JOANNE McCarthy's decision to retire immediately from a nation-changing life in journalism came with little warning.
In a farewell column last Saturday, she said in characteristically honest terms that the willpower she needed to do the job had gone.
Her readers are disappointed, but they understand.
Over the 18 years her work has been published in the Newcastle Herald, Joanne has always exhibited a ferocious work ethic.
The hours alone would warrant retirement for anyone after 40 years in the media, but Joanne's journey as a reporter led her to confronting some of the most powerful vested interests in the land, with sometimes far-reaching consequences.
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Before her child abuse reporting gathered pace, Joanne had already exposed the wrongdoings of a roll-call of organisations and individuals.
More than a few of these were well-connected and unused to having a journalist - let alone one from a regional paper such as the Herald - call their behaviour into question.
From 2014, Joanne's investigations of medical malpractice and cover-up relating to pelvic mesh operations have helped thousands of women to gain some form of justice for the botched operations that blighted their lives.
Above all this stands the extraordinary body of work she amassed on clerical abuse: investigative journalism that Julia Gillard acknowledged as a major factor in her decision, as prime minister, to order the royal commission.
Simply put, Joanne's work has been of historic importance.
She was not the first reporter to investigate the Catholic Church in the Hunter, but she did so with an unwavering determination that few journalists ever muster.
This is not to say that Joanne "targeted" the church.
She simply - or not so simply - followed the story where it took her, convinced, and rightly so, that it was the right thing to do.
Investigation, though, is only part of a journalist's craft.
Joanne long ago proved herself a sublime writer, as well as someone whose empathy was felt by the many who instinctively trusted her with their stories.
A winner of the Gold Walkley, among other awards, Joanne leaves an enormous legacy that the Herald and its journalists will always do their best to fulfil.
We wish her well in whatever she does.
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