The United States has Roswell and Area 51 - Melbourne has the less well known Westall 1966 UFO landing. This event is the largest UFO sighting in Melbourne, and was witnessed by approximately 200 people. The sighting was corroborated by schoolchildren and teachers at nearby Westall primary school and Westall secondary school, farm workers in nearby paddocks, and nearby residents. It was reported in several newspapers at the time including The Age and The Dandenong Journal, and was covered by the Channel 9 television station.
Information boards in The Grange park at Westall display newspaper clippings and eyewitness accounts
Eyewitnesses recalled seeing a flying disk hover and then move away into an area of pine trees and wooded heath known as The Grange, which is located in Osborne Avenue, Westall, about 30 km south-east of the Melbourne city centre. The small craft apparently landed in the heathland, hidden amongst the trees, but sped off again when the schoolchildren chasing it ran into the area. It left behind a pressed circle of grass and one of Melbourne's greatest enduring mysteries.
The narrow tracks through thick vegetation at the Grange that the schoolchildren ran down to follow the flying saucer
The modern day recollections of eyewitnesses are captured in a documentary entitled Westall '66. See the official website for the documentary or you can find a copy in four parts on YouTube . At first I thought it was a mockumentary, because I had never heard of the story before, despite having lived all of my life in Melbourne. However as the details unfold, it is hard to dismiss because of the diversity of people who witnessed the event, the news coverage on the public record and because of related sightings in Victoria in the period immediately before and after the Westall sighting. It is way too elaborate to be a hoax and the alternative explanations seem implausible. I won't spoil any more details of the documentary, and instead thoroughly recommend it for viewing. I found the narration unbiased, and the content well constructed and well researched. For the conspiracy theorists, the details of the post-event cover up are intriguing.
The pine trees all bending towards a central point at The Grange (not taken with a wide angle lens, they are really bent like this)
The landing site was commemorated in December 2013 with the opening of a new playground featuring eyewitness accounts and newspaper reports from the time. You can read more about the playground here. Visiting the site, I felt it had a strange energy about it. There was the constant hum of a nearby tip or quarry, and the regular drone of light aircraft making their way back and forth from Moorabbin Airport, only a few kilometres away. The pine trees all curl inwards towards the centre, like they are growing towards some sort of energy source. On top of that, there are an unusually high number of large birds: galahs, crows, magpies, ibises and seagulls that made me wonder why they were all there in such a small space. I nearly jumped out of my skin when a crow dropped a pine cone next to my foot from a branch 20 metres up in the air. There is a lot of activity in the air and the view of the sky is often obscured by trees. Even the primary school oval, where many children first sighted the UFO, has a huge buzzing pylon carrying high voltage electricity that runs right through the field. Go and have a look and make up your own mind about what you think happened here at 11 am on the 6th of April, 1966.
The black ringed object is the bird I was photographing. The red ringed object I only noticed afterwards. Probably a plane, but then again?
Yes I remember hearing a radio interview a few years ago with interviews from some schoolchildren and teachers who were there at the time. I had never heard of it either and I've lived in Melbourne all my life too. Great idea to go and visit it!