Compiled and copyright © June 2013 by Keith Basterfield

The author may be contacted at

Section A:  Introduction

Numerous sources cite the large number of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) sightings, which were reported around the time of the 21st October 1978 disappearance of aircraft registration VH-DSJ, and its pilot Frederick Valentich.  For example, the Melbourne daily newspaper, “The Age,” on 24th October 1978, in part read “Hundreds of sightings of UFOs were reported yesterday from Geelong, Frankston, Cape Otway and Brighton.”  Various sources, e.g. the website of the Victorian UFO Research Society, provide partial details of some sightings.

To the casual reader, there appears to have been an unprecedented “wave” of sightings around this date.  However, I have never seen a comprehensive catalogue of these observations, and certainly no analyses of the reports.  The following document is, therefore, my attempt at bringing together, with the assistance of a number of other researchers (see appendix A,) UAP reports from Victoria, Bass Strait and Tasmania between the dates of 18th and 23rd October 1978.

However, it appears that there are yet more observations to be located.  In an article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (Vol. 14 No. 1, 2000, pp19-32) by Richard Haines and Paul Norman, I found the following statement “…one of the authors (P.N.) succeeded in locating and interviewing a number of people traveling or living in the region along Great Ocean Road, which runs north and south through Apollo Bay.  Reports were obtained from 20 eye witnesses in this region, describing an erratically moving green light in the sky at the same time of evening as Valentich’s flight.”  I have been unable to locate these 20 eye witness reports, in any of the sources I have examined, or from contacting other Australian researchers.  I would welcome hearing from anyone who can throw some light on these missing reports.

What did Valentich report seeing?

Before publishing the observations, it would be useful to record exactly what Frederick Valentich reported seeing on the evening of 21st October 1978.  National Archives of Australia file series B1497, control symbol V116/783/1047 is titled “DSJ, Cape Otway to King Island 21 Oct 1978 – Aircraft missing (Valentich.)”  This official Australian government file contains the Department of Transport’s “Aircraft Accident Investigation Summary.”  This has the transcript of radio communications between Valentich and the Melbourne Flight Service Unit.  In this transcript are the following descriptions of the UAP which the pilot reported seeing.

“I am seems (to) be a large aircraft below five thousand.”

“ I cannot affirm it is four bright it seems to me like landing lights.” “It’s not an aircraft.”

“It’s a long shape.”

“It's got a green light and sort of metallic (like) it’s all shiny (on) the outside.”

This is the sum total of the description of the object.

Section B: Catalogue of reports

The format for each report is: date/time; location of observation; duration; text; source; and analysis.

18 October, 1978

1900hrs South Blackburn (Eastern suburb of Melbourne) 60mins

Geoffrey Hoare watched a stationary object at 10-15 degrees elevation, to the south. It was a circular light, disc shaped, which cycled between bright and dull. It was lost to view as it “faded out.”

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:  The RAAF conclusion was that it was “Venus setting.”  However, Venus sets in the west and not the south.  At 1900hrs Venus was about 20 degrees elevation, some 15 degrees south of west.  (See appendix C for details of the night sky.) Unknown.

20th October, 1978

1445hrs Alexandra (132kms north-east of Melbourne) 5mins

Mrs Kacek watched a soundless object over Mt Buller (east of Alexandra) traveling towards Healesville (south-south-west of Alexandra,) in an arc.  She described it as a “Zepplin,” a “Massive trout” with windows, no wings, vivid silver in colour. 

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:  The RAAF suggested “a/c flying slowly.”

Ca. 1500hrs Aboard an aircraft over Bass Strait 20 mins

A woman named Patricia left Tullamarine airport on a plane at 1445hrs bound for Devonport, Tasmania.  She was seated in the back left-hand window seat of a Fokker Friendship.  Halfway across Bass Strait she noticed an oval-shaped object below the plane but above the clouds.  It appeared to have circles of rainbow colours on the outside and a red light in the centre.  The object followed the aircraft at similar speed, maintaining its place below the aircraft. It was easily picked up with the white clouds as a back drop.  A hostess interrupted her and when she turned back to look at the object, it had gone. 

Source:   Killey, Kevin and Lester, Gary. 1980.  The Devil’s Meridian. Lester-Townsend Publishing. Melbourne.

Analysis:  This appears to be the meteorological optical phenomenon known as a “Glory.”  The geometry of the observer, plane and the Sun supports this conclusion.  I once observed the same thing on an aircraft flight between Melbourne and Adelaide. 

2025hrs Port Melbourne (South-west of Melbourne) 9mins

H & K Cameron saw, at 45 degree elevation, coming from the Bay (southwards) and going towards the City (northwards,) something with a flashing white light underneath it.

Source:  NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:  The RAAF simply noted “US OAO-A2 1968, i.e. a satellite.

2245hrs Cheshunt (295kms North-east of Melbourne) 30mins

Carol Gibbs on a clear night, to the east, at 30-35 degrees elevation, noticed red sheets of light and green sheets of light.  White lights in a circling motion.  Soundless.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:  The RAAF suggested that it was the star Sirius.  Sirius was indeed in the east, but the witness’ description of red and green sheets of light do not fit in with it being a star.

2245hrs Warburton (72kms East of Melbourne) Duration?

From north-east to west, traveling very slowly, a square box-like object, studied with white lights was reported by Peter Campbell.  He said that the object had neither nose nor tail.

Source:  NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Unknown, based on these brief details.

21st October, 1978

Midday Latrobe (North-western Tasmania) 3mins

A young woman whilst hanging out the washing, noticed a silvery shiny something high in the sky, going maybe south-west to north (Bass Strait).  It was shaped between round and football-shaped.  She called it to the attention of two other children (15 and 10 years of age).  There was no associated sound, nor vapour trail, as it travelled overhead.  She retuned to the clothes line and did not observe what happened to the object.

Source:  TUFOIC email to the author June 2013.

Analysis:  The Tasmanian UFO Investigation Centre (TUFOIC) received the information 10 days later, and with no aircraft checks then available, thought that it may have been an aircraft.

1303hrs Tullamarine (North-western suburb of Melbourne) 1min

Robert Bratetich was in a taxi, on the Tullamarine freeway, heading towards the City, when he saw, at 45 degrees elevation, hovering over a nearby Westfield shopping centre, a shiny, metallic coloured, oval shape.  There was no associated sound noted.

Source:  NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:  The RAAF noted that balloons had recently been tethered over shopping centres.  However, it is not noted on the file whether the RAAF checked to see if a balloon had been tethered over this particular shopping centre.

1400hrs Currie, King island, Tasmania 10mins

A young woman was sunbathing in her backyard.  The sky was clear except for one cloud, and from that one cloud came an object similar “to a huge golf ball about quarter the size of the Moon.”  The object was white or silver in colour.  It moved slowly to the west towards the sea.  The UFO stopped at an angle of 70 degrees, then started moving back in the direction from whence it had come.

Source:   Reg Watson communication to author May 2012.

Analysis:  One conventional explanation which could be put forward is a meteorological balloon.  The VUFORS website states that no balloons were launched at King Island on the weekends.  Unknown.

1500hrs Corio (near Geelong) Duration?

12 tennis players on courts, together with a number of cricket players, watched “twin cigar-shaped objects moving slowly from west to east.  The objects, described as silvery in colour and connected together with two silver pipes, were moving with no visible means of propulsion, no sound and no wings.  The UFOs were first seen at an angle of 75 degrees, moving west to east. Size of both objects was estimated as slightly smaller than jumbo jets.”

Source:  "MUFON Journal", Nov 1979 pp6-8

George Simpson of Melbourne adds, “One of the witnesses was Mark Laney, playing tennis in Corio.” [Email to author June 2013.]

“Twin cigar shaped objects were reported to be moving west to east over Victoria near Bass Strait.  They were last seen about 4.30pm when suddenly they changed colour from silver to white, made a sweeping curve to the north and sped away…the observer nearest to the UFO were almost directly under the object.  They described them as about three quarters the size of a Boeing 747 aircraft together with two silver pipes…They were last seen over the range near Cape Otway.”

Source:   VUFORS website

Analysis:  These observations are puzzling, given the unusual descriptions of the objects seen.  No mundane explanation readily springs to mind.  Unknown.

1615hrs Geelong to Cape Otway (Cape Otway is 185kms South-west of Melbourne) Duration?

“Mrs G of Geelong, and her 14 year old son were driving to their weekender on Cape Otway. When a silver glint caught their eye, they looked up and saw two silver cigar-shaped objects moving slowly from the south-west.  Mrs G at first thought the twin objects were gliders, but after noting they had no wings she stopped the car to step out for a better look.  The UFOs remained in close formation with one slightly behind the other. The observers were puzzled by the precision flying.  The two objects maintained the same distance from each other during the entire period of observation.  The size was estimated as about that of a light aircraft…suddenly the objects changed colour to white, made a sweeping curve to the north and sped away. The mother and son could hear no sound.”

Source:   "MUFON Journal" Nov 1979 pp6-8.

Analysis:  As with the observations from Corio, we have two, silver, cigar-shaped objects, moving slowly.  Unknown.

1630hrs Brighton (South-eastern suburb of Melbourne) Duration?

A woman driving along Beach Road, Brighton, towards Melbourne, saw what she said was a very large ‘spaceship’ traveling across Port Phillip Bay, heading north-east.  She claimed it was a metallic colour and was traveling at high altitude.  The next day she read reports of the Valentich encounter in the newspapers.

Source:  Email from George Simpson to author June 2013.

Analysis:  Unknown on details available.

1830hrs East Wynyard, Tasmania Duration?

“Ten years later (October 2008) after another appearance on ABC radio, I was contacted by a lady who spoke to me of her mother who lived in East Wynyard at the time.  Walking along the beach, her mother, whom she described as a “steady sort of person” saw what she said was a ‘flying saucer’ flying parallel to the horizon.  This was on the evening of Valentich’s disappearance, on October 21 about 6.30pm.  The object moved very fast.  The source was a very reliable person, a highly educated academic.”

Source:   Watson, Reg A. 2012.  “Strange happenings over the skies of Tasmania and Bass Strait (including the Frederick Valentich mystery.”  The Anglo-Keltic Society.

Analysis:   Unknown.

1845hrs Crayfish Bay (2.5kms East of Cape Otway) - Cape Otway is 185kms south-west of Melbourne Duration?

Ray Manifold took photographs with a 35mm camera, of an object “hurtling in a blur of speed and mist out of the water near Cape Otway lighthouse.” The object appeared in only two of six pictures taken while the camera was in automatic sequencing.”

Source:   VUFORS website

“Some photos taken out over Bass Strait by Roy Manifold, a plumber on holidays at Crayfish Bay on the Victorian coast, some 20 minutes before Valentich began describing his encounter, revealed something unusual. Manifold had taken six photos of the setting Sun.  He saw nothing untoward, with the camera set to automatically taken the photo series, but when they were printed the fourth and sixth photos revealed apparent anomalies.  The fourth photo showed what looked like a dense ‘black lump’ on the water, giving the impression of something rising from the water.  The fifth photo appeared normal.  The sixth shows a strange mass situated in the sky directly over the position of the anomaly in the fourth photo.  It looks like an object caught in flight with a possible exhaust or trail of material.  Film faults and processing defects were ruled out.  The RAAF suggested a cumulus cloud breaking up, but the timing of the exposures would have required the ‘cloud’ to have moved into view at an extraordinary speed.”

Source:   Chalker, Bill. The Oz Files, 1996. Duffy & Snellgrove. Potts point. p171.

Melbourne researcher George Simpson interviewed Manifold in 2013 and wrote to me:

“The camera was ‘hand held’ and the photographer saw nothing unusual because he was manually timing the exposures using his watch.  He didn’t use a tripod. He was lying on his stomach on the ground, at the top of a cliff, arms outstretched, camera on the ground supported by hands only.  He never had an internal timer.”

I asked George for details of the camera used, and it was an Olympus 35mm SLR camera, an OM-2, which was a very compact model with built in light meter.  The film was advanced by using a motor drive unit.  Film was manually loaded and manually rewound.  He had a 50mm F1.8 Zuicko prime lens.  He used up the last six shots on the reel.  George has seen four of the photos but understands that the series of six was as follows:

1.  Setting Sun – nothing unusual.
2.  Setting Sun – nothing unusual.
3.  “Something protruding upwards from behind rocks.  It could just be a wave
      breaking over rocks, as they do, but there were no waves on any of the
      other photos.  The sea was very calm at the time.”
4.  Setting Sun – nothing unusual.
5.  The UAP shot.
6.  Setting Sun – nothing unusual.

George informed me that Roy Manifold no longer has the negatives of the prints.

Analysis:   The RAAF explanation of a cumulus cloud breaking up, doesn’t seem to be possible, given the time intervals of the photos.  It is of specific interest though, that for whatever reason, the photographer did not see anything unusual when taking the series of photos of the setting Sun.  This is very reminiscent of today’s digital photographs, where the photographer doesn’t see anything when taking the picture, but does see something unusual when looking at the image on a computer.  The explanation for many of these is that, unseen by the photographer who is busy looking at the image on the camera/phone’s view screen, an insect or bird flies past, and is snapped.  Following this logic, could the Manifold UAP photograph be something mundane of this nature?  However, for now I will leave this as an unknown.

1850hrs Altona (South-west of Melbourne) 5mins

A doctor and his wife observed a round object with beams of light, towards Geelong, about three times larger than the evening star.  They watched the object for only 5mins then thought no more about it until they read about the pilot’s remarks the next day.”

Source:   "MUFON Journal" Nov 1979 pp6-8.]

Analysis:   Could this have been the planet Venus?

1855hrs Mt Waverley (South-eastern suburb of Melbourne) Duration?

Travelling in a southerly direction along Huntingdale Road, a man saw a shower of very bright, metallic, ‘scintillations’ to the south, high in the sky.  Elevation 45 degrees, 15 degrees of arc in the vertical plane, and 1 degree of arc horizontally.  There were about 30 bright centres.  Followed by a dark contrail moving from south to north.

Source:   NAA file series B1497, control symbol V116/783/1047.

Analysis:   There was a very similar observation from Ormond at 1915hrs.  An odd couple of sightings.  Could it have been a firework?

Ca. 1900hrs Between Rye River (155kms West of Melbourne) and Lorne (140kms West of Melbourne) 5mins

Mr B Hardiman, of the Melbourne suburb of Highview, was in a vehicle on the Great Ocean Road, just after sunset (road runs north-east/south-west.)  On a clear, still night, he saw out to sea (sea horizon runs north-east to south-west), a light rise from close to the ocean.  It was a round light about the size of Venus.  It was seen to the south east (tending to south) heading northwards.  It didn’t cross the coast.  It was lost to view due to the winding nature of the road.  His wife, also in the car, saw a bright white light with coloured rays.  He saw a bright light which seemed to be green and red, and this was low down in the sky.  About 30 minutes later, there was another sighting but no details are given of what was seen.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   Although Venus was in the sky at this time, it was not in the direction of the UAP.  Unknown.

1910hrs(?) (Witness unable to recall exact time) Apollo Bay (191kms South-west of Melbourne.) Duration?

Mr Ken Hansen (pseudonym) and his two nieces were traveling by vehicle from a location about 2kms west of Apollo Bay, to his home in Apollo Bay. They were traveling east along Barham Valley Road.  Niece Tracy, in the right hand front seat said she saw coloured lights in the sky to her right (later measured as azimuth 230 degrees.)  Hansen looked and saw some lights, but thought they were on an aircraft.  Tracy then said “the other green light above it!”  Hansen looked again, some 10-15 seconds later, and saw “two separate sets of lights in the clear but darkening sky” (later measured at azimuth 200 degrees. ) He then stopped the car and got out to take a better look, for 20-30 seconds, watching as the lights moved from azimuth 160 degrees, to azimuth 126 degrees, where they were lost to view behind a hill.  While he watched, he saw a “second large, greenish light ‘like it was riding on top of the airplane.’”  There was no sound associated with any of these lights.

Source:   Haines, Richard and Norman, Paul. 2000. “Valentich Disappearance: New Evidence New Conclusion.” Journal of Scientific Exploration Volume 14 Number 1 pp19-32.

Analysis:   This would have to be the closest match to what Valentich says was occurring to him, i.e. there was an aircraft and a green light.  The exact time is unknown, but Valentich reported the green light part of his observations, at 7.10pm 21st October 1978, according to the Department of Transport.

Was this report known about in October 1978? Paul Norman says that he heard the story from Guido Valentich in 1991.  Norman then interviewed the three witnesses.  Haines and Norman then did a second interview of Hansen (not sure if also the nieces) in 1998.  Norman says that in the 1991 interview Hansen mentioned that he had told his wife and work colleagues about it at the time.  However, nowhere in the 2000 article do Haines or Norman state that they checked this with Hansen’s wife and work colleagues, to see if it was true.  So, strictly speaking this report can only be validated back to 1991 and not 1978.

910hrs Frankston (43kms South-east of Melbourne) Duration?

A Frankston widow and her 14 year old son, 16 year old daughter and friend Janie, aged 16, were motoring to a property south of Frankston, when they noticed a glowing object to the south-east.  Their impression was of a sky rocket, although the object was stationary.  The sighting occurred just before darkness, the sky was clear.  The colours appeared to be a mixture of red, pink and white.  The witnesses estimated the object to be a quarter the size of the Moon at a 30 degree angle.  The observers lost sight of the object when the car turned into another road.  The mother said at the time of the sighting she did not know it was a UFO, but found out later that other people had seen the same thing and thought no more of it until news of the missing pilot became known the following day.

Source:   Killey, Kevin and Lester, Gary. 1980.  The Devil’s Meridian.  Lester-Townsend Publishing. Melbourne.

Analysis:  The bright star Canopus was to the south-south-east at this time.  However, the witnesses describe an extended angular size to their object.  Unknown.

1910hrs Brooklyn (Western suburb of Melbourne) to Geelong ca. 45mins

Mr C M Morgan and others “observed a star-fish shaped object over the Melbourne - Geelong road.  They noted green flickering lights at one end. They had the impression that they had watched the object being described by Valentich.”

Source:   "MUFON Journal" Nov 1979 pp6-8

Bank manager Mr Col Morgan says he saw this star shaped glowing object hovering over the Melbourne-Geelong Road on Saturday night.  He said he and his wife were driving to Geelong. The object appeared as they were passing through Brooklyn at 7.10pm.

Mr Morgan, manager of the City West branch of the State Savings Bank, said “It was just hovering in a position in line with the centre of the car windscreen.”  Dispelling thoughts that it was an aircraft, the couple studied it with interest, noticing its slow pace and green flickering lights at one end.  It was only when they reached Geelong that the object disappeared from view, and it was not until yesterday that they realized the Unidentified Flying Object could be connected to the missing plane.  Mr Morgan described the object as a solid mass of light, almost the colour of a star.  His wife said the object could not have been an aircraft because of its exceptionally vivid projections of light and green flashing lights on the left side.

Source:   “The Age” newspaper, Melbourne, 24th Oct 1978 pp1 & 11.

Analysis:  The brief mention of this observation in the MUFON Journal article allows no proper analysis of the sighting and from the scant details provided there of a “star-fish” shape suggests no mundane explanation.  However, a reading of the much fuller newspaper article does allow an interpretation to be offered.  In summary, the observers were in a car travelling in a roughly south-westerly direction when they saw ahead of them, i.e. roughly south-west, a stationary, whitish light in the sky which was brilliant, which later they mentioned a “slow pace’ suggesting it was moving but slowly.  Now at 7pm that night in that direction was the brilliant white planet Venus at about 22 degrees elevation.  As they did not say they saw a bright UAP and a bright star in the same part of the sky I deduce that their observation was most likely of the planet Venus.

It should be noted that there were two other observations that night which mention a “star-fish” shape, i.e. 2000hrs Ringwood and 2100hrs location unknown.

1915hrs Ormond (Southern suburb of Melbourne) Seconds

“Lights were noticed on a cigar shaped arrangement.  The lights were described as looking like “silver rain” as they appeared to fall or else were turned off from top to bottom.”

Source:   VUFORS website

Mrs G McNiece noted “strange light to the north east as she was busy directing her children across a busy street and only had a brief look.  The lights appeared to fall or were turned off from top to bottom.  They looked like ‘silver rain’.  At first glance the lights appeared to be arranged in shape of a cigar.”

Source:   "MUFON Journal" Nov 1979 pp6-8.

Analysis:   This is another odd observation, which perhaps needs to be assessed in conjunction with the one at 1855hrs from Mt Waverley.  Could this have been a firework?

1915hrs Elwood (Southern suburb of Melbourne) Duration ?

“Mr James Mortimer reported a red object moving over the Bay in a south to west direction.  He called attention to his cab driver, who agreed it was not a known object.”

Source:   "MUFON Journal" Nov 1979 pp6-8.

Analysis:   Unknown from the limited detail provided.

1915hrs 3800S 14454E (In Port Phillip Bay near the City) Duration?

Mr Andrew Bates of the ship SS Ammlyc reported an explosion in the sky, in the direction of Port Arlington (i.e. southwards.)

Source:   NAA file series A4703, control symbol 1978/1205.

Analysis:  Insufficient detail to analyse.

1930hrs East Doncaster (North-eastern suburb of Melbourne) 105mins

On a very clear night, Dianne Russell and family saw an object at 45 degrees elevation to the south east.  It was white in colour, with a metallic look, like a very bright star – stationary then moving to the south.  There was no associated sound.  She did not see it move, but on going in and coming out again she noted it had moved to the east.

Source:   NAA A9755, c/s 4.

Analysis:   The RAAF noted that Venus set at 2115hrs.  However, Venus sets in the west and not the south-east.  The lengthy duration and the movement from south east to east suggests an astronomical source, i.e. a star.

1930-2100hrs 20km North-east of Geelong (1-2) secs

Fred Davis saw concentric rings of varying colours in the sky.  They were stationary at 30 degrees elevation.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:  The RAAF commented: “Too brief for accurate assessment.”

2000hrs Flemington (North-western suburb of Melbourne) 10mins

Jo-Anne Westwick from the 13th floor of a block of flats noticed, on a very clear night, a white oval at 45 degrees elevation circling a cloud in an anti-clockwise direction.  It looked like the Moon with a tail.  There was no associated sound.  She stopped looking for a while and upon looking back it had gone.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

It should be noted that there are two forms on file, one completed by the witness and one by the RAAF On her form she says the date was 14th October not 21st October.

Analysis:  The RAAF concluded “Possibly light a/c or helicopter but insufficient relevant information.”  However, to me, based on the details provided by Jo-Anne it is more likely to have been a searchlight.  I have seen similar things in Adelaide, which were searchlights.

2000hrs Ringwood (Eastern suburb of Melbourne) Duration?

David and Martin were out playing with their walkie-talkies at the end of their street.  They were no more than 50 yards apart when Kim, who was standing on the rise of a hill noticed a star-shaped object in the north wets at a very low altitude estimated at 2500-3000 feet.  The object moved slightly faster than an aircraft heading on an approach run, heading in a north-west direction when it disappeared behind a grove of tall pine trees…both witnesses recalled that a sound like a low pulsating hum was associated with the object, but once out of view was not audible any longer. Static was noted on their walkie-talkies.  The object appeared to have bright white lights placed intermittently at each end of the star-fish shaped object and at various points along the areas of the tips.  The hull itself had irregularly placed rectangles emitting all the visible colours of the spectrum with a soft glow effect.  They distinctly remember one ‘big bright light’ which appeared in the middle of the underside of the UFO.

Source:   "MUFON Journal" Nov 1979 pp6-8.

“Two lads out in the street saw a star shaped object apparently at low altitude over their heads.  It was moving slightly faster than an aircraft. During the observation both witnesses recall a sound like a low pulsing hum was associated with the object. Each of their walkie-talkies experienced static.  Their description was of an object with bright white lights placed intermittently at each tip of a star-fish shaped object and at various points along the area to the tips.

Source:  VUFORS website.

Analysis:   Here again we have the ‘star-fish’ shape.  The directions etc of the report do not suggest a mundane explanation.  Unknown.

2000hrs Greensborough (North-eastern suburb of Melbourne) 5mins

Bev Speedy on a warm, clear evening, saw a light at 40 degrees elevation to the north.  It was last observed in the same place.  It was flashing yellow, blue, pink.  The light moved to the west very quickly, then back.  Soundless.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   The RAAF suggested it was the star Sirius.  However, Sirius was very low in the south-eastern sky at the time.  It is unclear whether the witness’ description of “moved to the west” implies a 90 degree movement, or simply that it moved to the left and back again.  Possibly astronomical, i.e. a star.

2000-2100hrs Ripplebrook via Drouin (68kms South-east of Melbourne) 10mins

Mrs. C Downie saw a bright light in the sky out to the south of the Crib Point gas plant flame.  It moved slightly south and lost altitude very slowly.  It was a clear, starry night.  The object was orange to red in colour, low over homes.  It was in line with the long jetty on the south side of French island.

Source:   NAA files series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   Venus was roughly in this direction, could it have been the UAP?

2030hrs Cheshunt (295kms North-east of Melbourne) 1 hour

On a clear night, Carol Gibbs, to the east, saw at 30-35 degrees elevation, red and green sheets of light, plus white lights in a circling motion.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol4.

Analysis:   The RAAF suggested the star Sirius.  However, a star should not be seen as red and green sheets of light.  Unknown.

2100hrs Queenscliff (104kms South of Melbourne) Duration?

Mrs Barbara Bishop reported seeing an object which appeared to resemble a ferris wheel spinning in the sky.

Source:   "MUFON Journal" Nov 1979 pp6-8.

“…at Queenscliff, on Victoria’s southern tip, a woman motorist said she saw what appeared to be a ferris wheel spinning in the sky less than two hours after the plane disappeared on Saturday night.  Mrs Barbara Bishop of Learmonth Street, Queenscliff, said she saw ‘something unusual’ in the western sky.”

Source:   “The Age” newspaper, 24 Oct 1978 pp1&11.

Analysis:   It would be nice to have an angular elevation for this ‘ferris wheel’ and also the duration of the sighting.  All it can be said is that the planet Venus was setting on the horizon in a compass direction of 32 degrees south of west.  Could this have been the cause of the sighting?

2100hrs Warnambool (West of Cape Otway)

“Two witnesses observed a light about 4 or 5 times the size of the evening star in the north-eastern sky.  The object was described as being orange, red in colour and to be hovering at a height of 70 degrees.  It remained stationary for several minutes, then suddenly changed colour to yellow and moved rapidly to a ten degree position in the south-east, where it hovered again for a few minutes before speeding away to the south.”

Source:   "MUFON Journal" Nov 1979 pp6-8.

Analysis:   The ‘evening star’ is a name given to the planet Venus when it is in the western sky.  It was however, not to the north-east.  Unknown.

2100hrs Location? Duration ?

Two families at the beach saw a “cigar shaped light speeding low over Port Phillip Bay, from the direction of Bass Strait.  During its passage it ‘flashed a brilliant white ray of light.”  A smaller red light was noted to have detached itself from the larger object.  The larger object took off to the north but the smaller object approached and was seen to take on a ‘star-fish’ shape with red lights at each tip.  It stopped for a few minutes then accelerated away towards Bass Strait.

Source:   VUFORS website.

Analysis:   Unknown based on the information provided.

2115hrs Mt Martha to Mornington 10mins

A Mrs. Floyd, of Mt Martha (60kms south-east of Melbourne) was in a vehicle travelling to Mornington (57kms south-east of Melbourne) when she saw two bright white lights travelling over the Bay, making no sound.  They were to the south, travelling south-west at 70 degrees elevation when first seen.  Last seen to the south or south-west.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   The RAAF said “A/c lights.”

2230hrs Blackwood (117kms South-east of Melbourne] Hours

Mrs. C Rossito, Mr. and Mrs. R Petersen and Mrs. G Williams were at a holiday house at Blackwood.  They were watching television in the lounge.  The front of the room had large windows out of which they observed an extremely bright light to the east.  The light was as bright as a spot light, with a smaller red light to the left and a smaller green light to the right.

Mrs. Petersen noticed the object for a period of only 5 minutes through the window.  It was about a 20 to 25 degree angle and made no sound.  At this particular time the TV set began to malfunction.  They were unable to control the picture rolling no matter how hard they tried.

At approximately 11.10pm all three partied observed the object in a position of 90-95 degrees.  Mrs. Petersen and Mrs. Rossito became quite fearful of the object noting that it had stayed for so long and had not changed position.  Mrs. Williams was not affected. They all watched the object for a period of 15 minutes.

They all stated that during the event the object hovered in one position then at times it would appear to go up and down and side to side with a very rapid speed.  They all stated that the object was then emitting beams coloured red and green in the form of dotted lines.  The lines were directed to the earth but disappeared seconds later.  Each beam was estimated to be 100 feet long.  At approximately 1.30am the object had moved again to a position of 45 degrees still hovering.  The object had changed shape to the form of a cricket bat, but still white in colour and quite thin.

Mrs. Rossito observed this, then turned away for a second and the object as gone.  During the observation the kitchen light and lounge room light globes blew out for no apparent reason.  The TV was switched off earlier due to its erratic behaviour.  The horses in the back were more restless than normal.  After the incident Mrs. Rossito was depressed and suffered watery eyes, runny nose and a severe headache.  The other two ladies felt normal, except that Mrs. Williams felt an extreme impulse that she should not leave the house that Sunday afternoon.

Source:   Killey, Kevin and Lester, Gary. 1980.  The Devil’s Meridian. Lester-Townsend Publishing. Melbourne. pp90-91.

Analysis:   Unknown.

22nd October, 1978

Ca. 1400hrs Penguin (17kms East of Burnie, North-western Tasmania) 5mins

Michelle Dick (16) of Brown’s Lane took one coloured photograph which shows an oval-shaped object high in the sky over her home.  “A ring of light encircles the object.”  It was seen for five minutes before she took the photo.  It came from the direction of Riana (i.e. from the south-west) and left towards the sea (northwards.)  “It was travelling slowly and in a straight line.”  It was grey-silver in colour and “She did not see it go out of sight.”

Source:   NAA file series B1497 control symbol V116/783/1047 which contains a letter from “The Advocate” newspaper reporting the event to the RAAF.

Analysis:   Keith Roberts of TUFOIC advised me that they were aware of this case.  Details appeared in the Hobart “Mercury” newspaper dated 2nd November 1978.  The TUFOIC report form shows the date of sighting as 8th October not the 22nd October.  The negative was analysed by Frank Gillespie of UFO Research (SA).  Gillespie advised that the negative had a flaw, which consisted of a gap in one of the layers which made up the film.  There was a similar but smaller flaw on the opposite side of the frame. The negative was returned to the witness on 4th January 1979.  The witness rejected the film fault explanation for the object in the photograph.  However, this does not explain the visual observation by Miss Dick.

1900hrs Heathcote (110kms North-north-east of Melbourne) 10secs

Mrs Latross was driving when she saw a very bright, round, flashing green light close to the horizon, in the direction of Melbourne (i.e. to the south-south-west.)

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   The RAAF form said “OAO-3 rocket az 358deg heading 86 deg at 1930hrs.  Also poss. Flare-Puckapunyal training area.”

2000hrs Ballarat (105kms West-north-west of Melbourne) 5mins

Patricia Lowther saw, to the south-east, a star-like light with green and red flashing, lights which moved up and down very quickly.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   The RAAF said “Large a/c navigation lights.”

2025hrs Mitcham (Eastern suburb of Melbourne) 25mins

Warren McKelvey, on a clear night, reported seeing, at 45 degrees elevation, to the north-west, a light which changed colours white, orange, green.  It was lost at 30-35 degrees elevation.  It was said to look 20 times larger than the average star.  It was traveling north-west very quickly, and was lost on the horizon.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   There are two report forms on file.  One completed by the RAAF says the date was 22nd October but the time was 2100hrs and the duration 10 minutes.  The other form was completed by the witness and says 22nd October, 2025hrs, duration 25 minutes.  There seems to be a contradiction in that it was traveling very quickly, but also visible for 25 minutes.  Unknown.

23rd October, 1978

0045hrs 39° 52' S 145° 34' E Duration?

Crew members of the ship “Empress of Australia,” way out in Bass Strait, reported sighting a brilliant, very fast, white light in the sky.  There was no indication of its height, but it was moving from east to west ahead of them.  The ship’s course was 334/17.0.

Source:   NAA file series A4703, control symbol 1978/1205.

Analysis:   The Department of Transport’s search and rescue file, notes that there was a meteor shower in progress on this date.  In fact, the Orionid meteor shower is visible between the 15-29th October, with a peak between 20th -22nd October.  Up to 40 meteors an hour may be seen.  They are visible as very fast, white lights, which travel away from the constellation of Orion which was in the north-eastern sky at that time.  The details of this observation are consistent with the UAP being an Orionid meteor.

0815hrs Robinvale (469kms North-west of Melbourne) 30mins

Mr. Barwick reported stationary bright lights to the west.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   The RAAF attributed it to an aircraft.

1902hrs Sandringham (South-eastern suburb of Melbourne) 3mins

Mrs. M J Hammond saw at 60 degrees elevation to the north-north-east, in heavy cloud, a stationary, metallic, gray/silver coloured object.  It was a flat oval/cigar shape.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   The RAAF suggested it was sun reflecting off an a/c or shafts of sunlight penetrating cloud.

2010hrs Harkaway (46kms South-east of Melbourne) 20mins

W. Glendenning reported a very bright light in the sky , orange in colour with a light on top.  It was stationary to the south-south-west at 50 degrees elevation.

Source:   NAA file series A9755; control symbol 4.

Analysis:   The orange star, Antares, was visible in approximately this position.

2100hrs Frankston (43kms South-east of Melbourne) 5mins

Mrs. Barbara Curtis reported seeing a red coloured, triangular shaped object over Geelong (i.e. westwards.)  It moved too fast to be an aircraft.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   The RAAF said there was insufficient information to evaluate.

2245hrs Cnr Burwood Highway and Warrigal Road (Camberwell, eastern suburb of Melbourne) 30mins

Julie Wheatland saw giant size stars, bright lights, strange colours, hovering to the east.  The RAAF suggested possibility of the constellation Orion.

Source:   NAA file series A9755, control symbol 4.

Analysis:   The RAAF suggested the possibility of the constellation Orion being the cause.  George Simpson adds “The RAAF is correct here.  Orion was right there in the east.  However, most people recognize it.  Most have seen it before.  Note the witness said they were stars.  She probably saw stars.”

Section C:  Discussion

I feel it has been a very useful exercise to collect these reported observations, especially for 21st October 1978.  As always, with any collection of UAP reports there appears to be a mix of mundane and unknown causes.

Perhaps my initial comment is the fact, that no source I consulted mentioned the presence of the brilliant planet Venus in the west-south-west sky on those evenings.  The observation of Mr. Morgan at 1910 to 1955 hours on 21st October, while driving from Melbourne to Geelong, certainly to me, seems to have been of Venus.  Other possible sightings of Venus are:

1855hrs 21 Oct Altona.
2000hrs 21 Oct Ripplebrook.
2100hrs 21 Oct Queenscliff.

Other possible mundane explanations, are shown in table one below:

        Table One:
   Date Time Location Possible Explanation
   20 October 1445hrs Melbourne/Tasmania Met. Phon. "Glory"
   21 October Midday Latrobe, Tasmania Aircraft
   21 October 1303hrs Tullamarine Tethered balloon
   21 October 1855hrs Mt Waverley Fireworks
   21 October 1915hrs Ormond Fireworks
   21 October 1930hrs East Doncaster Astronomical
   21 October 2000hrs Flemington Searchlight
   21 October 2000hrs Greensborough Astronomical
   23 October 0045hrs Bass Strait Meteor
   23 October 2010hrs Harkaway Star Antares

There are a number of observations with very little information.  This makes it extremely difficult to suggest any particular explanation.  These are:

2245hrs 20 October Cheshunt.
1915hrs 21 October Port Phillip Bay.
1930hrs 21 October 20kms NE of Geelong.
0815hrs 23 October Robinvale.

However, this does leave us with a number of puzzling observations which are shown in tables two and three below.

        Table Two – UAP reported as “lights” (i.e. they were a point source in size.)
   Date Time     Location
   18 October 1900hrs Blackburn
   20 October 2245hrs Cheshunt
   21 October Ca. 1900hrs Wye River/Lorne
   21 October 1910(?)hrs Apollo Bay
   21 October 1910hrs Frankston
   21 October 2030hrs Cheshunt
   21 October 2100hrs Warnambool
   21 October 2230hrs Blackwood
   23 October 2025hrs Mitcham
        Table Three - UAP reported as “objects” (i.e. they had an extended angular size.)
   Date Time Location What Was Seen
   20 October 2245hrs Warburton Square Box
   21 October 1400hrs Currie White/silver ball
   21 October 1500hrs Corio Twin silver cigars
   21 October 1615hrs Geelong/Cape Otway Twin silver cigars
   21 October 1830hrs East Wynyard "Flying Saucer"
   21 October 1845hrs Crayfish Bay Saddle shape
   21 October 1915hrs Elwood Red object
   21 October 2000hrs Ringwood Star shape
   21 October 2100hrs Location? Cigar-shaped light

As with many series of UAP reports, there is little consistency of descriptions, apart, notably for the twin silver cigars.

It proved impossible to locate any detailed, fully investigated sighting reports on any of the seemingly “unknown” cases.  If such investigation reports were prepared at the time, they seem no longer available to us.

My conclusion, based on the material which we have to hand some 35 years later, is that there are indeed some puzzling reports from that time period.  However, the lack of detailed material on them, reduces the value which they add to the total record.

I welcome additional material, comments, corrections etc.  Please forward them to

My final comment is directed to answering the question “Did anyone else, beside Frederick Valentich, report an object during that time period, which looked like a large aircraft, was shiny, metallic and with a green light?”  Despite the number of puzzling reports, the answer, at least from my examination of the material presented here, is that no, no one else did.  Even Paul Norman’s unfound collection of “…20 eye witnesses…describing an erratically moving green light…” does not speak of a large, shiny, metallic aircraft-like object.



I wish to thank a number of individuals for their assistance with aspects of this paper. They are: Paul Dean (Melbourne) for general comments.

Jeff Fausch (Adelaide) for general comments and looking for sources.

Ben Hurle (Bairnsdale) for corrections, additional material and additional cases.

Jan Murray (Melbourne) for a name correction.

Keith Roberts (Hobart) for checking TUFOIC sighting files, and additional cases.

George Simpson (Melbourne) for adding new reports, and for details of his interview with Roy Manifold.

John Stepkowski (Melbourne) for providing local knowledge of Victorian localities.

Reg Watson (Tasmania) for additional reports and a copy of his booklet (see sources for details.)



Chalker, Bill. 1996. The Oz Files. Duffy & Snellgrove. Potts Point.

Haines, Richard and Norman, Paul. 2000. “Valentich Disappearance: New Evidence New Conclusion.” Journal of Scientific Exploration Volume 14 Number 1 pp 19-32.

Killey, Kevin and Lester, Gary. 1980.  The Devil’s Meridian.  Lester-Townsend Publishing. Melbourne.

National Archives of Australia files:

   1.  File series A9755, control symbol 4.

   2.  File series A4703, control symbol 1978/1205.

   3.  File series B1497, control symbol V116/783/1047.

Norman, Paul. “Mystery Deepens in Pilot Disappearance Case.” MUFON Journal issue no. 141, November 1979, pp6-8.

The Age newspaper, Melbourne.

Tasmanian UFO Investigation Centre, Hobart.

Victorian UFO Action (Ben Hurle)

Victorian UFO Research Society (VUFORS) (Melbourne) website.

Watson, Reg. 2012. “Strange happenings over the sky of Tasmania and Bass Strait (including the Frederick Valentich mystery.)” The Anglo-Keltic Society.



According to people who reported UAP on 21 October 1978 the sky was clear and stars were visible.

The Formilab web-based star chart for that night at Universal Time plus 10 hours, from the position of Melbourne, Victoria shows that:

At 7pm. Both the Sun and Moon had set.  The planet Venus was above the horizon at 22 degrees elevation, azimuth 15 degrees south of west.  The planet Mars was above the horizon at 19 degrees elevation and 9 degrees south of west.  The planet Jupiter was below the horizon.

At 8pm. The planet Venus was still above the horizon at 10 degrees elevation and azimuth 24 degrees south of west.  The planet Mars was at 7 degrees elevation, 18 degrees south of west.

At 8.30pm. Mars was below the horizon, but Venus was above at 5 degrees elevation, azimuth 27 degrees south of west.

At 9pm. Venus was setting almost on the horizon at azimuth 32 degrees south of west.


Other reports made on 21 October, 1978, outside the geographic area
covered in this paper

1940hrs (CST) Valley View (north-eastern suburb of Adelaide) 45mins

Looking to the south-south east, Mr. Don Cox saw a large, white/yellow light in the sky at 35 degrees elevation.  Through binoculars, he reported seeing a large, triangular-shaped yellow/white light.  Within the triangle there were iridescent lights, blue, blue-green, and orange in colour.  After 45 minutes it was lost to view behind a tree.

Source:   NAA files series B1497, control symbol V116/783/1047.

2145hrs Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

Two men witnessed a strange object on Kangaroo Island.  The island lies off the coast of South Australia and is 720km west-north-west of Bass Strait.  The men were driving to Kingscote, the largest town on the island, at 9.45pm when they saw a bright light appear in the west.  It grew until it appeared the size of the full Moon.  The object was only 500 metres from them and hovered about 100 metres in the air.  The men estimated it was the size of an aircraft, although they quickly ruled out the possibility of it being an aircraft because of its unusual movements.

Source:   Killey, Kevin and Lester, Gary. 1980.  The Devil’s Meridian.  Lester-Townsend Publishing. Melbourne. p.162.