January 1953 – Dalwallinu
While hunting foxes northeast of Dalwallinu, Richard Hunter and Keith McNamara noticed something in the sky. It was about 9:30 pm on 13 January 1953. The object resembled a large bright star surrounded by a white vaporous ring, and was travelling in a northerly direction. It passed over them, and after six or seven minutes, it veered southwest, then west. The two men watched it, alternately dimming and brightening, until it disappeared.
Richard and Keith returned to Dalwallinu and recounted what they saw to Les Angel and Kenneth Jefferis. Les and Kenneth had also seen the object and had watched it for about 10 minutes. After it disappeared, a halo of light remained visible in the sky.
Over a week later, Dalwallinu’s local paper, the North Eastern Courier, featured a small article about the story. It was headlined ‘Flying Saucers’ and would have, no doubt, grabbed attention. On 23 January 1953, the story reached metropolitan newspapers. The Daily News opted to run with ‘Four See Flying Saucer in WA.’ The reporter reached out to the Government Astronomer, who believed the object could not have been a meteorite. They confirmed with the Perth Weather Bureau that it wasn’t a meteorological balloon, and were advised by the Royal Australian Air Force, as well as Air Traffic Control that there were no aircraft in the sky at that time.
The story soon came to the attention of Flight Lieutenant Arnold of the Royal Australian Air Force. He wrote to the Commissioner of Police in February 1953, stating, “…there was a report of an unusual sighting, the subject matter of which is of considerable interest…”
Flight Lieutenant Arnold requested that the men who saw the strange phenomenon complete a form, which he enclosed with the letter. It included questions such as: “Where was the object first observed? What was the colour of the light or object? Was any detail of structure observable? Was any trail of vapour or light seen?”
He further noted that it was not necessary to mention that the Royal Australian Air Force was the inquirer and that the constable should advise the men of the “confidential nature of the information.”
The documents were forwarded to Inspector Wass at Northam, who forwarded them to Constable Wells at Dalwallinu. Constable Wells interviewed the men and filled out the form on their behalf. One question asked about the witnesses’ experience, and Les advised that he had about 3,000 hours of flying with the Royal Australian Air Force. According to Les, “…it was extremely difficult to estimate the hight [sic] and almost impossible to estimate the speed.” His best guess was that it was 3,000 to 4,000 feet above them and was not travelling that fast.
Going beyond what was requested, Constable Wells marked the position of the object and the course it was travelling on a map. By 6 March 1953, everything was sent to the Royal Australian Air Force to add to their records.
February 1954 – Cunderdin
May Brechin and June Devenish were walking across the Brechin farm paddocks, five miles south of Cunderdin, when they observed a big shiny flat disk, floating stationary in the sky. It was 5:45 pm on 4 February 1954. They called out to the farmhand, Mr J Pagan, and he too witnessed it. For five minutes, they stood and watched it hovering until it moved westwards, taking 15 minutes to disappear.
The object made no sound, was about the size of a big aircraft, and glittered in the sun. Once it had gone, May rang the Cunderdin police and reported it. In case anyone doubted their story, she pointed out that they did not drink, smoke, and were not likely to have imagined it.
Newspapers picked up on the story. The West Australian ran with the headline ‘Disk Floats Over a Farm’ while many regional newspapers opted for ‘A Very Unusual Sight Experienced.’ Once again, the report came to the attention of Flight Lieutenant Arnold. On 11 February 1954, he wrote to the Commissioner of Police, requesting the completion of their form by the witnesses.
It was sent to Inspector O’Brien at Northam, who sent it to Constable Webb at Cunderdin. By 20 March, Constable Webb had completed the inquiries and noted in his letter that, “All three persons concerned when interviewed by me were emphatic that the object they saw was not an aircraft or similar object and that it was definitely something that they had never previously observed.”
April 1954 – Cunderdin
Carol and Francis Fulwood were outside their house, ten miles north of Cunderdin, when they noticed something in the sky. They called out to their mother, Vera, who was inside. It was about 5:15 pm on 9 April 1954. Vera, Carol, and Francis stood and watched the object for about three minutes until it disappeared. On the following afternoon, Vera reported what they saw to the Cunderdin police.
The object was flying about one mile west of the homestead. It was round and flat and silver, and she noticed the sun was shining off it. It wasn’t moving that fast and looked as though it was rotating up and down. She estimated that it was positioned about 4,000 feet above her and was at an angle of 45 degrees.
When she first saw the object, it was on the west side of the homestead. It continued travelling west until it disappeared into the glare of the sun. Vera was certain it was not an aeroplane. In all her life, she had never seen anything like it. There was no noise; no sound of a motor running. If the children hadn’t seen it, she wouldn’t have known it was there.
Constable Zanette completed the report and noted at the end that he had known Vera for a year and considered her reliable. From Cunderdin, it was sent to Northam and then forwarded to Perth to add to the records of the Royal Australian Air Force.
This story originally featured on ABC Mid West and Wheatbelt’s Saturday Breakfast with Nat on 21 November 2020. You can listen to that episode via the following link: https://ab.co/2C67gqO
- State Records Office of Western Australia; Western Australian Police Department; Unidentified Flying Objects.; AU WA S76- cons1910 1964/2885; https://bit.ly/3lx0iNm
- 1953 ‘FLYING SAUCERS’, North-Eastern Courier (Perth, WA : 1923 – 1955), 22 January, p. 1. , viewed 10 Nov 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article257576065
- 1954 ‘A Very Unusual Sight Experienced’, Avon Argus and Cunderdin-Meckering-Tammin Mail (WA : 1925 – 1954), 10 February, p. 1. , viewed 13 Nov 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article251700895
- Header image obtained from: 1954 ‘”SAUCERS” DO EXIST —AND WHY!’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 26 June, p. 7. , viewed 16 Nov 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23428619