Peter FitzSimons explores the secret history of Australian race riots and reveals how violent mobs of every colour and culture have shaped the nation. Premieres Sunday 4 January 2015 at 8.30PM on SBS ONE.
16 Dec 2014 - 2:10 PM  UPDATED 14 Jan 2015 - 10:20 AM

Show me someone who says Australian history is dull, and I will show you someone who just doesn't get it. We have a fabulously vibrant, extraordinarily colourful history and this documentary series features a fascinating strand of it, warts and all.

The pundits were right, "we ARE a weird mob," and maybe the weirdest thing of all is that despite the trauma of race riots, there is a consistent pattern through our history that after every one, we reel, reflect and go on - not always a better country but certainly a different one. Race riots are one of the ways Australia reinvents itself.

The riot at Cronulla beach was no one-off event; it was entirely consistent with our bloody history, simply the latest in a long line of race riots stretching back to the 1840s.

Of all the journalistic exercises I have been involved in over the last 30 years, this has been the most intense, and one of the most illuminating. I have loved traveling all over Australia, digging out the stories, and help putting them together. From Broome to Beechworth to Brisbane to the Back 'Beyond, we have travelled all over Australia to tell this story and I am really proud of it. 

- Peter FitzSimons          


The Great Australian Race Riot airs on SBS ONE 8.30PM Sunday 4 January 2015, and continues Sunday 11 and Sunday 18 January.