"Barrow Creek, Joanne Lees' date with destiny." Barrow Creek by australia2

Barrow Creek Travel Guide: 11 reviews and 48 photos

Saturday, 14th. of July 2001.

It was at night in this lonely region, a little less than 300 kms north of Alice Springs, that British 'Kombi-driving backpacker', Peter Falconio, was ruthlessly murdered on the roadside. His British girlfriend, Joanne Lees, by almost a miracle, managed to escape from the murderer's bondage by desperately scrambling away and then hiding for many hours in the very dark, very cold, outback night scrub. The murderer had a companion dog.
She was still 'handcuffed', and injured. Strength of will, fear, and courage saved her from likely awful maltreatment. Most understandably absolutely terrified by that ordeal, Joanne had to then, over following weeks, cope with seemingly unsupportive treatment by the authorities and for a time deal with distasteful inferred accusations. Unknown to her she was in fact under suspicion herself. A suspect - not a victim.

In lack of knowledge they had travelled, heading north, on the lonely Stuart Highway after dark. Too lonely during those hours.
The Stuart cuts the centre of Australia - 'up the middle'.

The man found guilty much later, Bradley John Murdoch, 48, is now serving virtually a life sentence in Darwin's Berrima jail.* A minimum non-parole period of 28 years was set.
Coincidently (?) one year for every year of Peter's life.
(*Update. Murdoch was transferred to a jail at Alice Springs in '07. Perhaps to be more accessible to his elderly mother living in Perth. My guess, not official.)
He had been regularly drug-running between South Australia and West Australia's north-west coast for quite some time.
It took approximately 15 months for police to be rewarded for their immensely painstaking work in positively identifying, locating and then arresting him. He was firstly arrested in Port Augusta, in South Australia and charged with an alleged sordid crime in that state. Cleared, some say rather dubiously from that charge, he was immediately arrested by the Northern Territory police and charged by them on the Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees offences.
DNA was the 'clinching' factor in that identification and subsequent conviction. The DNA of a small bloodmark on Joanne's T-shirt belonged to Murdoch. Nonetheless, he is still protesting his innocence. **

Joanne and Peter's family, with the 2005 trial behind them and now back in England, unfortunately have never obtained the peace of mind of knowing where Peter's body was disposed of by the murderer.
It has not been found as of this date, March 2011.

An internet search under any of the above names brings many abridged versions of the story. At least three books have been published on the events which drew out to a span of almost four and a half years.
Of course, the most insightful of the books is the one written by Joanne herself.
I highly recommend them all to interested readers.
Also the excellent TV movie 'Murder in the Outback'.

I read Richard Shears' 'Bloodstain.' first, then Joanne's 'No Turning Back.' - a very good course to follow.
Update March '08. I have just finished reading the third of the major books on the incident. 'The Killer Within. Inside the world of Bradley John Murdoch.' by Paul Toohey. I am glad that I read this book and glad that I read it last. Most of the dialogue in two thirds of it is written in the coarse vernacular of 'Murdoch's world'. If he wanted to produce shock then he has succeeded. I had some trouble in persisting with it at first. It is 'rough'! If publishing time was back in the days of 'expletive deleted' the pages would be mostly blank ! The final section, dealing with the trial, is very well written and overall the book makes its unique type of contribution to the records of 'The Barrow Creek Incident'.
The unfinished records of 'The Barrow Creek Incident'.

One could categorise the three books listed as a form of trilogy.

I have been to all the relevant locations on my Australian travels, which brought a vivid sense of reality to me as I read them. (See Videos.)

Rest peacefully Pete, under Australian outback skies.

You are one of us by tragedy.


Somewhere along here, perhaps lower level scrub.

Squatting, curled up almost in a vertical foetal position under the branches of the scrub, Joanne used her black hair to cover her bare knees in front of her. Her hands though 'cuffed' were brought under her to her front but she could not free them. She was wearing sandals, shorts and a T-shirt. The clear outback night air was freezing cold. Moonless at that stage fortunately; a quarter waning moon emerged in the 'later' hours of the Sunday morning.


A little north of Barrow Creek.

Joanne in shock and exhausted, was taken in the darkness by her deliverers, in the cabin of the three trailer Road Train, about 10 kilometres south, to safe refuge at the Barrow Creek pub. They arrived there at approximately 2 o'clock on the Sunday morning.


(This and the previous picture were taken by me with a standard analogue home tape video camera; poor quality video 'grabs'. I was the passenger for this part of our around Australia motor trip - 'down the middle.' That was well before that critical time. .... SEE MY 'BARROW CREEK' VIDEO CLIP HERE.)

** Update, Dec 24th, '07. An interesting twist has just occurred.
In England yesterday, in a completely seperate case there, a DNA opinion based on the 'low count' principle developed by the English expert who appeared in person as a key Crown witness in the Murdoch trial has been discredited.
Early reaction here is that this is unlikely to have any significent result regarding the Murdoch verdict. But ... (?)

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  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Jul 19, 2008 at 4:43 AM

    Interesting write up thanks - its often so difficult tho when its hard to believe what ends up printed. Ive lived in the outback - movies made like WolfCreek sure put the wind up! Have youve read all about Ivan Milat as well?!

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Dec 25, 2007 at 4:00 PM

    Ah yes Laurie, I remember this one. Well done on the write up matey! I enjoy pages like this....it also helps tourists understand that they still need to be careful about the company they choose. Cheers, Ann :o)


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