One of the long term research projects I am undertaking, is looking for pre-1947 Australian accounts which are suggestive of the UFO phenomenon. I have reported on a number of these pre-1947 cases in previous posts on this blog, e.g. click here.
One of the pre-1947 Australian events which is frequently cited in the UFO literature is said to have occurred on 25 October 1909 at Minderoo Station, near Onslow, Western Australia (Chalker, Bill. "The Oz Files." 1996. Duffy & Snellgrove. Potts Point. NSW. p.32; or http://www.rense.com/ufo5/histoz.htm citing the source as Robin Northover.
1909 may be the incorrect year:
While looking through digitised newspapers in the National Library of Australia, I came across about a dozen papers (e.g. Barrier Miner (Broken Hill) 7 December 1910 p.7; Sunday Times, Perth, 4 December 1910 p.1; The Western Australian, Perth, 5 December 1910 p.5.) which carried stories about this sighting. It therefore appears that the actual date of the event was 25 October 1910, not 1909 as previously believed.
I quote from the Barrier Miner (Broken Hill). The witness is given as a Mrs A J Roe, of Minderoo Station, 22 miles out of Onslow, Western Australia (1386 kms north of Perth, the capital of Western Australia) who gave the following statement.
"'At 5.30pm on October 25, when at the Minderoo homestead, my attention was directed by a native to a big object in the air several miles away. The object was travelling from us in an easterly direction. It looked compact like a dirigible balloon, but appeared to be square, more like an aeroplane. The sun shone on it, and flashes came from it as though reflected from something revolving, or off metal work. The color of the object was dark brown or black. It was too far away to distinguish its exact nature and size, or whether any persons were in it. There was no mirage at the time and not on any account could such an object be taken for a bird.' Mrs Roe stated that she is positive it was an airship of some kind...A couple of white men, station hands, and a civilised native, also saw the aerial object from the shearing shed, which is a mile from the homestead."
1. Is the sighting reliable? The West Australian newspaper dated 5 December 1910 p.5 states that Mrs Roe was interviewed (on November 12) by the Sub-Collector of Customs from Onslow, a Mr Timperly. He forwarded the report (on Novermber 16) to the Minister for customs, a Mr Tudor, who is said to be forwarding the report to the Minister of Defence. Mr Timperly believed the sighting to have been authentic.
2. Mr Timperly, according to the West Australian, thought the object was "an airship." Possibly a WA inventor or a foreign vessel. However, the West Australian reported that "No information has reached that department of any Australian invention being sufficiently complete to accomplish such a flight as is described."
3. A check with two sky charts reveals that the Sun was up, elevation 12 deg and azimuth (Nth =0) 261 deg (slightly south of West). The Moon had set. There was nothing unusual in the eastern sky.
4. Regarding weather details. I obtained this from the West Australian dated 26 and 27th October 1910. For Onslow - maximum temperature 95 deg F; minimum temperature 70 deg F; barometer 29.7 ins; wind from the WNW, moderate. If the wind was from the WNW then any windborne object would have been travelling to the ESE. Note that the Minderoo object was indeed "travelling from us in an easterly direction."
5. Can we say exactly what the object was based on the above data? I believe not.
Over to readers for comments.