Why Kirra’s mother hopes justice is finally on the way
FOR a long time after Kirra McLoughlin died, Alison Russell felt like the world had turned its back on her daughter.
But the widespread success of Gympie-produced true crime podcast Beenham Valley Road has helped give her hope that justice might not be as far away as it used to feel.
THE KIRRA MCLOUGHLIN STORY CONTINUES
Seven months, 11 episodes and 200K+ streams later, there are now people all over the world waiting for answers on how the young Wolvi mother died, and who is responsible.
"It was a very lonely road, and I was pushing it uphill pretty much by myself for a very long time. I didn't feel like anybody cared or even remembered in the first place," Alison says.
"Then when I started telling people about the podcast it was like 'I haven't heard about this'.
"It wasn't even like she'd been forgotten in the first place, her death was just glossed over as if nothing happened.
"It was like nobody really knew. A few of the people in (Wolvi) knew, the people who knew her, but I spoke to people who lived in the area and they had no idea. I spoke to people who know the children, and they didn't know what had happened to their mother.
"It was hard for me to live like that. Nobody cared about any justice for Kirra.
"I didn't do much. I didn't go out. I didn't do anything. At that stage I was constantly packing or unpacking because I've had to move a lot, but I spent a lot of time in the fetal position, wanting the world to go away."
Beenham Valley Road made an immediate impact on listeners around the country and beyond, landing inside the iTunes national top 40 charts upon dropping its first episode, which contained an interview with Alison.
Former Gympie police officers and podcast co-creators Jamie Pultz and Tom Daunt spoke of a "bittersweet" feeling upon ending the podcast, with the coronial inquest into Kirra's death still yet to begin.
But Alison says the podcast has been crucial in revitalising her fight for justice.
"I can't even put it into words," Alison says.
"Probably the easiest way to explain that is the change in me that the children see compared to before Tom and Jamie came along.
"They changed everything. They changed the way I see life, they changed the way the world sees Kirra.
"There was really no visible hope before they came along, but the fact that it was something they wanted to do, her story, it wasn't just another reporter wanting to do another story.
"They just impressed me so much in the way they always treated Kirra and approached her story with respect and kindness, I really couldn't have asked for anyone better to do it.
"I just wanted the world to know about her. And they've made that happen."
Alison says she has been overwhelmed with the passionate responses of Beenham Valley Road listeners, as well as the interest they have shown in the person Kirra was.
She says the podcast, while focused on Kirra's death, has also showcased the vibrant and infectious personality she was so well known for in life.
"She was one of those people you meet and never forget," Alison says
"She could be telling you your dog just died and you'd be laughing because of the way she'd tell the story and just express herself.
"There were actually two funeral services we had for her, and at the second one back on the Central Coast her best friend's younger sister said the thing Kirra taught her was it was OK to be yourself.
"Kirra made such an impact on so many people.
"She still comes to me now. I can feel her with me.
"I see two little yellow butterflies flying together and playing and I think that's her with (her friend) Pamela, because they were so close, and Kirra was so devastated when she died."
The final episode of Beenham Valley Road is due for release on all streaming services "in the coming days".
Kirra's name was missing from the Coroner's Court of Queensland Inquest List for November.