There have been a number of well known UFO cases throughout the world that have fasciated me, but none of them as much as the Westall UFO incident. Maybe its because I have family in Australia, or simply that there were hundreds of witnesses to this daylight event. Whatever the reason, for me... this is one of the best Australian UFO incidents that continues to baffle researchers even now... 45 years later.
On April 6th 1966 an incident took place that was to change the lives of hundreds of people. At around 11.00am over 200 students and teachers at a Victoria State School in Melbourne, Australia were shocked to see, what only can be described as a 'Flying Saucer' decsend from the sky and seemingly land in a near paddock close to a wooded area known to the locals as 'The Grange' which in more recent years has been converted into a nature reserve. After a short time, the object lifted from the ground and travelled towards the suburb of Clayton South, Victoria.
As usual, it was a beautiful sunny day and the first report came from a student in one of the science classes. Michael Fisher aged 14 slowly walked over to the classroom window and as he gazed into a sample pot, something caught his eye. He looked up to see a silent silver disc shaped craft move slowly across the back of the school. It was around 50 feet up in the sky and was seen to make its way towards the paddock. Michael screamed out 'Hey, there's a Flying Saucer in the sky'. The whole class roared in laughter.' No, there really is... look'. Classmates stampeaded to the window and silence befell the room as they watched how the strange craft darted side to side before descending towards the paddock. The teacher Andrew Greenwood fort his way to the window and was shocked at the sight. By this time the students were hysterical. Andrew tried to calm the students down. 'Sit down, sit down... if there's any problem, the bell will ring'. Surely enough a few moment later, the bell started to ring. The children ran to the door and headed out for a better look.
Another class had been doing sports outside on the main oval when the object flew over. The class came to a standstill as they watched the disc move silently over them. It was described as a grey metalic colour with a slight purple hue and around the size of a large family car. There were a few variations in description. Andrew Greenwood described the craft as a silver green colour. However, all witnesses agree that the object was slowly descending and flew over the school's south-west corner before dropping out of sight behind trees near the paddock.
Around 20 minutes later the object lifted silently, gathering speed and headed off towards the north-west. A number of witnesses described the craft as gaining altitude and being pursued by five small aircraft which must have been in the vicinity.
Three days later on April 9th the location was visited by a number of uniformed officers of the Australian Armed Forces acompanied by the local police department. The officers were seen to take soil samples from the location where the object came to ground. You could clearly see that there was an area of flattened grass that seemed to be singed. Later, reports state that the local farmer had burnt the area himself in hope of detering children from entering his property.
There were further reports of official looking gentlemen visiting the school and talking with the students, who had been individually sent to the headmasters office. The two gentlemen would question what the student had seen and then ridicule them. They also warned them not to talk about the incident. This of course upset many of the students. School teachers were also asked not to discuss the matter with anyone during a staff meeting. Clearly, someone wanted the incident kept quiet. Frank Samblebe the headmaster was seen in his office discussing the matter with army officials and later instructed school teachers to discourage students from talking about it.
Countless researchers have attempted to locate official records of the event in the Australian National Archives. Some documents do reference the incident and point towards the location of said official files, but further investigation revealed that the documentation was missing. Official army records also give no mention to the event. Investigators descended upon the local airport in hope of finding the pilots of the five small aircraft seen in the sky at the time of the incident. Again... no such records were located.
Click on the newspaper cuttings below to download
The local newspaper 'The Dandenong Journal' did cover the incident in detail and produced two front page articles on April 14th and 21st of that year. Also, another local newspaper called 'The Age' ran a small article on April 7th 1966 that read:
"OBJECT PERHAPS BALLOON'"
"An unidentified flying object seen over the Clayton-Moorabbin area yesterday morning might have been a weather balloon. Hundreds of children and a number of teachers at Westall School, Clayton, watched the object during morning break. They said a number of small aeroplanes circled around it. However, a check later showed that no commercial, private or RAAF pilots had reported anything unusual in the area. The Weather Bureau released a balloon at Laverton at 8:30 a.m., and the westerly wind blowing at the time could have moved it into the area where the sighting was reported".
A number of investigators and researchers were surprised to learn that the large and popular tabloid 'The Sun News-Pictorial' didn't run the story, yet a few days after the incident 'The Sun' and 'The Herald' newspapers both ran a cartoon making light of the incident. A TV company known as GTV Channel 9 interviewed one of the students. Joy Tighe described the events on film. However when investigators contacted GTV Channel 9 for a copy of the tape, they were surprised to hear that the TV company did not have it and that it had been removed from their archive and not returned.
The above photographs: Showing the alleged location where the UFO landed, and drawings from eye witnesses. Many thanks to Shane Ryan.
Initially the incident was investigated by two organisations. The Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society (VFSRS) and Phenomena Research Australia (PRA). For both organisations the Westall UFO incident represented one of the best UFO cases in Australian history. The VFSRS were quick to attend the scene and arrived at Westall school on April 8th to talk with some of the students. They were also taken to the location where the object was said to have landed. VFSRS investigators noted the strange marks left on the ground by the UFO and in December 2000 they included an article and a photograph in their 'Australian UFO Bulletin' magazine. Brian Boyle, an investigator with PRA arrived at the school the following day along with four Australian army investigators. Boyle immediately got out his film recorder and started shooting. After he had conducted a number of interviews with students and local farmers he visited the landing site and gathered a few samples from within the ground mark.
Again, Investigators were unable to locate any records of aircraft being in the vicinity at the time of the UFO incident, even though several witnesses reported seeing five Cessna type planes. The local airport at Moorabbin were contacted, however they claimed that there were no aircraft in that location at that time. The Royal Austraian Armed Forces also reported that there were no military aircraft in the vicinity.
As in many UFO cases, there does seem to be a few discrepancies... Several students claimed to have seen, not one... but two disc shaped objects near to the ground and that they were almost in reaching distance. As they approached the objects they both immediately lifted from the ground and headed off out of sight. Both UFOs were described to have moved identically and at the same time.
A student from Westall school claimed to have touched the object just before it lifted and shot off at incredible speed. Some students said the object was disc shaped, others described the object as looking like an upside down tea cup, on a saucer. A few witnesses only saw the UFO whilst others watched five small aircraft circle above. Some witnesses claimed to have seen a flattened area of grass where the object landed, whilst others believe the area had been burnt. A couple of student near the farmers field claim to have seen two army transporters and a number of officers in differing uniforms stamp over an area in the field. Once the officers had left, the students went over to the location and found a spiral pattened area of flattened grass which looked to have been covered over a little. As if in an attempt to hide it. Several students claimed that military officers cordoned off the landing site and that soil samples were taken by the truck load.
University lecturer Shane Ryan was so intrigued with the story he decided to do some investigating of his own. Ryan an english lecturer from Canberra, Australia visited the location and conducted dozens of interviews with local residents. Unfortunately, like his predesessors, he found no official records. More recently Shane Matthews, a Westall student revisited the location and took a number of photographs. One of which shows the location where the UFO landed.
It's true to state that this is one of Australia's best UFO cases. Unlike many other incidents, this one took place during a sunny day, there were hundreds of credible witnesses along with a police and military presence, which coincidentally turned up at the location only 20 minutes after the object had vanished. Rather quick considering the nearest military facility was a considerable way away. Many have suggested that they must have been waiting somewhere locally with their engines running. Of course, when approaching the military for confirmation of their attendance, surprise surprise... there were no records of anyone attending. There were also physical traces left by the UFO, such as the strange mark left on the ground. A Westall teacher that had taken several photographs of the object as it flew over the school was ordered to not only hand over the film to officials, but the whole camera. It was clear from the start. Someone wanted to keep a lid on this incident.
The events that took place on that day back in April of 1966 will most likely stay in the minds of witnesses forever. A mystery that was quickly covered up and supressed, a mystery that will haunt Australian Ufologists, a mystery that will never go away...
Compiled by Steve Mera.
Photographs and details: Shane Ryan.