“It was hovering about half a mile above the trees and looked something like a big straw hat in appearance”.
That was how workers at the Nestle’s chocolate factory at Gympie, north of Brisbane, described the large object they saw over the town early in June 1978. Three employees on their lunch break first sighted the object when they walked outside to sit in the factory grounds. It was then that they sighted the mysterious object toward the northwest of the factory and about two miles away. The later said it was about the size of a house.
Raising the alarm among other workers, the grounds were soon filled with other employees watching the strange craft. Then, moving off toward the northwest, the object increased speed until it was soon lost from view. A few days later, farmers in western Queensland also reported having seen what may have been the same object.
About the same period as the Gympie UFO sighting, Mr Lionel Fifield was driving two friends on the Moggil Road in the St Lucia area of Brisbane. The time was about 2am when they spotted two blue-red lights moving in a zigzag pattern across the sky from the east [Kenmore district] toward St Lucia. The lights hovered, then began to fade, then slowly brightened again and resumed movement. The lights stayed in the sky, moving about until around 6am when they finally disappeared.
Queensland seems singled out from all the vast expanse of Australia as a major area for extra-terrestrial activity [with the notable exception of the Blue Mountains of NSW, to be investigated later]. Major parts of Queensland where UFOs have been most active include the Atherton Tableland, Cairns, Tully, Rockhampton and Gympie.
In the course of an expedition to far North Queensland during May-June 1978, my wife Heather and I interviewed many people who had reported seeing UFOs. And, as a surprise finale to our trip, our homeward journey followed hot on the heels of a UFO “fly-past”, which commenced around Cairns and did not abate until after our return home to Katoomba – but more anon.
Here, then are some of the great many reports gathered in the course of my Queensland investigations.
Around May 1957, Mr Tom Robinson a Cairns sugar cane farmer had an experience that he recalls vividly. The time was about 7.30pm on a Sunday night. He was standing outside on the verandah enjoying the cool air after a very hot day.
Tom was then called to the telephone. As he lifted the receiver, his father suddenly called out to say he was watching a brilliant star-like light moving across the sky from the south.
Tom’s father lined up the strange light with a verandah post and realised that it was moving toward him. There was no sound coming from the object, but it became larger as it approached the farm and was seen to emit a flame. The object began to pick up speed and then turned at a 90-degree angle and floated eastward across the farm.
Tom was still using the telephone when his father called out again “Come quickly, there’s a plane on fire”, which was what Tom’s father at first believed it was.
The mysterious object had by now landed behind a canefield on the east side of the Robinson property, between cane and a stand of timber on a headland [ie the cleared area around the outside of a canefield]. There was still no sound.
As Tom and his father waited speechless outside their house to see what the object would do next, it suddenly rose like “a big flickering full Moon”. It rose to about 20ft above the canfield, started to move in a northwest direction and dropped again. It rose again and dropped a second time. “Each time it had risen up, it appeared to be a little bit smaller”, Tom observed.
The entire area seemed to have been set alight by the strange object casting a glow over the canefield and the Robinson house. Tom’s two dogs appeared and thinking that the object was a car coming toward the house, they ran outside barking.
By now the object was 80m away. Then it suddenly dropped once more into the canefield and rose again. By this time it had become very small. It drifted up like a balloon toward the northwest and disappeared.
Tom later investigated the whole area but could find no trace of the object’s landing.
Mysterious lights and objects in the sky have been repeatedly sighted in recent years throughout the Cairns/Atherton/Gordonvale district. In fact, those areas have a history of UFO activity stretching back generations.
Mr R.G. Smith of Longreach near Winton in western Queensland, was driving a tractor on his farm one midnight in March 1966. He was in the process of excavating a dam for his cattle when above, in the clear starry sky, he saw a bright star-like light descend toward him. The object came down very close to him and, after hovering above him, headed away in another direction.
About this same period in that district, another farmer also driving a tractor on his property late at night, saw what was probably the same object descend from the sky toward him.
As the bright star-like object approached his tractor, the man sensing danger, leaped from the tractor and ran across the field toward his house. He observed the object to hover over his tractor before rising high into the air and flying off at a phenomenal speed to the west.
That year a considerable number of “saucer rings” were discovered in the Tully, Cairns and Innisfail districts, prompting the Department of Primary Industries to send an official to inspect these circular arrangements. Despite traces of radioactivity around some of the sites, and other mysterious “calling cards” of the ‘space aliens’, the official explanation released to the media, was that the circular formation had been made by hordes of migrating ducks!
While in Cairns I interviewed Mrs D Teluk who related to me the following story which took place about mid-1977 on her husband’s cattle station near Charters Towers.
The time was around 7pm on a dark night when their farm hand, a man named ‘Rolley’ had been costeening ground with a bulldozer for mineral traces on his property. As he was some distance from the farmhouse he had a motorbike nearby the tractor. He finished his work and then rode his bike back toward the farmhouse..
On the way he passed thick scrub, and there he caught sight of a strange object amid the trees.
Stopping in the darkness he could only discern that it was a dark object emitting flashing red and blue lights. He started off again on his bike, leaving the area in haste to tell the Teluks what he had seen. “He looked white as a sheet”, Mrs Teluk said of Rolley, relating his sighting to her husband Jerry.
Jerry then returned with Rolley in the family Toyota to the spot where Rolley had been, but found nothing. However, over the next few days they learnt that other farmers in the region had also reported seeing the same object flying over the countryside.