Monday, November 15, 2021

High Strangeness in the Blue Mountains - Faulconbridge (June 1974) & Woodford (Thursday 18 November, 2021)

From UFOIC (UFO Investigation Centre) files:

My friend David Reneke investigated the following striking close encounter that took place at Faulconbridge during June 1974. The witness, a 67 year old woman, was living on the Great Western Highway, a few doors away from Grose Road. The following events took place just after 8 pm:

"I saw a pink glow from my kitchen window and went outside to investigate it.  I was astounded to see a bright "water-melon" pink object, dazzling all over as though made of sequins.  It was suspended over the entire width of Grose Rd. and about 15 feet above the electricity wires.

There was no movement or noise, but after watching for about 5 mins. three rays of white light came from its side and focused on the ground. The rays stayed for about 2 secs. then receded and returned. This went on rhythmically until just before the object took off.  I could see through the rays as though looking through a white veil or mist. 

Just at the place where the object was poised was an electricity transformer. It has since been removed by the council and relocated.

I wanted desperately for someone else to see it, but all the neighbours were away and although I could have gone into a house in Grose Rd. to call them, I was reluctant as it would have meant walking too close  to the object, indeed right under it.  I had a phone in my own place but did not want to leave the object, so I tried several times to flag down a passing car, but no one would stop.  Then I decided that I must go and ring someone, when the thing took off.  The rays stopped, it rose into the air and sailed away evenly at incredible speed towards Katoomba.  It was absolutely soundless." 

From David Reneke's report: "As she stood in a dazed state, the witness realised that she had been wearing only her light dress, similar to a night-dress but a little thicker for warmth.  The cold night air would normally have affected her in a few minutes but nothing like this had happened, whether the excitement of the event had caused her to forget all about the cold or whether the object itself bathed her with warmth is not known. One thing is certain, normally she couldn't have stayed outside for more than two or three minutes before being forced inside by the cold but she had been standing there on the roadside for approximately 15 minutes with no noted effects."

"Next day I told several people living nearby about it, but no-one would believe me, and I was looked at so suspiciously it was quite disconcerting!"

A nearby store owner and friend had also noticed a pinkish glow coming from the west. She motioned for her husband to come to the window but he said she must "be seeing things" and refused to become involved. The reported times matched exactly and the colour and direction noted were in complete agreement with what the main witness observed.

David Reneke observed in his report, "For many years after the sighting (the witness) has been plagued by a mysterious malady.  She began to get fainting spells and was put on a course of medication by her local doctor who was at a loss to explain her sudden (and uncommon for her) sickness. (She) resigned from her position as secretary of (a group) because of this illness and has since moved to a new dwelling (elsewhere in the Blue Mountains).  She fainted in the street twice between 1974 and 1978 and had been unable to carry out many of her normal duties during that time.  She has been a healthy woman all her life and the sickness she suffered was completely out of character for her, it has cleared up by itself now (June 1978)."

(Artist (Chris Chalker) rendering on a photo taken at the site by David Reneke in 1978 - there is some uncertainty about the placement of the 3 beams based on the file information)

I was intrigued by "the strange rays", wondering whether they may have been a form of so-called "solid light":

The witness: 

"three rays of white light came from its side and focused on the ground. The rays stayed for about 2 secs. then receded and returned. This went on rhythmically until just before the object took off.  I could see through the rays as though looking through a white veil or mist"

"it sent out 3 rays of white light which shone onto the road. The rays stayed about 2 seconds, receded and then returned doing this rhythmically."

David Reneke:

"suddenly, and without warning, shot out three white rays of light from it's under-side.  They were well defined and appeared to be coming from small openings below the body line of the craft ... the mysterious rays of light were trained on the roadway as if they were searching for something, they were straight beams ..."

"After about 2 seconds the rays each, and in turn, were retracted into the craft..."

On reaction from others:

"No one believed me.  I expected some understanding from my son who lived in Sydney at that time, but he looked at me very apprehensively and even to this day (1978) when he sees me, asks if I have seen any "little green men" lately.  My answer is always that he is the only one I have seen! Some people take pains to point out bright stars to me saying how they could easily be mistaken for UFOs and some who seem understanding, say that even if I had got someone else to the spot in time, they probably would not have seen it because they would not have the psychic power which gave me the ability to do so! At these times I wish my psychic power was strong enough to change them into frogs or something! Some others just suggest helpfully that "I take more water with it."  The whole experience has made me very wary of mentioning it...."

Just a few kilometres up Grose Road and 5 or 10 years earlier there lived a wondrous soul who might have understood this woman's extraordinary vision of the night. Norman Lindsay the artist drew and painted visions splendid. 

To the Festival (1934) - perhaps a Min Min Light festival held in some Spooky Hollow ... perhaps not?:

In an earlier painting Lindsay captured a supernaturalistic spin on Tam O'Shanter spun from Robert Burns poem:

"She ventur'd forward on the light,
And, wow! Tam saw an unco sight!
"Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place."

As the 1974 UFO was heading off in the direction of Katoomba it is worthwhile considering this piece from the UFOIC files - Katoomba 1957:

High strangeness may be touching down, just up the road (7 km) from Faulconbridge at 7 pm Thursday November 18 (this week): Spooky Hollow with Bill Chalker at 20 Mile Hollow, 68 Great Western Highway, Woodford, NSW 2778 (book via the link just above).

Friday, November 05, 2021

I spy, with my little eye, ... something beginning with ... U (UFOs) ... or was it F (Flying saucers)?

Back in March 2021 I was checking out some new books at a local book shop when I noticed one called With my little eye - The incredible true story of a family of spies in the suburbs by Sandra Hogan.  Checking the back blurb had me hooked straight away. The name "Dudley Doherty" was mentioned.  I had been aware of his name for decades but realised I couldn't publish it, as he was an ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) agent and it was an offence for Australians under the ASIO act to name an ASIO agent's name (living or dead), unless the government released the name.

I first learnt of Dudley Doherty via Stan Seers, the former president of the Brisbane, Queensland based group the Queensland Flying Saucer Research Bureau, during the 1980s.  He had written about his encounters with the man from ASIO in his own memoir UFOs - the case for Scientific myopia(1983).

I wrote an account of what Stan Seers described in UFO Sub Rosa Down Under, my 1996 on-line supplement to my book The OZ Files - the Australian UFO Story:

In 1959, after a clandestine car park rendezvous (between DD & Stan Seers), to initiate a covert relationship, the agent, D___D___, got down to the nitty gritty. He wanted Seers to “play ball” with ASIO, on a strictly confidential basis. The agent stated that in the event of any really “hot” UFO information - landings, contacts, etc., he would if necessary put Seers in direct telephone communication with Prime Minister Bob Menzies. 

Stan Seers reacted, “I recall thinking how hilariously stupid the whole affair sounded, and remember having some trouble for a minute or so keeping a straight face?” 

When Seers subsequently told D__ that he had discussed the covert “offer” with the rest of the QFSRB committee, the ASIO man was furious. The upshot of this was that it appeared the agent virtually successfully destabilised the group. Within a year Seers resigned, only to be coached back two years later. But still the group “found it impossible to completely shake off the attentions of the man from ASIO.” He remained in close contact with the group for eleven years, until his death in 1970. 

The abiding theme was that the ASIO man was only interested in data acquired by covert means. The intelligence ethic demands that quality intelligence is only acquired by clandestine means. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and often such information serves the purpose of placing upon previously innocuous events a sinister aura and consequently sometimes leading to an incorrect interpretation by the intelligence analyst. The whole thing snowballs until the clandestine version bares little resemblance to the reality of the original event. 

As Seers cogently states in his book: 

“The one surprising feature of all this rank stupidity on the part of the powers that be is the proven fact that all research groups have always been more than happy to pass on to them any material, or information, that came their way. On one occasion ASIO requested from the Queensland group the loan of all 37 pages of their copy of the Boianai sighting reports for microfilming. When the loaned material was returned, a free microfilmed copy (still in my possession) came with it” 

Stan Seers, privately, told me the real name of the ASIO agent – Dudley Doherty. Some other members of the group regarded the affair a little differently, but the general essence of the strange dynamic was correct. British writer Timothy Good described the episode in his book Above Top Secret(1987) and in the updated edition Beyond Top Secret (1996), in which he actually named Dudley Doherty. He did not have the restriction of the ASIO act applying to him.

Dudley Doherty provided the “intelligence” that informed an ASIO file on the Queensland group – which was a typical assessment of the era. The informing mantra was “the red threat” – the communist bogey – and as the parents in law of the group’s secretary has some left leanings, it apparently drove the ASIO monitoring of the group.  During that period the group had innocently driven the unwarranted attention of ASIO because they sought information from Russian sources about contemporary reporting that Russian scientists were divided over whether the famous 1908 Tunguska event was the result of some natural astronomical source or it involved an extraterrestrial spaceship.

The 2014 publication of the first volume of the official history of ASIO – The Spy Catchersby David Horner actually described parts of the significant work of Dudley and Joan Doherty did in their ASIO roles, removing the restriction on Australian researchers of using their names. 

This allowed author Sandra Hogan to provide an account of the human side of an ASIO family – a fascinating story and well worth reading. There is little about UFOs or flying saucers in the book, but it does describe the early flirtation that Dudley Doherty, his family and his children had with the flying saucer mystery. This is told from the delightful perspective of the recollections of the children, in particular Sue-Ellen.  On whether their parents Dudley and Joan Doherty believed in UFOs, quite possibly the book suggests, but the kids later joked their parents “had been looking for communists in outer space.” Back in those days it didn’t take much to come under the watch of ASIO, and the Doherty family led by Dudley, who clearly also had ASIO driven agendas, helped feed the contemporary ASIO mantra, that people and organisations with unusual objectives had to be watched, just in case it wasn’t saucers from “the red planet”, both rather more pedestrian “red” or “pink” threats in earthly guises. Other UFO groups in Australia also got some unwarranted attention from ASIO, but none to the extent of Queensland’s UFO group. They had Dudley Doherty and his family of lovely “spies” to help tilt at cosmic or earthly “bogies” that might be lurking in the cosmic obsessions of the late 1950s and early 1960s.  

There were many other “UFO threads” that seemed to attract ASIO interests over the years, but I wanted to attract your attention to the wonderfully told story in Sandra Hogan’s book With my little eye, that gives a moving, funny and poignant story of an Australian family, who through the father, then mother, had become “foot soldiers in Australia’s battle against Soviet infiltration during the Cold War” – a compelling and intimate story that also invokes a potent tale of alienation of a non-UFO kind.