Author(s): Paul Toohey
Heat, red dirt, crocodiles, lonely roads, guns, drugs, madmen, murder . . . and the shocking true story of the dead heart of Australia and its most notorious denizen, Bradley John Murdoch. 'Brad Murdoch is not just Brad Murdoch. He's a breed, a type. There are Murdochs all across northern Australia and they run to kind. White or beige Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ75 utility. Canvas canopy off the back with built-in flyscreen mesh. Six-pack foam esky for up front of the cab on long drives and a serious full-grown Rubbermaid esky for the back of vehicle to be accessed on piss-stops. Engel electric car fridge, naturally. Cop-type swivel camping spotlight at the rear. Weapons of various types - revolvers, pistols, rifles, bludgeons. Loves his mates but always disappointed by women.' In the twenty years since Azaria Chamberlain's disappearance, Territory death has lost none of its fascination. Murder is murder, wherever it happens, but when it collides with tourist country - the Australian outback - it usually sparks a frenzy of speculation and blame. When Peter Falconio disappeared on 14 July 2001, his girlfriend Joanne Lees endured a trial by media, Lindy Chamberlain style. Falconio's body was never recovered, but Brad Murdoch was found guilty of his murder in December 2005 and given a non-parole period of 28 years: one year for every year of the British backpacker's young life. Paul Toohey takes us right inside the crazed world of Bradley John Murdoch - a life lived on the road, fuelled by drugs and alcohol - a heady mix of racism, guns and nothingness. It's about the weirdness of north and western Australia, and what happens when distance, heat and lawlessness take control.
This one has a different angle to all the other books on the Peter Falconio murder, with the focus on Brad Murdoch, the killer, and his type. The characters around the Falconio story provide essential background information, and Toohey interviews them all (James Hepi, other Murdoch victims, drug dealers and so on).
Paul Toohey was born in 1963 and brought up in Perth and Darwin. He first worked in journalism for Darwin newspapers, and then moved to music magazines in Sydney and Melbourne, becoming editor of Rock Australia Magazine. Drawn to stories outside the mainstream media agenda, he later edited Melbourne's Truth newspaper and World magazine. In the early and mid-1990s Toohey had articles published in a variety of journals, including the Age's Good Weekend and the Independent Monthly. These were collected with many unpublished items in his first book, God's Little Acre, for which he travelled around Australia, and to New Zealand, America, Britain and Indonesia. He has since won a Walkley Award and the Graham Perkin Award for journalism. Paul Toohey is now a senior writer for the Bulletin.