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The best Australian podcasts to listen to right now
Posted by Carmel Sealey on 26 October 2018 03:27 AM

Got a new pair of headphones? Or perhaps you’ve a swanky new Google Home or Google Home Mini. Or maybe your splurged on a new Apple HomePod. Well, why not fire up a podcast to make the most of those smart speakers or headphones? 

As diverse as music, as amusing as live comedy and as insightful as binge-watching episodes of QI, there’s going to be a podcast out there for you... somewhere. 

Don’t know where to begin? That’s all right: we’re here to help! 

While we could sit here all day and point you in the direction of the usual suspects (cough, Serial), we thought we’d instead dedicate our time to the must-listen-to local productions on offer. We’ll make a concerted effort to include those that are still producing new episodes, but where necessary, we may recommend something from the archives that, while a little dusty, are still gleaming with gold underneath.

As well as casting the net wide in terms of genres, we’ll make sure that our list doesn’t consist entirely of big-budget productions, but also include the shed-at-the-bottom-of-the-paddock-style podcasts – because as any poddy fan could tell you, it’s not all about the swish effects and celebrity cameos.

So let’s get cracking!

True Crime

The Teacher's Pet

Average length: 50-60 minutes | How often is it released? Completed, awaiting case developments | Why should you listen? A gripping piece of investigative journalism that uncovers the failings of the Australian police to properly investigate a young Sydney mother’s disappearance in the early 1980s.

This 14-episode series traces a disturbing path that weaves through potential police corruption – or at the very least, ineptitude –  high-school teachers using students for sex and, at the heart of the story, a young mother who goes mysteriously missing, never to be seen or heard from again. Investigative journalist Hedley Thomas goes over all the evidence, interviews friends, family and other witnesses and asks hard-hitting questions about why Lynette Dawson’s disappearance, and likely murder, has been allowed to go unprosecuted for almost 40 years. This is gripping listening that’s unbelievable at times.

Bowraville Murders

Average length: 20–30 minutes | How often is it released? Completed | Why should you listen? An eye-opening look into the failings of our court system.

Produced by The Australian newspaper, veteran journalist Dan Box undertakes an investigation into the Bowraville Murders — a series of three killings in a small NSW town, previously thought by the police and courts to be unconnected. By piecing together all of the available evidence across the three separate cases, Dan Box proves that there is, in fact, enough evidence to initiate a retrial, what the families of the three victims have been fighting for since the early 1990s. Including witness interviews, quality narration, incidental music and sound effects, and a taped phone call between Box and the suspect himself, it truly is gripping material.

Trace

Average length: 30 minutes | How often is it released? Completed, awaiting case developments | Why should you listen? The podcast that spurred on a renewed police investigation.

For 37 years, police have been unable to find the person responsible for the death of mother-of-two Maria James – found stabbed 68 times at the back of her Melbourne bookshop. Rachael Brown from the ABC was drawn to this case after hearing something she suspected had been overlooked in the original investigation. With a background in police coverage, Brown explores all the known avenues and also asks the questions the police and society at the time were too afraid to ask – is Maria’s death tied up with the Catholic Church?

Phoebe’s Fall 

Average length: 30–40 minutes | How often is it released? Completed, awaiting case developments | Why should you listen? A case full of mysteries that challenges the very laws of our country.

The coroner declared that 24-year-old Phoebe Handsjuk had died by misadventure by jumping into the garbage chute of her luxury apartment building under the influence of drugs and alcohol. However, Phoebe’s family have been trying to appeal this decision and reopen the investigation. Over the course of the six episodes, the two reporters from The Age delve deep into the details of the case, how the justice system failed Phoebe and how the family is fighting for an appeal. Featuring interviews with family, friends, witnesses and investigators, as well as a great soundscape to set the scene, the podcast plays out like gripping mystery.

CaseFile

Average length: 25–120 minutes | How often is it released? Weekly | Why should you listen? Fascinating cases from around the country.

With each episode of this production dedicated to a separate crime (with a few exceptions for particularly complex and lengthy cases), CaseFile is different to those already listed above, in that it doesn’t seek to be an audio documentary. Instead, this feels more like sitting down in a room with someone reading from an old dusty tome, telling you a ghost story. The delivery is captivating, and while there are no cutaways to snippets from interviews or sound effects of people walking through the bush (see all of the above), the anonymous presenter of CaseFile relies solely on the cases themselves to hook you. And they do.

Felon True Crime

Average length: 20–40 minutes | How often is it released? Fortnightly | Why should you listen? Tales of crime from the underbelly of Down Under.

Not all true crime podcasts follow the big cases that make it to the evening news. With Felon True Crime, most of the cases followed here are ones that you’ve never heard of and that’s the most gripping part of the production. On occasion, episodes will include audio clips but the majority of each tale is told through narration. A particularly shocking and thought-provoking episode that stuck with us was the Tinder Experiment from series one, which was about civilians taking it upon themselves to uncover paedophiles and assist police in their investigations. From domestic violence to the psychotic rampage of a mentally ill man, these stories are dark and violent, so be prepared.

Sports

SBS The World Game Football

Average length: 10–60 minutes | How often is it released? Sporadically | Why should you listen? The faces of Australian football discuss the goings on of the sport across the world.

After the departure of The World Game TV show on SBS many years ago, Australian audiences have been forced to look to pay TV to get their doses of football goodness. With this podcast, you can get listen to A-League post-game analyses, as well as get up to date on all the big news, locally and abroad. While the episodes are released sporadically — with more episodes during the height of the A-League season – there’s still a lot to lap up in the offseason. Join host Lucy Zelic, Craig Foster and a range of guests for Premier League pre-game and post-whistle chatter, too.

2 Guys 1 Cup AFL

Average length: 1–2 hours | How often is it released? Weekly during the season | Why should you listen? Wil Anderson + Charlie Clausen + AFL = reason enough.

Anyone familiar with Wil Anderson and Charlie Clausen as actors and comedians will know that they’re both passionate about AFL, so it seems only logical that they’d have a podcast dedicated to talking about the sport (as well as some of it seeping into TOFOP every now and again). In true Wil and Charlie fashion, amidst the game-talk, there’s a lot of side-waffling, gags, games and giggles. They take a look at each of the week’s games and talk about the highlights and news, plus give predictions. Then, come finals season, they look more thoroughly at those clubs involved, as well as still manage to have a lot of fun on the side.

This Week in League NRL

Average length: 1.5–3 hours | How often is it released? Weekly during the season | Why should you listen? The best podcast about league.

This production may not have the best quality audio of our selection, but if you want to listen to a podcast that feels as though you’re sitting on the couch with your mates with a beer in one hand, a burger in the other, then this is the one for you! Released weekly during the NRL season, the boys run through some amusing tweets to start, then get on to the real news, wrap up the most recent games and look to those coming up on the horizon. They’re amusing and insightful (most of the time), so well worth your time. Warning: these guys do get rather worked up and drop a lot of F-bombs, so maybe not the most kid-friendly production...

The Unplayable Podcast

Average length: 30–60 minutes | How often is it released? Weekly | Why should you listen? For all your cricket news, there’s only one place to go.

A podcast roundup including sports wouldn’t be complete without a cricket entry, now, would it? This one is hosted by cricket journalist Sam Ferris, lending a level of insight to this production far beyond the realms of someone’s garage or couch. Each episode is broken down into sections focusing on news, an occasional star interview, discussions with various guests and also calls to correspondents in the UK. With so much cricket going on around the world, it’s great to see that this podcast is doing its utmost to keep you abreast of all news and developments, rather than limiting itself to just the local Shield and Big Bash matches. It’s great to see a lot of women’s league getting air time, too, with great coverage of the recent Women’s Ashes and W/BBL.

Interviews

Wilosophy

Average length: 1–2 hours | How often is it released? Sporadically | Why should you listen? Wil Anderson attempts to step away from the mic to allow his guests to talk for a bit.

As the name may suggest and as fans can attest, comedian Wil Anderson loves a pun. In this podcast – one of many he hosts – he asks a lot of silly and series questions of his guests in an effort to get down to the nitty gritty of who they are and how they got there. Guests include Todd Samson, Tim Minchin, Osher Günsberg (see below), John Safran, Charlie Pickering, Annabel Crabb, Jen Kirkman, Alice Fraser and Myf Warhurst, as well as a swathe of other recognisable names, and they each have a great story to tell – their life. While the focus is mostly on the guests, Wil can’t help but to also open up about his own life and thoughts, which is an enlightening experience if all you know of him is his comedy.

How Do You Sleep At Night? 

Average length: 20–30 minutes | How often is it released? Concluded | Why should you listen? To get both sides of the story and avoid confirmation bias.

There are some people in today’s society that the general populace have decided are ‘bad’ people – murderers, game hunters, abortion protesters, people who profit from gambling and smoking. Sarah McVeigh, a reporter for ABC’s Triple J, has made it her mission to allow these types of individuals to speak their mind and explain their actions. This is not a podcast about damning certain people’s life choices or coming to the conclusion that these people are, in fact, bad. This production is about handing over the mic to the killers and pokies kings to let them have a say. True, what they say may cement your view, but the production is unbiased, keeping an open mind and very revealing.

Osher Günsberg (interviews)

Average length: 1–1.45 hours | How often is it released? Weekly | Why should you listen? To hear about some funny and interesting folks.

While Wilosophy is released sporadically (pretty much whenever Wil can be bothered), Osher’s podcast has hundreds of episodes, showing just how busy he is with his own interview podcast. There are a great many Australian guests in his arsenal, but he also manages to snag a lot of overseas personalities, too. And they’re not all comedians or TV personalities. Osher invites pro sportspeople to the production, as well as politicians musicians, scientists, writers, businesspeople and activists. He teases out a lot of very interesting conversations.

Comedy

I Love Green Guide Letters

Average length: 15–90 minutes | How often is it released? Fortnightly | Why should you listen? Everybody loves a complaint letter, especially when it’s sprinkled with comedy.

The premise of this podcast might not grab you on the surface, but once you’ve listened to a small slice of this production, your opinion will surely change. I Love Green Guide Letters is a hilarious show about reading letters sent in by readers to Thursday Green Guide Television & Radio lift-out magazine in The Melbourne Age. Hosted by Steele Saunders and a swathe of amusing guests, a great atmosphere is formed immediately. After a spot of general chit chat up front, they finally get round to the meat of the show — the letters. Read out by Saunders himself in a high-pitched voice reminiscent of the boys from Monty Python in drag, the letters and the subject matter are then discussed, and the guests often then go on sometimes-related tangents.

TOFOP

Average length: 1–1.5 hours | How often is it released? Weekly (ish) | Why should you listen? Just two guys, a mic and a lot of conversations about Batman and time travel.

Wil Anderson is most at home when he’s performing in front of a mic – doesn’t matter if that’s to a live audience or into a podcast apparatus. In this wafflecast, as we like to call it, he and his friend and actor Charlie Clausen get together (sometimes from the opposite ends of the world) to talk about, well, pretty much anything. They’ll occasionally touch on serious topics, but most of the time, they’re just chatting about the news, movies, TV, what-if moments and, of course, Batman and time travel. We can’t mention TOFOP without also mentioning the alternate-universe spin-off podcast FOFOP, hosted by Wil and ‘Guest Charlies’, in which pretty much the same thing goes on, but instead of Charlie co-hosting, Wil gets on a number of other comedians and actors, such as Dave Anthony, Gareth Reynolds, Justin Hamilton, Matt Kirshen, Lindsay Webb, Jen Kirkman and many other funny people.

Chat 10 Looks 3

Average length: 30–45 minutes | How often is it released? Weekly (ish) | Why should you listen? Two TV personalities having a lot more fun than their regular shows allow.

Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb have a great friendship and this definitely comes across in their conversations. They mostly chat (and laugh) about what they’re currently watching on TV (between being on the TV themselves, of course), which books they’re reading, what they’re listening to, any swish recipes they’ve discovered, or anything else that has captured their attention over the last week. They’ll go off on goofy tangents one moment, then discuss a serious issue the next. It really is like listening to a condensed catch-up chat between two friends. You’ll generally come away from each episode with a couple of recommendations of books to read or movies to watch, too.

Hamish & Andy

Average length: 45–60 minutes | How often is it released? Daily (ish) | Why should you listen? If you like all their other shenanigans, you might as well...!

Since Hamish Blake and Andy Lee are radio hosts, this podcast is a lot less improvised than something like, say, TOFOP (see below). They’ve got a bunch of things they’re going to talk about, and as they’re both seasoned wafflers, they rarely seem to take a breath, meaning the hour-long episodes are packed. For anyone familiar with this duo, many of their podcast episodes include their band the Cool Boys & the Frontman, which has featured the likes of Rob Thomas, Ricki-Lee, The Veronicas, The Wiggles, Guy Sebastian and Jessica Mauboy. Each installment also includes audio clips from callers in or cutaways to sketch-like sections, so pretty much a radio show but one you can catch at any time!

Storytelling

All The Best 

Average length: 30 minutes | How often is it released? Weekly | Why should you listen? Stories by regular people from all around Australia.

Each week, this production picks a theme and lets the storytellers voice their tale in any form they choose, whether that’s through poetry, prose or regular interview. And the themes are very broad, ranging from our first impressions of people to personal struggles, and from activism through art to chasing true love. The stories are all very heartfelt and, in some instances, you may want to have a box of tissues handy (not what we meant, get out of the gutter). The individuals who star in this show are all very varied, too, and no two stories are the same. We highly recommend getting your teeth into this production to get a slice of life each week from somewhere different and exciting.

Awaye

Average length: 5–50 minutes | How often is it released? Weekly | Why should you listen? A different perspective of life and the land.

Available in two different listening options (whole podcast episodes of 50 minutes or individual stories of 5–50 minutes), Awaye is a beautiful Aboriginal arts and cultural production. Some tales have a ‘setting the scene’ introduction followed by narration, other episodes include interviews with people who all share the same tale or who have their own stories to tell about one certain place. Sprinkled between these incredible stories from black Australia are ‘Word Up’ episodes, which teaches the listener one word from an Aboriginal language and the meaning behind it.

The Real Thing

Average length: 10–50 minutes | How often is it released? Fortnightly | Why should you listen? Unique Australian characters with great stories, delivered straight to your ears.

The Real Thing can be both uplifting and heart-wrenching. Using the resources of the ABC, the production quality here is very high. The stories are accompanied by all manner of sound effects and atmospheric music, meaning you’re completely enthralled from the beginning to end. Some of these tales are snapshots of places told through the eyes of several individuals but most are a reflection of a person and their lives, or a single incident that changed them forever. If you’re a fan of television programs such as Australian Story, then you’ll really get into this one. The people are utterly fascinating. For a similar podcast, also produced by the ABC, also check out This Is About.

Science & technology

Science Vs

Average length: 40–55 minutes | How often is it released? Weekly | Why should you listen? Digestible science for people on the go.

This is a sneaky one. Science Vs started out as another great ABC podcast before it was picked up by Gimlet Media, an American production company. So technically it still belongs in this list. Hosted by Aussie Wendy Zukerman, she and her team tackle a host of interesting topics from the female brain, e-cigarettes, obesity, vaccines, ghosts and climate change. Each episode includes interviews with experts providing evidence-based information that us average laypeople can understand. These interviews are all sewn together by Zukerman’s enthusiastic narration and peppered with music and sound effects to make it all very digestible indeed. Nuclear power dissected and able to be understood while walking to work? Nice!

Shirtloads of Science

Average length: 15–25 minutes | How often is it released? Weekly | Why should you listen? Dr Karl. Isn’t that enough?

If you want bite-sized chunks of science, look no further than this poddy. Dr Karl is a close-running second to Wendy Zukeman in terms of the enthusiastic podcast host award, so you know coming in to this production that your attention is going to be captured immediately. Each episode discusses a single topic, whether that’s how infecting yourself with worms can actually help your digestive system, to tickling rats (who apparently like it… who knew?), to natural nuclear reactors. He’s had a long list of guests grace the production, all of them an expert in their chosen field, and they discuss each subject in a way that even yours truly can understand!

The Reckoner

Average length: 1 hour | How often is it released? Fortnightly | Why should you listen? The biggest news in technology from around the world.

Hosts James Croft, Anthony Agius and Raj Deut sit down together every other week to talk about the big developments in both local and global technology. Each episode usually covers a few different subjects, but they often discuss each in great detail, answering any questions you might have about, say, the coming of Amazon Australia or what all these smart speakers are leading up to. As well as the big news stories, they also discuss new devices from the big Apple products to the super handy you-may-not-have-heard-of-this-brand-before products, as well as chatting about Australia’s involvement in the space program and much more. If you’re into tech, this podcast has enough to sink your teeth into.

Download This Show

Average length: 30 minutes | How often is it released? Weekly | Why should you listen? A weekly digest of all things technology, culture and news.

Marc Fennell from ABC Radio National hosts this “weekly access” program, that will load you up with all you need to know about social media, consumer tech, hacktivism, culture and all that’s in between. If you’ve heard something on the news but don’t quite understand what it is or how it came to be, chances are there’s an episode about it. Unlike The Reckoner podcast (above), Download This Show is a lot easier to listen to while on the go and also includes discussions about movies or TV shows that relate in some way to the broader ethos of the show. From Facebook to Foxtel, Tesla to the NBN, this podcast has you covered for all things tech.

News & current affairs

Triple J Hack

Average length: 30 minutes | How often is it released? Weekdays | Why should you listen? Listening to the news is better than watching it. Fact.

The news can be dark, boring, tedious and sad, and if you’re forced to listen to the report as well as see Donald Trump’s face each morning, well… you can get a bit down. Triple J Hack delivers the news in audible-only format and with youth in mind, so it’s a little bit more upbeat and gets straight to the point. They cover the big news stories, music, politics and a bit of culture as well, so while you’re unlikely to get in-depth discussions about what the latest polls show for the two-party preferred points, you will at least know the important developments happening around the world. As well as all this, the program often covers issues that can affect all age brackets of society, such as workplace discrimination, depression or human rights.

Not for Podcast

Average length: 30 minutes | How often is it released? Sporadically | Why should you listen? An in-depth look at the issues surrounding the news, or often not in it at all.

This production is an effort by charity Pro Bono Australia to enlighten users about certain issues concerning Australian life. Many topics are spread across multiple episodes, giving them the time they deserve to be thoroughly explained and from different points of view. Each episode is formed a bit like a documentary, with elements of narration mixed with interviews and audio clips, overlayed by incidental music to keep your attention focused. With episodes dating back to the beginning of 2016, there’s a rich wealth of content on offer and the issues are still current, meaning you can go back and listen to them at any time.

James Valentine Head Room

Average length: 15–25 minutes | How often is it released? Weekly (ish) | Why should you listen? Get people’s views and experiences on a range of issues.

James Valentine describes his podcast as the salami to his radio show’s live pig. Further discussing the topics of conversation raised on his daily radio program, this podcast is half a radio show where people ring in with amusing anecdotes or theories or explanations, and half Valentine himself enlightening his listeners about certain things. Episodes include silly Christmas traditions we should drop, the pros and cons of the title ‘Ms’, why names go through phases in popularity and strange home remedies. Some subjects are very topical, while others are just interesting to listen to. And while some radio shows can get rather irritating in the way they rely on callers to create any sense of entertainment, that is definitely no the case here. The episodes are short, concise and worth listening to.

Nerdy, TV & movies

The Weekly Planet 

Average length: 1–2 hours | How often is it released? Weekly | Why should you listen? News and opinions on all things comicbooks and nerd culture. Get your fix here!

If you’ve ever visited the Comic Book Movie website, then you’ll probably know what you’re in store for here. Hosts James and Nick have great chemistry, making this podcast less like tuning in to a radio show and more like hanging out with a couple of your friends. They’ve got a lot to talk about each episode, starting with the big news surrounding major movie and television deals, as well as new trailers, controversies, issues, trends and whatever else is happening in the world of nerdy entertainment. The remainder of each episode is dedicated to discussing in detail a certain thing, whether it’s a movie they’ve both recently seen, speculations on an upcoming TV show, conventions or big shake-ups in the industry. It might all sound very newsy, but the hosts bring a lot of comedy to the table, and it’s super easy to listen to.

Plumbing the Death Star

Average length: 45 minutes upwards | How often is it released? Weekly (ish) | Why should you listen? A bunch of nerds talk about nerdy things. What’s not to love?

Would you sleep with a robot? What did you think of the latest Star Wars film? What would life be like on the island of Sodor? Is Odin a bad dad? Which Nintendo character would be the best hero of Gotham City? Why are the Weasleys poor? These are just some of the questions the hosts of Plumbing the Death Star set themselves each week. Needless to say, if you’ve got any strong opinions on any of the above subjects, you will want to hear what they come up with — but be warned, they can’t hear you if you want to voice your own opinions about the Weasleys (we learnt that the embarrassing way). It’s a simple podcast — just Joel, Joel and Jackson sitting down together and having a laugh, just like you might with your best buddies. It’s easy to listen to while you’re on the way to work and is the perfect bit of unwinding material for your commute home, too. Go on, have a giggle.

The Binge

Average length: 30–45 minutes | How often is it released? Weekly | Why should you listen? You’ve got time to listen between all your binge-watching?

With a topic as broad as TV and cinema, it’s no wonder that there are hundreds of podcasts dedicated to talking about shows and flicks. So what’s so special about this production? The Binge covers practically everything from McLeod’s Daughters to Game of Thrones, and from Stranger Things to Pitch Perfect 3. While the focus here is mostly on TV, there are the odd sections of discussion thrown in about films and the industry as a whole. The hosts often change, keeping it fresh, but the quality of the conversation never wavers. If you’re bored of listening to neckbeards talk about nerdy things, why not give this poddy a go instead?

We hope you’ve found something to tickle your fancy in the above suggestions. Of course, this list is by no means conclusive, so check back again another time to see what other gems we’ve discovered. We certainly have a long list of podcasts to listen to! Until then, happy listening!


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