In 2008, David Marr, author of the seminal Patrick White: A Life, wrote an article for The Monthly magazine. Included in the article are extracts from Marr’s personal diary at the time of White’s death on 30 September 1990 and the days immediately following. Here is Marr’s account of the scattering of White’s ashes in one of Centennial Park’s ponds. The ‘M’ referred to is Manoly Lascaris, White’s partner of 50 years; ‘Barbara’ is Barbara Mobbs, White’s literary executor; ‘Milly’ is a pet dog.
October 4: Barbara rang that night. She'd gone to Martin Road at 5, and they drove down to the gap in the railings. The party was M, Milly and Barbara. She asked M to do the scattering.
‘But the will said you must do it.’
‘That was just Patrick wanting to save you from it. I'll say the prayers and you do it.’
She led them to a spot in front of the seat that seemed the cleanest, and she kicked aside some beer cans. There was a mist rising on the water. ‘It looked like Ireland.’ As M began to pour the ashes into the lake a couple of ducks swam over to investigate. Barbara prayed: ‘Eternal rest grant to Patrick ... O Lord ... and may he rest ... Amen.’
M said: ‘I think that's it.’ He crossed himself three times. ‘Barbara, I think we've done the heroic deed.’
(Image credits for portrait of Patrick White, above: William Yang, Patrick and Manoly in the Dining Room, Martin Road, Sydney, 1978, black and white photograph. Courtesy of Digital Collections, National Library of Australia.)