27 March 2017

Page 3


The truth is out there about UFO IT wasn’t a bird. It wasn’t a plane. People in Westall who saw an unidentified flying object hovering over the suburb in 1966 are still sure they saw something extraordinary and unexplained on 6 April that year. A flying saucer-shaped object was seen by more than 200 witnesses in broad daylight including schoolchildren and teachers at Westall Primary School and Westall Secondary School. ‘The Westall Incident’ as it came to be known has long fascinated UFO watchers and some of the eyewitnesses on that April day five decades ago will gather to recall the strange events surrounding the mass UFO sighting. Rosebud resident Marilyn Smith will join others who saw “a silver flying saucer” hover and fly overhead in 1966 to “recount their own personal experiences of the day and reflect on what it means to them today” at Screening of Westall ’66: A Suburban UFO Mystery in Parkdale. Mrs Smith, who works at Frankston Hospital in pathology, has often thought about the day, at the age of 14, when she and her school friends saw the UFO. “It all began when a girl burst into our classroom and screamed a UFO had landed nearby,” she said. “The teacher told us all to stay in class but then the bell rang so we all ran outside. We saw a silver flying saucer hover then take off at great speed.” She said a Channel 9 TV news crew visited Westall Secondary and spoke to students in the aftermath of the incident but a news report never aired

‘Fire danger’ over, register burn-offs

and footage has never been found amid theories of a cover-up by authorities. Several people claim “military people” visited eyewitnesses and warned them to keep quiet about what they had seen over Westall. The Victorian UFO Action group will host a screening of a documentary about the incident following by a question and answer session from a witness panel including Mrs Smith and several others who saw the flying saucer in 1966. Documentary filmmakers Shane Ryan and Rosie Jones will also appear to discuss their research into the Westall sighting. “Hundreds of people saw it and not only did they see the object in the sky — it came down to the ground and landed. It was on the ground for some time at The Grange,” Mr Ryan said in 2013. As for Mrs Smith, she says no-one saw “little green men” so she keeps an open mind about the origin of the UFO. “It may have been from outer space, it may have been a secret military craft. It definitely wasn’t a weather balloon which was the official version.” n Westall - The Witnesses Speak will be held at the Shirley Burke Theatre, Kingston Arts Centre, 64 Parkers Rd, Parkdale on Sunday 2 April, 125.30pm. See eventbrite.com.au and search for ‘Westall’ or call the Shirley Burke Theatre on 9580 4998 for ticket prices and more details. Neil Walker

THE CFA is urging landowners in the cities of Frankston and Kingston and Mornington Peninsula Shire to register burn-offs and avoid unnecessary call-outs. With the official end of the fire danger period on Monday (27 March), CFA operations manager Mark Kennedy said there would be a lot of private burn-offs over the next few weeks due to vegetation growth caused by heavy rainfalls at the start of the year. He urged people to check conditions and register their burn-offs. Mr Kennedy said every year firefighters had to respond to calls from the public concerned about smoke in the air from unregistered burn-offs. He said this left firefighters and fire trucks unavailable for other emergencies, and took volunteer firefighters away from their workplaces and families. Mr Kennedy said people should give information about location, date, expected start and finish times, estimated size, and what they intended to burn. Other precautions include checking fire restrictions and weather conditions, warning neighbours, stayingnearby and having sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading. Landowners can register their burnoff with the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) by calling 1800 668 511 or emailing burnoffs@esta.vic.gov.au

‘Cold case’ arrest Keep watching the skies: Marilyn Smith was one of many people who saw a silver flying saucer at Westall in 1966. Picture: Gary Sissons

DETECTIVES at Frankston CIU last week assisted in the arrest of a man later charged with the murder of a Sydney toddler 47 years ago. It is the oldest cold case arrest in Australia. The 63-year-old, who was 16 at the time of the incident, was seized on Wednesday by NSW detectives after a two-year investigation into the disappearance of Cheryl Grimmer from change rooms at Fairy Meadow beach, on the NSW south coast, in January 1970. She is believed to have been murdered. Her body has never been found. The man, who now lives under a different name in Frankston, is said to have mentioned the incident 18 months afterwards while a resident of a New South Wales boys’ home. He was interviewed at the time but no charges were laid. He appeared before Frankston Magistrates’ Court briefly before being extradited to Sydney.

Church appeal goes to Supreme Court Neil Walker neil@baysidenews.com.au A GROUP that saw a bid to build a place or worship on green wedge land in Carrum Downs dashed by VCAT on religious grounds is appealing to the Supreme Court of Victoria to press ahead with its plan. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled in February that the Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) is not a recognised religion for the purposes of being allowed to build a church on green wedge land (“Religion ruling ‘a win for the wedge’”, The Times 27/2/17). A Supreme Court appeal against

the VCAT decision is listed to be heard on Friday 31 March. Defenders of the South East Green Wedge spokesman Barry Ross is listed as a respondent despite not raising religious reasons for the RSSB not being granted the planning permit. The group’s appeal to maintain the rural character of the area 26.3 hectares of green wedge land between EastLink and Frankston-Dandenong Rd and Boundary Rd near an existing Hindu temple was rejected by VCAT. VCAT panel member Michael Deidun instead ruled a proposal to build a place of worship for RSSB devotees “are not related to the practice or following of a religion”. “I was informed during the course

of the hearing that members of RSSB Australia Pty Ltd maintain their existing religious beliefs, whether they be Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or another religion,” he said in the ruling. Mr Ross said he is seeking legal advice about the Supreme Court hearing. Frankston Council has been listed as a second respondent despite councillors voting to approve the development at a public council meeting in July last year. RSSB chairman Michael Cooke confirmed the organisation has sought leave to appeal against the VCAT decision. The group is a self-proclaimed

“philosophical organisation based on the spiritual teachings of all religions and dedicated to a process of inner development under the guidance of a spiritual teacher”. RSSB’s “spiritual leader” is Baba Gurinder Singh who lives in northern India. RSSB has been granted non-profit religious institution status by the Australian Taxation Office. Frankston Council has been contacted for comment about the Supreme Court hearing. An attempt by RSSB to build the place of worship and dwellings to house devotees in Chirnside Park was rejected by Yarra Ranges Council in late 2014.

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