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The History Listen

243 EpisodesProduced by ABC RadioWebsite

New and compelling stories from Australia and around the world, told by some of our most popular and trusted historians. Step inside a time machine for an immersive journey through history, where stories of people, places and events bring the past vividly into our present world.

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The History Listen

August 16th, 2022

This story is set on Worimi and Biripi country in the year 1894 The avid colonial botanist Joseph Maiden is making a trip through the forests around …

Inexpressible Island

August 9th, 2022

28:20

The little known story of perhaps the greatest endurance feat in Antarctic history. The survival of Robert Falcon Scott's Northern Party in the winter of 1912.

The man with the wooden shotgun

August 2nd, 2022

26:13

Britta Jorgensen grew up hearing many tales about her great Uncle Keith Byson, whose life sounded like something out of a children's story book - that he was a hermit who lived in a shack on a deserted island in the …

Finding Harry Valentine

July 26th, 2022

28:35

Hidden family truths are discovered as two sisters follow the trail of their late fathers' secret life.

First port of asylum

July 19th, 2022

28:35

On the night Dai Le was elected to Federal Parliament as an Independent she was remembering being a frightened 10 years old, out in the open sea, …

Fanny Smith: Icon

July 12th, 2022

28:35

In 1899, twenty-three years after her people were declared ‘extinct’, Fanny Smith made a revolutionary recording where she announced to the world …

The Friendship Spitfire: Jack Dawson Green's WW2 story

July 5th, 2022

28:35

A story of swagger, bravery, skill and ultimately, friendship, set on the frontline of war

Acting on a High Wire - a short history of television drama

June 28th, 2022

28:38

From the very first night that ABC television beamed into loungerooms around Australia, it offered audiences live drama, initially plays and then serials. The story of the generation of pioneers who helped to create a …

Too Old To Run - the Drug Grannies ep 2

June 21st, 2022

28:35

In the summer of 1978, Australian narcotics agents intercepted a campervan being unloaded on the Melbourne docks. What they discovered inside the van …

Too Old To Run - the Drug Grannies ep 1

June 14th, 2022

28:37

In the summer of 1978, narcotics agents discovered the largest ever haul of illicit drugs to land in Australia, stashed inside a campervan belonging …

A Day at the Beach - Wanda 1982

June 7th, 2022

29:04

Were you at the Wanda gig in 1982? It's forty years since Triple J hosted a free outdoor concert on Sydney's Wanda Beach, where a massive crowd turned up to see the bands whose music defined an era, and who changed the …

Rottnest Island: White playground

May 31st, 2022

28:48

How did the largest deaths in custody site in Australia become a tourist mecca?

Rottnest Island: Black prison

May 24th, 2022

28:35

The dark history of Western Australia’s idyllic holiday playground.

Australia's greatest miscarriage of justice? The Croatian Six - part two

May 17th, 2022

28:35

In 1979 a man named Vico Virkez gave a surprise tip off that would lead to one of the longest criminal trials, and some say, the greatest miscarriage …

Australia's greatest miscarriage of justice? The Croatian Six - part one

May 10th, 2022

28:35

The story of six Croatian Australian men who were incarcerated for 15 years for crimes they say they never committed.

40 years later, new evidence has been found in their favour.

Samuel Plimsoll sails to quarantine

May 3rd, 2022

28:35

Diaries from two voyages to Sydney aboard the famous Scottish clipper, Samuel Plimsoll.

It was a perilous time to be at sea. Disease and fever spread …

Fairlight CMI - the sound you've never heard of

April 26th, 2022

31:39

The Australian instrument that shaped the sound of the 1980s and forever changed how popular music was made

Sister Edith Blake WW I

April 19th, 2022

36:06

Sister Edith Blake’s gripping story, from her training in Sydney to nursing Australian soldiers in Gallipoli, to her tragic death in English waters …

Buried Treasure - the story of Lake Pedder

April 12th, 2022

28:35

Lake Pedder, in Tasmania’s vast south-west region, was known for its pink quartzite beach, its pristine waters, and its rugged beauty. 50 years ago, it became the site for one of the fiercest conservation battles ever …

The Benalla Experiment

April 5th, 2022

28:35

Australia's least remembered migrant camp for 'unsupported' mothers.

The job with the best view in the world

March 29th, 2022

34:02

Working on the Sydney Harbour Bridge isn't for the fainthearted.  Angela Heathcote’s dad Kelly told her adventurous tales of working up high on the …

William Ah Ket: the first Chinese-Australian barrister

March 22nd, 2022

34:27

In 1904, William Ah Ket became Australia’s first Chinese barrister. He went on to fight racist laws and social prejudice in and out of court.

Nah Doongh's story

March 15th, 2022

28:35

Nah Doongh's story tells of a life that was lost and found; a life that spanned the entire 19th century and bore witness to the colonisation of …

Steely women

March 8th, 2022

28:35

Forty years ago Australian women weren't fighting for equal pay, they were fighting for an equal right to work. This is the story of our nation's …

The bay leaves of West Terrace cemetery

March 1st, 2022

33:21

The uplifting story of the Baby Memorial at Adelaide's West Terrace cemetery.

Only Joking

February 22nd, 2022

28:35

Comedian David Rose digs into the archives and discovers a very personal story: about a life lived on stage, the parallels of history, and a surprising family legacy which dates all the way back to the music hall era

Fight for the Forest

February 15th, 2022

28:35

In an unprecedented political move, the Western Australian state government will end logging of native forest. Meet the people who have dedicated …

Mrs C private detective

February 8th, 2022

27:35

A journey back to the mean streets of Brisbane in the 1920’s with feisty private detective – Mrs Kate Condon.

The lost journal of Jeanne Barret: Part 2

February 1st, 2022

30:34

The continuation of the amazing story of the first woman to sail around the world.

The lost journal of Jeanne Barret: Part 1

January 25th, 2022

30:14

The amazing story of the first woman to sail around the world.

Tommy Walker and the bone collector

January 18th, 2022

28:36

Ngarrindjeri elder Major Sumner tells the tale of two men from the opposite ends of Adelaide society at the turn of the twentieth century. The fates of fringe-dweller Tommy Walker and State Coroner William Ramsay Smith …

The Little Sparrow - the ASIO spy inside the Communist Party

January 11th, 2022

28:36

In the early 1950s Adelaide housewife Anne Neill made a life-changing decision: she joined the Communist Party of Australia, and ended up travelling behind the Iron Curtain and befriending KGB spy Vladimir Petrov. But …

Yarramundi and the people of Dyarubbin

January 4th, 2022

28:36

Dyarubbin, the mighty Hawkesbury River, winds its way along the foot of the Blue Mountains, around the north western rim of Sydney’s Cumberland Plain. Settlement along the river, like much of Australia’s history, has …

Diamond Jack, Smirnov and the Pelikaan

December 28th, 2021

28:36

A wild ride involving a Russian flying ace, an escape from Java in World War 2, and a missing package of diamonds.

The Lost Boys of Daylesford

December 21st, 2021

28:36

On a clear cold Sunday morning in June 1867, three little boys wandered away from their home near the town of Daylesford, on Dja Dja Wurrung country …

Finding Eve Langley, writing a life

December 14th, 2021

34:55

Where does the life of Australian poet and writer Eve Langley end and her fiction begin?

Commemorating James Stirling?

December 7th, 2021

29:21

The statue of Western Australia's first governor, Captain James Stirling, in central Perth is hard to miss; there's also a mountain range, a suburban …

Caribbean Convicts in Australia

November 30th, 2021

28:35

In 1836, the convict ship the Moffatt left Portsmouth harbour in England to travel halfway around the world to the colony of NSW. On board were …

Respect! - the 1986 Nurses Strike

November 23rd, 2021

28:35

In the lead up to Christmas 1986, a battle was fought on the streets, in the hospital wards, and on the tram lines around Melbourne. Nurses, trained to care for the sick with no complaint or question, had had enough. …

150 years at the Art Gallery of NSW

November 16th, 2021

28:35

For most of its life, the Art Gallery of NSW was dank and dingy. In the 1970s, there was no air conditioning or electric lights in its exhibition spaces. A short history of this institutions' amazing transformation.

Resonate

November 9th, 2021

29:12

Nazi collaborator is a label that still resonates in Belgium 75 years after the end of the Second World War.  Peter Lenaerts grew up listening to his …

Brother artist Hosea Easton

November 2nd, 2021

36:48

In 1899 two thousand people attended the funeral of an African-American banjo player in Sydney.  Who was he? How did he come to be in Australia and why was he so loved? Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe tells the story of …

Henson Park: the eighth wonder

October 26th, 2021

28:35

History, tragedy, and triumph. Marrickville’s Henson Park is an icon of Sydney's inner west.

But before the unshakable Newtown Jets footy fans …

May Wirth: bareback riding queen

October 19th, 2021

28:35

'I can do things no woman ever did before in the history of the circus business.' May Wirth

Pentridge prison: a violent past and complicated present

October 12th, 2021

28:36

There's a brutal history behind the imposing walls of Melbourne's Pentridge prison, stretching from 1851 right up until its closure in 1997. Today there's a playground, supermarket, cinema and apartments on site – but …

The illusory life of magician Esme Levante

October 5th, 2021

28:37

Underwater escapes, padlocked trunks and a magic trick featuring a wallaby called JoJo - the story of Esme Levante has it all. Yet for decades the life of this remarkable woman has been overshadowed by her more famous …

Ray Denning part 2: stitch up

September 28th, 2021

34:18

With nothing to lose, Raymond Denning escapes Grafton prison in a rubbish bin.

He has help from prisoner rights groups and an agenda to raise …

Ray Denning part 1: breaking out

September 21st, 2021

28:26

The story of one of Australia's most misunderstood criminals.

After a traumatic childhood, Raymond Denning jumps from juvenile detention to jail.

When an escape attempt goes wrong, a prison warder is critically injured …

You are not alone: 100 years of PEN International Part 2

September 14th, 2021

28:35

Have writers been imprisoned in Australia for their work?  Most definitely and PEN has worked to have them freed.  In this history of PEN in …

You are not alone: 100 years of PEN International Part 1

September 7th, 2021

28:35

Writers go to prison for the courageous pursuit of their craft and PEN has been working to get them out.  Melbourne writer Arnold Zable tells the …

The curious geologist

August 31st, 2021

30:09

How a South Australian geologist named Reg Sprigg helped solve Charles Darwin's dilemma

Seachange: 20 years on from the Tampa Affair

August 24th, 2021

53:30

When a Norwegian container ship - the MV Tampa – rescued 438 asylum seekers from a sinking boat on August 26, 2001 who was to know the political …

Miner Poets - songs and verse from the west coast of Tasmania

August 17th, 2021

28:35

We travel to the west coast of Tasmania, to meet the mining communities who carry on a rich cultural tradition of storytelling in poetry and song.

 

Stories from the Archibald

August 10th, 2021

28:35

On the 100th anniversary of Sydney's Archibald portrait prize, artist Wendy Sharpe takes a look at some its most controversial moments.

Alone with J.S. Bach

August 3rd, 2021

31:41

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach is a lifetime companion for many violinists. And in our time of Covid-19 isolation, his Six Sonatas and Partitas …

Whitlam's China chance: the origins of the Australia-China relationship

July 27th, 2021

32:47

In the Cold War winter of July 1971 ALP leader Gough Whitlam made an audacious trip to Beijing. This is the story of the events, 50 years ago, that …

Those Bloody Vegos - a short history of vegetarianism in Australia

July 20th, 2021

29:57

Early in 2020, a vegetarian version of the iconic Four’N Twenty meat pie hit service stations around the country. For lifelong vego Carly Godden, this re-imagining of an Aussie classic was a sign - vegetarianism had …

Escape from Greece 1941

July 13th, 2021

28:35

One soldier's incredible World War II escape story through southern Europe. Why haven't Australian's heard more about the heroic ANZAC campaign in …

Yarramundi and the people of Dyarubbin

July 6th, 2021

30:54

Dyarubbin, the mighty Hawkesbury River, winds its way along the foot of the Blue Mountains, around the north western rim of Sydney’s Cumberland Plain. Settlement along the river, like much of Australia’s history, has …

How hypnosis brought the CIA to Australia

June 29th, 2021

28:35

Martin Orne was one of the leading psychologists of the 20th century, his specialty was the science of hypnosis. In the 1960s, his scientific method …

An Object in Time - The Whip

June 22nd, 2021

28:35

The whip played a central role in the development of Australia. What can it tell us about our society today?

An Object in Time - The Ginger Beer

June 15th, 2021

28:35

The refreshing beverage that revolutionised the law.

An Object in Time - The Envelope

June 8th, 2021

28:35

An envelope is a humdrum communications device – except when it’s full of misinformation, tucked into the pocket of a dead man, and dropped by a …

An Object in Time - The Cup of Tea

June 1st, 2021

28:37

The story of how the humble cup of tea came to represent a ruthless British Empire.

An Object in Time - The Ticker Tape

May 25th, 2021

28:35

How did one long, skinny strip of paper plunge the world into the worst global economic downturn history had ever seen?

An Object in Time - The Train Carriage

May 18th, 2021

28:36

The story of the train carriage which propelled the globe from WWI, straight into WWII.

An Object in Time - The Telephone

May 13th, 2021

17:17

This special podcast extra episode tells the story of the world's most powerful, imaginary telephone.

An Object in Time - The Pistol

May 11th, 2021

28:36

This pistol lies at the centre of one of history's most famous duels - Hamilton Vs. Burr.

An Object in Time - The Umbrella

May 4th, 2021

28:35

Umbrellas aren't known for being dangerous, but this one is famous for being deadly.

The Kitchen Table — Spice

April 27th, 2021

33:25

The clove and nutmeg trade not only lead to colonisation, but long before the Europeans arrived, it helped define the language, culture, religion and …

The Kitchen Table - Wine

April 20th, 2021

28:35

What's the story behind your favourite wine? This fermented beverage has long been an important part of Australia's social and cultural history, …

The Kitchen Table — Salt

April 13th, 2021

28:35

Behind your humble shaker of table salt lies a curious and industrious history

The Kitchen Table - Tea

April 6th, 2021

28:35

By the turn of the twentieth century Australians were the world’s most obsessive tea drinkers. Four cups with a meal wasn’t uncommon. Where did this insatiable thirst start? and did it ever really stop? A story about …

The Little Sparrow - the ASIO spy inside the Communist Party

March 30th, 2021

28:35

In the early 1950s Adelaide housewife Anne Neill made a life-changing decision: she joined the Communist Party of Australia, and ended up travelling behind the Iron Curtain and befriending KGB spy Vladimir Petrov. But …

The story of Kevin 'the Head' Brennan: Bondi surfing legend

March 23rd, 2021

28:35

The story of 1960s surfing legend Kevin Brennan charts a young man's path to fame and to premature obscurity set against the backdrop of Sydney's Bondi Beach.

The Lost Boys of Daylesford

March 16th, 2021

28:35

On a clear cold Sunday morning in June 1867, three little boys wandered away from their home near the town of Daylesford, on Dja Dja Wurrung country …

The harder they fall - stories of life and death in the South East Forests of NSW

March 9th, 2021

35:25

Immerse yourself in the sounds and histories of the old growth forests; from logging to woodchipping, protesting and preserving.

The Train is Back

March 2nd, 2021

28:33

The Overland is a train whose tracks were once plagued by both squabbling and pandemic. But it is back, although both the plague and the squabbling still exist.

Who was Jimmy Possum?

February 23rd, 2021

28:35

There’s a mystery surrounding the elegant and ingenious Jimmy Possum chairs that were made 130 years ago in Tasmania. Did their maker live in a tree trunk?  Did he even exist?  Claudia Taranto goes in search of the real …

Windradyne's forgotten war

February 16th, 2021

28:35

In 1824, the British waged war against the Wiradjuri people of western NSW. It was known as the Bathurst War and it shook the new colony. But many …

Australia's greatest miscarriage of justice? The Croatian Six - part two

February 9th, 2021

28:35

In 1979 a man named Vico Virkez gave a surprise tip off that would lead to one of the longest criminal trials, and some say, the greatest miscarriage …

Australia's greatest miscarriage of justice? The Croatian Six - part one

February 2nd, 2021

28:35

The story of six Croatian Australian men who were incarcerated for 15 years for crimes they say they never committed.

40 years later, new evidence has been found in their favour.

Diamond Jack, Smirnov and the Pelikaan

January 26th, 2021

31:05

A wild ride involving a Russian flying ace, an escape from Java in World War 2, and a missing package of diamonds.

Spies, lies and hairdryers - How a single mum became a double agent in Cold War Australia

January 19th, 2021

28:32

In the 1950s a romantic proposition by a Russian diplomat transformed Kay Marshall from an admin worker into one of Australia’s most important double agents. It was the beginning of a four-year intelligence operation …

Manuscripts Don't Burn: The Master and Margarita

January 12th, 2021

28:34

 

Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov’s most famous novel, The Master and Margarita, was written during the brutal 1930s Stalinist purges. It's become a …

Heavenly and demonic: the story of the saxophone

January 5th, 2021

28:34

Find out why, in its relatively short history, one instrument has offended ideologues, drawn the ire of dictators, and been reviled and outlawed.

Two spoons — the general who plotted to kill Hitler

December 29th, 2020

28:35

A little known assassination attempt against Hitler cast its shadow over a family in Sweden. Johan Gabrielsson digs deep into the family vault and …

Tupaia, star navigator

December 22nd, 2020

28:33

In 1768 when James Cook sailed from Tahiti looking for the great southern land, Tupaia, a traditional Polynesia navigator was on board.

His knowledge …

Experiment street — the true history of a city lane

December 15th, 2020

29:34

It's the early 1900's in Sydney. Fictional Pyrmont resident and neighbourhood gossip Lizzie Absalom tells what really went on in those back lanes.

Silence at the sugar mill

December 8th, 2020

28:34

Every family has a secret, the saying goes. But the Ninnes family had a big one.

It wasn't until eldest daughter Mae was 80 years old that she began …

Clutha 1970 - the biggest battle over coal you’ve never heard of

December 1st, 2020

28:35

A huge coal project by a foreign company. Environmentalists concerned about the impacts. A government talking about jobs. Sound familiar?

But this battle happened 50 years ago, when a small group waged a …

Australia and the rise of terrorism; a tale of this century

November 24th, 2020

32:49

The September 11th attacks in the United States by Al Qaeda changed the way western countries perceived the threat of terrorism. Before the events of 2001, Australia had no national terrorism laws. But fifteen years …

A picturesque colonial landscape

November 17th, 2020

39:29

A radio journey into John Glover's 1835 painting A view of the artist's house and garden, in Mills Plains, Van Diemen's Land.

The Scholar's Hut

November 10th, 2020

28:35

In 1881, an extraordinary teacher arrived at Maloga Aboriginal mission. His students changed Australian history. Great great grandson and Yorta Yorta man Daniel James tells the story of Thomas Shadrach James.

The air of heaven - Australian women jockeys

November 3rd, 2020

28:35

When Michelle Payne won the Melbourne Cup in 2015 there were three female jockeys who were with her in spirit. They all challenged the male-dominated racing industry, pushed on by the air of heaven.

Songs of the last convict ship

October 27th, 2020

35:46

In January 1868, the last convict ship to Australia, The Hougoumont, docked in Fremantle, Western Australia, off-loading its' human cargo, including …

Tommy Walker and the bone collector

October 20th, 2020

34:21

Ngarrindjeri elder Major Sumner tells the tale of two men from the opposite ends of Adelaide society at the turn of the twentieth century. The fates of fringe-dweller Tommy Walker and State Coroner William Ramsay Smith …

The Black-Allan Line

October 13th, 2020

28:35

Australia's state borders have taken on new significance in this pandemic year. The history of the border between NSW and Victoria is full of strange …

Only Joking

October 6th, 2020

28:35

Comedian David Rose digs into the archives and discovers a very personal story; one about a life lived on stage, the parallels of history, and a surprising family legacy which dates all the way back to the music hall era

Salleh Ben Joned: A Most Unlikely Malay (Part 2 of 2)

September 29th, 2020

35:17

Malaysian poet and writer Salleh Ben Joned is an incendiary critic with satirical wit, and at nearly 80 he’s become a bit of an underground ‘legend’. Eldest daughter Anna charts the highs and lows of her father’s return …

Salleh Ben Joned: A Most Unlikely Malay (Part 1 of 2)

September 22nd, 2020

32:22

Salleh Ben Joned is a witty, fearless and charismatic poet and writer that some have called the ‘bad boy of Malaysian literature’. Come on a wild ride through his life and times with his eldest daughter Anna, starting …

Follow the Flame

September 15th, 2020

28:35

It's 20 years since Sydney hosted the Olympics, and one of the most memorable parts of the 2000 games was the torch relay. This story follows the …

Alone with J.S. Bach

September 8th, 2020

30:34

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach is a lifetime companion for many violinists. And in our time of Covid-19 isolation, his Six Sonatas and Partitas …

2025: The end of tape

September 1st, 2020

33:55

There’s a number going around audio-visual archivist circles, that has many of them worried: 2025. Magnetic tape — from reel-to-reel, to cassettes and VHS — that is not digitised by 2025 might be lost forever.

Elisabeth Krämer-Bannow: a portrait of the artist in New Ireland

August 25th, 2020

47:23

Through the chance finding of an old German book in an antiquarian bookshop we discover the life and work of Elisabeth Krämer-Bannow, an artist and …

Hay's war: when the Japanese came to inland Australia Part 2

August 18th, 2020

29:04

A cavalcade of Japanese Prisoners of War, in makeshift 'cages' on the back of utes and small trucks, makes its way across dusty western NSW. Tension in Hay ramps up, peaking on one long night of drama when it appears …

Hay's war: When the Japanese came to inland Australia Part 1

August 11th, 2020

28:35

The mysterious war-time drowning of a young woman in the Murrumbidgee River leads Ann Arnold on a trail of drama and suspense, from the Torres Strait …

Spies, lies and hairdryers - How a single mum became a double agent in Cold War Australia

August 4th, 2020

28:35

In the 1950s a romantic proposition from a Russian diplomat transformed Kay Marshall from an admin worker into one of Australia’s most important double agents. It was the beginning of a four-year intelligence operation …

Two spoons — the general who plotted to kill Hitler

July 28th, 2020

28:26

A little known assassination attempt against Hitler cast its shadow over a family in Sweden. Johan Gabrielsson digs deep into the family vault and …

Nah Doongh's story

July 21st, 2020

28:35

Nah Doongh's story tells of a life that was lost and found; a life that spanned the entire 19th century and bore witness to the colonisation of …

The Sisters Overseas Service (SOS)

July 14th, 2020

28:35

In 1977, the New Zealand government passed the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act which made it virtually impossible for a woman to legally terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Enter the group known as the …

Waterloo Bay: that word "massacre"

July 7th, 2020

28:35

What happens when a small town puts the word "massacre" on an historical monument?

Manuscripts Don't Burn: The Master and Margarita

June 30th, 2020

30:36

 

Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov’s most famous novel, The Master and Margarita, was written during the brutal 1930s Stalinist purges. It has become a …

The Ferry Plot

June 23rd, 2020

28:30

Cold war Australia 1949. The enemy was everywhere, and according to many the country was in extreme danger. Enter Diver Dobson, and a drama that …

Forgotten men of a forgotten war

June 16th, 2020

28:35

What would it take to bring home the 43 Australian servicemen still missing from the Korean War?

A Short History of Soap

June 9th, 2020

28:35

A soap opera about soap starring the Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis.

Section 71 - the Race Power bonus episode

June 4th, 2020

11:41

An extra episode in the series about High Court cases which have changed Australia. Series producer Jane Lee unpicks the origins and uses of Section 51(26) of the Australian Constitution, which gives the federal …

Section 71: The Hindmarsh Island Bridge Affair (Part 2)

June 2nd, 2020

27:53

In the second part of the long running and divisive case known as the Hindmarsh Island bridge affair, the battle heads inside the High Court.

Section 71: The Hindmarsh Island Bridge Affair (Part 1)

May 26th, 2020

28:36

Ever wondered how the term "secret women's business" entered the Australian lexicon? It's part of a bitter legal battle over land, culture and …

Section 71: Communists, Terrorists and the High Court

May 19th, 2020

28:38

How much power does the federal government have to protect Australians from international threats?

Section 71: The High Court Dog-Fight on Schools Funding

May 12th, 2020

28:38

The High Court showdown over religious freedom that could help you understand how schools are funded to this day.

Section 71: The Tasmanian crime of gay sex

May 5th, 2020

28:38

It might surprise you to learn that until 1997, a man could go to jail for up to 21 years for having sex with another man in Australia.

Never M.O.R.. the audacious audio of Andrew McLennan

April 28th, 2020

40:16

Colleagues called him maestro, visionary, experimenter, radio magic man. To long-time close friend, John Bell, he was “Merry Andrew”.

This is the …

Edie's War

April 21st, 2020

28:35

When Penny Bristol Jones inherited a battered trunk full of family objects, she uncovered a rich wartime history in the collection of letters written …

Charlie Chaplin’s Funny Walk and Other Music Hall Mysteries

April 14th, 2020

28:36

Journalist Fiona Gruber goes on a very personal journey in the footsteps of her great grandfather, Victorian music hall comedian Walter Groves, to uncover his career and his hidden link with the greatest comedian of …

Tupaia, star navigator

April 7th, 2020

28:35

In 1768 when James Cook sailed from Tahiti looking for the great southern land, Tupaia, a traditional Polynesia navigator was on board.

His knowledge …

The sands of Ooldea — Part 4 Wankani

March 31st, 2020

28:35

The story of how the traditional custodians of Ooldea got their sacred water soak back and the healing of the land.

The sands of Ooldea — Part 3 Mamu

March 24th, 2020

32:16

North west of Ooldea in South Australia's Great Victoria Desert is Maralinga where the British exploded seven nuclear bombs. This episode explores …

The sands of Ooldea — Part 2 Kabbarli

March 17th, 2020

42:06

Ooldea's most famous resident was Daisy Bates, also known as "Kabbarli" or grandmother. She lived at Ooldea for sixteen years in a tent, helping to …

The sands of Ooldea — Part 1 Yuldi

March 10th, 2020

31:35

On the edge of the Nullabor, Ooldea, with its ancient water soak "Yuldi Kapi", is one of the most important Aboriginal sites in Australia. Trading …

Steely women

March 3rd, 2020

28:39

Forty years ago Australian women weren't fighting for equal pay, they were fighting for an equal right to work.

This is the story of our nation's …

Heavenly and demonic: the story of the saxophone

February 25th, 2020

28:36

Find out why, in its relatively short history, one instrument has offended ideologues, drawn the ire of dictators, and been put down, shunned and …

Dissent and disillusionment: Australians in East Germany

February 18th, 2020

29:06

In part 2, we trace the growing discontent in East Germany in the 1980s. An Indigenous Australian rock band tours East Germany while anti-government protests are brewing, and just like the Berlin Wall, one person’s …

Friends and foes: Australians in East Germany

February 11th, 2020

28:35

A Cold War tale of spies, diplomacy and secret police, from Indigenous communities in the Top End to the opera houses of Berlin.

Carving up the Country

February 4th, 2020

28:35

Gamilaraay woman Marika Duczynski travels to the Gulf country of north west QLD, then across the Blue Mountains, to western NSW, looking for trees …

Stamp of war — the end of Yugoslavia

January 28th, 2020

28:35

Three teenage girls — a Muslim, a Serb and a Croatian all from Bosnia Herzegovina, are drawn into one of the bloodiest conflicts in post war Europe. 30 years later they find their voice.

Guide Alice

January 21st, 2020

29:10

Gifted naturalist, ground-breaking photographer and early feminist figure. Guide Alice was Mount Buffalo's most sought after mountain guide.

Mother danced with Göring

January 14th, 2020

28:35

A glimpse into the 1930's and 40's through the fragments that remain of one woman's story – socialite, swordswoman, actress and the first woman to read the ABC national news.

Cooking for assimilation

January 7th, 2020

28:35

The discovery of an old recipe book of her Hungarian grandmother's sets Ruth Balint on a family investigation. Between the pages, she uncovers more …

Amazon Acres — girls' own adventure

December 31st, 2019

28:35

A women-only utopia deep in the Australian bush — no men, no meat, no machines. It was a wild ride, complete with rainbows and tiger snakes, sisterly joy and un-sisterly tensions. 

Escape from Iran

December 24th, 2019

28:35

Shortly after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, a young Bahai mother was smuggled out of the country on camelback with her baby daughter.

40 years later …

Blue Lake – finding Dudley Flats

December 17th, 2019

28:36

On the western edge of central Melbourne lies a blind spot: the now industrialised zone was once home to the shanty town called Dudley Flats. Writer David Sornig has been walking the area re-imagining its residents.

Who Killed the Kangaroo King?

December 10th, 2019

28:35

Andy Komarnicki disappeared without a trace from the south west Queensland town of St George in January 1980. What happened to him?

Dreams of New Mexico - in the footprints of Georgia O’Keeffe

December 3rd, 2019

30:20

American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is an icon, much loved today for her un-conformist spirit and beauty, as much as for her paintings of sensual flowers.

The brazen women of silent film

November 26th, 2019

37:03

The lives of women at the turn of the 20th century were bound by strict social conventions and rules. These Australian stars of silent film defied …

Port Essington, World's End

November 19th, 2019

28:35

Dubbed “World’s End” by its inhabitants, Port Essington in western Arnhem Land was the third failed attempt by the British to settle northern Australia. The settlement lasted 11 years, from 1838 to 1849, and sparked an …

The great air race

November 12th, 2019

28:35

The amazing story of the 1919 pioneering air race from England to Australia.

Two stories that weave together war, food and the power of memory

November 5th, 2019

28:35

During War time food shortages and rationing preoccupied most people, but the hunger suffered by prisoners was on a whole different level.

War recipes

November 5th, 2019

28:35

During War time food shortages and rationing preoccupied most people  - but the hunger suffered by the prisoners of War was on a whole different …

The Bomb Lobby

October 29th, 2019

28:35

In the late 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, Australia made a brief but audacious bid to enter the nuclear arms race, by manufacturing a bomb

Claremont: the murders that rocked Perth

October 22nd, 2019

39:08

Every era, every city has a crime that defines it. For Perth it was the Claremont serial killings.

Inside the Big day Out: flying too close to the sun

October 15th, 2019

31:00

Come on a wild ride through the extraordinary story of the Big Day Out; the festival which, for over two decades, was a summertime rite of passage for music lovers around Australia. Was it really a victim of its' own …

Inside the Big Day Out: from Nirvana to nightmare

October 8th, 2019

32:30

Come on a wild ride through the extraordinary story of the Big Day Out; the festival which, for over two decades, was a summertime rite of passage for music lovers around Australia

Experiment street — the true history of a city lane

October 1st, 2019

28:35

It's the early 1900's in Sydney. Fictional Pyrmont resident and neighbourhood gossip Lizzie Absalom tells what really went on in those back lanes.

Who was Jimmy Possum?

September 24th, 2019

32:22

There’s a mystery surrounding the elegant and ingenious Jimmy Possum chairs that were made 130 years ago in Tasmania. Did their maker live in a tree trunk?  Did he even exist?  Claudia Taranto goes in search of the real …

The Compound — trapped in a UN safehaven

September 17th, 2019

28:36

Three Western journalists and a UN employee ignored advice to leave East Timor after the country's independence vote in 1999. They recount the most …

Through Samurai Eyes: solving the mystery surrounding one of Australia's great convict escape stories

September 10th, 2019

28:36

When amateur historian Nick Russell stumbled across a set of very old Japanese manuscripts, he unearthed a dramatic tale of convict mutineers, …

Through Samurai eyes: shedding new light on Australia's greatest convict escape story

September 3rd, 2019

28:36

A dramatic tale featuring pirates, Samurai warriors, a historical detective and a ship of escaped convicts from Australia who washed up in Japan in 1830

Secrets of the Mallacoota Bunker

August 27th, 2019

28:36

An idyllic town with a hidden surveillance bunker and a secret past. A ruined RAAF base comes to life to tell its story.

Tales from the Nuyts Archipelago

August 20th, 2019

32:36

In these remote islands we uncover a history of whalers, abducted Aboriginal women, and a mysterious human skeleton found on Franklin Island. There’s …

Narjong means fresh water

August 13th, 2019

28:36

Aboriginal people from the Murray-Darling Basin’s waterways come together to raise awareness and speak up for their country.

Amazon Acres — Sisterhood under siege

August 6th, 2019

28:36

When a group of newcomers set up a women-only community in the bush, the neighbours were scandalised. It wasn't long before hostility turned into …

Amazon Acres — Girls' own adventure

July 30th, 2019

28:36

A women-only utopia deep in the Australian bush — no men, no meat, no machines — was a wild ride, complete with rainbows and tiger snakes, sisterly joy and un-sisterly tensions. 

Something in the water — the bitter struggle over fluoride in Australia

July 23rd, 2019

28:36

Anonymous threats in the mail and a homemade bomb. International networks of misinformation. A young girl with the gift of song. Three stories that share a common thread: water fluoridation.

The Wardian Case - the box that changed the world

July 16th, 2019

28:46

Have you ever wondered where the plants in your garden originally came from? They were probably transported in a Wardian case. Discover the story of this remarkable object, whose lasting impact on the natural world …

Queensland’s Native Police – grappling with the gaps

July 9th, 2019

28:36

The Queensland Native Police had a devastating impact on Indigenous people across the state. We look at how Indigenous families deal with the …

Queensland’s Native Police – the frontier in my family

July 2nd, 2019

28:36

Queensland’s Native Police was notorious for its violence against Indigenous people on the colonial frontier. How do descendants of Aboriginal …

The blue man was black: Hans Jonathan's slave saga

June 25th, 2019

28:57

In the early 1800s, on the remote East coast of Iceland in a small fishing village, a young man stepped ashore. He was escapee from the Danish slave trade and is said to be Iceland’s first black settler.

The War We Forgot

June 18th, 2019

28:35

How does a nation forget a wartime catastrophe? When Japan invaded Australian territory in January 1942, hundreds of civilians were left behind to die. Nearly 80 years later, their families are still traumatised. 

The surprising story of Wong Shee Ping

June 11th, 2019

28:35

The discovery of the first Chinese story written in Australia gives a fascinating and new insight into the early Chinese immigrants of Victoria. The anonymous author is also uncovered, and revealed to his Australian …

Last Light: the Valentich Mystery

June 4th, 2019

28:35

A young pilot. A distress call. A missing plane. What happened to Frederick Valentich in October 1978?

Waterloo Bay: that word "massacre"

May 28th, 2019

30:58

What happens when a small town puts the word "massacre" on an historical monument?

Escape from Iran

May 21st, 2019

28:35

Shortly after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, a young Bahai mother was smuggled out of the country on camelback with her baby daughter.

40 years later …

The unauthorised history of the sausage sizzle

May 14th, 2019

28:35

The ritual of the sausage sizzle soaks deep into the Australian identity. This is the unlikely true story of an Aussie battler that became a hero in the mouths of millions.

The air of heaven - Australian women jockeys

May 7th, 2019

28:27

When Michelle Payne won the Melbourne Cup in 2015 there were three female jockeys who were with her in spirit. They all challenged the male-dominated racing industry, pushed on by the air of heaven.

A short history of political advertising

April 30th, 2019

28:36

As the federal election machine goes into full swing, putting the art of persuasion to the test, a timely look back at one of Australia’s most …

Forgotten men of a forgotten war

April 23rd, 2019

28:35

What would it take to bring home the 43 Australian servicemen still missing from the Korean War?

Mother danced with Göring

April 16th, 2019

28:35

A glimpse into the 1930's and 40's through the fragments that remain of one woman's story – socialite, swordswoman, actress and the first woman to read the ABC national news.

Blue Lake – Finding Dudley Flats

April 9th, 2019

30:35

On the western edge of central Melbourne lies a blind spot: the now industrialised zone was once home to the shanty town called Dudley Flats. Writer David Sornig has been walking the area re-imagining its residents.

The Bauhaus - a school, a movement, an idea

April 2nd, 2019

31:21

To mark the centenary of the Bauhaus, a trip back to Weimar Germany to explore the story and legacy of the movement

Cooking for assimilation

March 26th, 2019

28:36

The discovery of an old recipe book of her Hungarian grandmother's sets Ruth Balint on a family investigation. Between the pages, she uncovers more …

Punky Reggae Party

March 19th, 2019

28:36

In 1970s London two unlikely parties united in a unique cultural exchange. Rastafarians and punks joined forces, creating new sounds and new …

Driven: the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon

March 12th, 2019

28:35

In 1968 the longest, hardest and richest motor race set off from London bound for Sydney.

The strange fate of Charles Darwin's ship The Beagle

March 5th, 2019

28:36

Whatever happened to Charles Darwin's famous ship HMS Beagle? A tale of of sleuthing, smugglers, and barrels of rum, set on the Essex coast in England

Shooting the Past - The Glide

February 26th, 2019

30:13

An arresting photograph has Clare Wright duck-diving into the history of surfing in Australia.

Shooting the Past — Roughy Justice

February 19th, 2019

28:35

A fishy looking photograph throws Clare Wright into the deep end of the battle between industry and sustainability.

Shooting the Past - Alien Nation

February 12th, 2019

28:35

Clare Wright explores the history behind a studio portrait of an Edwardian family, which raises some tricky questions about citizenship, the Australian constitution and the subtle art of belonging.

All Tragic to the Moon

February 5th, 2019

28:44

Clare Wright unravels the dramatic story within a family photograph that takes us to the searing heart of an Australian summer tragedy: bushfire.

 

Shooting the Past — Camp Sovereignty

January 29th, 2019

27:32

A photograph of two men — one Indigenous and one non-Indigenous — holding hands, leads Clare Wright to investigate the history of Aboriginal …

Shooting the Past — The Ruins of Science

January 22nd, 2019

28:35

Clare Wright tries to uncover the story behind a baffling photograph, and finds herself transported back to Australia in the 1960s.

My grandmother the spy

January 15th, 2019

28:35

Chana Salman was born to a poor family in Poland, the only one of six children sent to Paris to study medicine in 1930's Europe. Why did she risk …

The lady of the swamp

January 8th, 2019

28:35

The mysterious disappearance of Margaret Clement, "the lady of the swamp."

Nobody swung harder: the jazz violin of Stuff Smith

January 1st, 2019

28:35

The story of extraordinary jazz violinist Stuff Smith, who recorded with many musical greats, including Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Oscar …

Lennie the legend

December 25th, 2018

28:35

A nine-year-old Victorian boy rides his pony alone, 600 miles to Sydney to be at opening of the new Harbour Bridge.

Eric Rolls and the Pilliga

December 18th, 2018

28:34

Eric Rolls was a rare combination; farmer, poet, self-taught naturalist and historian. He also wrote Australia’s first true environmental history.

The Cods

December 11th, 2018

33:59

How a bunch of manual workers from country South Australia battled their way to the Paris Olympics of 1924.

The Singular Mind-a history of autism in Australia

December 4th, 2018

28:35

In 1989 the film "Rain Man" hit Australian cinema screens and introduced autism to a mainstream audience. But over the coming decades a narrow notion …

The Singular Mind-a history of autism in Australia

November 27th, 2018

28:35

In the 1960s very few people had heard of the word autism, and even fewer knew what it was. In this first episode of a two part series on the history of autism in Australia, we explore how families fought for a place …

The Siege of Sinatra

November 20th, 2018

28:35

In 1974, when the star entertainer Frank Sinatra said the wrong things at the wrong time to the wrong people, a tall poppy was cut down to size in true Australian style.

 

Last letters

November 13th, 2018

28:26

In April 1942 a Japanese bomber dropped four large mail bags on Port Moresby. They contained nearly 400 letters written by Australian POWs imprisoned …

Let silent contemplation be your offering

November 6th, 2018

28:26

Nearly one hundred years after it was created, the minute's silence is still used to mark tragedies from war to celebrity death. But few know it was …

Harald Dannevig: the man who put fish on our plate

October 30th, 2018

28:26

The unlikely story of the Norwegian father of the Australian fishing industry and his untimely disappearance below the waves of the Southern Ocean.

Crossing enemy lines

October 23rd, 2018

28:26

How do you talk about your German grandfather's war story on Anzac Day?

Douglas Grant: the skin of others

October 16th, 2018

46:46

A remarkable Aboriginal man who survived two wars but who many Australians at the time saw as a human experiment.

After the wall

October 9th, 2018

28:26

East Germany is a country that no longer exists. What was it really like?

Ida's road to fairyland

October 2nd, 2018

28:26

In the early 1900s, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite's fairy illustrations made her famous in Australia and abroad. Now her timeless artwork is being …

Hops in the Ovens

September 25th, 2018

28:26

The Panlooks, an influential family of north-east Victoria, were nearly wiped out in Australia's first anti-Chinese race riot. But they would go on …

Muriel Matters

September 18th, 2018

26:29

The story of Muriel Matters, a daring suffragist from South Australia who helped win the vote for British women.

Plane Crash 1940: Living with the dead

September 11th, 2018

28:26

The personal side of an historic catastrophe.

Plane Crash 1940: Menzies' darkest hour

September 4th, 2018

28:26

A plane falls out of the sky and wipes out half Australia's war cabinet. Then what? Does a government fall also?

William Ah Ket: the first Chinese-Australian barrister

August 28th, 2018

28:26

In 1904, William Ah Ket became Australia’s first Chinese barrister. He went on to fight racist laws and social prejudice in and out of court.

Gone Mallee part three: the Mantung yearbook

August 21st, 2018

31:21

A year in the life of a tiny Mallee town in South Australia.

The Black-Allan Line

July 31st, 2018

28:26

It's the straight bit of the border between NSW and Victoria. It's high altitude mathematical precision and messy politics.

Sister Kate's: the whitewashing of black children

July 24th, 2018

28:26

What started out in the 1930s as a home for “half-caste” children under the loving guidance of Sister Kate became a hotbed of abuse and negligence after her death.

The Monstrous Worm - a myth migrates to Australia

July 17th, 2018

28:26

The fascinating history of a mythic creature from the North-East of England that seemed to travel to Australia in the nineteenth century. What our …

The Monstrous Worm - a medieval folk history

July 10th, 2018

28:26

Dragons are back. But what are they and how have they come about?

For centuries a mythical dragon worm has terrorised the northeast of England, and it continues on its merry path today.

A journey back in time reveals some …

Beautiful Game Lucky Country

July 3rd, 2018

28:29

As the Socceroos play on the grand stage of the 2018 World Cup, we take a look back at the role European migrants played in the evolution of the …

Mardi Gras Supernova 2002-03

June 26th, 2018

28:27

In 2002, after a decade of giddy expansion, the bubble burst for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. With debts mounting and creditors circling, …

The Making of Mardi Gras 1979-81

June 19th, 2018

28:26

'Do we dare do it again?' That was the question Sydney’s gay and lesbian activists faced as the first anniversary of the riot in Kings Cross in June 1978 approached. By answering YES they set the pattern for our …

Cabin crew-prepare for landing

June 12th, 2018

28:22

Step into the glamorous world of long haul flying in the 1970s; cocktails, attentive service from the "hosties" and lots of legroom. Flying today is …

Peat Island - a place of asylum

June 5th, 2018

28:27

Peat Island is located 50 kilometres north of Sydney. In 1911 it was designated a 'hospital for the insane'. At its peak in the 1960's, it housed over 600 men and boys. And was often referred to as the island of …

The Ring Cycle, part two

May 29th, 2018

28:22

Now that de facto couples are almost the same as couples who marry, in the eyes of the law, why put a ring on it at all?

The Ring Cycle, part one

May 22nd, 2018

28:22

Times have changed yet many couples are still choosing to tie the knot. With same-sex couples now having the right to marry in Australia, marriage as an institution is back under the spotlight. In an age of divorce, de …

A short history of the nuclear bunker

May 15th, 2018

28:22

As the doomsday clock is ticking, now is a good time to review your options should nuclear disaster come to pass.

My '68

May 8th, 2018

28:22

The student and worker protests that erupted in Paris, London, New York and San Francisco in May 1968 are narrated in music and memory. Archival recordings and reflections from protesters bring the mood and ideals of …

The Somerton Man: a mystery in four acts

May 1st, 2018

28:22

In 1948, a dead man was discovered lying propped up against the seawall of Somerton Beach in Adelaide His identity has remained unknown for 70 years. His death was determined, 'not natural'. Historian Ruth Balint …

My grandmother the spy

April 24th, 2018

28:22

Chana Salman was born to a poor family in Poland, the only one of six children sent to Paris to study medicine in 1930s Europe. Why did she risk …

Lennie the legend

April 17th, 2018

28:22

A nine-year-old boy rides his pony alone, 600 miles to Sydney to be at opening of the new Harbour Bridge. When he gets there he's a hero.

Seoul City Sue

April 10th, 2018

28:31

How did a Methodist missionary from Middle America end up broadcasting wartime propaganda for North Korea? In search of the woman known as Seoul City …

Louis Pasteur and Australia's war on rabbits

April 3rd, 2018

28:22

This is the strange story of Australia's rabbit plague, biological warfare, the great scientist Louis Pasteur, a world-famous actress and ten million …

Elizabeth the Great

March 27th, 2018

28:22

A portrait of Australian performer, choreographer and teacher Elizabeth Langley, who's internationally recognized as a pioneer of the contemporary dance movement

The Boat: The untold story of a murder

March 20th, 2018

28:22

Follow John Connell as he uncovers the story of a brutal murder that happened 97 years ago in his home village in Ireland. All is not as it seems as …

Mimesis: Greek cinema in Australia

March 13th, 2018

28:22

At its peak, in post-war Australia, the Greek cinema circuit boasted up to forty cinemas in Melbourne alone. For the newly arrived Greek community, these cinemas offered entertainment, a place to share language and …

Old Nick

March 6th, 2018

28:22

Old Nick is of one of the Northern Territory's great characters. His riches to rags tale is like no other.

Rottnest Island: White playground

February 20th, 2018

28:22

How did the largest deaths in custody site in Australia become a tourist mecca?

Rottnest Island: Black prison

February 13th, 2018

28:22

The dark history of Western Australia’s idyllic holiday playground.

Nobody Swung Harder: The Jazz Violin of Stuff Smith

February 6th, 2018

28:22

The story of extraordinary jazz violinist Stuff Smith, who recorded with many musical greats, including Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Oscar …

The Sailors' Walk

January 30th, 2018

28:22

A remarkable story of survival in 18th century Australia.

Fairy Investigation Society

January 23rd, 2018

28:22

Are fairies really at the bottom of the garden? A fairy society in Ireland long thought dead has come back to life.

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