The Nullarbor Plain lies immediately north of the Great Australian Bight. It stretches a distance of some 1,200 km, running east to west between South Australia and Western Australia. A vast area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid terrain, Nullarbor is the world's largest continuous expanse of limestone, covering approximately 200,000 km² (77,200 square miles). The name Nullarbor derives from two Latin words: nullus (nothing or no-one) and arbor (tree).
Despite its size and relative isolation, Nullarbor is traversed by some excellent roads, most notably the Eyre Highway, which contains the world's longest straight stretch of road. For many Australians, crossing the Nullarbor is an essential rite of passage, but it can be hazardous. Many abandoned or wrecked vehicles line its highways. But many people believe the Nullarbor hides a far more sinister danger. The area has been the source of many terrifying UFO encounters over the years.
The best known UFO case to emanate from the Nullarbor, took place along the Eyre Highway, on January 20, 1988. The Knowles family, set off from Perth, Western Australia, in their1984 blue Ford Telstar, towards Melbourne. Their route took them across the Nullarbor. The family consisted of Faye Knowles and her adult sons Patrick (24), Sean (21) and Wayne (18). They were accompanied by their two dogs.
At around 4 AM, Sean was at the wheel, with Patrick in the front passenger seat. Their location was somewhere between Madura and Mundrabilla, when they spotted a bright light on the road ahead of them. At first, they assumed it was a truck, but were intrigued when the light started to jump around, disappeared and then reappeared, seeming much larger and closer. Sean accelerated to get a closer look at the light's source. As they closed in on the source, it disappeared again. Suddenly, it was behind them. Sean accelerated to get away, but almost immediately, it jumped in front of them.
Now just twenty metres or so away, it emitted a blinding, white light, which had a yellow centre. They couldn't say for sure if the metre-wide, oval object was on the ground, or hovering just above it. Sean performed a u-turn and sped away from the object. He later switched back to their original direction of travel, in an attempt to shake it off. He swerved the car violently when the object approached them, almost colliding with a car coming the other way, towing a caravan. It is unknown if the occupants of the second car saw the object, as they never came forward.
The Knowles family were horrified when they heard a heavy clunking noise, as if something had landed on the roof of the car. The terrified family were later very confused as to the exact sequence of events, from the time they believed the craft landed on their roof. Mrs Knowles wound down her window and placed her hand on the roof of the car. She touched something warm, rubbery and spongy, and immediately retracted her hand, which felt hot and was covered in black dust. A grey-black mist invaded the car through the open window. The mist had a foul stench, which reminded them of dead bodies. They then heard a peculiar, high-pitched sound which made the dogs very agitated. The whole family suffered complete disorientation and claimed that their voices lowered in pitch and their speech slowed down.
The object hovered around their car for a short while, before departing. They hid for around 15 minutes or so, before changing the tyre in record time, and speeding off to a hotel in the nearby town of Mundrabilla.
At the hotel, they met a truck driver named Graham Henley, who had also seen a strange, illuminated object in his rear view mirror, at the same time and in the same location, as their encounter. Two more witnesses also came forward to say they had passed the object. Mr. Henley inspected the interior and exterior of the Knowles' car, and saw black dust in both locations, as well as four indentations in the roof. He said the dust had a burnt smell to it.
Returning to the scene of the incident shortly afterwards, he discovered footprints, skid marks and a discarded tyre, which he took as confirmation of the Knowles family's account. Police officers who interviewed the family confirmed they were badly shaken. The officers also attested to the presence of the dust, and the dents in the roof. Upon subsequent analysis, the dust was found to contain nothing unusual or alien.
So what did happen on the Nullarbor that night? At least seven witnesses stated they had seen an anomalous object of some kind. The occupants of the car towing the caravan must have seen it, too. Maybe it was merely a freak weather condition that scared the Knowles family so much, some kind of tornado or vortex. Something clearly happened, but it is impossible to prove, one way or another, whether or not the family really was attacked by a UFO. Part 2 of this article, coming soon, will review the evidence collected by researchers working on the Knowles family case, whereas Part 3 will tell of other paranormal events experienced by travellers crossing the Nullarbor.
UFOs on the Nullarbor Plain (Part 2)
UFOs on the Nullarbor Plain (Part 3)