VETERAN of the war in Afghanistan Ty Rodda was viciously assaulted on the evening of Anzac day in Nimbin.
VETERAN of the war in Afghanistan Ty Rodda was viciously assaulted on the evening of Anzac day in Nimbin. Hamish Broome

How veteran's 'peaceful' Anzac Day ended in brutal attack

AFGHANISTAN veteran Ty Rodda came to Nimbin last week for some peace and quiet.

Instead, on the evening of Anzac Day, the Brisbane resident was ambushed and hit from behind by three thugs in Peace Park, then kicked in the head twice while he lay unconscious on the paving.

The entirely unprovoked assault left him with fractures of the eye socket, cheek, and nose which need follow up surgery. Doctors have instructed him to avoid blowing his nose.

"It was a bit of a dog act," Mr Rodda said.

With two tours of Afghanistan in 2009 and 2011 which left him with post-traumatic stress and a medical discharge in 2012, the 43-year-old has been through worse than a random assault.

But he never expected such violence in Nimbin, where he has been coming on holidays for the last three years to get away from the city crowds.

On Wednesday Mr Rodda had been playing two-up at the Nimbin Hotel after commemorating Anzac Day quietly.

"I didn't bring any of my medals with me or anything. I don't really like to advertise that I'm a veteran," he said.

He'd had a few drinks and wandered over to Peace Park near the cenotaph where he sat with a group of people playing music for a few hours.

It was around midnight that he was attacked from behind.

A female witness said the men struck him from behind and kicked him twice in the head. She told them to stop attacking him and stopped them from taking his bag.

"They were coming back to go again, and she said 'leave him alone'."

It's understood the attackers were out-of-towners who had been occasionally seen around Nimbin but didn't live in the area.

Police have yet to make any arrests.

While being interviewed yesterday a Nimbin local approached Mr Rodda to say how angry he was that the assault happened in the town.

As an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician in Afghanistan, Mr Rodda was tasked with dismantling roadside IEDs while they were still live.

It was a high-risk and psychologically terrifying job.

He lost one his best mates in 2009, Brett Till, who was attempting to defuse a bomb when it went off.

The job also involved "post blast" clean-ups, which meant clearing an area before medics could approach to treat injured soldiers.

"On one of the instances that happened in 2011 on my last trip, we had a vehicle that got blown up and the guy in the rear hatch got thrown out probably about 10-15 metres. He was on the ground... and I had to clear the area around him."

"They were getting pretty tricky the Taliban, they were watching us all the time. At the time an Aussie EOD tech had about $30,000 US on his head."

"We just had to change up everything we did day by day."

"There was one job I did there was an IED just under the ground, and then when we went further there was actually another one underneath it."

"I had the robot that day which was good. You'd rather blow up a robot, even thought it was worth $300,000."

Not long after he returned in 2012 he was diagnosed with PTSD.

"I just didn't feel right and when I saw the psychologist he said you've got PTSD and I said "no I don't"."

"Then he gave me the black and white of it... and I was ticking off all the boxes as I read down."

"It just came from the anxieties, being hyper-vigilant... I couldn't deal with crowds, and obviously depression with a little bit of survivor guilt."

He still likes sit in the corner of coffee shops with the back to the wall, but said he was "a lot better now than I used to be."

It's one of the reasons he enjoys coming to Nimbin, which he appreciates for the peace and quiet.

Mr Rodda said he appreciated the support and condolences he had felt from the people of Nimbin.

"I definitely won't let it deter me, I'll be back," he said.

"I'm not going to let them ruin it for me."

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