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Listen to season one of Voice of Real Australia podcast

Voice of Real Australia host Tom Melville out reporting on the Darling River. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Voice of Real Australia host Tom Melville out reporting on the Darling River. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Over the past 12 months the Voice of Real Australia podcast has brought you people, places and perspectives from beyond the big cities.

As season one comes to an end, we want to thank our listeners and guests for their support.

Over 24 episodes the podcast has covered a lot of ground, and won two awards.

producer Laura Corrigan gathers nature sounds for a story. Picture: Simon McCarthy

producer Laura Corrigan gathers nature sounds for a story. Picture: Simon McCarthy

"People have invited us into their homes, made us countless cups of tea," host Tom Melville said.

"We've seen dusty outback corner stores and the country's highest peaks.

"I fell into the Goulburn River while recording!"

Voice of Real Australia is a documentary-style podcast that tells character-driven stories from across Australia focusing on the experiences of regional communities.

The podcast received an INMA Global Media Award for Best Use of Audio and Cricket NSW story of the year. It's also in the running for an NRMA Kennedy Award for Outstanding Podcast.

The podcast was created by ACM, the owner of this newspaper, to create a space for regional voices in the audio realm.

"If it's a good story, it's a good story, I don't care where it is," Tom said.

Tom's Top 5 for Season One

For this story I ventured into the Australian Alps to hunt down a killer. An unsuspecting beetle is wiping out every tree above 1600m and I wanted to know how it was getting away with it.

Jozef Meyer checks a light trap in Kosciuszko National Park. Picture: Kate Matthews

Jozef Meyer checks a light trap in Kosciuszko National Park. Picture: Kate Matthews

My Launceston Examiner colleague Melissa Mobbs brought us this story. She got exclusive interviews with first responders who were there the day 35 people were killed at the historic site in Tasmania. In this episode you get to hear from people who've never spoken out before. It's moving.

I loved visiting the Drip, it's one of my favourite places in Australia, and I like to think I've seen a lot of this beautiful and varied country. This is one of my favourite stories because it illustrates how our love for this land is constantly being tested.

I learnt so much during the reporting for this episode. I met First Nations people leading the push for native agriculture. I learnt about the crops that work with our fickle country not against it. I also learnt how Indigenous crops have been stolen and exploited.

Latarnie McDonald and Rodney Carter want to see kangaroo grass become a viable crop. Picture: Tom Melville

Latarnie McDonald and Rodney Carter want to see kangaroo grass become a viable crop. Picture: Tom Melville

This episode was a two parter and I love both stories. Producer Laura Corrigan did an excellent job of immersing us at Moyjil with a rich soundscape. Moyjil is an historic site near Warrnambool where evidence suggests human activity at least 120,000 years ago. The story came from our Warrnambool Standard colleague Kyra Gillespie. The second story was great because it answered all my questions about the NSW mouse plague!

Laura's Top 5 for Season One

I love unexpected stories about people doing cool things. The White Cliffs locals you meet in this story are living the dream.

I love this story because it kept surprising me. I travelled to Canowindra to report on this and loved the town. I stayed in a haunted hotel and found some "low grade" fossils by the side of the road. In this episode we rediscovered these forgotten fossils and found out their fate. The best part was sharing the news with the scientist behind the original dig.

This story came to us from Northern Daily Leader reporter Andrew Messenger. Before this story I had never thought about, yeah what happens to "alternative communities" after a fire. These people built their own infrastructure, there's no council to clean up the mess. You also get to meet the fascinating people who have made the bush their home.

"The brass in the piano actually started to melt," Torrington resident Richard Cork lost a property to fire on November 8, 2019. Picture: Andrew Messenger

"The brass in the piano actually started to melt," Torrington resident Richard Cork lost a property to fire on November 8, 2019. Picture: Andrew Messenger

I like this story because I had no idea there were farmers in Canberra! And now I understand why they're a dying breed. Majura Valley should be as celebrated as the Hunter Valley but it's just not given the support it deserves.

This story is so illustrative of regional Australia. These landholders are sick of waiting for the government to do something so they take it upon themselves. I produced this story with our gun intern Ethan Hamilton.

Voice of Real Australia will be back with season two from September 16.

This story A look back at season one of our award-winning podcast first appeared on Newcastle Herald.