Blinded by the light

Unidentified light, confidential security report, 24 July 1960
Unidentified light, confidential security report, 24 July 1960 (NAA: A6456, R029/284, p. 1)

Thanks to one of our devoted researchers, this confidential security report on a possible UFO sighting near Maralinga, South Australia in 1960 now sees the light of day.

Compared with the action in Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, this incident might seem somewhat tame. But it occurred at a time when nuclear weapons tests had recently been carried out at Maralinga (1956 – 1958) and people were alert to strange sightings. This comprehensive report shows how seriously such matters were taken – with no stone unturned, so to speak.

The first of numerous lines of inquiry was Constable Scarborough’s account of being ‘drawn to a light’ in the early evening night-sky. Scientists were called who ‘would have the know-how’ to check that it wasn’t a hoax! One person attributed the light to ‘St Elmo’s Fire’, while an industrialist said it was ‘a flying saucer’.

The rest of the file is equally interesting reading. ‘Mrs Fuller stated that she was inside the house but observed a bright light through the open door followed by two loud bangs’, while several Aboriginal people reported a strange light in the sky as a ‘spirit manifestation’.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019