REVISITING A DARK PAST
ALTHOUGH not the first documentary on the Victorian-based cult, this three-parter manages to capture the riveting heart of this bizarre apocalyptic group run by guru Anne HamiltonByrne during the 1980s and ‘90s. Through testimony from now adult cult survivors and Detective Lex de Man, who set up the taskforce to investigate the group, viewers are granted access to the cult’s shocking internal workings which included forging birth records and enlisting cult doctors and nurses to steal babies from hospitals at birth. In total 28 children, a mix of biological and adopted, were raised by HamiltonByrne and her co-founder Dr Raynor Johnson. With hair dyed a uniform peroxide blonde and dressed in quaint matching clothing, the kids were subjected to physical and emotional abuse, as well as being dosed up with drugs such as LSD. Viewers can expect to be hooked from the sensational opening when a teenage girl escapes from the remote lakeside property in 1987 and blows the whistle on the abuse, refusing to return until an investigation is commenced. Although the unusual living arrangements are initially dismissed as a community welfare issue, de Man pursues the case to expose the crimes committed under Hamilton-Byrne’s guise of creating a “master race” of children who will save the world from Armageddon. The social and historical context that allowed such a group to flourish is also investigated.