Hunter laid to rest

The Muriel’s Wedding star passed away on Saturday (21May11) at the age of 71 following a battle with cancer.

Tributes have poured in for Hunter, and on Thursday, his family, friends and a number of famous faces turned out for a service celebrating the actor’s life.

With Hunter’s casket taking centre stage at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre, singer Paul Kelly opened the memorial with an emotional performance of Nukkin Ya, which is derived from the Aboriginal term for ‘see you later’. Oliver Jao Smith and The Maza Sisters also performed during the service.

Screen stars including David Field and Mick Molloy shared their memories of Hunter, while actor Rod Mullinar, who helped nurse the actor through illness during his final months, read out a poem in his honour.

Mullinar also delivered a moving speech about his “sweet, kind and generous” friend, telling the mourners, “He had a great curiosity about people – what they did, how they lived their lives, and most of all, what their stories were.

“People loved Billy because what you saw was what you got. I’ll miss you Billy. We’ll have a drink for you.”

Family members paid tribute to Hunter, with his former wife Rhoda Roberts telling the guests, “He had wisdom and experience that he wanted to pass on. He was such a mentor to so many in this room, and that’s how I would like to remember him.”

Hunter’s niece Kate Sheffield added, “It was an amazing life, and he lived it his way. His generosity of spirit was extraordinary. So long Billo. I’m so proud to have known you. You added colour and passion to all of our lives.”

His brother John Hunter said, “Safe journey dearest friend, brother, you will never be forgotten in our hearts.”

Paul Kelly closed the service by performing his classic track Leaps and Bounds.