When most of us think of Unidentified Flying Objects our thoughts turn to far away places: the WWII Battle of Los Angeles or the infamous weather balloon that landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. What many Victorians don’t know is that we are home to one of the world’s most famous UFO events. One with as many as 100 witnesses, many of whom are still telling their stories.

Pencil drawing from 'The Clayton calendar' school journal showing a school in the background, a row of pine trees and 3 flying saucers in the foreground.  A quote on the image says "As I was saying children, flying saucers do not exist".
Westall High School, The Clayton Calendar, reprinted in Australian Flying Saucer Review, June 1966, p 13. Permission to reprint kindly granted by the secretary, Victorian UFO Research Society.

According to newspapers and reports of the time, on 6 April 1966 something strange happened at a patch of scrubby, pine-ringed bushland called The Grange in Melbourne’s sleepy south-eastern suburbs. The Grange is across the way from Westall Secondary School (then Westall High) and backs onto farmland. In the 1960s it was visited by farmers looking for a place to graze their cattle and by kids and teens looking for a place to explore.  On 6 April it was reportedly the destination of some strange and unusual visitors: Unidentified Flying Objects1The Dandenong Journal of 14 April leads with the evocative headline FLYING SAUCER MYSTERY: SCHOOL SILENT. As reports of the 6 April incident flooded in, with no official word from the school, the team at The Dandenong Journal attempted to piece the story together.

Front cover of the Dandenong Journal 14 April 1966.  Headline reads 'Flying saucer mystery: school silent'.
Dandenong Journal, 14 April 1966, p 1. Permission to reprint kindly granted by the editor, Star News Group, Dandenong.

Reports from eyewitnesses claim that just before morning recess a series of ‘dazzling silvery object(s)’2 appeared over high school oval, moving toward The Grange. One of the objects was larger than the others with witnesses describing it as ’round with a hump on top and round things underneath’3 or as an object that was ‘silver grey and seemed to “thicken” sometimes. The thickening was similar to when a disc is turned a little to show the underside.’ 4

Section of the front page of the Dandenong Journal for 21 April 1966. Headline read WHO WERE 5 PILOTS?. Article describes reports of small aircraft seen at the site of purported UFO encounter. A drawing by a student who was present shows a flying saucer.
Dandenong Journal, April 21 1966, p 1. Includes a drawing of the craft by a student at Westall High School.

Witnesses also described ‘many private aircraft, mainly Cessna’5 flying toward and around the UFOs. A two-page, anonymous report from The Clayton Calendar (the Westall High journal, unfortunately not held by State Library Victoria), goes into some detail about the craft and speculates that they may have been military aircraft, coming from nearby Moorabbin airport. This account was republished in its entirety in the June 1966 issue of the Australian Flying Saucer Review. The Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society (later the Victorian UFO Research Society) inspected the scene and interviewed a number of witnesses but at the time no exhaustive account was published. The VFSRS had members across the state and was based quite close to Westall, in the southeastern suburb of Moorabbin (the site of another famous event purportedly tied to the paranormal, the disappearance of Frederick Valentich in 1987).

Image of Editors note by Editor Judith Magee referring to the anonymous first-hand account of the events of April 6 at Westall High School.  Printed in Australian Flying Saucer Review June 1966.
Editor of the Australian flying saucer review, Judith Magee attached this note to the first-hand account published, highlighting her belief in its veracity as well as the reported actions of authorities to quell the story. Australian Flying Saucer Review, June 1966, p 14
Photograph of scientists preparing a weather lantern or weather balloon.  One man is taking notes, one man is holding the lantern and one man has a equipment on a tripod. Clouds are visible in the background.
New Light on “flying saucer” mystery, 1946. H2004.101/595 Shows Melbourne scientists using a weather balloon to better understand weather patterns across the state.

While the event was heavily reported in the local news outlets, it also hit the Melbourne papers. The small write-up in The Age ‘Object perhaps balloon’ posits that the witnesses may in fact have seen merely a weather balloon, noting the the ‘Weather Bureau released a balloon at Laverton at 8:30 am and the westerly wind…could have moved it into the area where the sighting was reported’.6

We may never know with certainty what happened in Westall that April morning in 1966, the stories remain and the conviction of the witnesses has not wavered. What we can be sure of is that there are often mysteries where we least expect them, perhaps there’s one in your own backyard.

As for The Grange, it now hosts a UFO themed children’s playground and a walking track. No accounts of a return of these craft have been reported.

Logo for the Victorian UFO research society including address to send reports of UFO sightings.  The logo is a circle with a beam traversing it with 'UFO' inside the beam.
The logo for the Victorian UFO Research Society (Previously the Victorian Flying Saucer Society). Australian Flying Saucer Review, June 1972, p 30


  1. Current preference is for the term Unidentified Aerial Phenomena or UAPs. This post will use the language of the time
  2. Untitled article from the Clayton Calendar, reprinted in Australian flying saucer review, June 1966, p 13
  3. Marilyn Eastwood, 2010, Something is out there, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, p 179
  4. Andrew Greenwood, teacher at Westall High School, interviewed by the Dandenong Journal, 21 April 1966, p 1
  5. The Clayton Calendar, reprinted in Australian Flying Saucer Review, June 1966, p 13
  6. ‘Object perhaps balloon’, The Age, 7 April 1966, p 6

This article has 6 comments

  1. Thank you for this wonderful blog article Terri about the 1966 Westall Flying Saucer Incident. For those with an interest in the story, have a look at the 1966 Westall Flying Saucer Incident Facebook group page, and see the 2010 documentary about the incident titled “Westall ’66: A Suburban UFO Mystery”, by Rosie Jones.

    Also, a small correction, “The Clayton Calendar” was a magazine made by the students at Brown’s Road State School in Clayton in 1966, not Westall High School.



    • Hi Shane, there are so many great resources out there about this incident. I’m hoping this post inspires people to take a closer look at this fascinating part of our history.
      Thanks for the correction too, I’ll make an edit. Terri.

  2. James cychowski

    This case really is interesting, i am really surprised, that no reports, on the incident have ever been found, no statements or written reports can be found, nothing at all in the Australian National Archives, im wondering why to be honest.

    Bill Chalker, a Australian researcher, had viewed all the RAAF DOD UAP files in Canberra in 1984. Nothing on Westall was found, However, Shane Ryan who has done some fantastic work investigating the Westall incident, has said it was the Department Of Supply who was involved, with looking into the incident out at Westall, and apprantly Thousands of their files in the NAA have yet to be opened, that may hold the key to this mysterious case.

  3. I saw this when I was a little girl living in the Dandenongs! It was amazing and i’ve never forgotten it.
    sherry M.

  4. In 1966 my siblings and some friends (aged 17 to 13yo) created lighter than air balloons with a mixture of aluminium milk bottle tops and something that I can’t remember (hydrogen peroxide?). The mixture was formulated in a glass milk bottle with the balloon secured over the top of the bottle. When the balloon was inflated we secured it and let it off from a small paddock in Mentone and watched it rise into the sky. We then rushed indoors to listen on the radio of UFO sightings.
    We stopped the game when we ran out of aluminium milk bottle tops.
    Was that really us? We honestly thought so.
    Did we tell our parents what we had done? No!
    I have always wondered if our experiments were the reported UFOs. The timing was perfect and matches your article.

  5. A great article about an intriguing subject. I want to believe.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *