Ever since TV shows like Making a Murderer and episodic podcasts like Serial began gripping the entire world, we are hearing more and more about “True crime stories” as a genre. Enter the Bowraville Podcast, 5 episodes by journalist Dan Box investigating a suspected serial murder case in the small town of Bowraville, New South Wales, Australia.
If you’re looking for another podcast like Serial, this should be your first stop. The Bowraville Podcast drags up a 25 year old murder case, in which 3 children who lived practically on the same street were murdered under curiously similar circumstances and within 5 months of each other. Like Serial and Making a Murderer, it’s one of those cases that leaves you with more questions than answers but is thoroughly captivating. For a number of reasons the 3 cases are never linked by local police, there is 1 clear outstanding suspect but seemingly a lack of concrete evidence against him and as a result all 3 murders remain unsolved to this day.
Unfortunately it’s impossible not to compare this to Serial (series 1) but where this podcast differs to it’s true crime compatriots in a couple of significant ways. I found Bowraville a lot more disturbing than Serial. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s a serial murder case, or perhaps due to the fact that the victims were children, but the Bowraville Podcast is chilling to the bone. Where Serial and Making a Murderer leave you questioning, “did he or didn’t he??” I felt like Bowraville left me questioning a much bigger picture of things, seemingly due to deep rooted racial issues in the town.
Where Serial is very much focused on the details of the evidence and trial, Bowraville doesn’t focus on that at all and is more about this small town itself. There’s a complicated and fascinating subplot that constantly rears its ugly head throughout and that is one of racism. Bowraville has been divided by racism for a long time, many of its citizens speak of how differently the Caucasian people in the town look upon the Aboriginals and vice versa. It’s an important reminder about how racism still plays a destructive role in the modern world which we all love to believe consists only of equality.
Not for one minute do I think this podcast is jumping on a true crime bandwagon, I’m sure Dan Box took influence from the aforementioned podcast but he has also been investigating this story for years, he clearly has a lot of knowledge about the case and the area and he presents it in a very balanced manner.
It’s probably an easier listen than Serial as well, each episode is 20-30 mins, half the time of a Serial podcast and it moves at a pretty fast pace, for me the constant delving into the evidence and the trial itself in Serial became difficult at times. You won’t have to invest nearly as much time as you do to get through Bowraville. Having read about it for the first time recently, I gave episode 1 a play yesterday, a few hours later and I had finished the series.
The Power of Podcasting
Like other popular true crime documentaries, this podcast has shined a mainstream light on the case for the first time ever and shown that podcasting and documentary making is not just for selling advertising, but can actually serve a valuable purpose in modern society and make a significant difference to people’s lives.
The case never got the attention or justice that its victims and their families deserved, it’s incredible to think that 25 years on the families of these young children have no closure. The power of the media and podcasting has once again prevailed following the release of this podcast, such has been its popularity, the case will probably be re-opened.
Listen to the first episode below but be warned you might get hooked:
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