Adelaide weather presenter Melody Horrill opens up on abusive childhood and how dolphin saved her


Weather presenter reveals her darkest family secrets – including the moment her evil father grinded a corkscrew into her mum’s face before slashing his throat with a carving knife – and how a DOLPHIN saved her life

  • A beloved former TV presenter has opened up about her violent childhood
  • Melody Horrill shared her gripping and emotional life story in a new tell-all book 
  • She watched her father stab her mother with a corkscrew and slash his throat
  • He was jailed and took his life, with Ms Horrill struggling to leave past behind
  • She credited the unlikely friendship with a dolphin named Jock as her ‘salvation’ 

A former weather presenter has opened up about the moment she watched her father viciously attack her mother with a corkscrew and slash his own throat. 

Melody Horrill, 55, an environmental journalist from Adelaide, has only now shared the heart-wrenching story of how her childhood was riddled with domestic violence at the hands of her dad in her book A Dolphin Called Jock.

She said her father had shown up at her home in April, 1986 after she and her mother had tried to escape him, only for him to launch at her and grind the corkscrew into his wife’s face.

As she raced to call police, Ms Horrill then saw her father run a carving knife across his throat and fall down into a pool of blood. 

Ms Horrill went on to become one of the top weather presenters on Channel 7, her calm facade hiding the years of trauma she suffered.

In her book, she credits the incredibly close bond she shared with Jock, a timid but playful dolphin living in Port River, as the one thing that allowed her to heal.

‘The bond I forged with him obliterated the walls I’d built around my heart. He taught me that my life didn’t have to be ruled by fear and mistrust,’ she wrote in an extract from her book. 

Former South Australian news presenter Melody Horrill (pictured) has revealed her dark upbringing and told how a dolphin turned her life around

Former South Australian news presenter Melody Horrill (pictured) has revealed her dark upbringing and told how a dolphin turned her life around

In a tell-all book, Ms Horrill (pictured) has revealed how she overcame the trauma of her youth to become one of the country's top environmental journalists

In a tell-all book, Ms Horrill (pictured) has revealed how she overcame the trauma of her youth to become one of the country’s top environmental journalists

Ms Horrill grew up in Adelaide with her brother, mother and father with both siblings subjected to the cruelty of their dad. 

Police visited the family home often with violent fights between Ms Horrill’s parents a common occurrence. 

‘Yes, it was difficult. But I think I realised I had to be brave,’ she told The Advertiser.

After a particularly horrific flare up between the pair, her mother slipped out of the front door, giving the future presenter a gift to remember her by – a scented handkerchief – in what looked to be a final goodbye.

She then returned to the home days later as if nothing had transpired.

In her later years of youth, Ms Horrill moved with her mother to a flat in an attempt to escape her father but he instead stalked them, sometimes showing up in bizarre disguises.

Ms Horrill was saved by an unlikely companion who inspired years of in-depth environmental coverage (pictured)

Ms Horrill was saved by an unlikely companion who inspired years of in-depth environmental coverage (pictured)

The resilient presenter recalled in her book how she would obsess over the locks and watch the street through her windows, at the same time hiding behind her curtains.

Ms Horrill’s mother said it was herself her ex-partner was obsessed with and moved out of the flat on the advice of the police, into a place with her new boyfriend.

The young Ms Horrill was joined in the flat by a close friend but the family violence came to boiling point when Ms Horrill’s mother visited a few months later to drop off some laundry. 

It was then that Ms Horrill’s father ambushed the two of them, lurching for Ms Horrill’s mother with the corkscrew, narrowly missing her eyes. 

Authorities arrived to find the young woman crouched in a corner of her home held there by fear and trauma. 

Her father survived his own injuries, and abused Ms Horrill as she gave evidence against him in the courtroom.

The case ultimately ended in his imprisonment and just a week before she was due to sit her final high school exams, her father took his own life.

‘There was just a turning point in my life where I realised I had to drag myself out of these dark patches,’ she said, adding she was determined to complete her exams. 

Through persistence and determination Ms Horrill then entered a degree in communications, majoring in psychology, but was traumatised by the experiences in her teenage years. 

Her father’s voice telling her she would ‘never amount to anything’ echoed in her mind. 

Ms Horrill's story is expounded in its entirety in her now-released book - A Dolphin Called Jock

Ms Horrill’s story is expounded in its entirety in her now-released book – A Dolphin Called Jock

But a class with a psychology professor passionate about man’s reconnection to nature led her to researching Port River dolphins, and falling in love with the species.

One dolphin captured the future presenter’s heart, Jock – an animal scarred and mangled by fishing equipment, and too scared to swim with the other dolphins in the main river.

‘He appeared not only so physically damaged but his behaviour was so different, he seemed so lonely. It seemed so very sad and I felt this massive empathy for him and a connection to him,’ she said.

In her book, Ms Horrill writes of how the trust displayed by the mammal ‘blew her mind’ and helped ‘fill a gaping hole in my heart’.

She and her professor Mike Bossley would visit Jock over various research projects spanning three years, with the dolphin always happy to greet them.

Ms Horrill said she felt herself changing and healing from her time with the dolphins, and later went on to set up the Australian Dolphin Research Foundation with Mr Bossley. 

In her unfolding career she found herself reflecting on her experiences with Jock, at one point pitching a documentary on the Port River Dolphins, picked up by Channel 10 nationally and CNN in the United States.

She admitted it was hard to let go of the trauma from her past, but credited the acceptance ‘of a dolphin and his mates’ as her ‘salvation’.

A Dolphin Called Jock by Melody Horrill is out now. 

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