The Great Outback Mystery


It’s rarely that Australia features in American media, but this time a tiny speck in the middle of nowhere – population 11 – makes for a great story that reads like a bestselling crime novel:

Dusk was falling on the sweltering hot day of Dec. 16, 2017, when Paddy Moriarty went to the Pink Panther, the only hotel and bar in this tiny, dusty town, to end the day with his usual round of drinks.

He downed eight beers, typical for Mr. Moriarty, a laborer who spent most of his life in Australia’s rugged outback. Then he left for home with his dog by his side.

He was never seen again. Neither was his dog, a kelpie named Kellie.

Four days later, when the police arrived in Larrimah, a Northern Territory town of just 11 people, they entered Mr. Moriarty’s unlocked house to find a cowboy hat on a cooler box and a barbecue chicken still in the microwave…

With no clear evidence or even a motive for Mr. Moriarty’s disappearance, every one of Larrimah’s 11 residents is in one way or another part of the investigation — with each pointing a finger at a neighbor or two, while denying their own involvement in what has become the latest mystery to capture Australia’s imagination.

There are also missing backpackers and pet crocodiles.

More local coverage from “The Australian” (including a podcast), featuring a missing locomotive(!) David Lynch surely needs to make a miniseries out of this story.