Forgotten Australia

Forgotten Australia Podcast

History — As You've Never Heard It Before

The Fugitive — The Epilogue
With Australia's biggest manhunt at an end, Kevin John Simmonds faced the darkest fate imaginable. For more information: www.forgottenaustralia.com For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

The Fugitive — Part Three
It's November 1959 and, after eluding authorities for nearly one month, wanted killer and gaol escapee Kevin John Simmonds has disappeared into harsh bush on the NSW Central Coast, with 500 heavily armed police scouring the terrain for any signs of him in what is the largest manhunt in Australian history. But the fugitive has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, leading to an outpouring of public sympathy, political showdowns and even an assassination threat against the state premier. This story concludes with a...

The Fugitive — Part Two
Determined not to serve 15 years for his incredible crime spree, Kevin John Simmonds broke out of Long Bay Jail in October 1959. What followed was a tragic and senseless killing, the biggest manhunt in the nation's history and the first media circus of Australia's television era. For more information: www.forgottenaustralia.com For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


The Fugitive — Part Two
Determined not to serve 15 years for his incredible crime spree, Kevin John Simmonds broke out of Long Bay Jail in October 1959. What followed was a tragic and senseless killing, the biggest manhunt in the nation's history and the first media circus of Australia's television era. For more information: www.forgottenaustralia.com For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

The Fugitive — Part One
Sixty years ago, in November 1959, Australia was electrified by the massive manhunt for handsome young prison escapee and killer Kevin John Simmonds, who eluded hundreds of heavily armed police for weeks to become a rebel heart-throb every bit as popular as Elvis Presley and Johnny O’Keefe. For more information: www.forgottenaustralia.com For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

In The Execution Of Their Duty
On the 3rd of January 1931, Sydney suffered one of the worst days in Australian police history — the result of a trauma that had festered since a "White Feather" taunt from the Great War. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


The Body On The Train
In 1919 Australia was baffled by a real-life mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes when the body of a young man was discovered on top of a railway carriage outside Melbourne. Who was he? How had he died? How had he ended up on the roof of a moving train? While there would be an official explanation, a century down the track I'm presenting a new theory about what really happened. For more information www.forgottenaustralia.com and www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit a...

Side Note: From Model To Movie Star
In the mid-1950s, Jeanette Elphick, an Australian model known as "The Face", reinvented herself as Hollywood movie star Victoria Shaw, going on to make big studio films opposite the likes of Tyrone Power, William Holden and Yul Brynner. But fame came at a steep price. For more information: www.forgottenaustralia.com and www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

The Model & The Murder Case — Part Two
In 1954 popular Sydney model Shirley Beiger went on trial for the shooting murder of her boyfriend, with the already sensational proceedings made wilder by her outbursts, a media frenzy, the appearance of a crazed mystic, the accused's unruly cheer squad and a confused verdict. For more information: www.forgottenaustralia.com and www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


The Model & The Murder Case — Part One
In 1954 glamorous Sydney model Shirley Beiger shot her lover dead outside a Sydney nightclub. But why did she kill him — and what punishment would she face? For more information: www.forgottenaustralia.com and https://www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

Side Note: Where The Truth Lies
Just days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Murray Chambers from Queensland survived when an enemy submarine sank the merchant ship Donerail a few hundred miles off Hawaii. Twenty four men made it into a lifeboat. When this lifeboat washed up 38 days later, 2000 miles away in Tarawa, Chambers was the lone survivor. But his story didn’t quite add up. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

Sole Survivor
In June 1946 a crew of four sailing the ketch Nova down the New South Wales coast vanished with their boat in bad weather. 132 days later a lone skeletal figure washed up just barely alive 1000 miles away, having endured one of history’s most incredible forgotten oceanic ordeals. But for this survivor the battle was just beginning. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


Sole Survivor
In June 1946 a crew of four sailing the ketch Nova down the New South Wales coast vanished with their boat in bad weather. 132 days later a lone skeletal figure washed up just barely alive 1000 miles away, having endured one of history’s most incredible forgotten oceanic ordeals. But for this survivor the battle was just beginning. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

Erbie: King of the Ring-Ins
Fifty years before Fine Cotton, Australia was electrified by a series of audacious racing ring-ins starring a champion horse named Erbie. The man who exposed the conspiracy? Bert “Cardigan” Wolfe, the country's top turf writer, who’d recently witnessed Phar Lap’s greatest moment — and then his last.  For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

The First To Fight — Part Two
As 1940 starts and the “Phoney War” ends, Australian RAF Bomber Command pilot Jim Brough flies ever-more dangerous missions against the Nazis and faces death again and again — wondering how long it’ll be before his number is up and whether a fortune teller’s prediction will come true. For more information, visit www.forgottenaustralia.com and www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


The First To Fight — Part One
Eighty years ago this week, World War II began when England declared war on Germany in response to the Nazi invasion of Poland. Within 48 minutes of the war starting, RAF Bomber Command launched its first mission. For Australians in the RAF, the fight was on — and James Brough from Tasmania would be among the first to take on the Luftwaffe. This forgotten hero's story is told for the first time in this episode. For more information: www.forgottenaustralia.com and www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For informatio...

Spencer: From Movie Mogul To Murderer — Part Two
From making pioneering bushranger films and launching the careers of Australia’s most famous early stars to a bitter business betrayal and a bloody murder in the remote wilderness, the conclusion to movie mogul Cosens Spencer’s story is like something from the silver screen. But it’s all true. For more information visit: www.forgottenaustralia.com and www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

Spencer: From Movie Mogul To Murderer — Part One
In the early 20th century, Spencer Cosens was Australia’s greatest showman. With his wife, projectionist Senora Spencer, he pioneered motion picture exhibition, establishing the first permanent cinema, introducing sound and colour films and championing local feature production. But a business betrayal would ruin Spencer’s career, permanently sabotage the Australian film industry and result in a bloody tragedy that sounded like something out of the movies. For more information and to see Spencer's films, vis...


The Masked Murderer
On a Saturday night in June 1928 a masked gunman shot and killed sisters Esther Vaughan and Sarah Falvey in the lolly shop that had made them favourites in the inner Sydney suburb of Dulwich Hill. Who killed the woman and why? For the first time, the murder, the mystery and the main suspect are re-examined. For more information: www.forgottenaustralia.com and www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

Australia's First Queens of the Air
In 1937 Jean Burns was widely reported as Australia’s first woman parachutist — but the newspapers were out by nearly half a century. For six months in 1890, Valerie and Gladys Van Tassel — under the management of American aeronaut “Professor” Park Van Tassel, their supposed brother — caused a sensation with their dazzling parachute jumps from trapezes suspended beneath crude hot air balloons thousands of feet in the air. But along with the spectacle came scandal and tragedy whose mysteries endure to this d...

In Conversation - I Did Work Experience on Apollo 11
At the age of 17, Robert Brand did work experience at the Overseas Telecommunications Commission’s station in Paddington, Sydney, where he played a small part in ensuring the television images of Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the moon were seen around the world. On the 50th anniversary of that historic event, Robert talks about how this experience inspired him to spend the next half century working in the space sector. The conversation ranges across what The Dish got wrong, what it was like to he...


Unfriendly Fire: The Murder Of Cathy Wayne
Just hours before Apollo 11 landed on the moon on 20 July 1969, young Australian pop star Cathy Wayne was shot dead on stage while performing for American Marines in Vietnam. Yet Cathy hadn’t been killed by the enemy — she’d been gunned down by one of the very soldiers who she’d travelled half way around the world to entertain. But who shot Cathy and why? For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

Murder On The Dance Floor: Part Two
There was no doubt Audrey Jacob had shot Cyril Gidley dead in front of hundreds of people during a charity dance at Perth’s Government House. But why had she killed him and was she guilty of murder? The final instalment of this episode takes us inside one of Australia’s most extraordinary trials—and beyond to a second murder, the tragic downfall of a business titan and across the world to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam War and Carter White House. For more information: www.forgottenaustralia.com and www.f...

Murder On The Dance Floor: Part One
In 1925 beautiful young Audrey Campbell Jacob shot a young man dead in front of hundreds of revellers during a charity dance in the ballroom of Government House in Perth — and the court case that followed the crime was every bit as shocking. For more information, including photos and articles, go to www.forgottenaustralia.com and www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


Australia's Most Vicious Gunman: Part Three
Back in Melbourne in early 1954, James Robert Walker is hellbent on murdering The Brain and The Thing. But after he reluctantly casts himself in the role of protector to a damsel in distress, the veteran gunman finally ends up serving a life sentence in Pentridge Prison. There, true to form, he hatches a plan as ruthless as it is audacious. Every bit as bold is that Walker is secretly writing his autobiography, which is to cause a sensation when it's smuggled from jail and published Australia-wide. For more...

Australia's Most Vicious Gunman: Part Two
Having spent half of the 1930s behind bars, murderous gunman James Robert Walker moves back to Melbourne to start a new life on the straight and narrow. There, he meets the sultry Rita, the love of his life, who he makes his wife, and they amass a stash of cash so they can buy a hotel together. But Walker's past won't let him go and he's soon at the centre of an underworld feud involving The Brain, The Thing, The Gambler and The Mark Foy — and being stalked by a young assassin nicknamed Scotland Yard. For ...

Australia's Most Vicious Gunman: Part One
Charismatic crook and killer James Robert Walker pretty much wrote the playbook that Mark “Chopper” Read would later follow. Finally convicted of murder in Melbourne in 1953, he made headlines by demanding to be hanged. Denied his death wish, Walker then planned a massacre in Pentridge Prison – setting out his reasons in a book-length confession he’d written in secret, in which he also admitted to unsolved murders, shootings and robberies. The publication of “The Robert Walker Story” in newspapers around Au...


Bonus Episode — Australia's Original Radio Bad Boy
Long before Mick Molloy or Kyle Sandilands, Arundel Nixon ripped up the radio waves as the risqué “King of the Cads”. For a decade the Cad worked for —and was sacked from — hit stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane as he battled censors, conservatives, radio bosses, his three wives and a small army of his own personal demons. On-air sackings, drinking binges, court cases, fateful prophecies, private detectives, car crashes and splashy headlines: this is the forgotten story of our original shock ...

Bonus Episode — America’s Anti-Rambo In Australia
Radical revolutionaries, maniacal Marines, sexual shenanigans, dodgy dealings, horny hippies, Hare Krishnas and High Court judges: this is the stranger-than-fiction story of American military deserter Douglas Beane. From the violence of Vietnam in the Seventies to beach life in Brunswick Heads in the Eighties, Doug’s case rattled the echelons of power in Washington and Canberra while proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the man himself was one of the world’s most accomplished lovers — if one of its most...

Bonus Episode — A Gallipoli Story
Private James Coughlan only saw one day of combat — 25 April 1915 at Gallipoli — yet his war would continue at home for years, one of thousands whose quiet fates are often forgotten on Anzac Day. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.com Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


Mr White and the Walwa Murder Mystery
This 1939 case seemed ripped from the pages of a detective novel — and may even have been inspired by one. There was the man with the murky past. Sisters who met sudden suspicious deaths. A corpse that had to be exhumed. Crucial evidence that was allowed to be destroyed and a coroner with a bizarre conflict of interest. Adding to the sensation: police thought by solving the Walwa mystery, they might also solve Australia’s most famous unsolved murder — that of the Pyjama Girl. For more information and photos...

Arizona Ryan’s Sydney Shootout — Part Two
Who was this good guy with a gun? We delve into life of American cowboy Albert “Arizona” Ryan, who became a celebrity in 1919 in Australia after killing a man to end a Sydney siege. Hear how Arizona, like Dirty Harry, had a history of trigger-happy vigilantism, and how, like Dirty John, his creepy marriage to a wealthy woman came to a violent end. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.com Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit ...

Arizona Ryan’s Sydney Shootout — Part One
A century ago, in the Sydney slum of Surry Hills, a Chinese gunman shot more than a dozen people, triggering a dramatic police siege that was only ended by the violent intervention of a lone American vigilante. But who was this self-styled cowboy with the six-shooter? For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


The Ghost of Mount Victoria Pass
In 1891 Henry Lawson published a poem called “The Ghost at the Second Bridge”, which told of encountering a terrifying spectre on lonely Mount Victoria Pass in the Blue Mountains. While a fright of fancy, Lawson’s poem was based on a tragic true story. Gather round for the haunting tale of a handful of murders, a couple of hangings, chaotic court cases, drunken witnesses, shock acquittals, and, of course, sightings of the restless spirit known as “The Woman in Black”. For more information and photos: www.fo...

The Murderous Mrs Mitchell — Part Three
Another missing woman, more illegal operations and alleged murders, along with scandalous affairs and amnesiac witnesses. In the final part of this episode, the full extent of Nurse Hannah Mitchell’s trials and tribulations is revealed. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.com Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

The Murderous Mrs Mitchell – Part Two
In 1923 Nurse Hannah Mitchell faced trial, charged with the murder of Bertha Coughlan and the attempted murder of her ex-husband Frank Bonfiglio. The evidence was sensational, as were the verdicts. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.com Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


The Murderous Mrs Mitchell — Part One
She dropped a headless torso into the Yarra River and shot her ex-husband full of holes — and these were just two of the horrific crimes alleged against Nurse Hannah Mitchell in the 1920s. The full story of “Melbourne’s Most Notorious Woman” is told for the first time in a special three-part episode. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.com Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

The Bathurst Rebellion
While many bushrangers are celebrated as rebel leaders, the one man who might really fit the bill—Ralph Entwistle, leader of the Ribbon Boys—is all but unknown. It was his naked swim that led to Australia’s biggest convict uprising—1830’s The Bathurst Rebellion—and resulted in one of the largest mass hangings in our history. Yet the entire tragedy wouldn’t have happened if it not for a police magistrate’s fondness for handing out brutal punishments. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.co...

Australia’s Killer Politician
Elected to state and federal parliament, Thomas Ley’s career in 1920s politics was marked by hypocrisy, corruption, ruthless manipulation and the lingering suspicion that he may have killed his rivals. The worst fears of his critics were confirmed in 1947, when Ley was convicted of cold-blooded murder in one of England’s most sensational court trials. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.com Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, vi...


The Tantanoola Tiger
Australians are no strangers to big cat stories, but only one mystery resulted in the capture of not one but two monsters. In the early 1890s, witnesses claimed to have seen a tiger in the Tantanoola region of South Australia and graziers often found their sheep mutilated and partly devoured. Search parties failed to capture the beast until an expert marksman joined the hunt. Yet even after the creature was slain, sheep kept disappearing, falling prey to an even more terrifying predator. For more informatio...

The Parramatta River Murders
In March 1872 Australians were shocked by one of the most cold-blooded murders the colonies had ever seen. The nightmare began with the discovery of a badly decomposed body that had been weighed down with a heavy stone in the Parramatta River. Even more chillingly, it soon emerged that this victim, John Bridger, had been lured to his brutal death via an employment advertisement in The Sydney Morning Herald. Then it became clear that this murdered man wasn’t the only victim. For more information and photos: ...

Australia’s Titanic Hero: Part Two
With Titanic sinking in the early hours of 15 April 1912, boatswain Albert Nichols has to muster his men and make ready the lifeboats. Around 1am, it’s claimed, he was given a dangerous mission that, if successful, would save many more lives. But mystery swirls around what happened in the next 80 minutes. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.com Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


Australia’s Titanic Hero: Part One
Albert Nichols was born in 1864 on remote Lord Howe Island. After a public scandal that saw him pitted against his parents, Albert fled to Sydney before working his way to London as a seaman. There he established a successful career with the White Star Line, working as a boatswain first on the company’s luxury liner Adriatic and then on the even-bigger Olympic. In April 1912 he transferred to Titanic, the greatest ship ever built and was aboard for the liner’s sea trials, for the trip from Belfast to Southa...

The Comic Book Killer
From 1946 Sydney’s Leonard Lawson was a hero to kids for creating the comic book The Lone Avenger. But in reality the young artist was a psychopathic villain responsible for crimes far more terrible than anything in his stories. For five decades Lawson would outrage Australia by destroying innocent lives and make a mockery of the law’s ability to control violent offenders. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.com Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information regarding...

The Mystery of Marjorie Norval
It was the Teacher’s Pet-style mystery that gripped Australia 80 years ago. Brisbane socialite Marjorie Norval disappeared in November 1938 under bizarre circumstances, sparking the biggest search in Queensland’s history. In the days and months to come, four heroic rescuers would die, one of her rumoured lovers would commit suicide, and a light would be shone on the city’s shady characters, from illegal abortionists to peeping Toms. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.com Find us on Face...


The Botanic Gardens Massacre
While the random mass shooting that inspires a further murder spree seems a very modern and very American phenomenon, the first such outrage happened nearly a century ago in Australia. Melbourne’s 1924 Botanic Gardens Massacre saw the public turn paranoid and police and alienists mystified as the man the newspapers called a maniac evaded a huge manhunt. Then came the copycat killer. For more information and photos: www.forgottenaustralia.com Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/forgottenoz For information...

When Melbourne Went Mad
Most cops are on strike. The few loyalist police left on duty risk life and limb because tens of thousands of citizens are crowding the streets and the mood is turning darker as fists and bottles fly. When the last cops defect or retreat just after dark, rioters become looters and the city becomes a war zone. With blood flowing in the streets, politicians summon a militia and order the military to protect the city. But this isn’t Berlin or Moscow. It’s Melbourne, November 1923, and Australia’s sophisticated...

Sister Annie, Sydney and The Spanish Flu
A century ago, a world already at war faced its worst-ever natural disaster: Spanish Flu. But in late 1918, this plague, which would claim as many as 100 million lives, was yet to infect Australia, with Sydney’s North Head Quarantine Station becoming the frontline in the battle against the deadly invader. Young nurse Annie Egan was among those brave souls who risked their lives to help the infected. Her fate sparked a furore — and foreshadowed what awaited many Australians in 1919. Be sure to subscribe to g...