Hugo Austin (2009-2010) Bernard Curry Episodes: 4777–4998; 5069–5093
Parents: Jeremy & Gina Austin; John Palmer (former stepfather) Siblings: Xavier & Brendan Austin
Occupation: Diving instructor
Hugo arrived in the bay for his cousin Jack’s funeral. His younger brother Xavier instantly rekindled his dislike of his older brother, accusing him of bailing on the family. When Hugo laid into Xavier about selling drugs, he announced that it was the only way they could get money because what Hugo had been sending wasn’t enough. Hugo realised his brother was right and set about trying to look after his family during this dreadful time. Hugo offered to look after Xavier full time in the bay so that his mum could go back and look after Brendan. Xavier agreed and the two brothers began living with Rachel and Tony but it wasn’t long before Xavier out stayed his welcome when he and Ruby got drunk on a bottle of champagne meant for Tony and Jack’s boat.
Hugo swiftly moved them out of there and they ended being offered a place to live with Martha, who wanted Hugo there to have a new link with Jack. Hugo refused at first but soon accepted the offer on the condition that they leave if they prove too much for Martha. Xavier’s girlfriend Freya added to the tension between the brothers she tried to kiss him and they were caught by Xavier who at first blamed Hugo. Xavier, Ruby and freya thought they had hit Hugo’s boat after Freya took it for a joyride and everyone was worried about him but he turned up safe and well.
Roman disapproved of Hugo and Xavier living with Martha, feeling the extra pressure for her would be too much. It wasn’t long before Hugo picked up on the feelings Roman had for Martha and promptly told Martha this, causing her to end her friendship with Roman. Hugo decided he needed to make his position in the bay more permanent and made a business proposal to Alf to set up a diving school. Roman soon heard about this warned Alf off the idea. Alf then refused Hugo but after Martha asked Roman to go easier on Hugo, he put Alf straight and Alf readily accepted Hugo’s offer to go into business with him.
Hugo was worried when Martha disappeared during a storm and later found her unconscious. She made a full recovery but life at home became infinitely more difficult when Gina broke her ankle and Brendan came to live with Xavier and Hugo. Hugo was unable to deal with his brother and left Xavier to carry the burden, causing more tension between the brothers. Martha managed to get Hugo to open up to her about losing his ex girlfriend in a car crash that nearly killed him. He still had issues with Brendan though and after a fight to take away Brendan’s stick saw Brendan accidentally hurt, both Gina and Xavier refused to believe that it was an accident. Martha took his side and Hugo later had things out with Xavier and cleared the air. He also came to realise that Brendan’s fear of blue cars came from the fact that a blue car had nearly killed Hugo and Hugo realised that Brendan loved him. When Brendan left the bay to return to Gina, things were back on track with the brothers.
Hugo was missing at sea when a severed hand was found on the beach and later turned up at hospital, struggling with a wound which he claimed had been caused by a Tiger Shark. People wanted to buy him drinks and hear his story but John Palmer. angry at the Surf Carvival being cancelled, spread word that Hugo had lied, causing him to lash out in a brawl that saw Hugo, Roman, Gardy and Miles take on John and his friends, destroying Alf’s bar.
After Angelo confirmed that the shark did exist Hugo, Alf and miles went out to look for it but instead found Lou deBono’s body. After weeks of being distant around Martha, Hugo admitted he had feelings for her. Both of them were initially awkward about the relationship and Hugo took off for a few weeks. He returned and told her he was willing to put his feelings aside but she moved out anyway. He admitted the truth to Xavier and arranged a bonding exercise by taking him along to collect a new shark cage. When Xavier was taken hostage by Gardy, Hugo fired a harpoon gun at him to force him to release him.
Hugo stopped by the farm to check on Martha after she had an argument with Tony and on learning the full facts about Tony and Angelo’s fishing trip went out with Alf to search for them. He arrived on the cliff edge in time to help Tony haul Angelo to safety. Afterwards, he and Martha shared a kiss at the house but she backed off and returned to the farm. They kissed again after having dinner at Tony and Rachel’s but even with Tony giving them his blessing, Martha still felt she was betraying Jack. When Charlie told him about Xavier and Ruby’s plans to sleep together when she turned sixteen, he reluctantly agreed to have a chat with Xavier and acknowledged that they had thought it through.
He later took Xavier on a snorkelling trip which was cut short when they got lost on the way there. Hugo ended up offering to let Xavier drive back but they were pulled over by Angelo. Hugo was shocked when he discovered Xavier slashing Angelo’s car tyres and after sending him on his way was caught by Angelo who quickly guessed what had really happened. He went to Charlie and asked her to talk Angelo out of pressing charges, sending Xavier to work on Martha’s farm as punishment, but only succeeded in enflaming the situation. He began spending time with Charlie, causing Martha to believe they were a couple and insist they weren’t right for each other…before kissing him. She agreed to give a relationship a go if they kept it to themselves. Hugo was briefly drafted in by Angelo to interrogate Wayan, a mysterious Indonesian man who turned up at the hospital, but he claimed not to know much of the language. After Angelo sprang him meeting Martha in secret, they began telling their families. Alf, Tony and Xavier were all accepting, as was Leah, but Colleen took a bit more work. Hugo suggested they go to the city to tell Gina and Brendan and get away from things for a while but instead they came across a bus full of schoolchildren which Trey Palmer had placed a bomb under. Hugo and Martha managed to defuse it but Hugo was injured when it was detonated by a secondary. Fortunately, he recovered after having shrapnel removed from his head.
Martha and Hugo’s relationship was now fully accepted and they spent the night together at her farm, after first turfing Xavier and Ruby out of the bed, with Hugo having to restrain a confused Ross from attacking his brother. When Ruby found out Charlie was her mother and Martha agreed to let her stay with them, Hugo managed to calm her down and persuade her not to go against Charlie. Hugo was the first to realise Gibbsey was behind the abalone poaching in the area; he tried to set him up by arranging for Gibbsey to sell him some abalone and then making an anonymous call to Angelo so he would catch Gibbsey red-handed but only managed to get himself arrested when Gibbsey planted the abalone in his boat shed anyway and Angelo found it. Angelo eventually realised the truth but when Hugo realised Aden had gone along on the latest trip, he nearly got himself in trouble again by going to the wharf to warn him just before the police arrested Gibbsey. Gibbsey later approached Hugo, on Angelo’s instructions, to ask for help getting out of the country and Hugo calmly related the conversation to Angelo.
Hugo played parent to Brendan again when he came to stay with them while Gina was on holiday and now seemed on much better terms with his brother, being impressed with how independent he had become. He also talked Aden into helping Martha on the farm. He was very cautious when Brendan befriended a Down’s Syndrome sufferer, Ruby Leeds, and started referring to her as his girlfriend but helped persuade Gina to let Brendan stay in a community house like he wanted. He tried to set up a new dive attraction by sinking a schooner in the bay but John Palmer opposed the plan and the council delayed voting on the decision until after the election John was standing in. He tried to convince John that it would bring tourists and money to the Bay and help all the local businesses but John disagreed. When he began receiving threats and his boat shed was trashed, Hugo went to the police and was highly critical of them when Derrick Quaid broke into the boat shed and got into a fight with Hugo during which Xavier was injured. He considered selling the schooner and was shocked when Martha decided to run for council, confessing to her that he had been drinking the night his girlfriend was killed and was worried it would come out.
He was concerned when Detective Robertson suggested Xavier had lied to the police about Charlie’s whereabouts when Grant Bledcoe was killed and confronted both Xavier and Ruby about it. Convinced they were telling the truth, he had a go at Robertson for harrassing his brother and was annoyed when it turned out Xavier was lying after all. When his boat was cut loose, he and Angelo went looking for it and instead found twelve dead illegal immigrants, with Hugo seemingly unaware he was considered prime suspect for the people smuggling operation that claimed their lives. When he returned home from a night dive to find Bambang staying at the house, he was concerned and persuaded Martha to return him to Social Services. Then Suzy Sudiro turned up at the house, claiming she was Hugo’s wife. Hugo was forced to admit it was true but claimed it was a marriage of convenience, since it was easier for him to run a business in Indonesia if he was married to a national. However, he didn’t deny it when Martha asked if he’d slept with her and Martha walked out on him. Suzy gave Hugo a ticket to Indonesia, telling him to follow her over.
With Martha and Bambang installed at the farm, Hugo joined them, persuading her they could be a family. He realised the farm was being watched and was surprised when he discovered two police officers. When she found the ticket, he assured her he wasn’t planning on using it and then told her he had signed his half of the business and his share of the profits over to Suzy. However, after another encounter with Suzy, in which she suggested Martha wouldn’t want to be with him if she knew the real him and once more insisted he should return to Indonesia, he suddenly broke things off with Martha, telling her a long-term relationship wasn’t for him. She confronted him with an invoice for an engagement ring he had bought a few days previous and insisted he had been planning to propose to her. He admitted it was true but told her he couldn’t be the man she wanted.
Hugo was punched by Angelo during an argument at the surf club but declined an offer to press charges. He shocked everyone by suddenly announcing he was leaving town and booked a flight to Argentina. He slept with Martha during a visit to the farm before saying a quick goodbye to Gina, Xavier, Tony and Rachel outside the surf club. However, as he was leaving town he was stopped by Suzy, who told him she wanted the money from their “business”. After trying to send a warning message to Martha, Hugo was last seen in 2009 turning up at the docks where Charlie had just found a crate full of illegal immigrants and knocking her unconscious.
Into 2010, and Hugo had Charlie aboard his boat, where flashbacks began to clear up just what had been happening throughout the previous year. Suzi turned up and was wrestled into the sea. Charlie dived into save her and Hugo took off.
As Hugo went back to the bay to collect his stuff, a message was left by Tony saying that Angelo had been shot, but cutting out as he tried to say about Martha . However, it was all a set up and when Hugo arrived there, Angelo was there to arrest him. Taken into custody he was then shot by Indonesian man. As his funeral went ahead, we saw him watching from a distance and it was revealed through flashbacks that the police were willing to cut him a deal which would see him put into to witness protection and that the man who had shot him was an undercover cop. However, he wanted Alf to know that he was still alive and left Xavier a box of money which provided some comedy later on.
Hugo returned to town several months later and ran into Xavier, where he was shocked to learn everyone in Summer Bay already knew he was alive. He explained while he was working in a small town he had seen a former associate and realised there had been a leak in witness protection. Not willing to trust the police, he had gone on the run and had returned to town to make sure no-one was hurting his family. He was intending to leave straightaway and asked Xavier to get him some supplies. He next met Gina when he visited the school and she took him home, where he persuaded her she wasn’t to blame for the way he’d turned out and admitted he’d made some bad choices, allowing them to make their peace. He was reunited with Martha when she turned up at the house and ended up sneaking past the police surveillance to join her at the farm.
He spent the next few weeks holed up there, enjoying a semblance of domestic bliss with Martha, but stressed it could only be temporary, despite her expressing a desire to go with him when he left. When Charlie and Angelo searched the house, he hid in the roof space, only to fall through the ceiling after they’d left and have to call Tony and Rachel for treatment. When Martha mentioned finding some burning cigarette butts near the farm, he realised someone other than the police had been watching the place and was once more determined to leave as soon as possible until Alf dissuaded him. Martha insisted that if he did leave, she’d go with him. He was frustrated when he was forced to stay in hiding after Xavier went missing, resulting in Martha and Gina disappearing as well. He contemplated turning himself in until he received a call from ‘Killer’ demanding a meeting. He went along, with Tony in tow, and ended up in a fight with ‘Killer’ until Tony knocked him out. After making sure Martha and the others were okay, he quickly left the scene before the police arrived.
Still hiding out on the farm, he overheard Martha talking with Angelo and Eaves and recognised the latter as being involved with the people smugglers. He surrendered to Charlie but persuaded her to release him when they heard Eaves was on the way. He distracted Eaves from entering the farm house by sounding the police car horn and tackled him as he was about to shoot Angelo, being shot in the leg in the process. After Charlie, Angelo and Tony had captured Eaves and Hugo had been patched up by Rachel, Angelo arrested both him and Martha but then let them go a few yards down the road, saying he knew if Hugo went to jail he’d be killed. Hugo punched Angelo at his own request, so it would look like they overpowered him, before he and Martha successfully fled town.