(Illustrated by Nicholas Eveleigh)
THE CLAYTON SOUTH UFO ENCOUNTER
A mysterious event takes place, in a land considered “far away” by most. Hundreds of children witness something they cannot explain, but no one believes them. The few adults present, teachers no less, are coerced into silence. Students vanish into thin air. The presence of a foreign unknown military force. An idealistic American scientist travels to the under side of the world looking for answers, eventually disgraced, he takes his own life. UFO sightings fluctuate, a man reports a UFO sighting and unusual experience, claiming that his car is being sucked into ethereal lights on an isolated road. Three days later, a fatal car accident occurs at the exact location where the strange event took place. You might be thinking I’m describing the events of some sci-fi drama series, only a great many individuals, to this day, would attest that all, if not most of these claims were entirely true. The least disputed detail of all the strangeness, is the sighting of an unidentified flying object, a flying saucer.
It was 11:00 am, Wednesday, April 6th, 1966, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. What no doubt may have presented itself as an ordinary day at Westall High school, would have drastically changed the moment voices began to shout, “look up in the sky, it’s a flying saucer!”
Immediately, a sense of frenzy, fear, wonderment and exhilaration resonated among the students, because as many eyewitnesses will tell you, as they looked to the clear blue morning sky, there was a silver flying saucer performing aerial feats beyond the capabilities of the (publicly known) aircraft of the day.
As hundreds of students charged toward an area nicknamed ‘The Grange’ where a paddock converged onto a grove of pine trees (today a nature reserve) beyond the edge of the school, numerous eyewitness reports claim that the flying saucer actually lowered into the tall grass. Causing a circular impression that remained after the UFO ascended, some noting also a swirling inner pattern. The UFO was not alone in the sky, according to many eyewitnesses, a number of small airplanes (claims as high as 5) were tailing it. (Though there were no reports of any unusual activity made by Air traffic control or the Royal Australian Air force. To this day, the alleged ‘5 pilots’ have never come forward).
There have since been claims that children, one girl identified only as “Tanya” and others that were closest to the unidentified object when it made its descent, passed out and lay unconscious on the ground around it. Eyewitnesses make the claim that even an ambulance attended the scene to see to the students seemingly suffering physiological effects of the experience. It is claimed by one eyewitness, that “Tanya” was never seen again, after succumbing to some physiological effect from the experience, never returning to school after the event on April 6th.
All up, it is believed the aerial chase, the landing and high speed escape/disappearance happened within a window of approximately 20 minutes. 20 minutes, according to most of the vocal eyewitnesses that has profoundly effected their lives.
(Dr. James E. McDonald)
In interviews conducted by American Physicist/Ufologist, Dr. James E. McDonald roughly one year later, he managed to speak with science teacher Andrew Greenwood who was there that fateful day. Greenwood upon realizing the frenzy sweeping up outside among the students, headed outside to get a look at what they were reacting to. Andrew Greenwood described the UFO as a “round, silver object about the size of a car with a metal rod sticking up in the air.” He then remarked that one of the first things to occur after the event took place, was the headmaster instructed all students to return to their classrooms, after which Greenwood said “he [the headmaster] gave the school a lecture and told the children they would be severely punished if they talked about this matter and told the staff they could lose their jobs if they mentioned it at all.”
From there, according to those who tried to speak out about the event, an element of secrecy and suppression arose. Military vehicles were seen around the area, the site was under total lockdown. Ironically, exactly as virtually every film surrounding such an event would have you believe. Men in camouflaged uniforms were reportedly seen by dozens of the eyewitnesses still vocal on the issue now more than half a century on. The unusual thing about men in camouflage is that in Australia during the 1960’s, neither the Australian nor the British had incorporated it into the military uniforms. Suggesting a possible involvement of either a group, outside of a national government, or even the U.S government which did/does have a presence on Australian soil.
There is talk of suppression of information surrounding this incident. I don’t know how things were managed at the time, perhaps due to the nature of news in the 1960’s it simply did not receive the coverage it might if it occurred today. Though, anecdotally, I would have to agree that something does seem unusual about the records. In researching the event through the usual channels, archives of Australian public newspaper records, the entire year of 1966 in Australia seems oddly slim. Searching terms like “UFO”, “Westall”, “Flying Saucer” were actually proving fruitless. So then I changed the search purely based on date.
In Melbourne, 1966, possibly by coincidence, 1966 draws a blank. So then I started checking other states, in case stories made it to further away Newspapers. When I looked up ‘The Canberra Times’, checking through dates around early April I didn’t find any mention of the Westall UFO event (though perhaps I was just lazily looking in all the wrong places). I did however, find this story, reported in Canberra, about a story that happened in Victoria, approximately 2 hours NW from the Westall incident, mere days after the UFO was sighted at the back of the school:
“MELBOURNE, Monday. — The current world-wide spate of sightings of flying saucers was brought closer to home today by a report by a Maryborough man. Mr Ronald F. Sullivan, a 38-year-old builder of Victoria Street, Maryborough, said he had seen an unidentified flying object on the Bendigo to St Arnaud Road last Monday. Three days later a youth was killed when his car ran off the road at the place where Mr Sullivan said he had seen the object.
Mr Sullivan said, “the headlights on my car were suddenly diverted to the right, for no apparent reason. And if I had followed them I would have run off the straight stretch of road. The fact that I am an experienced driver, and know the district well, saved my life. I managed to stop before I crashed.
Then I saw a display of gaseous lights in all colours of the spectrum in a nearby paddock. The object rose about 10 feet in the air. It later disappeared”, Mr Sullivan said.
Mr Sullivan said he drove on to Wycheproof where his headlights were checked and found to be in perfect order. He went to the crash scene with police on Friday. “We all noticed there was a depression about five inches deep in the freshly ploughed paddock, about 50 feet from the fence. It was about five feet in diameter.” Mr Sullivan said. Police at Maryborough, Castlemaine, Bealiba and Newstead said today they had all heard reports of flying saucers in the area. They have not been able to find the cause of the accident in which the youth, Gary Taylor, 19, of Carnegie, died.”
—THE CANBERRA TIMES, TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 1966
It’s also claimed that the chemistry teacher at Westall High, Barbara Robins, had access to a camera and was hastily snapping photographs of the UFO during the 20 minute frenzy. There are a great many photographs claiming to be taken during this event, but when I cross referenced them (reverse google search) every single one was linked to other UFO sightings, though that is common in many news stories, surrounding issues even outside of the paranormal. It’s been suggested that Barbara Robins had her camera and film confiscated and was coerced into silence.
Ultimately, in my opinion, this is more a story about suppression than anything else. It has endless possible explanations, but these are the top four I could come up with.
- Mass Hysteria, somehow something potentially non-existent has been blown way out of proportion. Disingenuous recollections of a misinterpreted reality. This is actually the least likely scenario, in my mind.
- Extraterrestrial or Ultraterrestrial life with access to highly advanced technology, presented itself to hundreds of Australian schoolchildren. For whatever reason, some “agency” (government or otherwise) wants to keep it a secret, suppressed knowledge.
- Certain groups on this planet have access to technology that far surpasses what is currently available to the masses. Information is power, and the power is being kept from the general people. Those that rule the world don’t want individuals to be self-sufficient and able to thrive off of the nipple of “the system”
- The whole thing was a setup. The entire experience was orchestrated. “They” wanted to test how a group would react to something like this, then how they could suppress it.
Some estimations to the total number of witnesses of UFO phenomena (of varying levels and vicinity of encounters) in Victoria around the 6th of April, 1966 are approximately 300 individuals. 300 individuals that saw “a flying saucer” at a very low altitude. This wasn’t a craft people were squinting to see through the clouds, this was something narrowly avoiding telegraph poles (as one witness claimed). All said and done, in this account of strange events, there is one major thing to ask yourself. Someone in all of this is lying, that much is certain. The question that only you can truly ask yourself is, who? Did the students decide to create some charade? For the fun of it? For fame? They didn’t achieve any, the story barely got out. Or is the reason that seemingly “military” types were involved almost instantly, liaising with the powers that be, because certain people know certain things, that the rest of us are not allowed to understand.
If you think time will reveal the answers naturally, that the truth will rise to the surface on its own accord, like cream, remember this event happened over half a century ago. Many of the eyewitnesses have spent their entire lives waiting to make sense of what they saw, like something would emerge from the woodwork and link the pieces together. That day, unfortunately, has yet to come. Unless something changes, something gives out, the secrets will remain secrets, dormant and unknown.
According to UFO-Hunters.com as of the year 2020, there are over 200220 sightings reported and that number expected to continue to grow as more people around the world continue to more avidly monitor and record the activity of the skies.