The Mundrabilla, Australia UFO incident of January 21, 1988 received a huge amount of media publicity. The Knowles family described how the UFO shot over their car and lifted it off the road. Their voices changed in pitch, the family dog in the car went crazy, and the car started shaking. The news media described the incident as a 'UFO attack' and reported that the car was covered by strange dust:
The Knowles Family Incident
January 20 1988 was the day that the Knowles family and their two dogs had an unexplainable experience whilst travelling across the Nullarbor Plain in the early hours of the morning.
At about 4.00am, Faye Knowles and her sons Patrick, 24, Sean, 21, and Wayne 18 were between Madura and Mundrabilla with Sean driving and Patrick next to him in the front seat when a bright light was seen ahead of them. Sean thought the light strange and asked his brother if he thought it was a spaceship. This idea was rejected by his brother, but Sean’s interest was piqued and he sped the car up in order to catch up to the object and get a closer look. At about 20 metres from the object the family say they were confronted with a white blinding light that moved along in front of their moving vehicle. It was about 1 metre wide and described as a slightly angular egg in an egg-cup shape with a yellow centre. The object, which at first appeared to be either on the ground or immediately above it then began to move back and forth. Sean swerved the car to the opposite side of the road to avoid a collision with the object, but then nearly collided with a station wagon towing a caravan coming in the other direction. (The occupants of this second car have never come forward) The object then circled around to the right side of their car and appeared to give chase to the second vehicle towing the caravan. The Knowles made at 2 u-turns at this point, the first to give chase to the object, and the second to abandon this idea as they had grown frightened. They had at this point gained the idea that the object was after them.
At some point the family felt that the UFO had returned and had landed on their vehicle. They heard a clunking sound and felt that the car was being pushed down by a weight that rested on top of it.
A while later, the family felt the car forced back down onto the road, bursting the rear right tyre. Sean brought the car to a sudden stop and then blacked out. The family left the car hurriedly and hid in some bushes by the side of the road. They remained there for 15 minutes before changing the tyre and continuing on to the nearest town.
Unknown to the Knowles’, a truck driver, Mr Graham Henley also saw, at the same time and in the same area, a strange light in his rear view mirror. He described as being like a strong spotlight and like a ‘big fried egg hung upside down”. He kept the object in view for 5 minutes and did not see any car headlights beneath it. Shortly after Henley pulled into Mundrabilla, he saw the Knowles’ car arrive, and was confronted by the frightened family all trying to describe their experience. He looked over their car and confirmed the presence of black ash in various areas, both inside and on the exterior of the vehicle, and likened it to fine silicon sand with a burnt odour to it. He also noted four indents in the roof of the car and the damaged tyre. Henley and two of his friends also surveyed the scene of the incident, finding skid marks, footprints and tread tracks that they felt confirmed the Knowles account of their incident.
The family had by this time arrived at Ceduna and been interviewed by the police there, who confirmed that the family were visibly shaken. They also reconfirmed the presence of the four dents and the fine dust. UFO Research South Australia was contacted and arrangements were made for the Knowles’ to continue to Adelaide for further investigation. Keith Basterfield was at this stage brought into the investigation, and he stated that it “appeared to be an extraordinary example of a close encounter that had left physical traces.” However, owing to the story reaching the media, serious investigation became obstructed by chequebook journalism, with investigators needing to mediate with a television station to be able to talk to the Knowles’. The TV station did, however, commission a laboratory investigation of the vehicle, which concluded that ‘no significant dust was observed on the vehicle as presented for inspection’. Ufo researchers did manage to obtain samples themselves, which they forwarded to Dr Richard Haines, a NASA scientist at the time, who concluded that the dust taken from the interior of the car was different to the dust sampled from the exterior. Further tests by different analysts have provided no evidence of it being alien or unusual.
Unfortunately none of this is conclusive. There were other UFO reports in the same area at the same time, which tends to imply that something unusual occurred. The only conclusion we can safely come to though, is that something happened, and that the family witnessed an unusual light and were extremely frightened by its effects. All we have is an interesting story, and still no clear idea of exactly what happened. - UFO Research Queensland (Australia)
Click for video - Knowles Family UFO Encounter - 20th January 1988 or cut / paste https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9pGUH4KeYY
Click for video - UFO ATTACK KNOWLES FAMILY NULLARBOR 20/1/1988 or cut / paste https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H36o8TzX7s
Mrs Knowles and her there sons were driving form Perth to wards Mundrabilla when they saw lights ahead of them on the road. As they approached they realized that they were hovering above the ground just off the main road and indeed hovering over another vehicle.
They turned of the main road and chased back towards where the sighting had occurred; unfortunately, the light changed its course and came back to meet them. They met when something making an audible noise landed on the roof of their car.
The car was apparently dragged upwards and there was some consternation and agitation amongst the witness. Suddenly the vehicle was dropped back to the ground where it burst one of its tyres; where the object had been attached there was damage on the roof. Once the car was back on the ground their family leapt out and hid in the bushes until the UFO had gone. From their observation they described the object as a white light about the size as their car, making a sound like electrical humming.
Thoughout the incident the radio of the car had been malfunctioning though subsequent investigations by Paul Norman of VUFORS indicated that it was undamaged. Examination of the tyre indicated that it was ripped in the most extraordinary way all around its edge.
Subsequent investigations revealed a great many more UFO reports on the Nallarbour Plain on that night. - The New UFO Encyclopedia
Nullarbor Is A Black Hole For Tracking UFOs
SCIENCE may be able to give us satellites which can read a newspaper in Red Square from outer space, but the Nullarbor Plain is a veritable black hole for bright, shiny UFOs.
Not one of the sophisticated satellites or radars which dot Australia is pointed at the poor old empty Nullarbor.
* The RAAF air defence radar tracking stations at Williamtown near Darwin and at Brisbane did not pick up anything unusual last week, but the Nullarbor is way beyond their range. The new over-the-horizon Jindalee tracking system is not yet in operation, but it looks north anyway.
* The civil air traffic controls at Adelaide and Perth airports have a range of 150 nautical miles and do not stretch to the Nullarbor. They would pick up a flying metal object within their range, but do not have the capacity to identify non-metal flying objects.
* Willem Bouma of the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research said its satellite pictures of Australia had a resolution of one square kilometre so a UFO would have to be very big to be seen.
* Telecom monitors lightning strikes through directional antennae in most areas of Australia. Unfortunately it does not monitor the Nullarbor Plain.
* Spokesman Ian Prime at the hush-hush top secret Pine Gap joint defence facility near Alice Springs said the first they heard of the UFO was when they read about it in the papers. Asked if Pine Gap were capable of picking up UFOs on the Nullarbor, Mr Prime said he could not comment.
* Tidbinbilla deep space communications complex near Canberra tracks orbiting satellites and looks into deep space, but it couldn't spot a UFO if it was hovering over Sydney Opera House.
* Mt Stromlo observatory can see thousands of millions of miles into space, but astronomers saw nothing unusual on Wednesday. Astronomer Paul Hardy has been looking into space for 32 years and says he has never seen a UFO.
* THEORY 1: THE crew of a tuna boat off Port Lincoln also reported seeing a strange light , but it is not clear whether they reported this before or after the Knowles' story was reported on radio. The case is peculiar for the number of witnesses - four in the car, and reported sightings by other people on the road and the fishermen off Port Lincoln, who also reported seeing strange lights. Evidence includes the black dust on the car and dents on the roof, where the Knowles family claim the UFO picked up their car. But sceptics note the shape of UFOs has changed. Twenty years ago, they had portholes and usually rotated. Funnily enough, they looked just like the saucers Hollywood was churning out in its cheap special effects science fiction films. These days people report seeing bright shiny lights that move around in the air, indistinct things that hover and zip around. Funnily enough, they look just like the UFOs Hollywood is churning out with its expensive special effects science fiction films.
* THEORY 2: THE Knowles family was driving towards the early morning sun. It is possible in certain conditions for light to be refracted vast distances so the sun or car headlights appear to be hovering spaceships. The dust, the banging on the roof and the feeling they were being lifted off the ground could have been the car tipping over, out of control, and landing back on its wheels as the driver tried to out-race the mirage. In their panic, the family confused the events. It is understood they had been driving all night from Perth and were tired.
* THEORY 3: IT IS possible for a small, highly-charged pocket of air to turn into a mini-electrical storm. The air becomes an electrical field and the effects can be startling - engines cutting out, strange lights, shaking of the car and even the ash could be explained by such natural phenomena. Ball lightning, bright electrical balls that race around, are a recognised natural phenomena, but little understood.
* THEORY 4: IT MIGHT have been a meteorite which broke up above them. A piece of it hit their car along with a shock wave which forced the car hard down on the road. This would explain the sighting reported by the fishermen and the strange dust. Strange smells could have been caused by the burning up of the meteorite. - Sun Herald - Melbourne - Sunday, January 24, 1988
Similar Event on the Same Night
On January 20th, 1988, the same night as the Knowles family experience examined in Part 1 and Part 2 of this article, a Tasmanian man and his girlfriend travelled along the Eyre Highway. At a point somewhere between Penong and Ceduna, the man heard a loud thump directly above their vehicle.
"At first I thought it was the gas bottle on top of the car, but there's no way it could come off because it's screwed down", the witness stated. For the next fifteen minutes, he saw numerous bright white lights shooting earthwards from the sky. Amazingly, his girlfriend remained asleep as their car was battered by violent winds which blew items off the roof and bent the aerial over completely. The witness stated that the winds continued for approximately one hour, blowing their vehicle all over the highway."It frightened the living daylights out of me," he stated. It is unteresting that this incident happened less than three hours before the Knowles family incident, and less than 400 kilometres away. Excerpt from UFOs on the Nullarbor Plain - Part 3
The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991 (UFOs and the National Security State, Vol. 2)
The Myth and Mystery of UFOs
The UFO Evidence - Volume 2 : A Thirty Year Report
Sun Herald - Melbourne - Sunday, January 24, 1988
The Glasgow Herald - January 22, 1988
UFO Universe, Winter 1998 issue, "In Australia, Strange Things Are Happening" by Tim Swartz, page 33