Australian Story - Season : 19

Season 19 Episode 1 - The Other Side

In 1996 Matthew Reilly, aged 22, self-published his first book. Now he has a list of international best sellers. In his books heroes prevail against impossible odds. But in his own life he's faced unexpected adversity from the most unlikely quarter. When, as a consequence, he lost his wife Natalie, Matthew Reilly's world collapsed. He says he thought he would never write again. As he reveals on Australian Story, the loss drove him to the brink of disaster. Air Date : 3rd-Feb-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 2 - The Back of His Mind

Three years ago, 35 year old fashion photographer David Murrell was told he had just months to live. A tumour the size of an orange was removed from his brain. It was the worst kind of highly aggressive cancer. But in a lucky coincidence his own father, a cell biologist, emerged as a possible saviour. Dr Wayne Murrell just happened to be part of a team in Norway working on an experimental vaccine for exactly that kind of tumour. "I'm a scientist, I don't believe in coincidence!" Dr Murrell says. But what happened next defied the odds... Air Date : 10th-Feb-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 3 - No Half Measures

This week's Australian Story charts Torah Bright's remarkable comeback from a year of setbacks and struggles, culminating in an euphoric medal win at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Bright grabbed Australia's first medal with a nail biting silver in the Women's Half Pipe final. The latest win makes her our greatest female winter Olympian. For the family oriented snowboarder, the achievement is remarkable, given a supremely difficult preparation year marked by tough personal and professional challenges. Australian Story viewers first met Torah Bright two years ago. This program documents the behind the scenes role of unusually strong family ties as Bright pushes through every possible obstacle on the path to Sochi... Air Date : 17th-Feb-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 4 - Call Me Cate

Lt.Col. Cate McGregor AM has been a participant in some of the most significant chapters in recent Australian history. She has been a political strategist for both the ALP and the Liberal Party. In her current role as a senior Army officer, she wrote last year's landmark speech by the Chief of the Army David Morrison which went viral around the world. Now, she is the most high profile individual in Australia to 'come out' as a transgendered person. When, after decades of private struggle, Malcolm finally decided to become Cate she was 'terrified' about the likely reaction from friends and colleagues. Prime Minister Abbott, Army Chief David Morrison, Liberal pollster Mark Textor and political journalist Barrie Cassidy are among a range of high profile individuals who speak candidly about Cate's transformation and its impact on them. Air Date : 24th-Feb-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 5 - His Driving Force

Monday night's program centres on a remarkable friendship between a top scientist and a coach driver and a crazy brave dream to do something about childhood cancer. Their unlikely alliance has forged a breakthrough that's creating excitement around the world. Col Reynolds started raising funds to help children with cancer after a chance encounter at a hospital. He was introduced to cancer researcher Professor Peter Gunning who desperately needed funds to explore a radical new way of forcing cancer cells to collapse by 'killing' a single component. By 2009 Professor Gunning and his associates had developed a drug and began lab tests. Last year their beakthrough findings were published in the prestigious Cancer Research Journal with human trials now not too far off... Air Date : 3rd-Mar-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 6 - An Unnatural History

David Rennie fell in love with photography seven years ago when he was lured from his car by the sight of a passing bird overhead. The encounter led to a newfound passion for wildlife photography that took him away from his family for weeks at a time as he tracked birds through the environmentally sensitive Mandurah wetlands south of Perth. His skills as a self-taught photographer were recognised last year when he won the prestigious Australian Geographic ANZANG award for a dramatic shot showing a young osprey and a spoonbill narrowly avoiding a collision in mid air. Documenting the fragile birdlife also helped David deal with his own demons and ultimately to confront a bizarre mystery involving his father. Air Date : 10th-Mar-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 7 - The House of Tara

Tara Winkler was just 19 when she set off on the trip to Cambodia that would change her life. After coming across an orphanage where funds were embezzled and young girls sexually abused, she set up her own orphanage in the city of Battambang in 2007. Seven years later, the organisation she created is no longer an orphanage but a community development organisation offering help to poor families and more than 100 children each day. Tara Winkler is no longer 'mum' to the kids. But in the four years since she was first profiled on Australian Story, she has faced dramas in her professional and personal life that nobody could have predicted. The story is introduced by fashion designer Jodhi Meares, a supporter of Tara Winkler's Cambodian Children's Trust. Air Date : 17th-Mar-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 8 - Out of the Box

Adam Boland was just 26 years old when he was handed the reins of the ailing Sunrise program on Channel 7. It was the start of something very new and a game changer for the networks. Some observers credit Boland with paving the way for the current ascendancy of the Seven Network. But it's been a tempestuous ride for Adam Boland. Now in the aftermath of a very public implosion, he's walking away from the industry that he says nearly destroyed him. Air Date : 24th-Mar-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 9 - Set in Stone

Introduced by Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes. Explorer and airline pilot Percy Trezise was captivated by Quinkan rock art fifty years ago when road workers stumbled across an ancient painting. The Quinkans are now rated among the most impressive and ancient rock art in the world. They became an obsession for Trezise – a passion passed on to his two sons. Percy recorded stories from the elders and worked closely with legendary artist Dick Roughsey to protect the fragile paintings, hidden amongst the sandstone escarpments near Laura in Far North Queensland. Now his sons, Matt and Steven Trezise, are at a crossroads as they contemplate their own uncertain future after years guiding visitors into the rock art sites and managing their father's legacy. Air Date : 31st-Mar-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 10 - A Complicated Life: Kerry Packer , Part 1

Getting on for a decade after his death, the legendary businessman Kerry Packer remains an intriguing and puzzling figure. Building on his father's success in the media industry, he dominated Australian TV and became the nation's richest person. His own son James is now following in his father's footsteps, extending the reach of the Packer empire around the world. But beneath the famous bravado and bluster of Kerry Packer, was there actually a very complex personality, at odds with the public image? Was he, as some say, a deeply conflicted man 'at war with himself'? In Monday's Australian Story, some of those who knew the tycoon well share their candid insights into the Packer paradox, the demons that drove him, and the 'deeply sentimental' side that was kept well out of the public gaze. The program features a wealth of rarely seen archival material and photographs. Air Date : 7th-Apr-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 11 - A Complicated Life: Kerry Packer , Part 2

This week, the conclusion of our story about the legendary businessman Kerry Packer... Beneath the famous bravado and bluster was he actually a deeply conflicted, emotional man who spent his life 'at war with himself'? The program explores puzzling questions around a fatal road accident some sixty years ago that nearly ended Kerry Packer's life when he was just eighteen. It traces the decline of a man once seen as indestructible and tracks the spectacular rise of his son James under the strict tutelage of his father. Do the strong patterns of the past provide clues to the future of the Packers in the 2lst Century? Introduced by Caroline Jones and features Jodhi Meares, Al 'Chainsaw' Dunlap, Malcolm Turnbull, Phillip Adams, Graham Richardson, John Howard and others. Air Date : 14th-Apr-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 12 - A Man Called Boy

Introduced by Amanda Shalala from ABC Grandstand This week's program tells the story of an Olympic champion so seemingly without ego that even his son and grandsons knew very little of his fame. Andrew 'Boy' Charlton was a hero who stamped his name across the world, with feats so marvellous he forged Australia's national spirit at a time when the nation was beleaguered by the Depression and the losses of the Great War. At just 16, he sliced two minutes off the world record for the 1500m freestyle, and won Australia’s first gold medal in that event at the 1924 Paris Olympics. It was the beginning of a dynasty of Australian swimmers – Murray Rose, John Konrads, Kieren Perkins and Grant Hackett – who later made the 1500m 'Australia's event'. But then at the height of his fame, and when Hollywood movie offers were there for the taking, 'Boy' Charlton retired to the bush, with no desire to perpetuate his name. Now a new generation is rediscovering this great Australian – a man called 'Boy'. Air Date : 21st-Apr-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 13 - A Very Good Rascal

Introduced by international music star Leo Sayer. This week's program tells the bitter sweet personal story behind the hard-living facade of iconic Australian rock musician, Doc Neeson. As lead singer of The Angels, Doc Neeson had a string of big hits from the seventies right through to the nineties. One of their songs remains an unofficial anthem for generations of Australian youth. But just before Christmas 2012, Neeson was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. Australian Story followed Neeson's journey over the last year as he received an Order of Australia and was the beneficiary of a fundraising concert featuring his friends Jimmy Barnes, Peter Garrett and David Haselhoff. The program also looks at the history and legacy of the legendary Angels band through the eyes of its original manager, John Woodruff and the producer of its most successful records, Mark Opitz. Air Date : 28th-Apr-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 14 - The Edge of the Mountain

Introduced by Caroline Jones. It was supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime but when Australian nurse Christy King led a group of experienced trekkers into the PNG jungle everything changed in an instant. Early in the evening of their first night in the mountainous terrain of the Black Cat track, the group was attacked by men wielding machetes and robbed at gunpoint. As day turned to night, Christy King was left to decide how best to protect the men in her care and how to manage the serious wounds of the PNG porters who took the brunt of the attack. With two of her group already dead she was left to make difficult and unenviable decisions. For the first time, she speaks publicly about the ordeal. Air Date : 5th-May-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 15 - In Tracy's Corner

Introduced by actor and St Kilda resident, Rachel Griffiths. Monday night's program tells the story of the unsolved and savage murder of a woman called Tracy Connelly and the unexpected consequences of her death. Connelly was a St Kilda sex worker but her exceptional looks and personality endeared her to many in the local community where a street was known as 'Tracy's Corner'. Tracy Connelly seemingly lived most of her adult life thinking she counted for nothing but as events unfolded it turned out she couldn't have been more wrong. As community outrage spilled over onto social media, the family she left behind in Brisbane unexpectedly stepped forward to reclaim her. What emerges is a remarkable and poignant story. This episode also includes inside information from the ongoing Victoria Police investigation... Air Date : 12th-May-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 16 - All the Right Moves: Kieren Perkins , Part 1

Introduced by Grant Hackett Includes interviews with Grant Hackett, Jared Perkins (brother), Daniel Kowalski and Karen Davis (fiancé). Monday night's program sheds new light on Kieren Perkins and one of the more memorable careers in Australian sporting history. It also provides candid insights into his unique rivalry with Grant Hackett. Kieren Perkins clinched his claim to 'legend' status with a remarkable comeback at Atlanta in 1996 after being all but written off in the lead up to the Games. At a time when many of the nation's swimming greats are struggling with life out of the pool, Perkins alone seems to have managed a smooth transition. Now aged forty, he has forged a second career as a successful banking executive and finally come to terms with the strange and difficult process of rocketing from sporting idol to 'nobody'. In this candid two part episode, he reveals the surprising truth about what went wrong in Atlanta; acknowledges his own struggles to create a new life; and introduces his new partner, the woman credited with bringing new happiness into his life. Air Date : 19th-May-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 17 - All the Right Moves: Kieren Perkins , Part 2

Introduced by Grant Hackett Monday’s program concludes the epic tale of Kieren Perkins and the inside story of his battles to build a new life away from the sport that had dictated his every move since childhood. The program reveals new detail of the ‘nation stopping’ day in July 1996 when Perkins swam his way to a gold medal in the 1500 after being all but written off when he qualified last in the heats. Kieren Perkins, now aged forty, is credited with largely avoiding the tabloid catastrophes that have bedevilled so many of his contemporaries. But in this week’s candid conclusion he discloses some of his own struggles and introduces his new partner, fellow banking executive Karen Davis. She is credited with bringing new happiness into his life not least, according to Perkins, because she knows him only as a banker, not a swimming hero... Air Date : 26th-May-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 18 - Out of the Kitchen

This week's program provides an intriguing glimpse behind the scenes of the reality TV phenomenon that's captured the TV landscape in Australia. Jules Allen left her large family to appear as a 'willing hostage' on the popular MasterChef reality TV show. She admits she lusted after 'fifteen minutes of fame' but she was unprepared for the 'excruciating' highs and lows she encountered on the program and in its aftermath. A single mother, she's fostered twenty-nine children but she says managing a house full of hormonal teenagers pales alongside the psychological demands of MasterChef. It's become clear to Jules Allen that her experience is not unique. Psychologists and industry observers say the same techniques are used in most of the popular reality shows, from Big Brother to My Kitchen Rules. Jules Allen reveals it's left her 'humbler' with a clear sense of what actually matters in life... Air Date : 2nd-Jun-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 19 - The Last Commando , Part 1

This week's Australian Story provides a rare insight into the mysterious world of Australia's elite Commando regiments. Corporal Cameron Baird was killed last year in Southern Afghanistan. At the time the Australian Defence Force said the 32-year-old soldier had 'died how he lived – at the front, giving his all, without any indecision.' Earlier this year he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross which made him Australia's most decorated soldier, in company with Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith. Corporal Baird was the very last Australian soldier to be killed in action in Afghanistan - just months before the troop withdrawal. Now, for the first time, those closest to him are telling his story... Air Date : 9th-Jun-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 20 - The Last Commando , Part 2

This week's program goes to the 'tip of the spear' with elite commandos trapped in a lethal and protracted gun battle in Afghanistan. "It's not like TV, it's not a movie, this is for real" says army chaplain Padre John Sanderson. Earlier this year Corporal Cameron Baird was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his raw courage in the heat of combat. In this concluding episode, his commando colleagues provide a rare, poignant and riveting account of those fatal hours... Air Date : 16th-Jun-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 21 - Driving Miss Davis

This week the quirky, life affirming story of a young Australian from country Victoria, a car with a history, and a novel that's on its way to becoming a runaway success around the world. Seven years ago, Brooke Davis was travelling overseas when she received bad news from home. From that sad turning point, she's unexpectedly created a funny and touching book that challenges conventions around loss and grief, and advocates living life to the full - whatever your age. Brooke Davis was working part-time in a Perth bookshop when her manuscript excited the attention of a publisher. Even ahead of its release in Australia, the novel started a bidding war with sales to publishers in more than twenty countries from the USA to Portugal. Now Brooke Davis is telling her own story… Air Date : 23rd-Jun-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 22 - Forget Me Not

How many people with a diagnosis of dementia join a dating agency? How many more find true love? This is just one of the many intriguing aspects of Christine Bryden's story. A medical puzzle, the brilliant biochemist has long outlived her original dementia prognosis. At the age of 46 she was told to retire and prepare herself for the nursing home. She had other ideas. A firebrand advocate she has shaken up the health system here and transformed attitudes towards people with dementia in Japan. Most importantly she has given people with dementia a voice. Christine tells us about her twenty year journey with dementia and takes us inside what is still a largely unexplored world. Air Date : 30th-Jun-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 23 - Talk of the Town

Popular singer songwriter Megan Washington performs on stage for huge audiences. But as Australian Story reveals this week, she's been terrified of public speaking all her life. When she was asked to be a presenter at the annual ARIA Awards the very thought made her 'feel sick'. From the age of five, she's suffered a debilitating stutter. Years of speech therapy helped her to overcome and disguise the condition. Then last year, she says, she wrote a song so personal it wound up changing her whole outlook on life. As a result she decided to stare down her personal demons and deliver a speech to a capacity crowd at Sydney Opera House... Air Date : 7th-Jul-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 24 - The Game Changer

This week's program tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a former wildlife ranger and the renowned British conservationist Dame Jane Goodall. Their special connection has become a 'game changer' for the men and women on the front line of the increasingly bloody global war against poachers. Ten years ago Sean Willmore set up an organisation called the Thin Green Line to 'protect the protectors' – wildlife rangers who were being killed and maimed. But it was only when Willmore crawled from his his sick bed on the off chance of meeting Dame Jane in Melbourne that the real breakthroughs came. Now he has the ear of world leaders, rock stars and British Royal Princes... Air Date : 14th-Jul-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 25 - Leaps and Bounds

This week Australian Story returns to the story of one the world's best known dancers, Li Cunxin, as we go behind the scenes in a risky new venture with the Queensland Ballet. Also known as 'Mao's Last Dancer' through his bestselling book and movie of the same name, Li Cunxin took over in 2012 as artistic director of the Queensland Ballet. Tonight's program centres on his friendship with the Australian-born wife of the famous ballet choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan and the trials and tribulations behind the staging of Sir Kenneth's version of Romeo and Juliet. Air Date : 21st-Jul-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 26 - Divide and Conquer

This week's Australian Story is proof that from little things big things can grow. Three years ago we told the story of emerging young comedians Nazeem Hussain and Aamer Rahman who were making a big impact on the Australian comedy circuit with their provocative satire. In Divide and Conquer we discover how Aamer Rahman has since become an internet sensation, making news around the world and how Nazeem Hussain got the opportunity of a lifetime; his very own TV show. And apologies to their female fans, one of the men has even found love; growing up, moving out of the parental home and getting married. Air Date : 28th-Jul-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 27 - Lock Me Away

This week we meet an 'ageing' activist who admits he's spent close to fifty years tilting at windmills without a lot to show for it... until now. Drew Hutton seems as surprised as anyone that nearing seventy, he masterminded 'Lock the Gate' a big and effective people power campaign against coal seam gas. And he's done it by uniting former sworn enemies – the farmers and the greens. He's also mobilised the support of his old school teacher, influential 'shock jock' Alan Jones. But as we reveal, this late life 'success' has come at a high cost to his health and his personal life. Air Date : 4th-Aug-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 28 - Searching for C11

At the age of 21, aeronautical engineer Lauren Burns was told a family secret that turned her world upside down. Barbara Burns revealed that Lauren was conceived in a Melbourne clinic using donor sperm. The man she knew as her father was infertile. Mrs Burns says the culture at the time was to 'take the child home and forget how it was conceived. Just pretend it was your child and nobody knew.' Helped by her mother, Lauren embarked on a long and arduous search to discover the identity of her donor father – a man she knew only as 'C11' – from the first letter of his surname and his height, 5'11". Four fruitless years later, Lauren had one final card to play. What she managed to finally discover was truly astonishing. 'Searching For C11', a two part Australian Story special, untangles a complex ethical and emotional web involving not just Lauren Burns but two other young women... Air Date : 11th-Aug-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 29 - Searching for C11 (2)

In this week's program, aeronautical engineer Dr Lauren Burns finally finds out the identity of her biological father. To the amazement of all, he turns out to be part of a particularly distinguished Australian family. We join Lauren as she meets him for the first time – and gets to know her half siblings. At the same time two other young women, also created from donor sperm, have been trying desperately to determine their biological inheritance. But for them, it's a world of pain and no easy answers. Together their stories raise challenging ethical, medical and legal issues that few would have envisaged a generation ago. Air Date : 18th-Aug-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 30 - Before the Storm

This week’s program goes behind the scenes with a tenacious regional newspaper reporter who last year won Australia’s top journalism award. Joanne McCarthy’s exposure of a national scandal emerging in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region played a large part in the establishment of one of Australia’s biggest-ever Royal Commissions. Her efforts so impressed former Prime Minister Julia Gillard that one of her last acts in office was to send a personal note to Ms McCarthy. As this program reveals, it’s been a marathon effort for both Joanne McCarthy and some of those closest to her, including her parents and ten siblings.... Air Date : 25th-Aug-2014  Read More

Season 19 Episode 31 - Out of the Shoebox

This week's program looks at the unlikely evolution of an unexpected global comedy hit. Christiaan Van Vuuren was devastated when he was diagnosed with drug resistant tuberculosis and forced into hospital quarantine for six months. To pass the time he started making humorous video clips documenting his experiences in the isolation ward. The videos went viral around the world on YouTube. Now Christiaan and his brother Connor are being courted by some of the big players in the film and TV industry... Air Date : 1st-Sep-2014  Read More

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