Monday, January 27, 2014

A detailed look at the 1974 St Helens, Tasmania, car stop event

Hi all


There are some UAP cases which stick in your memory, and which you return to time and time again, wondering what the cause of the event actually was. For me, one of these cases happened on 16 September 1974, near a place called St. Helens (latitude 41deg 20mins S, longitude 148deg 15mins E) , in North Eastern Tasmania (click here.)

Recently, I obtained a copy of the full report on the event, from Keith Roberts of the Tasmanian UFO Investigation Centre (TUFOIC click here.) A TUFOIC investigator, Mr Roger Brooks, who was a senior master in English at St Marys District School visited the Richards' remote farm on 21 September 1974 and conducted an excellent investigation. The vehicle involved was a 1968 Toyota Crown manual.

The location:

Below is an image from Google maps which shows the location of St Helens (bottom left hand corner;) and Ansons Bay Road. The event happened near a bridge, 4-5 miles north of St Helens on the Ansons Bay Road. On this map, the bridge is located at the intersection of the road (marked in gray) and the river (marked in blue.) .

Below is an image from Google maps, satellite view, which shows an overhead shot of the road bridge over the George River.

The following is a photograph showing the road and bridge, which I took whilst visiting the site in 1975.

Investigation report by Roger Brooks:

"A. Background details:

1. People present:

Mrs A Richards - housewife of "The Marshes" via St Helens (aged about 34)
Janine Richards - her daughter, aged 8
Kathleen Richards - her daughter, aged 5.

2. Location:

4-5 miles along Anson's Bay Road, north of St Helens, and 8 miles south of their home.

3. Times etc:

Sept 16 1974 9.15pm. Sky - black. Light drizzle.

4. Events before experience:

They had journeyed from Launceston and Kathleen was very tired. Stopped at sister-in-law's house (another Mrs Richards) who reported that they were all well on departure just before 9.00. Kathleen slept in the car during the visit. The car was running well.

B. Sequence of event:

1. Car approached a bridge, 4-5 miles N of St Helens, when radio went static (Prev. on good reception & hasn't done this before.)

2. The sky lighted brightly in an area roughly  marked out by one's direct vision, i.e. sky ahead was bright. This was directly after radio went static.

3. As the car crossed the bridge it lost power on a gentle incline, then stopped dead and all lights of the car went out: headlights, wireless, heater, dashboard. Total dark, except for light in sky.

4. Mrs Richards tried to start car, but after 10 secs, a deafening, vibrating noise enveloped the car "like 30-40 large jets", "I felt my head was splitting open, and thought the world was coming to an end." The noise forced her to cover her ears with her hands (During this Kathleen was asleep but Janine said the noise was "deafening.") This lasted approx 1 min.

5. Almost simultaneously, quite painful electric shocks began penetrating their bodies - like electric vibrations, far worse than shock from an electric kettle (Mrs Richards guessed at about 400-500 volts.) This lasted for about a minutes, during which she thinks she screamed.

6. Then the car was filled by an invisible, chocking smell - a penetrating gas, far stranger than commercial bottled gas, and nothing recognisable. Janine smelt it too, and both leaped out of the car for air. ("All I wanted was fresh air and to breathe properly.") They dragged Kathleen, who was dazed, half awake from the car, and fled down the road. By this time there was only light in the sky.

7. They reached a house 2 miles away, at about 9.45pm where the owner, Mr Harvey Chappel, was alarmed by Mrs Richards' uncontrolled state. Then Mr Chappel and his brother Derek and Mrs Richards returned to the car. It started faultlessly, despite there being little water in the radiator. Harvey is a mechanic and at that time, could find nothing wrong with the car, except a hot bonnet; probably the radiator had boiled.

8. The chn. were collected and Mr C drove them home.

9. The next day a St Helens garage prop. Mr  Graham Stone, examined the car thoroughly and could fins nothing wrong. Radio worked, no electrical short circuits etc.

10. At the time of the experience Mr Richards who was waiting at home, saw lights in the sky and heard a distant roar. He thought it was his wife driving along the farm road, and took little notice, expecting her to arrive at any minute. He was surprised when the car did not come over the hill.

C. Other points:

1. Mrs Richards has been quite ill since the experience, despite tranquillisers. She has had a numb right side face and a red mark (2 cent piece size) above her right eyebrow. She claims she did not bruise herself, but that the vibrations did it. The day after the event, her arms and fingers were badly swollen and she had difficulty in walking. Her "nerves have been in a shocking state."

2. However she says he greatest frustrations have come from trying to convince people of what happened. She has never had any form of mental disorder or delusion nor is she physically weak or sick. Doesn't drink.

3. The chn. suffered no after-effects.

4. Janine said that during the experience, she thought the car was on fire.

5. My opinion:

Mrs Richards is badly shaken by the occurrence. Whereas some precise details might have become confused, she has been genuinely frightened by something and as she said "I'm hardly likely to make up a story like this! Why should I?"

People I spoke to ( her sister-in-law, 2 neighbours) described her and Janine as  sane, healthy, hard working, sincere people, and were emphatic that this was not a made up story. One thing confuses me: why didn't Kathleen wake up? However, I believe her story."

Newspaper article:

Brook's report was also carried in detail, in the 21September 1974 issue of the Hobart, Mercury, newspaper. Included in this source was additional material.

"Two nights later Mr Richards was driving home after visiting a neighbour when he noticed a light in the sky. It paced his car and "seemed attracted by the headlights." When he slowed and drove with only the parking lights, the object fell behind. It followed him on the thirty-minute drive home. At the house it zoomed in from an estimated height of 2,500 feet to about 80 feet just above some trees 100 yards from the house. His wife, Janine and son Ricky (11) watched it through a window. At one stage Ricky went outside the house for a closer look but when the object came closer, the family dragged him inside. They described it as crescent shaped and a as crescent shaped and a 'vibrant egg-yellow' in colour. They watched it for five minutes. It seemed attracted by the lights of the house. When they turned the house lights off the object soon "faded out." The family have seen odd lights about the sky in the area for years, but had taken  little notice of them.

Other reports around that time:

There were a number of other interesting reports from around this time:

1. Tayene. 22 September 1974. Latitude 41deg 10mins south, Longitude 146 deg 30secs east.

Sitting in her car at 1720hrs a woman heard a radio announcer give the time on he car's radio, then all of a sudden her surroundings lit up. The radio developed a high pitched whistling noise. An object approached the car from the top of a nearby hill. As it came closer, the woman started the car and backed it up along the road until the car became bogged in mud.

The object, meanwhile continued to approach and hovered for a short while before sweeping around the road junction then back to the position in which it was first seen. The speed up until then  had been fairly slow, but when it swept around the hill a tubular shaped thing on the bottom of it opened up in sections and the object sped upwards at a rapid pace.

The woman then left the car and ran to her house. Her husband and son returned to the car but could find nothing wrong. The next day a tow truck collected the vehicle. The front of it was exceptionally clean although the rest of the body was dirty. There had previously been cats' prints all over the bonnet but the bonnet was clean when the car was brought back.  (Source: Investigation by John Dean, TUFOIC. TUFOIC's annual report 1975. Flying Saucer Review Vol 21. No 5. 1975.)

Below is a photograph I took of the location, whilst visiting Tasmania, in 1975.

2. Ledgerwood September 1974.Latitude 41deg 13mins south, Longitude 147 deg 42mins east.

"Two other witnesses taking a short cut to the Tasman Highway from Ledgerwood got more than they bargained for late one evening during the same September. The driver rounded a sharp curve in the road only to be confronted by an object about 50m from the roadside. The driver slowed the car down for a better look but, his friend said they should get out of there. Hovering just above the ground was a disc shaped object with a dome and a line of portholes or lights. It was estimated as being 10 to 15m in diameter. Coming from below was a bright beam of light which covered a 5m area on the ground. The road ahead entered an area of bush so that the UFO was rapidly obscured from view." (Source: "Tasmania A UFO HIstory." TUFOIC. 2013.)

3. The Sideling November 1974. 2300hrs. Latitude 41deg 15mins south, Longitude 147deg 23mins east.

On his way home to Scottsdale, a man saw an object the size of an enormous building about half a kilometre away to his left, in the north. There was no related sound. His car (a 1971 Mitsubishi Colt) engine, lights, and radio cut out, and the figures on his watch lit up brightly. The object travelled along and was last seen going straight upwards. The witness was able to restart the car and head for home. The watch broke down shortly after the event. The left hand mudguard of the car changed colour from red to orange and stayed that colour. (Source: "Tasmania A UFO History." TUFOIC. 2013. )


I'd appreciate hearing from any blog readers who might have ideas on this case.


  1. Hi Keith, in relation to the first story you have posted (St Helens) I am janine the then child whom experienced this incident along with my mother and slleeping sister The only correction I would like to add is the incident did not happen near the Georges River as identified in your picture. It was approximately another further 2 kms north on the Ansons Road. As a child we always new this bridge as "The Branch". It was on the incline post the bridge. The road now has been slightly altered but the old road can still be identified although becoming overgrown. And yes the memory of the incident is as vivid as yesterday.

    1. Hi Janine,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post, and for your more accurate location.
      Would it be possible for you to email me at I have a couple of questions which you might be able to assist me with? Thank you again.


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