What happened when Bob Hawke locked horns with Frank Sinatra? When Lionel Rose met Elvis? And when Enrico Caruso slipped a hot Italian sausage into Nellie Melba’s captive palm?

Presented with humour and verve, Australian Encounters celebrates ten historic encounters, each between a renowned Australian and an international mover and shaker. It’s memorable, informative and often astonishing.

Based on the long running and very popular Encounters column, created by Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz, and published in The Monthly magazine, the series premiered on ABC1 in July 2013. The Australian newspaper described it as a “startling little series … highly original and entertaining”.


The ten encounters span more than 100 years, from Ned Kelly and Redmond Barry in 1880, through to Kylie Minogue and Michael Hutchence in 1987. The paths of Billy Hughes and Woodrow Wilson converge at Versailles in France, where the world’s statesmen have gathered to redraw the map of the world. The meetings between Joe Lyons and Mussolini take place in Rome. And George Johnston and Leonard Cohen happen upon one another in a backroom bar on the Greek island of Hydra. Back home, Duke Kahanamoku and Isabel Letham perform a feat never before seen in Australia: surfing! While 27 year-old Rupert Murdoch extends a helping hand to a sensitive young Tamil on the dodge from the immigration authorities.

Collectively, these fabulous little stories tell us much about Australian history, touching on topics including late nineteenth century colonial society, World War I, Australian appeasement, Aboriginal rights, and popular culture.

Wonderfully narrated by Geoffrey Rush, the series is written, produced and directed by Duncan Imberger and Josh Moore of Melbourne based production company Suitcase Murphy. Remarkably, all ten episodes were entirely hand drawn by New Zealander Chris Grosz, the old-fashioned way, using pens and watercolours. XYZ Studios produced the beautiful animation.