Two-month-old Azaria Chamberlain disappeared on the night of August 17, 1980, as her family was on a camping trip at Ayers Rock in the Northern Territory of Australia. Although her mother, Lindy Chamberlain was originally convicted of murder, it was later determined, after four separate inquests, that a dingo had taken Azaria’s life.
John Buck, host of The Perfect Storm podcast that exposed new facts about the death of Azaria Chamberlain, spent a full twelve months investigating evidence and conducting interviews related to the case.
One of the key breakthroughs Buck had was while he was listening to recordings he obtained from coroner Denis Barritt. During one of the initial inquests, Barritt revealed: “The body of Azaria was taken from the possession of a dingo and disposed of by an unknown method by a person or persons name unknown.”
Buck found this new evidence intriguing not only because it acquitted Lindy Chamberlain of murder before she was sentenced to life in prison, but it revealed a deeper motive behind why it was such a daunting task to conclude that a dingo stole Azaria—salvaging tourism.
According to Buck, retired journalist Malcolm Brown, who had covered the story back in 1980, said: “There was a great motivation to preserve tourism at Ayers Rock and the idea of man-eating dingoes taking babies was not in anyone’s interest.”
Buck mentioned in his podcast that in 2004, a man named Frank Cole had been hunting with some friends in Ayers Rock and were in search of some food for their dogs. He shot what he thought was a rabbit but discovered it was a male dingo with a dead baby in its mouth.
Cole didn’t initially report the child out of fear that he would get in trouble for having a firearm in a National Park. He took the body back to his campsite and cleaned it off.
Before heading back to Melbourne, he made his local friends promise to hand the body over to the authorities. Unfortunately, they broke their promise, and Cole believes one of them buried the body in their back yard.
In another surprising discovering made during Buck’s year-long investigation, he said he “came across some disturbing developments at Uluru (then Ayers Rock) before Azaria disappeared” as he was re-watching material.
“The head ranger had asked for permission to shoot dingoes because they had started harassing tourists,” he recalled. “He was worried that a child or baby may be killed.”
It appears that park authorities had been petitioning for the approval of killing dingoes not only to protect tourists but to ensure that those incapable of protecting themselves—such as infants and younger children—would not be harmed.
“Four weeks later,” Buck said solemnly, “Azaria Chamberlain disappeared.”