Episodes

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The Coastal Mail Ships

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In the early days of Western Australian settlement, the mail ships were a lifeline for the coastal communities of Western Australia. This shipping service continued on until the ’60s, bringing much needed supplies, mail, and people to the Kimberley and Pilbara. Some of the information for this episode came from the Esperance Museum archive, but this article was great, and this site has great information about ships & shipwrecks. More information? You can email me.

Skylab

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In 1979, NASA’s first space station, Skylab, reentered Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over Western Australia. This is the story of the Skylab mission, and how parts of the space station ended up in a small town museum in WA.
Here is NASA’s website about the mission. This article has some great info about the Kosmos 954 satellite. And here is an article about the Esperance connection. More questions? You can email me.

Brian Burke and WA Inc.

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Brian Burke was a charismatic and popular politician who became WA’s premier in 1983. He formed a cozy relationship with the business community of the state, leading to the scandal that became known as WA Inc., which resulted in Brian going to jail.
The main source I have used for this podcast episode is Burkie: A Biography of Brian Burke, written by John Hamilton. This article was also great. More questions about sources? You can email me.

The History of Rottnest Island

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Rottnest Island has a long and often tragic history. This episode explores the Nyungar history of the island, the Dutch Merchant ships that arrived there, giving the island its name, the tragic history of the island as a prison camp for Indigenous prisoners, and more.
This website has a great overview of the history of the island, and this ABC article is both informative and terribly sad. More questions about the sources I’ve used? You can email me.

Banjawarn Station and the Doomsday Cult

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In 1993, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo bought a remote sheep station near Leonora. It was later discovered that they were using the station as a test site for a terrorist attack that they would carry out in 1995. This ABC article was a fantastic resource for this story.
More questions about sources? You can email me.

The Tragedy of Wittenoom

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Wittenoom has been called Australia’s most contaminated town, and it has a tragic history. In this episode, we go right back to the start to find out all about the town of Wittenoom.
One of the main sources I used for this episode was a book called On We Go: The Wittenoom Way, a history of the Wittenoom family. I also used a number of articles, including this one, with the terribly sad picture of the two boys. This one also has great pictures.
More questions about sources? You can email me.

Grace, Sam, and the Georgette Shipwreck

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In 1876, the steamship Georgette started to take in water off the coast of what would later become Margaret River. The survivors were assisted by Grace Bussell and Sam Yebble Isaacs (pictured here). This episode tells the story of this incident.
One of the main sources that I used in compiling this episode was the WA Museum’s Shipwreck database. I also used this article, and some old newspaper articles from Trove, among other sources.
More questions about sources? You can email me.

Whaling and Sealing in Western Australia

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The history of whaling and sealing in Western Australia stretches back to the time before European settlement began. This industry undoubtedly shaped some of our coastal areas in many ways.
One of the main sources I used for researching this episode was the book Albany: An Antipodean Arcadia, edited by Malcolm Traill and Harry Freemantle. I also used this article, and this website was also very helpful, along with a number of others!
More questions about sources? You can email me.

The Pilbara Strike

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In 1946, Aboriginal station workers in the Pilbara went on strike, protesting against very low wages (often only rations). The strike went on for three years, and in the end, the station workers achieved their goal of financial independence.
One of the main sources for this episode was this very comprehensive website. Pilbara Strike.
I also sourced quotes from this article by Anne Scrimgeour. For further questions regarding sources, you can email me.

Laurence Sinclair and Norseman

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Laurence Sinclair and his horse Norseman discovered a seam of gold in the Dundas area in 1894. The town that sprung up in the ensuing rush for gold was named Norseman, after the lucky horse. This is the story of Laurence’s life, and some of the other stories of other early settlers in this area.
The main source for this episode was the book The Dempsters, written by Rica Erikson, which is now sadly out of print and very hard to get. The Esperance Museum was another great source. For any further questions regarding sources, you can email me.

The Rescue of Modesto Varischetti

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This is the story of a gold rush, a dangerous mine, an a miner trapped underground. We take a little detour to talk about a US president and a Kalgoorlie barmaid, and then talk about the dramatic rescue of Modesto Varischetti!
This website was fantastic, and a great source.
This website has the whole tragic love poem… scroll down.
Pictured: the divers who rescued Varischetti. Here are more pics
Something not listed? Email me for more information about sources

The Wreck of the Batavia

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In 1629, the Batavia hit a reef off the Abrolhos Islands, off the coast of Western Australia. The consequences for the passengers and crew were catastrophic. What happened next? Were there any survivors?
Peter Fitzsimon’s book Batavia was my main source for this episode, and I’d highly recommend it! You can also check out this great website from the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Something not listed? Email me for more information about sources

The Great Emu War

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In 1932, the Australia declared war on the Emus that were ravaging the wheatbelt area. The troops were armed with Lewis guns, what hope did the Emus have? It turns out, quite a lot of hope! There are countless sources and podcasts available on this topic. Here’s a link to an article from the Sunday Herald that I quoted, and also to some footage from the ‘front’.
Sunday Herald article and Footage of the Emu War
Something not listed? Email me for more information about sources

Edith Cowan

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Edith Cowan was the first woman to be elected to parliament in Australia. She was a tireless campaigner for women’s rights, children’s welfare, and a better and more just society. She is now pictured on our fifty dollar note. This episode tells the story of her life. Here are some of the sources I used in researching this episode:
Fact Sheet: Edith Cowan
Cowan’s Dad Revealed in Archives – Parliament library
Edith Cowan – National Museum of Australia
Whiteboard, Docs and a Boa – Article from Australian Quarterly
Something not listed? Email me for more information about sources


The Sanko Harvest

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Thirty years ago, Western Australia had one of its worst ecological disasters when the bulk carrier the Sanko Harvest hit a reef off the coast of Esperance. This episode tells the story of how this accident occurred, and how the mess was cleaned up. Here are some of the sources that I used in researching this episode:
The Sanko Harvest Oil Spill RememberedThe Sanko Harvest Esperance Express
The Sanko Harvest Marine Incident

Something not listed? Email me for more information about sources.

The Catalpa Rescue

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What did it take to escape from the notorious Fremantle Prison in 1876? This story tells the tale of a group of Irish political prisoners who attempted this near-impossible feat.
The book, The Catalpa Rescue, by Peter FitzSimons, was a fascinating and very informative source of a lot of the information for this episode. Highly recommended, if you want to read more about this saga. (Hachette, 2019)
Also, check out this site for more information about the Freo Prison.
Something not listed? Email me for more information about sources.

The Hutt River Province

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The Hutt River Province is located 500 km north of Perth. In 1970, Leonard Casley declared this family farm to be an independent province after a stoush with the government over wheat quotas. Here are some of the sources for information in this episode. Something not listed? Email me.

Article about the Hutt River Province
Micronations in Australia
Leonard Casley’s Obituary, The Guardian, London, 2019.
Hutt River Province for sale.
Picture, Prince Leonard with his wife, Princess Shirley, from this website.

Black Jack Anderson

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According to legend, Black Jack Anderson was a pirate who lived off the coast of Western Australia on an island. So what do we really know about Black Jack Anderson? This episode tells his story.
Some of the sources for information in this episode are listed here. Something not listed? Got a question? Email me!

Notes on sealing in the Recherche Archipelago
Notes on James Newell and Old Surrey
Newspaper article from 1842
Article about Dorothea Newell
Picture – Lake Hillier on Middle Island.

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