Think about it: massive expanse of land, plenty of room to take the saucer for a spin without much scrutiny, decent population of humans lurking about for the odd probing… Australia just might be the perfect spot for vacationing aliens.
Though Oz might not be known as the UFO hub of the world, Australians have reported an impressive number of eerie encounters with unexplained phenomena over the decades.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most harrowing home-grown ‘X-Files’ occurrences.
1. The case of Frederick Valentich
A haunting radio transmission. A flight over water. An unexplained object flying directly overhead. The case of Frederick Valentich just might be Australia’s grittiest UFO cold case.
On the night of 21 October 1978, 20-year-old Valentich took a rented single-engine Cessna out of Victoria’s Moorabbin airport an hour before sundown. Supposedly heading to King Island to catch seafood, Valentich radioed Melbourne’s Air Flight Service for support after spotting a UFO above him somewhere over the Bass Strait: “Seems [to] be a large aircraft below five thousand,” he said. “…playing some sort of game … flying over me two, three times, at a time at speeds I could not identify.”
Valentich described a long, metallic object with green lights, before his signal cut out. The plane – with him in it – was never seen again.
2. The 1966 Westall sighting
School is enough to give any kid hallucinations at the best of times, though it’s unusual that it happens to so many, including teachers, in one hit.
That’s more or less what went down at 6am, 6 April 1966, when over 200 people at Clayton South’s Westall High School ran outside to behold an astonishing sight: a trio of full-blown flying saucers. “They were hovering over the trees and then went down into the trees and disappeared for a minute or two then rose back up, sort of banked on its side and then took off at a 1000 miles per hour,” said Sue Savage, a 13-year-old eyewitness at the time.
Military personnel and ‘men in black’ were allegedly seen on site soon after. Suburban UFO mystery, or government weather experiment? You decide. (FYI: a Channel 9 film canister containing footage from the incident has since gone missing from the station archives).
3. Mysterious Mt. Gambier
Stonehenge. The Great Pyramid. The Bermuda Triangle… Mt Gambier. Country Victoria might not scream ‘hidden mysteries of our age’, but consider this: since the late 30s and beyond, the region around Mt Gambier has copped a significant share of alleged UFOs.
Take the 18 February 1969 edition of the Mt. Gambier ‘Border Watch’: “It lit up Mr Bruce Millowick's pig houses like a spotlight," reported one eyewitness, describing eerie red and green lights flashing in the skies over their rural neighbourhood.
It was but one of countless cases reported that week, with others being chased along the Princess Highway by intense bright lights. Spooky.
4. The WA Triangle
Perth folks got a little nervous a decade or so back when they spied via Google Earth an incongruously large triangle object in the desert near Geraldton. What was this football-sized triangle? Discoloured turf? Land art? Or something more sinister – perhaps one of those ubiquitous flying triangles that folks across the world have been spotting during the past few decades?
With a US base in the neighbourhood, some tinfoil-inclined locals posited all manner of conspiratorial conclusions, including top-secret military aircraft and nefarious HAARP-style weather weapons. The jury, to this day, is out.
5. The Knowles Family
A strange saga befell the Knowles Family on 19 January 1988. By the tiny outpost Mundrabilla in the vast Nullarbor Desert, Faye Knowles and her three sons noticed a mysterious light emerging in the distance.
Flooring the car in fear, the family later told police that a light beam yanked the car into the air before plunging it to the ground, disabling the tires and filling the cabin with an eerie grey mist and a foul smell. "I felt like my brain was being sucked out," said eldest son, Patrick afterward. Truckers at the next town attested that the family were all visibly shaken from the odd experience.
6. Tasmania’s Kettering Incident
Recent TV drama ‘The Kettering Incident’, Australia’s answer to ‘Twin Peaks’, takes its cue from one of Tasmania’s most enduring cases of unexplained phenomena.
Tasmania was a prime UFO hotspot back in the '60s and '70s – in February 1976, a man living outside the southern town of Kettering was woken by his young child, before witnessing a ‘plane’ falling to the shore of Little Oyster Cove, the area covered with a bright glow.
Investigating in his nightgown, he claims to have seen an extraordinary, humming, dome-shaped object. A circular patch of scorched grass was found at the site the next morning.
The Kelly Cahill Abduction
Around midnight on August 1993, Kelly Cahill was driving home from a friend's house in in Narre Warren North when she and her husband witnesses what they made out to be a large blimp with orange lights in the sky above. As they, in the presence of two other cars, went to investigate, they were blinded by a strong light, ‘coming to’ a second later in their car, relaxed though disoriented.
Kelly was later hospitalised with severe stomach pains, and discovered a triangle-shaped mark near her navel. She would later begin to experience recurring dreams and memories of the night: visions of a number of tall, skinny shadow-like figures with bulging red eyes, and her subsequent abduction.
Eerily, the witnesses in the other cars independently corroborated Cahill’s story under hypnosis, with similar memories and navel marks of their own. So ‘cult’ among UFO circles was the Cahill’s tale that it was even namedropped by Mulder and Scully themselves in an episode of the latest ‘X-Files’ incarnation.