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Truth uncovered

A scene from the new CSI: Experience exhibit currently on the Gold Coast.
A scene from the new CSI: Experience exhibit currently on the Gold Coast. STV

A YOUNG woman's body has been found behind a Las Vegas motel.

She is wearing a waitress uniform with a nametag that reads "Penny".

There is a tyre tread across her body and a nearby photo of her has been ripped in half.

Near her handbag are a mobile phone and a plastic bag of what appears to be some sort of illicit drugs.

It's up to you to decipher the evidence and find out who, if anyone, killed her.

This is the CSI: The Experience, where punters can have a go at being crime scene investigators in the new interactive exhibit, currently accepting agents at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

Designed for visitors 11 years and older, the 1110-square metre exhibition is based on the long-running crime drama and was developed in consultation with 175 forensic scientist experts.

From DNA and firearms analysis to forensic anthropology and toxicology, visitors get a taste of what CSI executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer has dubbed "edu-tainment".

When we arrive we are given white lab coats and clip boards with a report for one of the three crime scenes.

We are then taken into a room for a video introduction, in which series creator Anthony E Zuiker welcomes us and explains the inspiration behind the show, first set in Las Vegas and then expanded in New York and Miami-based spin-offs.

Real-life forensic scientist Ron Singer briefly explains the science behind the exhibit before CSI's original lead investigator Gil Grissom (played by William Petersen) comes on screen to address the latest agents, saying "So, you're the new recruits".

He gives us advice including "document everything" and "let the evidence guide you" before sending us in to examine our selected crime scenes.

After poring over our scenes it's time to head to the lab stations where we examine a variety of evidence.

In my case, this includes reading text messages recovered from the dead woman's phone, testing the drugs found at the crime scene and using the blowflies and maggots found on the body to determine a time of death.

I also have to match up DNA results to those of four sets of parents of missing women matching Penny's age and features.

We then move into the autopsy room, where projectors are used to digitally display the process on a white mannequin.

Finally, it's time to present our findings to Grissom and see if we've closed in on the right suspect.

With our cases successfully solved, we are awarded with CSI diplomas, complete with agent ID numbers and Grissom's signature.

After successful stints in the US, Europe and Asia, this is the exhibit's first visit to Australia.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said it was a major boost for the Gold Coast's tourism industry.

"This award-winning TV series has been watched in homes all over Queensland for years and now the experience is being brought to life right here on the Gold Coast," she said.

"The Gold Coast is a perfect destination for this exhibition which is sure to be a hit among locals and tourists alike."

Since opening on December 2, the exhibit has enjoyed bumper crowds over the Christmas holiday season.

CSI: The Experience is open daily from 10am to 10pm at the Surfers Paradise Piazza. For more information go to www.csiexhibit.com.

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