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Childers Podcast an Australian finalist

Childers — The Full Story
Childers — The Full Story will be available on Apple and Google podcast apps from Friday, 29 May.

Childers The Podcast by Paul Cochrane has been named an Australian Podcast Awards finalist in the Best True Crime Podcast category.

Paul said initially when the idea of Childers The Podcast came to him, he didn’t know how it would be received or if it would be successful.

But within a week of the first interviews he knew it had potential to open the ears of listeners, to share the grief of survivors and families, and tell the important tale of one of Australia’s worst mass murders.

The 18-episode series relieved the moments of the Childers Backpacker Hostel fire, which made headlines around the world in June 2000.

The deliberately lit fire ravaged the near century-old converted two-storey Palace Hotel and claimed 15 lives, including overseas backpackers who died in their beds or in hallways, overcome by smoke as they attempted to crawl to safety. The event rates as one of Australia’s worst mass murders.

Paul is a former local newspaper and television journalist and he created Childers The Podcast, which was launched weeks before the 20th anniversary, to pay tribute and remember the fateful winter’s night in 2000.

Greatest reward is helping survivors and families

Paul said it was remarkable to be named as an Australian Podcast Awards finalist, but the greatest reward from creating the Childers The Podcast came from helping the survivors and their families deal with their emotions 20 years from the traumatic event.

“It is humbling and such a thrill to be shortlisted alongside some quality productions and very talented content creators,” he said.

“There were times when I thought I had enough, but then more people would contact me.

“It has unearthed conversations that may never have occurred without the podcast.

“The greatest reward is what it had meant to the people involved; I’ve had survivors and families contact me saying a weight has been lifted from their shoulders – 20 years later and they are finally able to understand it a little clearer, and as a result of gone and seen a counsellor for the first time in 20 years.

Childers fire anniversary
The oil painting “Taking a break in the field” by Josonia Palaitis depicts the 15 backpackers killed in the Childers fire.

“Parents say they now understand what their children went though after listening to the podcast.”

Paul said it was notable that even survivors who were not featured in the podcast, contacted him after hearing the first few episodes and said they now understood why they have certain emotions and it was nice to now realise they were no longer alone.

“It was so much more than human tragedy that came out of the Childers Backpacker fire; there was triumph as the community, and people like Bill Trevor who put people on his shoulders and, told them they were going to get through this together,” he said.

“I think the podcast has helped people from all around the world reconnect after 20 years. And that’s really important, especially with 2020 and what has unfolded, we weren’t able to commemorate the 20th anniversary as normal, but the podcast helped bring people together in a different way.

“Now as the man who lit the fire sits behind bars, awaiting a parole outcome, the podcast has helped shine a light on who that man was – It has put pressure on our justice system to make sure what happens next is the right decision.”

The Childers fire podcast series was developed by Paul Cochrane with assistance from Bundaberg Regional Council.

Childers the Podcast has been downloaded more than 400,000 times, it is charted in 40 different countries and was listed as the number one podcast in Australia earlier this year.

Paul Cochrane
Childers The Podcast by Paul Cochrane has been named an Australian Podcast Awards finalist in the Best True Crime Podcast category.

Best True Crime Podcast finalist

  • Childers The Podcast
  • Nut Job: Cracking California’s Strangest $10 Million Dollar Heist
  • The Last Voyage of the Pong Su
  • The Lighthouse
  • Unravel True Crime: Snowball

The winner will be announced on 21 November.  

  • To vote for Childers The Podcast in the listeners choice click here and search Childers.

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