top of page
6 Part Television Series
Award Winning Book

Whispered voices in the hallways of her childhood. A hastily packed suticase.
A masked ball that ends early. A mother who will not reveal her past.
A daughter's search for the truth... When Bettina Mendl arrived in Australia
in 1939 from Vienna she was on the run. In her homeland of Austria she was wanted by Hitler's SS, and in Australia she was an enemy alien.
Fearing internment, she had to become invisibleso she literally went bush
to the red dust of the Australian outback. There Bettina met and fell in love
with Joe McDuff, a station manager and salt-of-the-earth bushman.
After Joe rescued Bettina from certain death from a spider bite and exposure, romance bloomed and they settled into a loving marriage and life in the bush. Their two young daughters, Phyllis and Dawn, grew up completely unspoilt
and blissfully aware of their mother's aristocratic past. When the Second World War finally came to an end and Bettina was called back to Austria
to try to reclaim what remained of her wealthy and vast estate
her family lands. While Bettina and Joe had a wonderful life, they wanted
to secure their daughters' futures. Unable to bear an extended separation
from her family, Bettina packed up Joe and the girls and took them to Austria
for the first time. Thus began a fairytale whirlwind of exotic travel,
beautiful clothes, mansions and five-star hotels, glamorous parties,
famous faces and luxury for the McDuffs especially for Phyllis and Dawn,
who were used to going barefoot and had no awareness of the extent
of their mother's vast family fortune. Bettina's life before the war
had always been a mystery to her children, and she refused to talk about it
as they grew up. But as her life drew to a close, her eldest daughter Phyllis began a quest to uncover the truth. From the unravelling of a secret coded message
to a connection with Picasso and a British spy, A Story Dreamt Long Ago
follows an astonishing journey of discovery, a journey which revealed
Bettina's hidden past as a Jewish spy and her untold courage.
bottom of page