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. Listen via iTunes, Spotify or the links below.

Thomas Ley was dubbed “The Minister For Murder”.
Former federal MP Frederick McDonald went missing in 1926 after a public falling out with Ley over bribery allegations.

NSW state politician Hyman Goldstein died in mysterious circumstances in 1928 after pursuing Ley for fraudulent business practices.

In 1947, in England, the law finally caught up with Ley when he was tried for the sensational “Chalk Pit Murder”.
The 1947 murder case led to renewed interest in whether Ley had been involved in Frederick McDonald’s disappearance.

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. Listen via the links below, on iTunes or Spotify.

The beast was shot and stuffed in 1895, but the sightings and killings continued.
As soon as the sightings began, a Mount Gambier business cashed in.
One of the lonely farmhouses that was a stalking ground for the creature.
The Tantanoola football team called themselves the Tigers and embraced their mascot.

While many believed in the Tantanoola Tiger, there were legions of doubters, with this Melbourne Punch cartoon poking fun at news editors who turned to the beast on slow news days.
The other Tantanoola Tiger – a real creep whose crimes were more horrifying than sheep theft.

Robert Charles Edmondson’s slaughteryards, hidden in remote ti-tree stands, became morbid tourist attractions.

The Tantanoola Tiger Hotel has for more than a century embraced the mythical monster who roamed the countryside.

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…

Listen or download via the links below or on iTunes or Spotify.

John Bridger, who hoped to start a new life in Australia, was deceived into thinking he had a new job, only to be shot, savagely beaten and sent to the bottom of the Parramatta River while he was still alive.

George Nichols – intelligent, handsome, well-dressed, father-of-two and a cold-blooded murderer.
While the banks of the Parramatta River today are lined with houses and apartments, in 1872 there were many lonely spots just perfect for murder.

The Sydney Morning Herald ads. Apply for these positions and you were applying
to be murdered.

The Parramatta River Murders were a newspaper sensation, leading to thousands of people crowding around the inquest and trial venues.

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. Listen at iTunes or via the links below. Click here for sources.

The last known photo of Titanic.

Actress Dorothy Gibson, who survived the sinking and who starred in the first Titanic movie, released 29 days after the sinking. She escaped in Lifeboat 7, which Albert was supposed to man. But he was elsewhere, readying other lifeboats.

The Titanic’s band did keep playing, though there’s debate over what they played at the end. None would survive.

Albert supervised the loading and launching of several Titanic lifeboats.

One of the most famous headlines in history, though only 705 people actually survived and the death toll was about 1500.

Charles Lightoller, Second Officer of Titanic. Much of what we know about Albert’s fate came from his testimony. But he admitted that he lied to protect himself and the White Star Line.

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 Southampton and for the maiden voyage. His life story is told for the first time in this two-part episode — and, despite this being a true Titanic tale, you simply won’t believe the ending. Listen on iTunes or via the links below.

Albert “Big Neck” Nichols, Lord Howe Island native, unsung Titanic hero.

Mary Nichols – Albert’s tyrannical mother.

Thomas Nichols – Albert’s hard-drinking father.

Lord Howe Island, Albert’s birthplace, as it looks today.

Thomas Nichols was the captain of the whaling barque Aladdin, depicted left in this colonial painting, Offshore Whaling With Aladdin And Jane, by William Duke.

Albert’s home, The Pines, which is now award-winning resort Pinetrees Lodge.

George Nichols, Albert’s brother, who helped him escape Lord Howe Island.

Albert’s 1909 letter to his uncle William, written on Adriatic letterhead, now displayed at Pinetrees Lodge.

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. Listen to the episode at iTunes, Whooskaa, Spotify, or via the links below.

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. Listen to the episode in the links below or at iTunes, Whooshkaa, Spotify, or via the links below.

Marjorie Norval was the social secretary to Queensland’s premier.
Mounted police covered 50,000 acres and some 3000 miles of countryside.
Disaster struck when a search plane went down.
The search for Marjorie was the largest in Queensland history.

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.

Listen now  iTunes, Whooshkaa, Spotify or via the links below.


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 southern metropolis is descending into anarchy. Listen on iTunes, Whooshkaa, Spotify or via the links at the bottom of this page. You can also read a feature article based on the episode at news.com.au

Specials - medium shot

Specials were often former soldiers. Each was given an armband and a baton.


Former members of the Light Horse were summoned to Melbourne to act as mounted Specials.


Outside the Leviathan clothing store, on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets, sailors fought with the crowd. The consequences were tragic.

Flinders & Swanston Street

100,000 people poured into Melbourne to witness for themselves the carnage wrought by the riots.

Specials in car

Specials roamed in motor vehicles, busting up crowds with their batons.

Shopkeepers Spent Late Saturday Night Repairing Damage and Barricading

By Sunday shopkeepers were cleaning up damage and barricading their storefronts.

The Herald - The Mob In Charge

The mob stormed trams and tried to set one on fire.

Melbourne's Streets Were Jammed

100,000 people flooded into the centre of Melbourne.

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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.

Listen on iTunes, Whooshkaa, Spotify, or via the links below. Read a feature article based on the episode at news.com.au

Masked patrols roamed Sydney’s streets, trying to assist sick people in their houses.

1918.12.29 - The Sun headline - Goblin of Horror

Tabloid newspaper The Sun stirred panic with this headline. Even 70 years later survivors would talk of having faced the Black Death.


Patent medicines and quack cures were peddled to a panicked population. Even tobacco smoke was claimed to be a Spanish Flu fighter.


Annie Egan. Sydney’s archbishop described her as a martyr who’d been done a great injustice by the Federal government.

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