Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Massive New Digitisation Of Newspapers Will Add To Australian UFO History, If Anyone Can Be Bothered 

Well… now there really is no excuse for Australian UFO “researchers” not to do some, well, research.

The National Library of Australia (NLA) maintains endeavour named “Trove” which is an online library “database aggregator” and “free faceted-search engine”. Trove brings together content from libraries, newspapers, museums and other research organisations and helps users explore them. In the NLA’s own words:

“Trove helps you find resources about Australia and by Australians. We do this by collecting information from many organisations around the world. This information about resources, also known as metadata, is processed for easy searching through the Trove website…”

For Australian UFO researchers, Trove’s digitised newspaper section is the thing most invaluable. The NLA says:

“The digitised newspaper zone is the most heavily-used part of Trove, and no wonder – more than 100 million newspaper articles, documenting more than 150 years of Australian history. And it’s growing all the time. All digitised, all free, all for you.”

Recently, nearly a dozen new newspapers – some dating from 1915 – have been added to the archive. And they are absolutely jam-packed with articles, editorials and opinion pieces about UFO’s, especially reports of UFO events that are completely new to us.

For starters, Daily Examiner of Grafton, NSW has now been digitised. I only searched it using the term “flying saucer”, and only over the ten year period of 1945 to 1955. So I can guarantee that there will be a vastly more in here using other keywords (hint hint, give it a go people..) and a few more hours of searching. One article that jumped out was from the 13th of February, 1953, page 2. The capitalised headline is FLYING SAUCIR” OVER GRAFTON?

The image could be a bit clearer, so I’ll just highlight the key passages:

“Westlawn residents were agog late yesterday afternoon as they gazed skyward at the progress of a mysterious silvery object. This reminded them of the flying saucer reports, occurring almost daily in their newspaper… …Mr. Baker said the object, which had a silvery sheen of great brightness, was travelling steadily westward at a high altitude well above a covering of broken cloud. He first saw the phenomenon about 6pm and watched it out of sight. He had never previously seen anything like it. Mr. Bollard said the object was high in the sky. It must have been of great size. It travelled westward steadily with no apparent up or down movement. The object remained in sight for about 20 minutes. Digitisation generously supported by

The Balaklava Producer of South Australia is also now digitised. Again, a very quick search and I got immediate results. On the 2nd of December 1948, making it to the front page, is an article titled “FLYING SAUCERS SEEN NEAR BALAKLAVA”.

             Again, for clarity:

“Two Balaklava residents claim to have seen a flying saucer on similar phenomenon in the South-West sky on Tuesday about 5.15pm. They say the object appeared in the direction of Avon and lasted for a minute or so. It first appeared to be travelling away but later lost height and seemed to be approaching in the direction of Balaklava. A vapour trail or smoke trail was also visible it is claimed.”  This statement follows other recent reports in this State of eerie lights and strange phenomena. Readers of The News reported a green ball of light seen at 1.50 a.m. last Thursday and a Sandy Creek reader and a companion claim to have seen a ball of green light with a yellowish tail travelling at high speed in a North-Westerly direction. On first appearance they thought it to be headlights of an approaching car. The time was 11.20 last Saturday night and both men claim to have been perfectly sober.”

Queensland’s Warwick Daily News carried a story on 14 May 1952, on page 1 too, headed “Bundaberg men claim they saw flying saucer”.

The highlights:

“Three Bundaberg men, employees of the Bundaberg Foundry, while fishing on Monday night sighted a bright object in the sky which they later described as a flying saucer… …They saw a silvery, near oval-shaped object travelling at great speed across the sky. They said this object appeared to be travelling in an easterly direction at a height of 300 to 400 ft. The object was about the same size as an aeroplane, and was like a football in shape. The three men said that they saw it for about 10 seconds before it completely disappeared. They vouch that it was. not a falling star or a meteor.”

Again, the Warwick Daily News bring us a sighting, this one on the 18th May 1954, page 3, headlined “Roma Sees Flying Saucer”


          “A strange V-shaped object, described as a “flying saucer,” is reported by residents here to have swept across Roma at the week-end. At least half a dozen of Roma’s citizens spread over a distance of up to 40 miles claimed to have seen the object… …and say it was travelling at hundreds of miles an hour only 100 to 200 feet up, towards the south-west.”

Back in NSW, Grafton’s Daily Examiner, on the 20th of November 1953, page 1, gives us my sort of article. The heading is “Flying Saucer Recognised”, and the story sourced from London during a tumultuous period of British government response to the UFO issue.

For clarity, the whole article reads:

“Britain’s War Office has officially recognised the flying saucer. A War Office report says that an anti-aircraft unit in South-east London, on November 3, picked up a signal on its radar screen and followed the track of an “object” which appeared to be “circular or spherical and white in colour.” The object also was seen through a telescope by men of the same unit the same day.”

These are only a tiny fraction of what I found in a half an hour search. I only used the keyword string “flying saucer”, so who knows what will come up when terms like “mystery airplane” or “unknown object” are tried. This is a classic example of how people can do really significant work with relative ease. It doesn’t even cost anything. Most UFO “researchers” don’t bother with these sort of things now, and prefer to grovel amidst the entertainment and theatre that has devastated UFO research in the last couple of decades.


  1. Hi Paul, thanks for the Trove digitisation updates. I've been using Trove for a long time now. It was pleasing to hear my old home town Grafton newspaper "The Daily Examiner" has been fully digitised. I knew the old editor well back in the late 1960s and early 1970s and even wrote some UFO articles for the paper back around 1973 and 1974. The editor gave me "open slather" to regularly prowl through the old hardcopy paper archives back in the day. So it was nice to seen this trip through personal nostalgia. Great to see the Examiner is more accessible. I used it extensively in my research into the history of Grafton Gaol. The original newspaper archives (which would have by DNA all over them) are now held in the Schaeffer House headquarters of the Clarence River Historical Society (a fabulous place to visit if you have an historical bent), whose current president is Frank Mack, my old high school maths teacher. In one visit a few years ago I told Frank he must have been doing something right with me back in those school days as my university science degree majors were in chemistry and pure mathematics. Good work Paul

  2. Its a small world. Of all the Daily Examiner "flying saucer" articles you could pick, the 1953 one at West Lawn was located right where I would live - Westlawn in Grafton from 1964. We originally lived in South Grafton. The Bollards were our immediate neighbours and the Bakers live across the road.

  3. Hello Paul,
    Thanks for posting this new site for others to research. I only wish that there were many who
    had the energy and focus that you have. Keep up the great work and let me know if you should
    come across any aviation safety reports involving UAP.
    Dick Haines

    1. I do too. I estimate there are about 250 people on Earth who do what we do with the level of seriousness and timeliness that we do. It needs to be ten-fold that amount.. Paul.

  4. Hi Paul. Great post. I use Trove and the New Zealand equivalent Papers Past for UFO, fortean and cryptozoology research. So much easier than searching through microfilm (although I still do that as well - the NZ papers are only online up until 1945). It is easy to discover events that have never been reported since their original newspaper publication and to find out more information about known events. One thing I have noticed is that sometimes a report of, say, a monster, will refer to other cryptids and even other fortean or UFO events. That sets me off on a new search! Peter Hassall.