‘I was a CHILD SPY'
Woman's Day Australia|April 26, 2021
Sue-Ellen tells how her parents trained her to be a mini James Bond
Brigid Auchettl
Almost every weekend throughout her childhood, Sue-Ellen Kusher and her family would conduct what they called “number plate runs”.

This involved driving around the Brisbane suburbs, recording details of cars parked outside the houses Sue-Ellen’s parents had under surveillance as part of their jobs as intelligence operatives. “The car could do three circuits without becoming too noticeable,” says Sue-Ellen from her home in Bulimba, Queensland.

“We’d memorise the car and number plates, make, model.”

So they didn’t attract suspicion, Dudley Doherty and his wife Joan, plus their three children, Sue-Ellen, Mark, and Amanda, would often change outfits during these runs. They would also swap seats with each other.

From the outside, the Dohertys appeared to be like any Australian family of the era. But during the 1950s and ’60s, while Dudley and Joan were employed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), their children became unofficial spies-in-training. This was despite strict guidelines that ASIO employees should never tell family about their work.

“It was against the rules but [my parents] had a very serious conversation about if they would involve the kids and they didn’t want to have secrets from us,” says Sue-Ellen.

Living in the Brisbane suburbs at the height of the Cold War, the couple were tasked with locating and tracking Soviet agents.

“We looked like a normal family,” says Sue-Ellen. “It was an exceptional cover.”

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM WOMAN'S DAY AUSTRALIAView All

Girls' night out - Hey Charlize, WHO'S THAT WOMAN?

The longtime single actress is rumoured to have sworn off men

1 min read
Woman's Day Australia
May 10, 2021

Pregnant Meghan - MY KIDS, MY WAY!

With the arrival of their daughter, the Sussexes are cutting all ties with the royals

3 mins read
Woman's Day Australia
May 10, 2021

We're Australia's oldest newlyweds!

Centenarian Ron proved it’s never too late to fi nd your perfect soulmate when he promised all his love to 93-year-old Marie

3 mins read
Woman's Day Australia
May 10, 2021

RITA ORA DATING THOR DIRECTOR!

While Rita Ora’s fondness for Australia has been well documented since she arrived in early February, it appears a certain new love interest may be behind her extended stay!

1 min read
Woman's Day Australia
May 10, 2021

LOUIS' OFF TO PRESCHOOL!

The youngest prince is following in the footsteps of his older siblings

1 min read
Woman's Day Australia
May 10, 2021

STARS BATTLE IT OUT TO PLAY STEVE!

Terri and Bindi Irwin have Hollywood calling again as a new movie biopic about the late Steve is gaining momentum in the big studios. According to movie insiders, a planned feature-length dramatised film about the original Wildlife Warrior’s life is doing the rounds, with big names like Chris Hemsworth and Russell Crowe in the mix to play Steve – but Woman’s Day is told 56-year-old Terri is throwing lesser-knowns like Lincoln Lewis into the ring, too.

1 min read
Woman's Day Australia
May 10, 2021

Sam Mac - ‘MUM LOVES THE LIMELIGHT MORE THAN ME!'

As Mother’s Day looms, we chat with Sunrise’s self-professed ‘mummy’s boy’ and his equally entertaining mother Loretta

3 mins read
Woman's Day Australia
May 10, 2021

DOMINIC WEST & LILY JAMES LOVE AFFAIR OVER

Dominic West’s wife Catherine FitzGerald is likely breathing a sigh of relief after Lily James – the actor’s The Pursuit Of Love co-star who he was infamously snapped getting cosy with in public last year – stepped out last week with new rocker boyfriend Michael Shuman.

1 min read
Woman's Day Australia
May 10, 2021

DAVID: ‘I MISS MY FAMILY EVERY DAY'

The Victorian is competing in the game of his life while separated from his loved ones

2 mins read
Woman's Day Australia
May 10, 2021

Anthony & Tim - ‘MARRIAGE MAKES EVERYTHING SO MUCH BETTER!'

Seven years after saying ‘I do’, Anthony Callea and Tim Campbell reveal what makes their relationship work

5 mins read
Woman's Day Australia
May 10, 2021
RELATED STORIES

Erika Tal-Shir

PLAYTIME, DREAMY WORLD AND TREASURES

3 mins read
Art Market
Issue #56 February 2021

Blue Hill Public Library

The Schmidt Ocean institute’s scientific vessel, Falkor, the world’s first year-round philanthropic research vessel, is the subject of the upcoming Slaven lecture at the Blue Hill public library. The institute’s website, schmidtocean.org, streams real-time video whenever it has equipment deployed to the ocean floor.

3 mins read
The Weekly Packet
April 22, 2021

Baby No. 2!

FACING HURDLES GETTING PREGNANT A SECOND TIME, KHLOÉ KARDASHIAN OPENS UP ABOUT THE PROCESS.

1 min read
Star
April 05, 2021

SUZI QUATRO IS BACK!

WITH A NEW ALBUM, THE DEVIL IN ME, THIS PIONEERING FEMALE ROCKER REMAINS AS DRIVEN AND DETERMINED AS EVER

8 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

Chip & Jo: INSIDE OUR FARMHOUSE RENO!

CHIP AND JOANNA GAINES ARE EXPANDING AND RENOVATING THEIR WACO HOME —AND IT MAY BE THEIR TOUGHEST JOB YET!

2 mins read
Star
March 01, 2021

‘GREY'S' ANARCHY!

Pompeo: No more Dr. McDreamy!

2 mins read
National Enquirer
March 15, 2021

SPENDTHRIFT HABITS CHIP AWAY AT JOANNA!

Gaineses’ losses pile up as reno gurus leak money

2 mins read
National Enquirer
March 15, 2021

New Challenges for a Church

With Sunday services online, this minister’s congregation is finding ways to stay connected.

3 mins read
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
April 2021

KELLY'S MAKING ELLEN PARANOID!

Fears high-rated Clarkson will steal her prized TV slot

1 min read
Globe
February 15, 2021

ELLEN'S CRIB NOTES: A BABY WILL HELP! - SOURCES

EMBATTLED Ellen DeGeneres has cooked up a new plan to save her troubled career and marriage — a baby!

1 min read
National Enquirer
February 01, 2021