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Aussies to mark Bali bombings 15 years on

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October 10, 2017

It has been 15 years since Australia's favourite holiday destination, Bali was struck by terrorists.

It turned paradise into a scene of devastation, focused the world's attention on Indonesia's terrorist cells and left many Australians with scars - both physical and psychological - that will never heal.

This week, Australians will join other survivors and families of victims of the 2002 Bali bombings at the site of the blasts in a bond that remains strong despite the passing of the years.

Around 200 family, friends, religious leaders and government officials are expected to gather at the site in Kuta from 4pm local time on Thursday.

It will be fifteen years since the night of October 12, 2002, when bombs ripped through the Sari Club in Kuta and nearby Paddy's Bar, killing 202 people including 88 Australians.

The attacks, carried out by terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiyah, represent the single largest loss of Australian life in an act of terror.

"Bali was seen as our little paradise ... As the raw emotion came up, people were obviously very angry, a lot of that was directed towards Indonesia," President of the Indonesia Institute, Ross Taylor recalls.

It defined the bilateral relationship "for years", as Indonesia faced intense pressure to crack down on militant groups.

One good thing to emerge was the increasing relationship between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and its Indonesian counterpart, which created the highly successful anti-terrorism unit called Detachment 88 or Densus 88, Mr Taylor said.

Nick Way, a former Channel 10 journalist who covered the bombings, says the attack was Australia's September 11.

Now chairman of the Bali Peace Park Association, Way hopes a new proposal to turn the space into an tourism centre, with a museum and employment opportunities - rather than just a memorial site - will provide a way forward.

"It's about looking to the future without fear," he says.

Ni Luh Erniati's husband was head waiter at the Sari Club when the bomb exploded in front of his work.

She says many locals are still struggling to put the event behind them, something she hopes Thursday's ceremony will help achieve.

"Even now, some are still traumatised, some still need help," Ms Erniati told AAP.

"We must be there to feel the chemistry ... We can gather with our friends, our fellows who shared the same experience. It's an emotional bond," Ms Erniati said.

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