By Rochelle Kirkham | @RochelleKirkham
Collage by Meg McKenna | @MegMcKenna97
Ron Sullivan saw what he thought was a tractor split into two white disks on the 4th of April, 1966.
He was driving from Maryborough to Wycheproof after work in the early evening, along a flat country road. Tubes of light passed through the centre of the two white disks, and his car headlights began to flicker and bend towards the unidentified object.
A counter-steer jerked Sullivan to the other side of the road after he was almost drawn towards it. From here he watched it join together and take off into the sky.
Two days later, a man was killed after running his car off the road at the very same spot.
It’s known as the Burkes Flat incident.
Ben Hurle says Ron Sullivan is not crazy.
Ben is President of the Victorian UFO Association, a group that looks at UFO cases in Victoria.
He carried out a six month investigation into the Burkes Flat incident with his team, which involved his speaking to the primary witness and the best friend of the young man killed at the scene.
He says Victoria has had a lot of UFO activity over the years.
“They appear everywhere,” he says.
“If you look in every region, there are historically great UFO cases.”
Ben says the Association was set up to provide the Victorian public with information about UFOs, but also to provide a platform for people to report their cases.
“‘UFO’ is a very broad term. It is very popular in society as being associated with an alien spacecraft.
“But it doesn’t necessarily mean an alien spacecraft. It’s an unidentified object in the sky,” he says.
The Victorian UFO Association website has over 600 members, and there are about 10 to 15 active team members who attend meetings and investigate cases.
Ben says it’s essentially a research group. They attempt to investigate reports from a logical and serious perspective.
“We’re not fairy chasers,” he says.
“Just because someone says they have had an experience doesn’t necessarily mean we believe that they have had an experience.
“There are other factors you have to take in. People may have psychosis, or may be drug influenced or it may be a straight up UFO encounter.”
Ben says he too has had UFO encounters, and tells me of another prominent case.
It was September 1980 in Rosedale when a farmer saw a UFO hovering over his field of cattle. They were running around crazed and wild. He watched it stop above the water tank, land on the ground, spin around and take off.
Ben says the guy was sick for five days afterwards. All water was drained from the tank, the silt was spun up, and the cattle ran around for over a week completely dazed and disorientated.
“You can see at different points in Victorian history something strange has been around,” he says.
He describes investigating cases like these as meticulous work.
“There are lots of phone calls and checking online, interviews and going to locations. UFO investigation doesn’t have any glamour attached to it. If it did, there would be more people doing it.
“But we believe it’s necessary. You have got to look beyond how the world actually appears to be.”
After understanding a report, an investigator will check facts like the location, the weather at the time, the planes in flight, and the movement of the planets at the time of the encounter.
“There are a lot of pre-checks we can do to try to eliminate some of those potential natural explanations,” Ben says.
He says there is no doubt we are being visited by something from somewhere else.
“I’m not going to say that is an alien from another planet. But something is coming here and interacting with our planet, with us, the animals and the natural environment.
“I think we should be doing a lot to find out what that is. It may not be as high priority as community housing, or health, but it’s still something coming from somewhere interacting with us here and it needs to be approached in as scientific a matter as possible.”
Canadian UFO investigator Paul Shishis says intelligence comes and goes from our planet.
He says he has experienced over 600 UFO sightings throughout his lifetime. Let’s take a step to back to one of those encounters in 1977.
Paul was working at a grocery store when a customer pointed out a strange object in the field, adjacent to the store. As Paul went out to investigate, across from him stood a single moulded, silver, pear-shaped craft, almost like a blimp.
But it wasn’t a blimp, he says, because it was 30 or 40 feet tall with five lights. Some rotated without making a sound. He ran back to the store to get a witness when it began moving off at a slow pace, making a high pitched beeping sound.
Paul’s friends and parents didn’t know what to make of the story, and he was ridiculed after sharing it. But it began a fascination which inspired extensive research.
He tried to forget about the experience after looking into it more deeply. Until he had another confronting sighting. And another 600 since.
“Strange things started happening,” Paul says.
Victorian UFO investigator Ben Hurle says it’s exciting to investigate reports of encounters with UFOs.
“You’re doing work not many other people do, and you feel like you’re on the cutting edge of reality.
“Most people are open minded in the 21st century.
“Now, no one in their right mind can really say the potential for this stuff to exist isn’t there.”