Home—Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
Reporter and researcher. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia, Can We Help senior researcher. Also lectured at universities and reported for Cable News Network (CNN) and Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK).
(With Marianne van Velzen) The Diamond Dakota Mystery, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Australian and Woman's Day.
Juliet Wills is an Australian reporter and researcher. Throughout her career, she has worked for a number of news agencies, including Cable News Network (CNN), Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). She has contributed to a number of Australian periodicals, including Australian and Woman's Day.
In 2006 Wills published the nonfiction book The Diamond Dakota Mystery with Allen & Unwin. Marianne van Velzen received an honorary coauthor mention for the book as Wills forged a research relationship with the Dutch woman, who was concurrently researching the same story for a television documentary. The two found their sources overlapped greatly, and their partnership allowed a free sharing of information. The book retells the events surrounding a mysterious package that Dutch pilot Ivan Smirnoff was charged to deliver from Java to Sydney. As the Japanese began to occupy Indonesia (then a Dutch colony), two wealthy Dutch businessmen entrusted a package to Smirnoff in the hopes that he would deposit it at Sydney's Commonwealth Bank. Smirnoff left Java with a plane full of Dutch refugees. However, as he approached Broome, Western Australia, he bumped into Japanese planes returning from a mission attacking Broome. They shot down his unarmed plane, seriously injuring most of the passengers. Although Smirnoff and a handful of refugees survived, they quickly fled the area, leaving the package behind. Eventually locals found the package, which contained millions of dollars worth of diamonds.
Michael E. Daniel, writing in the Australian News Weekly remarked that "in this engaging work, award-winning Perth journalist Juliet Wills recounts the story behind the package." On the ABC Australia Bush Telegraph Web site, Cathy Pryor called the book "a ripper of a yarn." Damian Griffin, writing in Australia's Army: The Soldier's Newspaper, described the book as "a truly fabulous read." Griffin commented that the author "has thoroughly researched the story using interviews with survivors and police and court documents." Griffin concluded that The Diamond Dakota Mystery is a "remarkable tale." Terry Oberg, reviewing The Diamond Dakota Mystery in a Brisbane Courier Mail article, noted that the book's title "might sound like it belongs to a schlocky pulp novel" with a Wild West setting, "but Juliet Wills's account of a curious episode in Australian history is as ocker as they come." Oberg concluded that "Wills has produced a lean and compelling account of a great little unexplored slice of Australian history. The writing itself might be a little stiff, but the depth of research and the fascinating nature of the story make The Diamond Dakota Mystery a worthwhile read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Army: The Soldier's Newspaper (Australia), March 8, 2007, Damian Griffin, review of The Diamond Dakota Mystery.
Courier Mail (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), August 25, 2006, Terry Oberg, review of The Diamond Dakota Mystery.
News Weekly (Australia), December 9, 2006, Michael E. Daniel, review of The Diamond Dakota Mystery.
ABC Australia Bush Telegraph Web site,http://www.abc.net.au/rural/telegraph/ (August 15, 2006), Cathy Pryor, review of The Diamond Dakota Mystery.