The Australian outback is an unforgiving, often brutal environment and this collection of cases from Evan McHugh details the crime commited in this harsh and iconic landscape.
There are chapters in Red Centre, Dark Heart on The Backpacker Murders (Ivan Milat murdered seven travellers between 1989 and 1992 (there could be more victims) and the abduction and disappearance of British tourist Peter Falconio in 2001. These cases are horrific, bizarre and terrifying. Take for example Ivan Milat – it was a potential victim, an Englishman who escaped and gave evidence at trial and helped convict Milat, who is probably one of Australia’s most notorious killers and is THE cautionary tale of why you shouldn’t hitchhike.
Eerily, McHugh details an experience he had while hitchhiking to Canberra in 1982 and was picked up by a man whose behaviour sounded suspiciously like Milat’s (Milat would use the ruse of stopping the car to get cassette tapes from the boot and then produce a gun).
This book also includes crimes I’d never heard of including a massacre of six women and children at a New South Wales homestead in 1900 by Aboriginal station hand Jimmy Governor. Governor also murdered a heavily pregnant woman and her toddler.
No book on crimes and mysteries of the outback would be complete without the story of the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain in 1980 from an Alice Springs campsite. Azaria’s mother Lindy has always maintained a dingo stole her baby. Lindy spent three years in jail and was eventually acquitted by a royal commission. A 4th inquest into the death of Baby Azaria began in February, 2012 and the findings expected to be released sometime later this year.
Red Centre, Dark Heart by Evan McHugh is published by Viking and was released in 2007.