The Long UFO History Of The Bass Strait Triangle

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
February 5, 2018
Last Updated
October 11, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
6 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

There are various parts of the world that exhibit bizarre, and often deadly phenomena. A strange stretch of water off the south-east coast of Australia, the Bass Strait Triangle, is one such place. Cutting through Tasmania and the Australian mainland, more than fifty small islands also reside within the Bass Strait. And all of them seemingly have strange stories to tell.

UFO captured by Roy Manifold

UFO captured by Roy Manifold

We have written before of Fred Valentich and his bizarre flight of 1978. His fatal encounter unfolded in this deadly triangle. Just what happened, and what became of him, is still a mystery. What is perhaps even more intriguing about the Valentich incident, is the photograph (above) that Roy Manifold would capture on the same evening. As we will look at later, Manifold’s son, Jason Manifold, would have his own UFO encounter shortly after.

It isn’t simply sightings that happen over the water, however. There have been several major UFO sightings over the skies of Victoria, which sits right on the coast of the Bass Strait. Before we look at some of these encounters, check out the short video below. It looks at the aforementioned Valentich incident in a little more detail.

A Past Of Strange Incidents

Unsettling incidents in the Bass Strait stretch back to the late 1700s. In 1797 perhaps the first such incident was that of the salvage boat, Eliza, which disappeared while attempting to retrieve any survivors of the Sydney Cove wreck.

Many missing ships would plague the nineteenth century. In 1858, perhaps one of the most well-known of such disappearances was that of the British ship, HMS Sappho.

While strange happenings have undoubtedly taken place in this region of the world for centuries, one of the first recorded connections to UFO sightings here happened in 1920, when the SS Amelia J. completely vanished in the Bass Strait. [1] Strange lights had been noticed in the skies over the entrance to this stretch of water, and it is not hard to put the two things together.

A full military search was conducted of the waters. However, in another twist, the search aircraft also vanished without a trace.

In October 1935, after leaving Melbourne on its way to Tasmania over the Bass Strait, a private plane would suddenly go silent right before making its approach to land. Three passengers and two pilots would vanish also. Searches on this occasion would reveal small pieces of wreckage, but it brought more questions than answers.

Three of the plane’s chairs were discovered. They were twisted in a bizarre fashion, as was a portion of the petrol tank. Most puzzling was the discovery of a small piece of the plane’s floor. On it was a “charred patch” with evidence of “localized fire” that someone had “tried to stamp out intensely!”

Nothing else of the plane or the passengers ever came to light. An incident that happened the year previously, however, received substantial media coverage.

The Miss Hobart Incident

In late-1934 the Miss Hobart airliner would vanish without a trace over the mysterious waters. Nine passengers and two pilots disappeared with it. Weather conditions were perfect for flying, and the plane (a DH86) was one of the most powerful planes of its day. What’s more, experts assured investigators there was “no way” all four of the plane’s engines would have stopped working at the same time. Even if this was the case, they would argue, the plane would still have been able to maintain height long enough to make an emergency landing.

Searches would proceed along the strait, including the use of military warships and aircraft. However, not one piece of wreckage surfaced. Reports of the case at the time did mention strange aerial machines and an audible humming. One of the official transmissions from Miss Hobart would state that they could hear the “drone of a plane suddenly stop!”  as the aircraft came towards them.

This last transmission was sent around the same time the airliner is thought to have met its unfortunate end.

Coincidentally or not, the Miss Hobart incident would happen almost forty-four years to the day before the Fred Valentich case. And under the exact same weather conditions.

Furthermore, the detail about the plane engine suddenly stopping was one shared by Jason Manifold, the son of Roy Manifold who snapped the picture on the evening of the Valentich incident. He would state later to researchers, that while his father had gone inside after taking the photograph, he could hear the sound of a plane, although he couldn’t see it. Then, instead of gradually getting lower, it “suddenly cut out! (The) engine noise just ended like a radio being turned off!”

Naturally Occurring Phenomena?

Might this suggest some kind of naturally occurring phenomena created by specific seasonal or gravitational conditions? Or, if we assume these bizarre encounters are UFO related, might these naturally occurring conditions be utilized by space travelers as a portal or wormhole to get from their part of the space and time to ours?

Whatever the answer to those questions might be, the sightings would continue. And some were most definitely UFO sightings, not least of which is the Westall Incident.

On 6th April 1966, one of the most detailed UFO encounters would unfold in front of numerous witnesses. [2] And its location, while taking place on the Australian mainland, is right on the coast alongside the Bass Strait. What’s more, this encounter would also take place in broad daylight of mid-morning (around 11 am), just like many of the aforementioned disappearances above.

Most of the witnesses were school students and teachers at the Westall High School. Out of the glorious blue sky, a huge, grey disc-shaped craft came into view. It passed overhead, with many of the students now chasing it from the ground, understandably fascinated by the spectacle. It would disappear momentarily behind the trees but then come back into view before souring into the sky at speed and vanishing altogether.

There would be over two-hundred witnesses on record, some of whom also made claims of “five strange crafts” giving chase to the grey disc.

The incident remains one of Australia’s most credible UFO sightings. The short video below looks at the incident more closely.

Tasmania – Also A “Hot Bed Of Strange Activity!”

As well as straying to mainland Australia, Tasmania has an absolute plethora of strange incidents on record. Perhaps of even more concern, is the number of people that seem to go missing in this part of the world.

There are regular reports of strange lights above the treetops and heading out to the Bass Strait. Many more go unreported but locals talk openly about them. Strange humming noises usually accompany the lights.

The real-life instances of the area very much formed the basis for the Australian television show ‘The Kettering Incident’. [3] One of the creators of the show, Vicki Madden, has many of her own sightings and remembers bizarre instances in the area while growing up.

You can check out a trailer for the show below.

One included the strange disappearance of a young girl on Bruny Island who seemingly vanished into thin air. All of her possessions were still in her room, including her purse full of money. Soon after her disappearance, reports came of “strange lights” in the sky on the night she was last seen. There is still no answer to her location.

According to UFO researcher, Keith Roberts, an increase in UFO activity over Tasmania and around the Bass Strait was at its height in the 1970s. Other researchers suggest that such other-worldly activity appeared to suddenly increase from the early 1950s. While this would be in line with the UFO phenomena on a global scale following such public incidents as the Roswell Crash, some look to the increasing amounts of US and (to a lesser degree) British military bases in the country.

A Military Connection? Or Military Interest?

Whatever the reasons for this increased and sustained military presence in Australia (including their own), and whether it has a connection to the many UFO sightings or not is open to debate. However, there are certainly numerous accounts from military personnel, and perhaps more importantly, over military installations.

In the book ‘Beyond Top Secret”, Timothy Good relayed several of these accounts stretching back to the final years of the Second World War.

For example, in the summer of 1942 a RAAF pilot, while responding to reports from local fishermen of “strange lights” over the Bass Strait. Suddenly, out of the clouds a huge craft a “glistening bronze color” was in sight. It would travel alongside the plane, its shiny surface reflecting the late evening sun, before it vanished at an amazing speed.

Around eighteen months later, in February 1944, a Beaufort bomber was flying over the strait when a huge “dark shadow” with a bright light or even a flame at the end of it would fly a mere hundred feet away from the bomber for almost twenty minutes. It then disappeared in a flash.

Perhaps most chilling is the fact that despite no enemy aircraft ever having entered the Bass Strait throughout the entirety of the Second World War, seventeen aircraft vanished and never recovered during this time.

Is the military (the US or otherwise), if only in part, responsible for this increase in sightings? Or might it be the increase in sightings that has kept these military outposts where they are? As is often the case in UFO circles, perhaps the answer will be a combination of both of these points.

Check out the video below. It looks at this bizarre and fascinating stretch of water and the possible UFO connections to it.



1 A Need to Know: UFOs, the Military and Intelligence, Timothy Good, ISBN 9780330 543491 (page 11)
2 Clayton South residents remember the 1966 day they saw flying objects, Terry Brown, Herald Sun, June 3rd, 2010
3 The Kettering Incident:Tasmania remains Australia’s UFO hotspot, Foxtel, July 1st, 2016

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • Rene Valtier says:

    I don’t know why & how to explain it? But ever since I was 3 years old, I’ve been consumed by aerial activity. My parents would tell me that I was always looking up to the sky. As I grew older, it’s been something that I can’t explain? I’ve been so engrossed by extraterrestrial and UFO’s before anyone was really talking about it? I’ve kept many journal’s of my experiences, feelings and thoughts.

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