Mystery Road (TV series)

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Mystery Road
Promotional poster featuring Aaron Pedersen and Judy Davis
Written by
Directed byRachel Perkins (Series 1)
Warwick Thornton (Series 2)
Wayne Blair (Series 2)
Dylan River (Series 3)
Series 3
Country of originAustralia
Original languageEnglish
No. of series3
No. of episodes18
Executive producers
  • David Jowsey
  • Greer Simpkin
Production locationsWyndham, Kununurra, Western Australia
Running time57 minutes
Production companies
Original networkABC
Picture format
Audio formatStereo
Original release3 June 2018 (2018-06-03)[2] –

Mystery Road is an Australian television crime mystery series whose first series screened on ABC TV from 3 June 2018. The series is a spin-off from Ivan Sen's feature films Mystery Road and Goldstone, taking place in-between the two. Aboriginal Australian detective Jay Swan, played by Aaron Pedersen, is the main character and actor in both the films and in the first two TV series, each of six episodes.

Series 1 was directed by Rachel Perkins. Swan is brought in to solve a murder, with the local police officer played by Judy Davis. In Series 2, directed by Warwick Thornton and Wayne Blair, which began airing on ABC on 19 April 2020, Swan is brought in to solve a murder in a different location, with the "local copper" this time played by Jada Alberts. Both series were shot in northern Western Australia.

Series 3, directed by Dylan River, is a prequel set in 1999, titled Mystery Road: Origin. Mark Coles Smith plays a younger version of Swan.[3][4]


Series 1[edit]

Taking place between the events of the films Mystery Road and Goldstone,[5] Mystery Road Series 1 tells the story of Detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen), assigned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of two young farmhands on an outback cattle station, one a local Indigenous football hero and the other a white backpacker. Working together with local police sergeant Emma James (Judy Davis), the investigation uncovers drug trafficking in the town, and a past injustice that threatens the fabric of the whole community.[6]

Series 2[edit]

Swan has to unravel the mystery of a decapitated body which turns up in the mangroves. The plot involves drug trafficking and an archaeological dig.[7][8]

Series 3[edit]

The year is 1999, and a young Jay Swan moves back to his home town of Jardine to join the local police force. He must cope with his estranged father Jack and his feelings for local girl Mary Allen, as well as contending with a mysterious gang of robbers.


Series 1[edit]

Series 2[edit]

Series 3[edit]


SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
163 June 2018 (2018-06-03)1 July 2018 (2018-07-01)
26[7]19 April 2020 (2020-04-19)24 May 2020 (2020-05-24)
363 July 2022 (2022-07-03)7 August 2022 (2022-08-07)

Series 1 (2018)[edit]

No. in
Title [9]Directed by [9]Written byOriginal air date [9]Australian viewers
11"Gone"Rachel PerkinsMichaeley O'Brien3 June 2018 (2018-06-03)786,000
22"Blood Ties"Rachel PerkinsKodie Bedford3 June 2018 (2018-06-03)786,000
33"Chasing Ghosts"Rachel PerkinsMichaeley O'Brien10 June 2018 (2018-06-10)600,000[10]
44"Silence"Rachel PerkinsSteven McGregor17 June 2018 (2018-06-17)604,000[11]
55"The Waterhole"Rachel PerkinsTimothy Lee24 June 2018 (2018-06-24)525,000[12]
66"The Truth"Rachel PerkinsSteven McGregor1 July 2018 (2018-07-01)572,000[13]

Series 2 (2020)[edit]

Series 2 began screening on ABC in April 2020.[14] It had its world premiere at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival in late February, in the new Series section devoted to longform television series, along with another ABC series, Stateless.[15][16]

No. in
Title [9]Directed by [9]Written by [9]Original air date [17][9]Australian viewers
71"The Road"Warwick ThorntonSteven McGregor19 April 2020 (2020-04-19)655,000
82"The Flare"Wayne BlairBlake Ayshford26 April 2020 (2020-04-26)576,000
93"Artefacts"Wayne BlairTimothy Lee3 May 2020 (2020-05-03)576,000
104"Broken"Wayne BlairKodie Bedford10 May 2020 (2020-05-10)576,000
115"To Live with the Living"Warwick ThorntonDanielle MacLean17 May 2020 (2020-05-17)572,000
126"What You Do Now"Warwick ThorntonSteven McGregor, Blake Ayshford24 May 2020 (2020-05-24)583,000

Series 3 (2022)[edit]

Mystery Road: Origin went to air on Sunday 3 July 2022 and runs until 7 August. All six episodes were made available on iview.[4][18] The writers include Blake Ayshford, Steven McGregor, Kodie Bedford, Timothy Lee and Dylan River.[18]

No. in
Title [9]Directed by [9]Written by [9]Original air date [17][9]Australian viewers
131"Episode 1"Dylan RiverBlake Ayshford3 July 2022 (2022-07-03)N/A
142"Episode 2"Dylan RiverSteven McGregor10 July 2022 (2022-07-10)N/A
153"Episode 3"Dylan RiverTimothy Lee and Dylan River17 July 2022 (2022-07-17)N/A
164"Episode 4"Dylan RiverKodie Bedford and Steven McGregor24 July 2022 (2022-07-24)N/A
175"Episode 5"Dylan RiverBlake Ayshford and Dylan River31 July 2022 (2022-07-31)N/A
186"Episode 6"Dylan RiverBlake Ayshford and Dylan River7 August 2022 (2022-08-07)N/A


Series 1[edit]

The first series was made on location in and around Wyndham, a town in northern Western Australia. Other scenes were shot at Kununurra and on Aboriginal lands belonging to the Miriuwung, Gajerrong and Balanggarra in the Kimberley.[19] Location shooting took approximately 10 weeks.[5]

Series 2[edit]

The second series was filmed in Broome, and in the Kimberley in northern Western Australia, taking 10 weeks. It was Thornton's first time directing for television, and he said that Blair's experience in this medium was vital. He also said that Sen and Perkins had done the hard work creating "this unique world", which gave the directors of Series 2 a strong foundation, so they could focus on the performances.[20]

Series 3[edit]

Mystery Road: Origin was also filmed in WA, around Kalgoorlie, Boulder and Coolgardie.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Series 1[edit]

Series 2[edit]

The Guardian reviewer Luke Buckmaster praised the "extraordinary breadth" of the show, in the way it portrays the country "only just beginning to come to terms with its past". He praised Pedersen’s performance, which "simultaneously [projects] great strength and great sorrow", as a man "caught between traditions, between worldviews, between laws and lores".[8]

Series 3[edit]

In The Sydney Morning Herald, Kylie Northover gave Mystery Road: Origin a rating of five stars,[21] while The Guardian gave it four (out of five).[4]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominee Result Ref
8th AACTA Awards Best Television Drama Series David Jowsey, Greer Simpkin Won [22]
Best Screenplay in Television Episode 5: The Waterhole – Timothy Lee, Kodie Bedford, Steven McGregor, Michaeley O’Brien Nominated
Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama Aaron Pedersen Nominated
Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama Judy Davis Nominated
Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama Wayne Blair Won
Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama Deborah Mailman Won
Tasma Walton Nominated
Best Direction in Television Rachel Perkins – Episode 4: Silence Nominated
Best Cinematography in Television Mark Wareham – Episode 4: Silence Nominated
Best Editing in Television Deborah Peart – Episode 5: The Waterhole Won
Best Original Music Score in Television Antony Partos, Matteo Zingales – Episode 4: Silence Won
The Logies 2019 Most Popular Drama Program Mystery Road Won [23]
Most Popular Actress Deborah Mailman Won
Most Popular Actor Aaron Pedersen Nominated
Most Popular New Talent Tasia Zalar Nominated
Most Outstanding Actor Aaron Pedersen Nominated
Most Outstanding Actress Judy Davis Nominated
Most Outstanding Supporting Actor Wayne Blair Nominated
Most Outstanding Drama Series Mystery Road Nominated
Australian Directors' Guild Awards Best director in a television drama series Rachel Perkins Won [24][25]
ARIA Awards Best Original Soundtrack, Cast or Show Album Mystery Road (Matteo Zingales & Antony Partos) Nominated [26]


  1. ^ Knox, David (27 February 2018). "Funding for Seachange, Mystery Road". TV Tonight.
  2. ^ "Airdate: Mystery Road". TV Tonight. 3 May 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  3. ^ Knox, David (21 August 2021). "Mark Coles Smith to star in Mystery Road: Origin". TV Tonight. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Buckmaster, Luke (3 July 2022). "Mystery Road: Origin review – Jay Swan is back and as great as ever". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  5. ^ a b Pederson, Aaron; Davis, Judy (2018). "Bonus: Cast interviews". Mystery Road. Series 1. Episode 7. Acorn TV. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  6. ^ Mystery Road: press kit: A film by Ivan Sen
  7. ^ a b Ghosh, Joydeep (22 April 2020). "Index of Mystery Road Season 2 and Episode Schedule". OtakuKart News. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  8. ^ a b Buckmaster, Luke (15 April 2020). "Mystery Road season two review – a new riddle for Aaron Pedersen's troubled detective". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Mystery Road Episode Guide". Australian Television Information Archive. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Sunday 10 June 2018". TV Tonight. 11 June 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Sunday 17 June 2018". TV Tonight. 18 June 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Sunday 24 June 2018". TV Tonight. 25 June 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Sunday 1 July 2018". TV Tonight. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Mystery Road series 2: 2020". Screen Australia. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  15. ^ Zhou, Debbie (27 February 2020). "'People are starting to wake up': Berlin film festival spotlights Australia's 'unfinished business'". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  16. ^ "World premieres for Stateless and Mystery Road at Berlin International Film Festival". ABC. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 January 2020. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Mystery Road – Listings". Next Episode. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  18. ^ a b "Mystery Road: Origin premieres in July. Every mystery starts somewhere". ABC. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 3 June 2022. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  19. ^ Credits/Acknowledgments: 'Mystery Road' Episode 6
  20. ^ Russell, Stephen A. (15 April 2020). "Mystery Road season 2: Warwick Thornton on Australia's outback 007". The New Daily. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  21. ^ a b Northover, Kylie (30 June 2022). "Five stars: ABC's new Mystery Road crime series is as cinematic as TV gets". The Sydney Morning Herald. Nine Network. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  22. ^ "Winners & Nominees". Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  23. ^ "Logie Awards 2019: winners". TV Tonight. 30 June 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  24. ^ Maddox, Garry (6 May 2019). "Sweet Country wins top prize at the Directors Guild Awards". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  25. ^ Knox, David (7 May 2019). "Australian Director's Guild Awards 2019: winners". TV Tonight. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  26. ^ ARIA Award previous winners. "History Best Original Soundtrack, Cast or Show Album". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 16 July 2022.

External links[edit]