‘This is never forgotten’: boys’ family

THE FAMILY of two little boys who tragically drowned in the Ross River have thanked the community for their outpouring of love and support.

Barak Austral, 5, and Jhulio Sariago, 3, were found submerged in a steep and deep cutaway of the river in Cranbrook on Tuesday morning after going missing from their home the afternoon before.

Family spokeswoman Professor Gracelyn Smallwood said the little boys' parents were overcome with grief.

The family have begun fundraising to repatriate the bodies of the boys back to Darwin, where they were born. All funds will be handled by indigenous not-for-profit organisation Yumba-Meta.

A memorial event including a smoking ceremony has also been planned for 4pm on Sunday at the spot where the boys were found.

"We want to thank the community very much, whoever came out in support of looking for our babies but also the people who couldn't make it, the blessings that they sent not just from Australia but from around the world," Prof Smallwood said.

"And the shrine that was put up there with the teddy bears and flowers, it was amazing how people all came together from different backgrounds to show their condolences, love and support to our two precious little souls.

"What the family have asked is for privacy of course, we are in a sad and traumatic time."

The boys' mum Leeann Eatts on Tuesday described her boys as "inseparable".

"They were nine days apart, Barak born on 17 May 2013 and Jhulio born 8 May 2015, and they died on the same day - Jhulio was born the day after my birthday," she said.

"Jhulio was so smart - he knew everything. He was a good kid, so loveable, lovely little face and beautiful nature … I'm going to miss them.

"I feel like I'm in a horror movie and I can't get out of it yet."

Detectives are working to piece together how the boys left their home on Monday afternoon and ended up submerged in the Ross River just 300m away.

The disappearance of the two boys sparked one of the most resource intensive search operation in Townsville's recent history.

More than 100 community members, SES and Rural Fire Services volunteers, firefighters and police officers searched on land and in waterways for hours overnight as the emergency helicopter took to the skies.

Prof Smallwood said the family would be asking Townsville City Council to allow a permanent memorial to be set up at the riverbank.

"They were happy little people, like all little 5 and 3-year-old children, and all of those children doesn't matter what race or religion they are they're not only happy, they're fearless, and that's how they want to be remembered," she said.

"We're hoping that this will never be forgotten."

Those wishing to donate can do so here:

National Australia Bank

Account name: Yumba-Meta Ltd

BSB: 084-970

Account number: 93-615-5931