Ellis’s magical life celebrated at funeral



The word captures Bob Ellis’s life and the way he saw the world.

It was also the revered Australian writer’s last.

Ellis died aged 73 on Sunday surrounded by family at his Palm Beach home in Sydney after a battle with liver cancer.

His friends and family said their last goodbyes at an emotional funeral service in Sydney on Saturday.

Mourners, including several prominent Australians, heard recollections of an adventurous, humorous and loving man whose contribution to the nation’s literature as a political commentator, author, screenwriter and playwright was incomparable.

“Seize the day – he lived by that principle to the fullest and taught many around him by example to do the same,” best friend and collaborator Stephen Ramsay told mourners.

“You sang to the world a fearless, funny, wicked serenade.” Ellis was close to the Labor Party and wrote speeches for several leaders, including Bob Carr and Kim Beazley.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who described Ellis as a loyal supporter and adviser, was among the mourners to address the ceremony.

Ellis was a man with a “remarkable flow” who wrung every last drop from life, Mr Shorten said.

“I will miss his unerring knack for saying something wickedly, shamefully, brilliantly, impossibly rude about our opponents past and present,” he said.

“If I had a dollar for every killer line Bob has sent me over my years in unions and politics, I’d almost be able to afford the legal costs to use them.”

Former South Australian Premier Mike Rann said Ellis was an important part of “our national tapestry” and Australia needed more of his ilk to “poke and prod us, to inspire, enrage and at times offend us”. “He enriched our lives,” Mr Rann said.

“He saved mine and that of my daughter Molly travelling across Israel’s Negev desert when his screams woke our driver who’d fallen asleep as we were careering towards an oncoming coach.” No one who knew Ellis would be able to forget him, Mr Rann said. Hundreds of mourners, including prominent feminist Germaine Greer, former MP Craig Thomson, former NSW premiers Barrie Unsworth and Nathan Rees, comedians Rhys Muldoon and John Doyle, former union boss Paul Howes, sports writer Roy Masters and comedy writer Marieke Hardy, paid their respects at an outdoor ceremony in Frenchs Forest on Saturday.