The newlyweds whose wedding was shattered by a bus crash that killed 10 guests have escaped for their honeymoon five months after the tragedy.
Mitchell Gaffney and Maddy Edsell were gifted a quiet but spectacular holiday in the Whitsundays to help them heal from the unthinkable events of June 11.
The couple spent several weeks attending funerals and services for the friends and family who died in the horrific accident on the same day they tied the knot in the NSW Hunter Valley.
A further 21 people were injured in the crash.
Only four people out of 35 on the bus escaped serious injury.
The 35 passengers on the bus had just left the wedding of Mr Gaffney and Madeleine Edsell (both pictured) in the Hunter Valley. Tragically when the bus rolled 10 died
The couple was gifted a stay at the Palm Bay Resort on Long Island in the Whitsundays
Mr Gaffney and Ms Edsell were collected at Proserpine Airport by a vintage car from Whitsunday Hot Rod Tours of Airlie Beach
The couple, who were not on the bus that was ferrying guests after the reception, had forgone their honeymoon and spent months following the crash lobbying the NSW state government to make seatbelts mandatory on buses.
But thanks to the kindness of tourism operators in the Whitsundays, they were finally able to take a much-needed break.
Their getaway was organised by Whitsundays woman, Maz McDougall, and her friend, Tina Kerr, who now lives in the couple’s hometown of Singleton.
They wanted to do something special for the heartbroken couple so they contacted Queensland tourism operators in the holiday islands who gifted them a luxurious holiday free of charge.
Ms Edsell said the months since the accident have been the hardest of her’s and Mr Gaffey’s lives and that the belated honeymoon was a chance to re-set.
‘It was just what we needed – a bit of a re-set – so we could spend some time together,’ said Ms Edsell told Mackay and Whitsunday Life.
Ms McDougall had asked luxury hotels and resorts, a hot rod tour company, a ferry charter service, a makeup and hair salon and seafood restaurant, if they wanted to take part – and the businesses jumped at the chance to help.
They were collected at Proserpine Airport by a vintage car from Whitsunday Hot Rod Tours.
Among their experiences were a trip on the Camira, a speedy 85ft ocean-going catamaran around the Whitsundays.
‘Not a dollar got passed over this, not one cent – and I just want to thank everyone in the community,’ Ms McDougall said, adding that she hoped the holiday could be a small reprieve from their grief and a way to start healing.
The couple were given a quiet but spectacular holiday in the Whitsundays to help them heal from the unthinkable events of June 11
The grieving newlyweds also went on a boat trip with Cruise Whitsundays
Mr Gaffney and his bride had invited family and friends from Victoria to their weekend wedding at the Wandin Valley Estate.
The bus, carrying 35 friends and family of the happy couple rolled near Greta, 8km from the estate.
A month after the tragedy Mr Gaffney spoke bravely at the second-last funeral of the victims, Zach Bray, 29.
Mr Bray, who had beaten cancer at the age of 25, was one of Mr Gaffney’s best friends and died in the crash.
They played for the same AFL club, the Singleton Roosters, and became friends on and off the field.
Many of those on board the bus were members of the Singleton Roosters.
‘Although you will never get the chance to pull the jumper on again, you will always be there by our side,’ Mr Gaffney said.
The crash was a terrible turn of events for the popular, sporty couple who swapped states, moving from Victoria to NSW just six years ago.
Mitchell Gaffney remembered his mate Zachary Bray, 29, as a ‘loveable larrikin’ when he addressed mourners at the Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium in July
Back in Victoria, Mr Gaffney was a sporting phenomenon in the northeastern Melbourne suburb of Warrandyte.
He played Aussie Rules football – five years for the Warrandyte Bloods – as well as both juniors and seniors cricket for Warrandyte, excelling in both.
Maddy played netball and in 2015 was one of a handful of Warrandyte High School students to win a community scholarship to fund her first year at university.
The talented student – who is one of several popular sisters – began dating Mitchell around that time.
Mitchell Gaffney and Madeleine Edsell issued a statement on Monday – a week on from the crash at the end of their wedding day.
Ten people who died when a bus transporting 35 guests from the wedding of Mr Gaffney and Madeleine Edsell rolled near Greta (crash scene pictured)