the less famous, but those who were at the heart and soul of her work.
Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett described her as a "constant" and shared the profound effect she had on the lives of all who met her.
Recalling lunch he shared with her just a few weeks ago at Cruden Farm, he said there was "sereneness that surrounded her, she took a genuine interest in the lives of all she touched".
"Her spirit will stay with us for the rest of time. Her example for living will be something we can only aspire to achieve — and I suspect none of us will do so."
The bells of St Pauls Cathedral began chiming just after 10am, heralding the event to come.
Mourners gathered at Federation square early to pay their respects, huge screens beamed beautiful black and white images of her life, intimate family portraits and messages from children whose lives she'd touched at the Royal Children Hospital.
Fittingly, barely a cloud dotted the Melbourne sky, shining on the iconic Herald and Weekly Times buildings, Royal Botanic Gardens and Arts Centre that were such an important part of her life.

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