7 episodes

Bondi Badlands, a new podcast from The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, investigates a series of murders and mysterious disappearances of gay men that happened on the southern headland at Sydney's Bondi Beach in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

When a high profile TV newsreader and weatherman disappeared on the Bondi cliff tops on a frigid winter's night in July 1989, it received nationwide news coverage but such a shoddy police investigation that links would not be drawn to a series of other murders at Bondi and across Sydney at the time.

More than a decade later, one police investigator would join the dots, revealing a dark mosaic of murder that would keep unfolding to this day. 

Bondi Badlands The Age and Sydney Morning Herald

    • True Crime
    • 4.4 • 160 Ratings

Bondi Badlands, a new podcast from The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, investigates a series of murders and mysterious disappearances of gay men that happened on the southern headland at Sydney's Bondi Beach in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

When a high profile TV newsreader and weatherman disappeared on the Bondi cliff tops on a frigid winter's night in July 1989, it received nationwide news coverage but such a shoddy police investigation that links would not be drawn to a series of other murders at Bondi and across Sydney at the time.

More than a decade later, one police investigator would join the dots, revealing a dark mosaic of murder that would keep unfolding to this day. 

    Justice At Last

    Justice At Last

    As a long line of persons-of-interest pass through the Coroners Court, Deputy State Coroner Jacqueline Milledge and Detective Sergeant Steve Page are in no doubt some of these men know the killers of Ross Warren and John Russell, if they aren't themselves the murderers. But was the anti-gay violence perpetrated only by teenagers and young men? According to one policeman’s harrowing account, officers were involved in some of the bashings, and when he tried to make a stand against the violence, he was subjected to a concerted bullying campaign at his station. Former footballer and actor Ian Roberts, our guest in this episode, talks about being attacked himself, and how the anti-gay crime wave of the late 1980s convinced him to postpone coming out. 

    Become a subscriber: our supporters power our newsrooms and are critical for the sustainability of news coverage. Becoming a subscriber also gets you exclusive behind-the-scenes content and invitations to special events. Click on the links to subscribe https://subscribe.theage.com.au/ or https://subscribe.smh.com.au/

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    • 38 min
    Thrill Killers

    Thrill Killers

    As Detective Sergeant Steve Page closes in on a group of suspects in the likely murders of Ross Warren and John Russell, a new witness comes forward, one who narrowly escaped being thrown off the Bondi cliffs on a hot summer's night in December 1989. In a walk around the headland with the detective, retracing his steps on that fateful night, the witness returns to the spot where he was nearly hurled over. By suspicious coincidence, it's exactly the same location where John Russell was very likely thrown to his death.

    Become a subscriber: our supporters power our newsrooms and are critical for the sustainability of news coverage. Becoming a subscriber also gets you exclusive behind-the-scenes content and invitations to special events. Click on the links to subscribe https://subscribe.theage.com.au/ or https://subscribe.smh.com.au/

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 34 min
    Blood City

    Blood City

    The savage killing on the Bondi clifftops of a Thai man, Kritchikorn Rattanajurathaporn, in July 1990 results in murder convictions for three young men. But as the spree of anti-gay violence and murder escalates across Sydney, the LGBTQ community starts to fight back: from staging a mass demonstration at the gates of state parliament, to street patrols along Oxford Street, to angry activists splattering red paint over public buildings.

    More than a decade later, as Detective Sergeant Steve Page reviews the cold cases of the disappearances and murders on the Bondi headland, he begins to join the dots with other killings across Sydney in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 29 min
    Murder of a Barman

    Murder of a Barman

    Barman John Russell has just inherited $100,000 and is about to leave Bondi to build a house on his dad's property and travel Australia.  But after farewell drinks with his best mate, Russell goes for a cliffside walk, where the 31-year-old gay man is set upon by his killers and hurled to his death.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 28 min
    A Newsreader Vanishes

    A Newsreader Vanishes

    On a freezing night in July 1989, Ross Warren, a newsreader from WIN TV in Wollongong, NSW, vanishes into thin air on the southern headland at Sydney’s Bondi. After a brief investigation, the case lies dormant for years until a detective at Paddington police station, moved by a bundle of letters from Ross Warren’s mother, picks up the case – and discovers a pattern of horrific violence on the headland.

    If you value independent, quality journalism, please subscribe to the SMH or The Age. Thanks for listening and don't forget to check out more of our great podcasts here.

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    • 35 min
    Introducing Bondi Badlands

    Introducing Bondi Badlands

    Ahead of the first episode of Bondi Badlands this week, listen to host and Good Weekend deputy editor Greg Callaghan in conversation with Good Weekend editor Katrina Strickland about the series and a special preview of what to expect.

    For over 15 years, Greg Callaghan has been writing about the murders of gay men at the clifftops on the southern headland of Sydney's Bondi. This was the epicentre of a wave of gay hate killings that spread across Sydney at the time. Now Callaghan hosts a podcast which delves into the factors behind this war on gay men and why these murders continue to reverberate as cold cases.

    Become a subscriber: our supporters power our newsrooms and are critical for the sustainability of news coverage. Becoming a subscriber also gets you exclusive behind-the-scenes content and invitations to special events. Click on the links to subscribe https://subscribe.theage.com.au/ or https://subscribe.smh.com.au/

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
160 Ratings

160 Ratings

Athlete61 ,

Stories that need to be told

This reveals Sydney’s ugly underbelly. I remember a male acquaintance being bashed in Centennial park in the late 80s. Looking back, he may well have been the victim of gay hate crime also. :(

I thought the podcast was gripping and terrifying, particularly the testimonies of survivors and policeman who was trying to do the right thing. Thank you for drawing back the curtain on these horrors!

Clifden 1 ,

Still disturbing - thanks you Greg Callaghan

An absorbing and still disturbing account of recent history .
I was lucky enough just to be bashed in Hyde Park only losing my front teeth not my life.
Greg’s passion and work devotion to his novel and podcast exposes a history of violent Gay hate crime that must never been forgotten.
The victims at that time died horrifically and the crimes of the perpetrators were at best ignored by Police as just another gay killing .
Hopefully this abuse of justice will never occur again. Thanks Greg for your contribution to our LGBTQ history.

Rosadelilah ,

Really enjoyed this podcast

Enjoying listening, despite how tragic and unfair these crimes were. & the lack of justice and respect towards their families back in the 80s by law enforcement. My only negative is that the podcast doesn’t have more episodes!

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