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The science of bushranging


New Australian series pits scientists against folklore, reports Andrew Masterson.


Forensic pathologist Roger Boyd, historian Kiera Lindsey, compere Mike Munro and archaeologist Adam Ford work together to uncover the truth about Australia's bushrangers.
Forensic pathologist Roger Boyd, historian Kiera Lindsey, compere Mike Munro and archaeologist Adam Ford work together to uncover the truth about Australia's bushrangers.
Genepool Productions

Where America had its wild west mavericks, Australia had its bushrangers: rambunctious outlaws long ago romanticised, the subjects as much of myth and legend as history and reportage.

But now a team of documentary filmmakers has recruited a posse of scientists to test the tales of criminal derring-do and determine what, if any, evidence exists to support the folklore.

Melbourne-based company Genepool Productions – makers of the Eureka Award-winning feature Jabbed: love, fear and vaccines, and the Emmy Award-winning Immortal – is behind a new series, Lawless, which attempts to drill into the history of some of Australia’s most famous bad guys, starting with Ned Kelly.

The series finds archaeologist Adam Ford, historian Kiera Lindsey and forensic pathologist Roger Boyd, along with police investigators, specialist LIDAR operators, and ballistics experts, combining to interrogate original investigative and witness reports of bushranger activity.

The analysis is tempered by input from descendants of the bushrangers and their victims.

Compered by well-known television journalist, Mike Munro, Lawless represents a unique evidence-based examination of the stories surrounding some of the country’s most famous rogues.

In Australia and New Zealand, the series airs on the Foxtel’s History Channel, starting on October 24.

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Andrew Masterson is news editor of Cosmos.
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