Woomera UFOs

4th April 2024. Reading Time: 5 minutes General, UFO Encounters, Famous Paranormal Cases. 1128 page views. 0 comments.

On the 15th of July 1960, there were various reports of UFO sightings at a nuclear weapons testing range near Wewak, South Australia. On the 24th of July of the same year, the Government replied with an official report of the investigation into the claims.

On the 15th of July 1960, civilians reported seeing a strange red light in the sky at Wewak, a nuclear weapons testing facility in South Australia.  At this time, tests were underway at Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) overseen by Weapons Research Establishment (WRE),  The WRE was also developing a space program at the Woomera Rocket Range. Between 1952 and 1963 the British Government conducted nuclear tests at three sites within Australia – the Montebello Islands off the coast of Western Australia and at Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.  This was with the agreement of the Australian government.

Between 1959 and 1963 more than 40 top-secret nuclear weapons tests under the code name 'Vixen', took place at the Wewak site under tight security.  The area covered a 270,000-square-kilometre range which included the Maralinga and Emu Field testing sites.  During this time, there were many reports of strange lights in the sky including a fateful day on the 15th of July 1960.  Interest in UFOs was starting to rise thanks to Hollywood and in the interest of national security and to curb public interest, the Government took what was at the time an extraordinary move of conducting an official investigation into the sightings.  Several witnesses were interviewed including Commonwealth Police, staff from the site, armed forces personnel, a native patrol officer and members of the public.

Scientific experts who were engaged as consultants for the reports offered a range of explanations.  They said it could quite possibly be 'flying saucers', as well as satellite cones or a meteor. 

See the report and the transcription below:

Source: National Archives of Australia

Transcription (by Sarah LLIFS)

The Range Commander, Maralinga.

At Wewak, the site of the Vixen "A" Test, approximately 15 miles from Maralinga Village, are a number of static balloons used in instrumentation.  At 7.15 p.m on 15th July,, 1960, a telephone report was received from Constable Hubert Dave SCARBOROUGH, who is stationed on the site, that a that a balloon had burnt in the air.  The Balloon Officer made an. inspection and found that all balloons were intact.

2. The Constable was questioned and said that he was sitting in his caravan at approximately 7.5 p.m when his attention was drawn to a light, of approximately the power of bright moonlight, playing on the ground.  He left the caravan and saw what he described as a white light travelling from East to West.  As it appeared to come nearer, or grow larger, it turned to a red colour.  Because of its position and height he thought, at first, that it was a balloon afire and reported it as such.  Owing to lack of knowledge as to distance away it was found difficult to estimate the size of the light.  The only fact contributed that could assist was that the light appeared to occupy 1 1/2 to two degrees of the horizon.  The Constable thought that the light burned for thirty seconds.

3. Constable Richard Henry MAXWELL who was outside the caravan at Roadside, thirteen miles from the Village, saw a light out of the corner of his eye at about 7 p.m. He thought that the light appeared to come from the direction of Wewak a distance of 2 1/4 miles. As far as he knows the light did not play on the ground in his immediate vicinity.  The light had made so little impression on his mind that he failed to mention it to his companion when he returned to the caravan and recalled it only when he received a telephone call from the Constable at Wewak inquiring if the Light had been witnessed at Roadside.

4.  The light was observed from the Village at about the same time by the following personnel -
2/945 Capt. Keith Angus ROSS, Catering Officer.

Trevor James HOSKINS, Technical Assistant, Health Physics Group, 

Russell, McFarlane KINGSLEY, Pitter, Department of Mines, and

Ian Kenneth HASKARD, Supervising Teanicion, P.M,G's Department.

All gave, more or less, the same description. They saw a light over the R.E.M.E. Workshop Building in the Village and coming from the general direction of Wewak.  There was some disagreement as to the duration of
the Light; this varied between two and fifteen seconds. The discrepancy could be explained by some people seeing the light some seconds after it had first appeared.  The person who saw it for fifteen seconds was able to reconstruct his movements at the particular time and it is thought that his estimate is reasonable.  While an agreement could not be reached as to the exact time all agree that it was some time after 7 p.m.

5.  Inquiries, with negative result, were made of Woomera in case a firing had taken place and was witnessed in this area.  The same source was used to contact a survey party from Exoil Pty. Ltd. who were camped in the vicinity of Emu in an effort to discover if they had witnessed any phenomenon such as a metero.  The result was negative.

6.  A suggestion that the light could have been produced by a photo-flash from a high-flying aircraft was discounted. No aircraft was heard at the time and, in any case, no known photo-flash has a duration of anything like fifteen seconds.

7.  Scientific personnel who would have the "know-how" were questioned in case the light was the result of a practical joke.  Assurances were given that no member of the Scientific parties were responsible.

8.  One practical suggestion was made by a Scientific officer that the light could have been caused by "St. Elmo's fire".  The Balloon Officer said that, although the balloons are "earthed" sometimes static electricity does build-up sufficiently to electrify the anchor vehicle.  Three balloons are in line with the position where the light was observed from Wewak and approximately half a mile distant from the caravan.  At such a distance it is understood that 1 1/2 degrees of the horizon could be calculated to approximately 40 feet.  Opportunity was taken during a visit to Adelaide to attempt some research into static electricity at the Adelaide Public Library.  No reference book produced gave much useful information.  The following description of "St. Elmo's Fire" was extracted from encyclopaedia -

"the glow accompanying the brush-like discharges of atmospheric electricity which usually appears as a tip of light on the extremity of pointed objects such as church towers or the masts of ships during stormy weather. It is commonly accompanied by a crackling or flaring noise."

9.  Oliver Herry Turner, Health Physics Officer, who possesses an inquiring mind, made an independent investigation and extensive calculations.  He is of the opinion that the light was not the result of a natural phenomenon but caused by an unidentified flying object; either a cone from a satellite or a "flying saucer."

10.  It is felt that all avenues of inquiry at Maralinga have now been covered and that it is not possible to positively identify the source of the light. It is felt, however, that the light was the result of either a meteor or static electricity.

11.  Submitted.
SGD, J.J.A. BAILAN
Security Officer, Maualince

Cover Photo by Rodrigo Arrosquipa (pexels)

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