The Australian UFO Research Network UFO Disclosure Project



Combining the resources of all
Auspiced by the Australian UFO Research Network 
PO Box 738, Jimboomba, Queensland 4280

Tel 07 55487205 

Secretariat: the Australian UFO Research Association
PO Box 786, North Adelaide, South Australia 5006


By Keith Basterfield

© March 2008


A recent multi-part article by this author, in “The UFOlogist” magazine, described the history of South Australian UFO reports, researchers and UFO groups. After writing it I found that I had accidentally overlooked one UFO group while preparing the article.

Previously, while examining National Australia Archives file SA5644/2/1 a Department of Supply file held by the Weapons Research Establishment (WRE) at Salisbury covering the years 1966-1974, I had come across a group called the Scientific, Technical and Astronomical Research Society (STARS) which had existed in Woomera in about 1967. Nothing more about STARS was found on any other of the 150 files the Disclosure Australia Project examined.

This is where the matter rested until 2008 when a re-check of the NAA Record Search for any recently released UFO files led to the discovery of a 100 page file, series D250, control symbol 56/3568 Part 1, titled “Scientific, Technical and Astronomical Research Society.”


The file opened with a folio dated 28 April 1966. This was a memo from Colonel J D Honeysett, Superintendent, to the Director of the Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury. Headed “Unidentified Flying Object Club” it advised that “Officers of the Security branch, Woomera have been approached for advice regarding the formation of a local Unidentified Fluing Object club to be associated with the Australian or Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society.” Colonel Honeysett did not support the proposal as he believed “…personnel associated with Range activities” could not “…refrain from providing…some classified information on what was seen…”

The Director, WRE responded on 11 May 1966 and agreed “…that any proposal should not be supported officially” but that Woomera personnel mutually interest in such matters could not be denied “…indeed there would be some merit in the club being properly formed and operating ‘in the open.’” The Director was concerned at the possibility of revealing classified activities, and suggested that if the Superintendent Woomera was officially approached re the formation of a club they should be reminded “…that Woomera is a prohibited area and the disclosure of information relevant to the area is prohibited.”

A letter dated 3 June 1966 was sent from Superintendent Woomera to a Mrs P J Ross at Woomera. It was Mrs Ross who had inquired about forming a Woomera based UFO club. The Supt advised her that no restriction would be placed on a group of Woomera personnel gathering to foster an interest. A reminder that “..the disclosure of any information originating in the area is prohibited.” was then given, followed by “ would not be permitted to publish any such information either locally or through any affiliated society.” Finally, “…I could therefore not permit any publicity on the formation of such a club in Woomera to be made.”

The next document, dated 14 June 1966 was a letter from Colin Norris, of the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society to Mrs Ross. “I am writing to you as there was a report of an object up your way seen by two technicians of ELDO…”

Norris’s letter was passed on to Colonel Honeysett on 16 June 1966 together with advice that the new club would be formed “…under conditions laid down by yourself.” Colonel Honeysett passed on an AFSRS report form included in Norris’ letter, to a Mr D Needham C/-ELDO Lake hart requesting Needham to complete and return the form to the AFSRS.

A sighting was reported by S Mollenhauer, A/g Superintendent Warburton Ranges Mission. At midnight on 13 June 1966 a group were 20 miles north of the Mission, and saw an object larger than the Moon travelling from West to East. It seemed to be burning, had a red glow and very long tail, “..with large pieces burning and falling away…” Colonel Honeysett passed this on to Mrs Ross, and replied to the Warburton Ranges mission that “We have no record here as to what this might have been but I am forwarding your letter to our local Unidentified Flying Object society.”

Initial meeting:

The initial meeting of STARS was held on 3 July 1966 in the Woomera RSL Hall. Ten people attended with apologies from five others. A proposal was made by a Mr B West that “…an organisation be formed in Woomera, based on a strictly scientific aspect, for the investigation of Aerial Phenomena including Unidentified Flying Objects.”

The minutes of the 27 July 1966 showed a general meeting was held at the Woomera Area School attended by 15 people. A draft constitution for STARS was tabled and accepted. The 15 point constitution showed that the aims of the group were:

“to promote interest in the investigation of Aerial phenomena on a strictly scientific basis; to collect data on sightings both in Australia and overseas; in a long term project attempt to analyse data collected through computer processing; subscribe to selected magazines both national and international for worldwide sighting report correlation; to hold discussion groups on the scientific aspects of aerial phenomena; to maintain sky watches at irregular intervals; to be available to assess local sighting reports (if requested.)” Paragraph 13 gave a power of veto to Supt Woomera.” The power to veto any decisions including activities in the Woomera area…” Paragraph 14 “Security conditions for the operation of the society within the Woomera area will be as directed by Superintendent Woomera…”

Colonel Honeysett’s response by letter of 3 August 1966 asked that paragraph 11 be re-written and supplied a suggested text.

The minutes of the 31 August 1966 STARS AGM showed that Mr J McCarthy was appointed as President; Mr O Rock as Vice-President; Treasurer Mr G Wallace; Secretary Mrs P Ross; Librarian Mrs A Holmes; Scientific Advisory Officer Mr G Mickleburgh; Sighting report officer Mr M L Neale; Committeemen Mr J Whitmarsh, Mr J Russell, Mr J Adams ; Mr L Beare. The first STARS Newsletter was read to the meeting and discussions ensued on sightings reported in it. The meeting closed after two hours.

Six people attended the 13 September 1966 meeting. The STARS Newsletter was re-named the Journal and was to carry sightings, reports, articles on UFOs, book reviews and the serialisation of M K Jessup’s book “The case for the UFO.” Finally, that the STARS sighting report be amended as discussed at the AGM.

The file contains a 24 page edition of Volume 1 Number 3 of the Journal of the STARS dated October 1966. The first item was about local sightings.

(1) 30 July 1966 1930hrs Wirrapa SA 5 witnesses
Clear sky with bright stars. Round object, a bright blue phosphorescent light with a fiery coloured jet stream tail. Travelled horizontally in SE direction. No sound. No aircraft in the area.

(2) 23 September 1966 2230hrs Mt Gunstan 1 witness Dr D P McGregor
Circular object, white. Clear sky. Object travelled in a straight line behind Mt Gunstan towards Port Augusta. Vapour trail.

News items followed re “Universe that runs backward”; “Why UFOs go” by D D Keyhoe; the Madrid landings by A Ribera, report from Argentina; Michigan Furore by C Bowen; Tully Nests by J Magee –mainly taken from the English Flying Saucer Review magazine.

Eight people were at the 4 October 1966 committee meeting. Members had been actively investigating halls for hire; the possibility of subscribing to a news clipping service was being pursued and the revised report form tabled. Two copies of the book “Flying Saucers Over Australia” by James Holledge were added to the Library. It was announced that Mr Homer Eichhon, an American would be willing to address the society on UFOs.

The STARS President wrote to Colonel Honeysett on 13 October 1966 seeking a ruling as to whether Mr Homer Eichhon, a logistics officer with the American SPARTA team could address them. Colonel Honeysett had no objection.

Eight people attended the 27 October 1966 meeting. Miss L Humphries became the sighting report officer.

Mr Eichhon spoke on 16 November 1966 at length on his experience of UFOs and the American UFO groups of which he was a member. The presentation was well received and questions followed.

The 24 November 1966 STARS meeting saw seven members present. NICAP’s work “UFO evidence” was entered into the Library. Twenty nine financial members were on the books. Arrangements had been made for another talk by Mr Eichhon for 1 December 1966.

The final meeting of 1966 saw nine attending and a note that Mr Eichhon’s second talk was a great success with twenty two persons in attendance. The Journal had been published each month.

Into 1967:

Meetings in 1967 commenced on the 24 January. News clippings were regularly being received and published in the Journal. Jacque Vallee’s book “Challenge to Science” was being sought. Local sightings had been analysed and presented at discussion groups. “No conclusive evidence had been provided to show that UFOs were active in this area.” The Woomera Gibber Gabber newspaper had carried a UFO article on 20 January-STARS wished to contact the author.

By February 1967 Colonel Honeysett had handed over the role to F E Irvine, Captain RAN.

A general meeting, attended by fifteen financial members was held on 13 February 1967. Mr Patterson was elected as sighting reports officer. Requests were to be submitted to the University of Colorado; Project blue Book and NASA for research results on UFOs.

A letter to the Superintendent dated 15 February 1967 sought approval to amend the STARS constitution “to publish Journal or publication.” An internal memo from J J A Hanlon, Establishment Security Officer WRE Woomera to Supt Woomera dated 20 February 1967 recommended that permission be refused.

The Superintendent wrote to the STARS President on 23 February 1967 that “I would be prepared to approve…sighting reports correlation; subject to no information originating in the Woomera prohibited Area being included; to publish for private circulation amongst members of the society, journal or publication…”

The meeting of 27 February 1967 considered this letter among other items and the group accepted the Superintendent’s suggestion. The Library reported that members were not borrowing and it was reported that a STARS film night on 15 February 1967 had been a success.

Mr McGowen presented a talk on “Propulsion Methods” of UFOs at the discussion meeting of 14 March according to the minutes of the STARS meeting of 22 March 1967. NASA had responded to the STARS letter for information advising they were unable to supply any information.

At the 2 May 1967 meeting it was advised that the University of Colorado had advised that its findings were not yet available.

The 5 June 1967 minutes recorded that a Mr R Mathison joined the STARS committee. It was noted that “…interest appeared to be lagging in society activities…” It was suggested that a list of possible projects be circulated, such as “Building project of a meteorological, optical, electronic, psychological or propulsion nature, astronomy, ESP, Ancient ideology, Anti gravity etc.”

The 17 July 1967 meeting set the agenda for the AGM of 1 August 1967. Two projects had been suggested to try and revive interest in STARS’s activities. These were:

(1) The building of a telescope for the society and
(2) Experiments in telekinesis.

Director’s query:

The Director of WRE Headquarters/Salisbury, M W Woods wrote a memo (reference SA5753/1/2) to the Superintendent Woomera dated 25 July 1967. The Director stated that “I have heard no more about the proposed club and had assumed that the proposal had died. It now appears, however, that there is in existence at Woomera some body called the “Scientific, technical and Astronomical Research Society” to which members report alleged UFOI sightings, including observations made while they are on duty at the range.” (Details of these observations may be found at the end of this article) The director sough information on the group saying “It is clear that we shall have to take some action from a security point of view.”

The reply, dated 7 August 1967 informed the Director WRE Salisbury that copies of each STAR meeting minutes were passed to the ESO. In addition that in May 1967 STARS “sightings reports” had been seen which were submitted by STARS members while on duty. The ESO had been instructed to have this reporting system discontinued. The memo continued “It is my opinion that the STARS has become somewhat moribund of late and as the activity of the organisation are closely scrutinised, I consider there is no need to feel that any security risk exists at present…”

The Director, in a memo dated 10 August 1967 thanked the Superintendent Woomera for this information, then went on to inquire about “…another system for reports ‘aerial objects’” which appeared to be in place. Later investigations showed this was not originated by STARS.

The STARS AGM on 14 August 1967 was attended by thirteen of the twenty six financial members. Mr A Patterson chaired the event. Discussion ensued on building a telescope for the society and Mr J Adams offered to organise an experiment in telekinesis. A reduced version of the Journal would continue. The new committee comprised Mr J McCarthy President; Mrs Ross Secretary; Vice President Mr Rock; Mr P O’Neil Treasurer; Mr Adams Librarian; Mr Patterson SAO and SRO; Committeemen Mr Whitmarsh.

Attendance at the 3 September 1967 meeting was down to four. Nil activity for the Library; little renewal of membership subscriptions and a society film night scheduled for 4 October 1967.

Five participants were at the 18 October 1967 meeting, which noted the cancellation of the 4 October film evening due to trials programs and insufficient attendance. The October Journal had been cancelled.

Mrs P J Ross, STARS Secretary forwarded the 18 October 1967 minutes to the Superintendent who hand wrote on them “ESO-The numbers are dwindling!”

Winding down:

STARS carried on into 1968 and its 1 February 1968 meeting saw 5 people present. The Journal continued to be published. It was proposed that a 6inch reflector telescope be purchase ”Mr Rock suggested that members now keep a constant sky watch whenever practicable, to ascertain any increased activity, as Mars opposition is expected…”

The numbers attending the 22 March 1968 meeting were three. The March Journal had not been published due to insufficient material.

The final set of meeting minutes on the file were dated 7 may 1968, four people in attendance. The president suggested that “for the present time, formal monthly meeting be abandoned in favour of informal meetings…” A hand written note on the file read “ESO. They are weakening!”

This file was closed on 9 April 1968 with subsequent papers to be filed on A26/3/12. The National Australia Archives Adelaide office, searched for this new file but were unable to locate it.

Observations form the range in 1967:

Details of the two sets of observations were located on a 114 page Department of Supply file (SA5644/2/1.) This file was simply titled: “Unidentified Flying Objects.”

Observations of 28 April 1967

During the launch of a Skylark rocket, seven reports were made by observers of the launch.

(1) 1402hrs About 0.5-1secs K Simmons. Optical tracker. “Object appeared round and white, as large as the Moon and passed to the right of the Skylark at approx +55s in sequence, no elevations angle noted-no further details. (page 50 of file.)

(2) 1402hrs 2 secs Position K8 (very close to the launch point) L. Davis. Optical instrument –tracking telescope. Skylark in sky. “Between +55s and 60s a dull white object appeared high in the tracking telescope for approx 2 secs. Being high in the telescope the object was distorted but appeared to be long and wider in the centre than at the ends, the top piece being a slightly darker shade.” (pages 51-53 of file.)

(3) 1402hrs +60s. 2/5 secs. I J Davis Site 4 (28kms NW of the launch point) Watch Skylark. Trial 23 A3. “85 degree el. The object appeared to be moving very fast, was white in colour and saucer shaped sighted in FOV for approx 2/5 secs. Flying in roughly the opposite direction to the vehicle-object appeared to be twice the size of the vehicle.” (pages 54-56 of file.)

(4) 1402hrs. Site K12 (18kms WNW of the launch point) A2 operator. ¾ sec at +55 and =60 Using optical instrument watching Skylark. Sky-fine, slight wispy cloud. White object passed below vehicle in camera FOV. (pages 57-59 of file.)

(5) 1402hrs 6mins. Site K9 (10kms North of the launch point) Through kinetheodelite. Az 220 degrees el 70 degrees. “Object acquired at +1m30s in sequence and lost at +8 to +9m in sequence. Bright object fell away from dull white object. Two objects kept coming back to larger object and flashing past. “ “Large object was fast moving in az when picked up then slowed down in az and gained speed in el. Small objects were fast in az.” Larger object dull white. 2 smaller were bright yellowish white. (pages 60-63 of file.)

(6) 1402hrs. +60s in sequence. L Fox at site 3. Kinetheodelite. Watching sky saw a silver white coloured object. (pages 64-66 of file.)

(7) 1402hrs. 6 mins. Site 3. Optical-kine. “Object acquired at approx +1m30s in sequence at 90 degrees elevation. Lost at +8m10s to+8m30s at an az of 220.2 and el of 7-10. Moved from 90 degrees el to 7/10 degrees el. And at 15 degrees el was at 220.2 az. Watching Skylark. “The object flashed past the Skylark-was dull in colour. Dull round object with two (undecipherable) 2 small shot past and buzzing round elongated. Disappeared 8m10 to 8m30. Round just moved out and others with it and went away 220.2az 15 degrees el when lost 7-10 degrees. (pages 67-68 of file.)

85deg el 70deg el 220deg az
(3)Site 4 (5)K9 (2)

Observations of 30 June 1967

During a Jindivik test, ten observations were made.

(1) R Hodge Photographer. 3 secsOverhead. One white round object. 60 to 90 degree very fast NNW to SSE straight line. Lost in mid-air. Blue sky. Target aircraft on dummy run (Pages 72-73 of file.)

(2) Approx 1100 till 1200. Harvey. Asst Photog. Tracked at K12 (18kms WNW of the launch point) Operator V34 drew attention. White objects. “No definite formation but most appeared to be within 10 degrees az of each other at times.” White. “Most were spherical while others were appeared similar to meteorites.” Lost. “Mostly due size, distance and haze.” (Pages 74-75 of file.)

(3) 1100hrs to 1140hrs intermittent. L D East. Asst Photog. 165 degrees az 45 degrees el. Crossing path of missile in trail EC 23. Overhead. Silver white like aircraft without wings. 45 degrees el slightly arced path. “Did not track long as trial imminent.” Clear blue sky. (Pages 76-77 of file.)

(4) 1135hrs Fraction of a sec. P Howard. Asst Photog. Through 12x tracking scope of Congreves camera from site 6 K35 (45kms NW of launch site.) Travelling across path of a Jindivik aircraft. Ap 40-45 degree el very fast. Northerly direction gaining height. Went out of FOV. Clear blue sky. Object appeared to be closer to K35 than Jindivik. (Pages 78-79 of file.)

(5) 11 to 1140 Intermittent. M Randel. Asst Photog. 165az 45 degree el at 1100 cross path of missile in trial. Overhead. Intercom talk alerted. 45 degree slow to very fast. Went towards range head. Trial EC23. (Pages 80-81 of file.)

(6) 1100-1145hrs. M Wallbanks. Asst Photog. Site 2 . Congreaves K14 (18kms north of the launch point) kinetheodelite. App in tracking telescope. 40 degrees el. Travelling to 145 degrees az. Path on curve, others circled and disappeared. Disappeared over horizon. Clear blue sky. Jindivick trial. (Pages 82-83 of file.)

(7) 1100-1130hrs. I Neill. Asst Photog. Site 4. K16. (28kms NW of the launch point) Kinetheodelite. Overhead. Six objects white some appeared to have red others are rocket shaped. First sighted 80 degrees el. Lost over horizon. Jindivick trial, (Pages 84-85 of file.)

(8) 1100-1115hrs. Asst Photog. 10-15mins. K15 (28kms NW of the launch pont). Overhead. Six to 12 objects white. All shaped. Travelled in all directions. Straight path. First sighted 80 degrees el. Faded into distance. Photographed at K15 for approx 5 seconds. (Pages 86-87 of file.)

(9) 1100-1130hrs. 10-15mins. K15 (28kms NW of the launch point) . J Windner. Asst Photog. 6-12 objects in no apparent formation. White. First seen at 80 degrees el. Irregular cigar shapes-oblong. Appeared to fade in distance. (Pages 88-89 of file.)

(10) 1105-1130hrs. P Ratcliffe. Assist Photog. V34 at site 3. Gooney Bird. Approx 55 degree el az 120 degrees. Several white objects through binoculars. Some circular some cylindrical .NW to SE. Went over horizon. Jindivick dummy trial. Tracked three objects to just on horizon. Az 155-165 degrees. (Pages 90-91 of file.)

40-45deg el 80deg el 145az 40deg el
K35 K16 K14 K9

The file contained pages discussing these two incidents as follows:




Teleprinter 26 July 67. From Woods Director Weapons to DS/R&E Supply Melbourne. “Further to my W8476 about alleged UFO sightings. The sentence in my message saying no films were exposed may be misleading. In fact the normal trial kinetheodelite films were exposed during the trial. These should have shown the UFO crossing the field of view close to Skylark but nothing was recorded.”


Teleprinter. 25 July 67. From Woods Weapons to DSR&E Supply Melbourne. Re alleged UFO sighting. “No, repat, no films were exposed.” Reports came from kine operators and “…did not correlate with each other except in time.” “Sightings of wind carried webs are possible explanations.”


Teleprinter. Undated. From Woods Weapons Salisbury to DSR&E Supply Melbourne. Alleged UFO sighting at Woomera. Text same as 42.


Memo. 24 July 67. To Director. From Trials Wing HQ. Alleged UFO sighting at Woomera. Reports on two sightings 27 April and 30 June.


Memo. 21 Jul 67. To Supt Trials From PO Ranges Gp Subject Alleged UFO sightings 27 April 67. Enclosed original reports from various operators. “It is however, quite possible that multiple sightings of wind carried webs could provide reasonable explanation.”



Minute. 19 Jul 67. To DD/T From ? Alleged UFO sighting. First five paras of memo 17 Jul refer to 27 Apr sighting. Paras 6 & 7 refer to 30 Jun 67.


File note 19 Jul 67. From D/D Trails to S/TRD “I wouldn’t give the operators very high marks as observers.”


Memo. 17 July 67. To Supt Trials from PO/Ranges Alleged UFO sighting. 3-4 such sightings occur each year usually in late  autumn months. “The “objects” are almost certainly wind-borne spider webs…The fact that attempts  to photograph these “objects” have always been unsuccessful tend to support the theory that they are in fact extremely tenuous body at no great distance from the observer.”


Teleprinter 18 Jul 67. From Dep Sec/R&E Melbourne to Woods WRE Salisbury. Subject: Sightings 27 Apr 67. “2. The posts concerned were K9,K12,K8, site 3 site 4 and X11. 3. Have you had the films examined as discussed…”


Memo. 30 Jun 67. To PO Ranges Gp from Trials Division. Subject: Alleged UFO sightings. Director has received report. Please investigate and report.


Memo. 23 Jun 67. To DD/Trials From WRE HQ Subject: Alleged UFO sightings. Please give me a report on 27 Apr.