SpyCast 1.23.24
Ep 618 | 1.23.24

Australian National Day Special: “Intelligence Down Under with John Blaxland”

Show Notes


John Blaxland (Twitter, LinkedIn) joins Andrew (TwitterLinkedIn) to discuss intelligence in Australia and Oceania. John is a widely recognized as a leading expert in this area. 

What You’ll Learn


  • Australia’s Intelligence Community 
  • SIGINT in Australia during WWII 
  • Australia’s relationship with South Asia
  • The Pine Gap facility 


  • The implications of geography
  • The power of collaboration

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

In this episode of SpyCast, Andrew was joined by John Blaxland, co-author of the new book Revealing Secrets: An unofficial history of Australian Signals intelligence and the advent of cyber. John is a professor of International Security & Intelligence Studies at the Australian National University. He was an instrumental collaborator on the creation of the three-volume Official History of ASIO

Andrew and John discuss all things Australian intelligence, from the very beginning of the cyber age during WWII through to Australia’s involvement in the East Timor crisis of 1999. As a critical member of the Five Eyes, the importance of Australia’s intelligence services and clandestine operations around the world cannot be understated. Tune in for a SpyCast trip down under to learn more! 


Canberra, the capital city of Australia, is commonly known to mean “meeting place” in the Indigenous language of Ngunnawal. The Ngunnawal Aboriginal people have inhabited the area of modern day Canberra for over 21,000 years – To learn more about the Ngunnawal people, check out their series Stories from Ngunnawal Country on YouTube. 

Quotes of the Week

“The shift from the analog to the digital world … The shift for digital espionage, digital footprint management. How do you hide in the noise? How do you cover your identity? How do you protect your identity? … The digital revolution has actually enabled states to exercise a lot more power, a lot more control, a lot more monitoring, a lot more surveillance, a lot more interference.” – John Blaxland.



*Spotlight Resource*

  • Revealing Secrets: An unofficial history of Australian Signals intelligence and the advent of cyber, C. Birgin & J. Blaxland (University of New South Wales Press, 2023)


*Beginner Resources*



  • Spies & Sparrows: ASIO & the Cold War, P. Deery (Melbourne University Press, 2022)
  • Australia's First Spies: The Remarkable Story of Australia's Intelligence Operations, 1901-45, J. Fahey (Allen & Unwin, 2019)
  • The Official History of ASIO – 3 Volumes, D. Horner, J. Blaxland, R. Crawley (Allen & Unwin, 2014/2015/2016)



Primary Sources 

*Wildcard Resource*

  • Pine Gap 
  • A TV show about the top-secret satellite surveillance base of the same name. If you’ve seen it, you know it all about Australian Intelligence. Just kidding. But it’s a good watch!