New book asks ‘Who Bombed the Hilton’?


Who Bombed The Hilton?
By Rachel Landers

Published by NewSouth Publishing
RRP $32.99 in paperback
ISBN 9781742233512

On the 13th February 1978 a bomb exploded in the back of a garbage truck outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, during the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting (CHOGRM). Three people died as a result of this explosion – rubbish collectors, Alec Carter and William Favell and NSW Police Officer Paul Birmistriw; eleven others were injured. In response, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser called out 1,500 Australian Army troops, armoured personnel carriers and helicopters to provide security for the CHOGRM conference. In the period following the bombing the powers of the security forces were expanded.

Despite the passing of nearly 40 years, trials and mistrials, appeals and acquittals, enquiries, inquests, investigations and conspiracy theories we still do not know “Who Bombed the Hilton?”

Dr Rachael Landers makes an impressive attempt to make sense of 400 boxes of documents stored in the NSW State Records Archives. She has crossed referenced her research with documents held in numerous other locations including the National Library and Australian Archives but has stuck to a promise she made to herself that she would “not trust the living” perhaps to the detriment of this book.

Landers draws no firm conclusions and fails to answer the question posed by the title of her book.

However “Who bombed the Hilton?” is a thought provoking, thoroughly researched, well written and sometime humorous account of a crime that saw Australia join the “bomb club”.

Guest blogger Kylie Leonard reviewed this book.

Note: This is not really military history which is the main focus of this blog, but every now and again we deviate from the theme for the interest of our readers.

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