Australia on Trial: episode guide

The Mount Rennie Outrage

Episode 1.01
Thursday, April 05, 2012 (8:30, ABC1)
Written by Katherine Thomson
Directed by Lisa Matthews

It's 1886 and in Darlinghurst Courthouse nine young men glare down from the dock as an apprehensive but determined young woman is called to the witness box. This is 16-year-old orphan Mary Jane Hicks, and these 'larrikins' stand accused of serially raping and possibly torturing her in a crime that has obsessed Sydney since the story broke.

Miss Hicks, a stranger to Sydney, was looking for work when a cab driver stopped and offered to take her to the registry office. The driver then took her to Waterloo where he tried to assault her. When she screamed, some youths — whom she believed to be her rescuers — came to the cab. This gang, members of a group known as the Waterloo Push, then led her to nearby bushland on Mount Rennie (now Moore Park) and repeatedly raped her.

Presided over by Justice Windeyer, the trial attracts unprecedented press coverage. As it plays out, colonies all over Australia erupt into a whirl of passionate debate and fevered accusation. Mary Jane Hicks is either a strumpet or an innocent girl; the young men are savages or they are virile Australian-born men; the judge is incompetent or his verdict will stamp out the plague of sexual violence once and for all.

Cast: Melissa Kahraman as Mary Jane Hicks, Ryan Anderson as William Newman, Jack Naylor as WIlliam Hill, WIll Rogers as WIlliam Boyce, Dylan Russell as Thomas Oscroft, Josh Hine as George Read, Alan Chambers as George Duffy, Ben Bordeau as Joseph Martin, Harry Borland as George Keegan, Sam Howard as Michael Donnellan, Aaron Jakubenko as Hugh Miller, Kyahl Anderson as Mangan, Robert Van Macklenburg as Judge Windeyer, Nick Dubberley as Jules Archibald, Mark Blackmore as Globe Editor, Ray Tiernan as Court Associate, Stephen Ballantyne as Mr Cannaway, Stephan Phillips as Mr Teece, Justin Kennedy as Jury Foreman, Tanya Burne as Sister Magdalene, Robert Wallace as Reverend Byng, Mike Frenchman as William Stanley, Lee Cormie as Thomas Smith, Clayton Watson as Matthew Doran, Rowan Hills as Job Evans, Joshua Ryan as Albert Colley, Stephan Lovatt as Mr Hill, Judith Chaplin as Alice Duffy, Kerrie-Anne Baker as Letter Writer #1, Barrie Friedlander as Letter Writer #2, Cate Wolswinkel as Letter Writer #3, Richard Di Gregorio as Letter Writer #4, Max Simon as O'Connor

The Eureka 13

Episode 1.02
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Written by Max Mannix
Directed by Malcolm McDonald

In February 1855, the Supreme Court of Victoria is the scene of the historic trial of 13 Eureka rebels. These 'diggers', representing an array of nationalities and races, had come to seek their fortunes on the goldfields of Victoria — now they find themselves charged with 'making a war against her Gracious Majesty, the Queen of England'. It's an antiquated, arcane charge — treason — that will puzzle jurors and galvanise the colony.

If the 'diggers' are found guilty, they'll be executed — and they're being prosecuted by one of the most powerful men in the colony of Victoria, Attorney General William Stawell, the author of the new Victorian constitution. When the trial begins, Stawell thinks he's suppressing an illegal uprising and foreign agitators, but to his shock, the agitation becomes domestic. Stawell is determined to hang these men as an example and cement his newly written constitution. But he hasn't bargained on the emergence of 'radical Melbourne'. Whipped into a frenzy by the press, the mood of the people turns to support the rebels in the dock; and the jury of popular opinion is repelled by the antiquated notion of treason.

As the trials of the 13 men unfold, people begin to understand there was no Eureka uprising — just the appearance of a revolt engineered by the authorities in the colony of Victoria. And as blame for the uprising turns on the government — with accusations of its heavy-handedness in managing the goldfields situation — the case against the 'diggers' falls apart most spectacularly. By the time all 13 are acquitted, Stawell's new Victorian constitution has been changed and the people have demanded popular democracy. The events that unfolded during the Eureka trials changed our notions about democracy, our status as a nation and the very notion of justice in Australia.

Cast Arthur Angel as Carboni, Terry Yeboah as John Joseph, Liam Sutherland as Timothy Hayes, Heidi McDonald as Anastasia Hayes, Peter Denis Flaherty as Sergeant Harris, Shane McNamara as Charles Hotham, Stewart Morritt as William Stawell, Paul Blendim as Robert Molesworth, Nick Farnell as Ireland, Bill McCLusky as Chapman, Kade Greenland as Apsinall, Paul Verhoeven as Cope, Craig Woolsidge as Reverend Smith, Roderick Cairns as Davis Blair, Tom Dent as Ebenezer Syme, David Ravenswood as Chief Justice A'Beckett, Don Bridges as Court Official, Paul David Goddard as Patrick Lynott, Mitchell Page as Court Man, Tom McCathie as Jury Spokesman, Nick Backstrom as Gallery Man #2, Donal Forde as Goodnough, Rhys McConnochie as Redmond Barry, Hadrian Jonathan as Andrew Peters, Chris Gray as Cop, Shane Nagle as Henry Foster, Ben Anderson as Thomas Richards, Darran Scott as Joseph Turner, Patrick Constantinou as Loftus Gray, Keith Slater as Jury Spokeman #3, Richard Cawthorne as James Harris, Brendan O'Connor as Gilbert Amos, Chris Kemp as Miner

Massacre at Myall Creek

Episode 1.03
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Written by Andy Cox
Directed by Ana Kokkinos

In Episode Three, Massacre at Myall Creek we see the trials in 3838 of seven European settlers involved in the killing of about 30 unarmed Aborigines in northern NSW. The massacre was sadly indicative of the white peoples aggressive attitudes towards Indigenous people in the region and raised major questions about the settlers relationship with Aborigines in general.

Cast Ben Guerens as George Anderson, Richard Cawthorne as Russell, Carter Doyle as Foley, Jamie Kristian as Charles Kilmesiter, Alex Papps as William Hobbs, Heath Bergersen as Davey, Nicholas Bell as George Gipps, Johnny McNamara as Roger Therry, Brett Climo as John Plunkett, Paul Denny as Henry Dangar, Brendan McCallum as Charles Kemp, Jim Knobeloch as Robert Scott, Richard Piper as William A'Beckett, John Orcsik as Judge Dowling, Dean Cartmel as Clerk Of Arraigns, Lorna Munro as Ipeta, Tom Considine as Windeyer, Richard Sutherland as Foreman THomas Holmes, Robbie O'Brien as Juryman, Jasper Bagg as Reverend Land, Zen Ledden as Squatter, Nathaniel Kelly as Man 1, Paul Moder as Man 2, Ben Prenderdast as Reading Man, Ken Radley as Judge Burton, Glen Hancox as Bailiff, Josh Price as Tall Man, Adam McGurk as Juryman Sewell