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This Day in History

Australian History

Wednesday, January 19, 1966. :   A farmer in Tully, far north Queensland, reports finding a 'flying saucer nest'.

     Tully is a sugar town in far north Queensland with a population of around 4500. It is best known for vying with nearby Babinda for the "Golden Gumboot", awarded to the town with the highest rainfall. In 1966, it became known for something quite different - the centre of UFO sightings.

On the morning of 19 January 1966, a banana farmer by the name of George Pedley was near Horseshoe Lagoon, near Tully. As he approached the lagoon, he reported hearing a loud hissing sound, louder than the tractor he was driving. He then saw a round, grey object "some 25 feet across and 9 feet high" rise out of the swamp and hover above the treetops. It then rose quickly, rotating at high speed, and took off, disappearing within a few seconds.

When Pedley reached the swamp itself, he noticed a round area which had been cleared of the reeds that were there earlier, and in which the water current was turning slowly. He reported the strange occurrence to the property owner, Albert Pennisi, who recalled how his dog had been barking uncontrollably earlier that morning. When the men returned to the lagoon, they found a circular mass of reeds, clear underneath, with the lagoon bed cleared of roots. The area measured around 30 feet in diameter. Subsequent investigations by visitors attracted by the media reports uncovered up to half a dozen other, smaller nests.

The most likely explanation of the phenomenon came from the RAAF, who theorised that a "willy willy", a type of Australian whirlwind, flattened the reeds and sucked them up, forming what appeared to be a "flying saucer", before moving off and dissipating elsewhere.

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