JULIA Gillard and Tony Abbott have declared today's 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings an occasion to remember the best of human nature as well as the worst.
In articles written for today's Herald, both leaders have also drawn on their personal experiences as they recounted the horror of a decade ago.
Ms Gillard, Mr Abbott and John Howard, who as prime minister led the nation in its response to the tragedy, will represent Australia at today's ceremony in Bali. The Herald can also reveal that Mr Abbott will then travel to Jakarta for high level meetings with Indonesian officials to discuss issues including asylum seekers.
Ms Gillard flew home from a holiday in Bali with her sister and nephew the day before the October 12, 2002, bombings and recounted her deep shock as she empathised with the families of those killed and injured.
''I could only imagine how my family would have felt if our holiday had been timed slightly differently,'' she wrote. ''I could picture my parents desperately trying to find out whether members of my family were safe.
''That was the torment so many Australian families went through on that dreadful day.''
Mr Abbott was holidaying in Bali in 2005 and was caught up in the second attacks. He helped tend and evacuate the wounded.
''I have never been prouder of the quality of our diplomats and defence personnel and the grit and stoicism of our people,'' Mr Abbott wrote.
Bali's police have been put on high alert for the event on the holiday island, amid warnings from one senior Bali police officer on Wednesday of specific information about a threat to VIPs attending.
Other Indonesian officials and high-level Australian sources downplayed the security concerns, however. And Australians in Bali for the service said yesterday they were undeterred by any security threats.
''This is a moment of real significance for our nation,'' Ms Gillard said yesterday.
''Ten years ago I think we would all remember where we were and how we felt, how shocked we were.
''I want to spend some time with the families who have really had to absorb such grief.
Mr Abbott wrote that the bombings could have turned Australia and Indonesia against each other. ''Instead, we turned towards each other and today have a very strong friendship, despite recent challenges for the relationship,'' he wrote.
Mr Howard made the same point yesterday. He recounted how the terrorist attacks occurred just three years after Australia intervened to liberate East Timor and relations between Jakarta and Canberra were still very fractious.
''But instead of the two countries being pushed further apart, they were brought closer together,'' Mr Howard said.
Mr Abbott has also used the anniversary to push his policy proposal to pay Australian victims of terrorist attacks up to $75,000 in compensation.
The government has agreed to adopt the measure for victims of future attacks, but not make it retrospective. Ms Gillard said the government had helped those families and victims wishing to go to Bali for the ceremony.