11.03.11 BALLARAT, VIC
(Source: Ballarat Argus (Ballarat 1911), Robin Northover, Post)
Another ‘mystery airship’ appeared over Ballarat (V) in 1911. The daughter of the proprietor of the Sebastopol Pyrites Works at Ballarat, Miss Edwards, said that the airship was first seen at about 6.30pm. Miss Edwards, and several other members of the household, studied the object through binoculars, and, according to the Argus report: “...the framework of the machine could be distinguished. It passed over Ballarat in an easterly direction, and in its course circled and made a sweep, as if the occupants intended to land. It then swept up into the air, and was watched as it disappeared in the direction of Mount Warranheip.”
Australia’s first aeroplane flights were made in 1910, but it was not until many years later that aircraft became commonplace sights. It is possible that what Miss Edwards and her companions saw was flight pioneer J. J. Hammond’s biplane. In March 1911 Mr. Hammond was flying regularly from a paddock at Sunshine, near Melbourne, taking up adventurous souls for joy rides at 20 guineas a time. However, there are no records of Hammond flying over Ballarat.