The Westall UFO encounter is an event that occurred at 11.00 am on April 6th, 1966. For 20 minutes, more than 200 students and teachers at two Victorian state schools witnessed an unexplained flying object, that descended into a nearby open wild grass field. The paddock was adjacent to a grove of pine trees, in an area known as The Grange (now a nature reserve). The object then ascended in a north-westerly direction over the Melbourne
suburb of Clayton South
At approximately 11.00 am on Wednesday, 6 April, 1966, a class of students and a teacher from Westall High School (now Westall Secondary College
) were just completing sports on the main oval when an object, described as being a grey saucer shaped craft with a slight purple hue, and as being about twice the size of a family car, was sighted. Witness descriptions were mixed: Andrew Greenwood, a science teacher, told "The Dandenong Journal" at the time he saw a silvery-green disc. According to witnesses, the object was descending and then crossed and overflew the high school's south-west corner, going in a south-easterly direction, before disappearing from sight as it descended behind a stand of trees and into a paddock at The Grange, in front of the Westall State School
(primary students). After a short period (approximately 20 minutes) the object - with witnesses now numbering over the 200 - then climbed at speed and departed towards the north-west. As the object gained altitude, some accounts describe it as having been pursued from the scene by five unidentified aircraft, which circled the object.
On Sunday the 9th, the scene was investigated by uniformed men - thought to have been from the Australian Army and RAAF; the local police also visited the location. Witnesses report that samples were taken and the landing site was then burnt. However, some report the grass was burnt by the farmer who owned the land, to stop the children from entering his property. Several of the witnesses report that they were questioned by the authorities or warned against speaking out about what they had seen. The school headmaster, Frank Samblebe, also prohibited discussion of the event. No record of this encounter was preserved in the National Archives of Australia or in the Army or RAAF files. Although government reports are held by some researchers, to date they have never been released.
"The Dandenong Journal" covered the encounter in detail and ran two front page stories (see images). The first was on the 14th of April and the next was on the 21st of April.
"The Age" ran a very small article about the Westall incident on Thursday, 7 April 1966, Page 6.
"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". Witnesses and researchers were surprised when "The Sun News-Pictorial" (a tabloid) ran no story, yet "The Age" (a broadsheet) did.
"The Sun" and "The Herald" newspapers, whilst not mentioning the Westall incident, both published cartoons in the following day's editions that made light of the flying saucer phenomena.
GTV Channel 9 television also ran a news report about the encounter. Student Joy Tighe described the event for the reporter. However, a copy of this tape is not available. Channel 9 reports that it was removed from their archive and was not returned, and that the tape is now lost.
The sighting was investigated by two groups: The Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society (VFSRS) and Phenomena Research Australia
(PRA). Both groups described it as being one of Australia's major unexplained UFO cases. The VFSRS team arrived on the site on Friday the 8th and spoke to students and viewed the ground mark. The VFSRS printed an image and a small report in their magazine "Australian UFO Bulletin" in December 2000. Investigator Brian Boyle (PRA) arrived at the site on Sunday the 9th, with the Army investigators . Boyle did a number of interviews (reel tape) over a number of days and took samples from the ground mark. These investigators were able to speak to many of the witnesses as it was over the Easter Holiday (8th-11th).
A witness reunion was held at Westall Tennis Club Hall on 8 April 2006, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the sighting.
Although some witnesses reported five Cessna-type aircraft around the object, investigators were unable to find any record of such aircraft. Moorabbin Airport
, which is 4.76 km (South West) from the location, was checked but no aircraft from that airport entered the airspace. The RAAF
also reported no military activity in that area.
Australian Skeptics described the object as potentially having been an experimental military aircraft.