"We finally get our voices heard." Stan Original Series Black Snow is not your average murder mystery.

You learn in the opening moments of Stan Original Series Black Snow the central character, Isabel Baker, is dead.

She was killed 25 years ago, with no one ever arrested for her murder. 

As Black Snow's six episodes play out, you'll also learn that Isabel was fun and friendly, with a strong sense of justice. She respected her Australian South Sea Islander community and culture. She was excited about her future, starting with a road trip with her best friend that she never got to go on.

Set in a fictional small North Queensland town, Black Snow is a story from creator Lucas Taylor. Across six episodes and two time periods, Black Snow plays out as both a coming-of-age drama and a classic whodunit.

Watch: the trailer for Black Snow. Post continues below video.

In 1994, a group of high school students are working on a time capsule. One week before it is buried, Isabel Baker (Talijah Blackman-Corowa) is murdered, shocking the small town and devastating her Australian South Sea Islander community. 

The case goes cold until 25 years later when the capsule is opened, unearthing a letter from Isabel that sheds new light on her death. The investigation is reopened and Detective Sergeant James Cormack (Travis Fimmel) arrives in Ashford to begin the search for a killer.

You will quickly find yourself swept up in the mystery of what happened to Isabel, seeking justice for her murder and for another historical crime that comes to light during the investigation. You will also, when the story switches to 1994, find yourself really liking her.


That's exactly the point.

In July 2022, I visited the set of Black Snow in Proserpine, North Queensland, and in speaking to the cast and crew, that was a theme that came through in all the conversations.

Everyone involved in this project knew - and hoped audiences learned too - that Isabel was always written as a fully rounded, layered, loved character. That under the heavy label of 'murder victim' was a person, who had hobbies and hopes and dreams, and desperately loved her community.

"Most stories about a female getting murdered, it's all about the characters around them and not them. But you learn to love [Isabel], you fall in love with her," Blackman-Corowa told Mamamia of her character. 

"And it's really sad because you obviously see at the start that she passes away, but you also see that she's courageous, and curious and brave and promising. And loving and loyal."

Talijah Blackman-Corowa as Isabel Baker and Ziggy Ramo as Ezekiel in Black Snow. Image: Stan.


Producer Rosemary Blight concurred.

"[Isabel's] not on the slab. She is so alive. And you fall in love with her," she told Mamamia. "Being able to show her incredible life and how full of life she was - it's just really, really potent as a woman to be able to do that, and keep her alive and not just have a picture of a dead girl."

In conversation over lunch after a busy morning of filming on the sunny, tropical North Queensland set, Blackman-Corowa said something else that stuck me with.

"It's meaningful entertainment," she said about Black Snow.

We were talking about what it meant for her, as a young Australian South Sea Islander, to be playing the central character in a production so centred around her community - one that many Aussies are not as familiar with as we should be.

The story is fictitious, but it weaves in many real aspects of history.

Between 1863 and 1904, more than 62,000 South Sea Islanders were brought to work in Queensland from around 80 different Pacific Islands, including Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Many were kidnapped - or 'blackbirded' - from their homes by labour agents, or came after being told lies about what to expect in Australia.


For little to no money, they laboured in the sugarcane fields of Queensland.

In 1994, the Federal Government officially recognised Australian South Sea Islanders as a distinct cultural group. 

"It's not something you see on screen at all, really," Blackman-Corowa said of their stories. 

"I feel so lucky, I'm so glad to be a part of it so that we finally get our voices heard and get to tell our story."

Image: Stan.


Black Snow has all the tenets of a prestige local drama, with strong performances from stars including Vikings lead actor Fimmel, Brooke Satchwell and newcomers Blackman-Corowa and Jemmason Power, who plays Isabel's older sister Hazel.

Satchwell plays the 2019 version of Chloe, Isabel's high school best friend and current CEO of the Ashford Mill, which has for generations been the biggest employer and moneymaker in town.

She said the series was "such an extraordinary story", featuring all sorts of complexities about privilege and culture that she thought were written beautifully.

"I think that's what's so critical now about Black Snow, to be able to present a story that is such a significant part of our shared history, but has kind of missed its pages in the history books," Satchwell said.

"It was quite devastating, to really absorb that history and to consider it in terms of everyday life and what that means for a family and a community and the fragmentation of a culture over time."

This is a series that will teach you something, all wrapped up in a very entertaining, very gripping, uniquely Australian story.

The Stan Original Series Black Snow premieres New Year’s Day, with all episodes dropping at once.

Feature image: Stan.

Love watching TV and movies? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $100 gift voucher.