The comedian and TV host was reduced to tears in tonight’s episode of Anh’s Brush with Fame as Chamberlain, 71, relived the disappearance of her nine-week-old daughter Azaria during a camping trip at Uluru in 1980.
Chamberlain maintained from the outset that a dingo had taken Azaria from their tent, but in 1982 she was charged with the baby’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In an emotional interview on the ABC, Chamberlain told Do that her son Reagan, who was 4 when Azaria was taken, was in the tent with the baby when the dingo attacked.
“The first time that we knew he (Reagan) was awake and remembered anything was when we got a new dog,” she said.
“He was lying on the floor and the puppy ran over his back and he sort of sat up and went, ‘Ahhhh’. I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ And he said, ‘Oh, that was just like when the dingo walked on me.’ I said, ‘But I thought you were asleep when I came in?’ He’s like, ‘Nup, when you first came in I thought it had come back to get me so I played dead until you kicked me and spoke.’
“He just got walked on and we’re thinking the first time (the dingo entered the tent) disturbed him and then he said he heard some noises and then was walked on, so our surmising is that the noises were her (Azaria) being attacked and then walking off over him.”
An inquest into Azaria’s disappearance in 1981 cleared Lindy and her husband Michael of wrongdoing and found that a dingo had taken the baby. But a second inquest in 1982 found Lindy was guilty of murder.
Chamberlain was eight months pregnant when she was sentenced to life in prison for supposedly murdering Azaria by cutting her throat, and Do had tears streaming down his face as she recalled how her two sons were told she was being sent behind bars.
“Mum had to tell them (Aidan and Reagan) that they’d sent me to prison which haunted her until the day she died,” Chamberlain said, also crying. “She said it was the worst thing she ever had to do was tell them when they woke up in the morning.
“She’d never heard a noise come out of a kid like that in her life before and never wanted to hear it again.
“Thankfully she didn’t tell me that until after I came out of prison. That’s not the sort of thing you want to remember.”
In November 1982 Chamberlain gave birth to her daughter Kahlia while in custody. In one of the most moving moments in the interview, she spoke about trying to delay the birth because she knew the baby was immediately going to be taken and put in foster care.
“(It was a) very painful process actually because I knew the minute she was born they (authorities) were going to take her off me,” Chamberlain told Do. “So every moment of birth I fought it. It was like, ‘You keep her inside and she’s yours, the minute she’s out she’s not.’”
In 1986 after three years in prison, Chamberlain was released after the discovery of new evidence backed up her claim that a dingo had taken Azaria. And remarkably she holds no grudges over the horrific ordeal she was put through.
“If I hadn’t gone through all that, we wouldn’t have the laws that we’ve got in Australia right now,” she told Do.
“We’ve got a independent forensic science now, it used to be all police, as a result of that trial. If I’d been let out at the time, if I’d gotten a ‘not guilty’ at the trial, we wouldn’t have those laws.
“There are things that, what’s happened to me, has been able to make it better for other Australians and for that I’m grateful,” she said.
In June 2012, an Australian coroner made a final ruling that a dingo took Azaria Chamberlain and killed her.
The interview was recorded before the Fraser Island attack early on Good Friday that was eerily similar to the 1980 tragedy involving Azaria.
A 14-month-old boy was dragged from a camper trailer while his family was asleep before his heroic dad saved him from the jaws of the wild animal.
The boy’s parents — who were camping with the boy and his four-year-old sister at Eurong Beach — woke to the sound of their son’s cries, which were “becoming more distant”, according to the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) LifeFlight Rescue.
The father left the van to find the animal had already managed to carry the child some distance away, with other dingoes lurking nearby.
It is believed at least two dingoes managed to enter the trailer without the family noticing.