A family of spies in the Australian suburbs: an incredible true story


With My Little Eye

The incredible true story of a family of spies in the suburbs

By Sandra Hogan

Published by Allen & Unwin
RRP $29.99 in paperback | ISBN 9781760878467

As incredible as it sounds from what we believe we know and understand of 1950s Australia, a seemingly everyday family of Mum, Dad and three kids actively participated in the activities of ASIO in the 1950s and 60s.

Father Dudley Doherty was an ASIO officer as was his wife Joan until the arrival of their first child.

Together, they made the extraordinary decision to involve their children in their espionage work, which became the ‘family business’. The children were taught from a very early age to be observant and to be alert. And keep secrets too about their father’s unusual occupation.

Most notable among their missions was hosting Soviet defectors Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov on a Gold Coast holiday. The book contains some never-before-seen photographs of this period.

But we see, too, the confusion of a daughter who could never quite separate her father’s work from the man himself, even to the extent of not believing for some years that he had died, believing instead that he had disappeared on a job for ASIO.

There are some brief references to Dudley Doherty’s work as an ASIO agent in David Horner’s ‘The Spy Catchers: The Official History of ASIO 1949-1963’ – focusing on his lock-picking ability and the time the family hosted Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov during the 1956 Olympic Games to thwart any possible assassination attempts. What better cover than to hide the Petrovs in plain sight on a family holiday on the Gold Coast.

Verdict: A fascinating insight into activities that are mostly hidden from view or whispered of in dark corners.

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