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Luna Park Ghost Train investigation episode on ABC/iView


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Just saw this on the ABC News website.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-10/luna-park-ghost-train-fire-survivor-breaks-silence/12224530

The article linked is basically an ad for an episode of a new TV show (maybe a new season, I don't really watch ABC TV that often) that's airing next week. An investigation into the LP Ghost Train fire.

I don't imagine it will actually expose anything really new, but I thought some of you guys might be interested.

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Yeah this looks to be very interesting indeed. 

Here is a short trailer for the series- it looks to go very indepth and looks to be exhaustively researched. 

Caro Meldrum- Hanna is an award winning investigative journalist and is renowed for her hard hitting expose's on the ABC's Four Corners, with two notable reports are an investigation into the treatment of juveniles at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre entitled "Australia's Shame" and an investigation into a greyhound racing live baiting scandal entitled "Making a Killing".

This special about the 1979 Luna Park Ghost Train Fire is a 3 part series and will undoubtedly prove evocative and compelling viewing for most. It will also, unfortunately , prove quite emotional for any survivors and relatives of the victims that may also view this. This is a must see for anyone interested in Luna Park or even the amusement park history of Australia. It is worth noting that this still remains Australia's  worst amusment park related tragedy, with 6 children and one adult losing their lives in the inferno that fateful night.

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The TV Tonight website has done a full review now (contains spoilers):

Spoiler
Quote

“That’s when we knew there’s something much bigger at play here”

EXPOSED-THE-GHOST-TRAIN-FIRE_ead51dac-1.jpg?resize=520%2C350

In 1979 at Sydney’s Luna Park a fire broke out in the historic Ghost Train ride.

Tragically six boys and one man perished in what was attributed to an electrical wiring fault.

But a new 3 part documentary Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire will uncover new evidence and hear from eyewitnesses that will contradict the official version by authorities.

“The investigating police officer announces the day after the fire…. smoke is coming off the ground… and the police officer conclusively determines the cause of the fire,” says ABC investigative reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna.

“How on earth any police officer could determine a conclusive cause of a multi-fatality fire so quickly, is beyond comprehension. It just does not add up.”

Meldrum-Hanna who recently produced Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane, has spent 2 years investigating a case that has long been forgotten, except by survivors at the heart of the story.

They include Jason Holman, a friend to schoolboys Jonathan Billings (13), Richard Carroll (13), Michael Johnson (13) and Seamus Rahilly (13); and Jenny Godson, the widow of John Godson (29) and mother to sons, Damien (6) and Craig (4). There are also elderly parents, patrons who were in attendance, former Luna Park staff and emergency workers.

EXPOSED-CARO-MELDRUM-HANNA_1ca21c1d-1.jpg?resize=520%2C350

Meldrum-Hanna and journalist Patrick Begley conducted dozens of interviews, and trawled over archival photos, videos, documents and plans to piece together that fateful night and a possible cover-up.

“It’s 40 years later, the tyranny of time can often kill stories like this. Are people going to remember? How fresh are the memories? Many people would have passed on by now. But it wasn’t that at all, we realised very quickly that there are so many people still out there. Their memories were so vivid and so fresh,” she explains.

“Many of them in the first phone calls would burst into tears”

“Many of them in the first phone calls would burst into tears and say, ‘I’ve been waiting for someone to contact me about this.’

“That’s when we knew there’s something much bigger at play here.”

Screen-Shot-2021-03-10-at-10.53.25-pm.jpg?resize=520%2C350

Episode 1 recounts the night of the fire and the stories behind the victims, who were out for a night on the town. Meldrum-Hanna hears from those in attendance and surviving family members -many still living with guilt.

“In Episode 2 it takes a big, gritty shift. Patrick and I are on the hunt for answers. We tear into the police investigation. Who was leading that investigation? What were they telling everyone? What did they really know? What were eyewitnesses telling them?

“You will meet people who have held onto these silences, but also who were silenced at the time. Their allegations are very serious, but what they heard and saw, never saw the light of day. Never came out in the inquiries. They’ve felt that the truth has never been told and have carried this terrible sense of injustice for years.

“Back in those days, it was, ‘Don’t make a fuss, trust the police”

“Back in those days, it was, ‘Don’t make a fuss, trust the police. Leave it to the authorities. Get on with your life.’ There was no such thing as counselling,” she continues.

“They’re still having nightmares and night terrors. They can still hear screaming, they can smell the fire.”

In tracking down dozens of people linked to that night, Meldrum-Hanna is also able to share new facts with them, bringing a sense of relief to those who have been haunted by memories in isolation.

“You mean I’m not alone? The police didn’t tell me that”

“We tell them, ‘You know you’re not the only one who saw that, you’re not the only one who heard that?’ They say, ‘No. You mean I’m not alone? The police didn’t tell me that. They told me something opposite.’

“We’ve done almost 80 interviews -more than what the police, the inquest and the National Crime authority investigation did after the fire.”

She cautions on the revelations and allegations that will unfold as the series unfolds, shocking even the most seasoned of reporters.

“As a journalist, you shouldn’t be brought to a speechless point”

“As a journalist, you shouldn’t be brought to a speechless point. But it happened in interviews for episode two and three. The allegations are so serious. What they’re saying they experienced is so shocking, that we were all just sitting there,” she reveals.

“I didn’t find the words. I was so stumped, asking ‘I’m sorry. Could you repeat that?'”

Screen-Shot-2021-03-10-at-10.53.12-pm.jpg?resize=520%2C350

But recreating the story for television was not without its challenges. Luna Park in 2021 looks very different to 1979, and substitute ghost train locations are not exactly commonplace.

“ABC built a massive part of the ghost train”

“ABC built a massive part of the ghost train: the carriages, the skeletons, the spiders. We had multiple locations. We were in studios for parts and then we were out in a quarry for the final remainder of the shoot where we had pyro-technicians and the fire brigade.

She adds, “ABC Production Designer Andrew Raymond is an absolute genius. What he managed to do on an absolute shoestring…”

Filming of the series also was challenged by COVID restrictions, with sensitive interviews that could not be filmed on Zoom meetings. But the immersive doco series, co-created with producer Jaya Balendra, places Meldrum-Hanna into the story as she hears it. She hopes it will bring justice to those who have lived with pain, guilt and potentially, lies.

“You see the ripple effect”

“You see the ripple effect. Yes, we have these families whose lives were destroyed. But then all of those other people that were there have all carried this piece of that night with them, for all this time. You see a lot of redemption in it, too,” says Meldrum-Hanna.

“‘I feel shame’ or ‘I feel guilt’ or ‘I feel fear’.’ But they all have suspicions of what went down that night. Even after all these years, they can’t hush it up.

“In the words of someone in Episode Three after they’ve been presented with all of our findings …. ‘It stinks to high heaven. These families deserve a public apology and an inquiry must be reopened.'”

Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire airs 8:30pm Tuesday on ABC.

 

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That last article is excellent- agreed. Will be looking forward to this tonight - the historical aspect of this is excellent. From the layout of the Ghost train, to the features inside the 45 year old ride to the eventual tragedy unfolding this promises to be one of the programs of the year.

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Just Finished watching the documentary and that was amazing, I feel certain that there is another episode or two as it was left on some sort of cliffhanger at the end. but it was really good how they also had quite a lot of unseen footage that was really good to incorporate into the series, Overall i give it a 9/10 and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the ghost train fire.

Edited by Coasterlife
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 @Coasterlife You beat me to it! Ahaha!

The first episode just aired so I figured I should make a mini-review.

 

The recreations were amazing. I could tell a lot of effort went into them, but the interviews though, were what really made it for me. They were heart-wrenching, especially the ones with Jenny Godson and Jason Holman. It put the spotlight on the people and it's great for doing that. The only similar coverage I've seen of the fire was from Martin Sharp's 'Street of Dreams' film from 1988.

I can't wait for the next episode which should be about the theories and Sharp's research. You should definately give it a watch. 

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So I haven't said anything about the documentary until now cause I want to wait until the full story was aired. I've always taken a neutral stance on what caused the fire; I sort of wrote off the allegations of Abe Saffron's involvement as mere rumours. Even until I watched it, I was sceptical of this series cause from the promos, it looked very "tabloid" and "sensationalist". Having now finished the series, with all the evidence and witness accounts that was collected, I'm all but certain it was arson and that Abe Saffron plus others were responsible for essentially 7 cases of manslaughter in the best case, murder in the worst case. Quite frankly I'm left feeling completely disgusted. Because of people's greed and desire for power, Sydney lost a fun park full of character that will never be recaptured, even in said park's current form where by all means, the future looks bright. But that will never compare to the fact that 7 people prematurely lost their lives, and many others lost devoted loved ones who they'll never get back. No one deserves to have that happen to them. And knowing what we know now, I'll never look at the 80's era of Luna Park run by Harbourside in a positive light again, despite the fact it gave us the Skylab ferris wheel which is still awesome. But knowing that a bunch of organised criminals hijacked the lease bidding and built a soulless McDonalds looking funfair to use it as a money making machine, with ambitions to turn it into a development complex? It makes me sick. And I tell you what, I've lost a lot of respect for many people in power with what's come to light, whether it's the NSW Police force or Premier Wran; someone who I admired for his efforts in saving Sydney's environment and heritage after Bob Askin's development crazed government among other things. The whole thing has left me fuming about the lack of injustice with this incident. I hope this series leads to a fresh enquiry and even a Royal Commision that finally offers closure after 42 years, and I will campaign and support any calls for such things. This cannot sleep any longer. 7 people deserve their due diligence.

Edited by 19Michael96
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