October 4, 1960
Location: Cressy, Tasmania, Australia
Cressy sighting remains as one of Tasmania's best known
UFO sightings. The cigar shaped 'mothership' and attendant
discs were witnessed by the local Church of England minister,
the Reverend Lionel Browning and his wife. The case was
investigated by the Royal Australian Air Force, details
were taken by the Victorian UFO Society, whilst Prof:
James E McDonald interviewed Rev Browning in 1967.
Keith Roberts, TUFOIC (Tasmanian UFO Investigation Center)
Cressy sighting of October 4th, 1960 remains as one of
Tasmania's best known UFO sightings. The cigar-shaped
'mothership' and attendant discs were witnessed by the
local Church of England minister, the Reverend Lionel
Browning and his wife, about 6.10pm on a cloudy evening.
The case was investigated by the Royal Australian Air
Force, details were taken by the Victorian UFO Society,
whilst Prof: James E McDonald (senior Physicist in the
Dept: of Meteorology at the University of Arizona) interviewed
Rev Browning in 1967. TUFOIC published details of the
sighting and other events in the area at that time in
its Annual Report for 1970, with a more complete account
in its 'Cressy Revisited' publication. The sighting was
the page one story in the Launceston Examiner of October
10th, 1960. The sighting prompted questions in the Australian
parliament and was mentioned in various books and journals
both in Australia and overseas.
the Rev. Browning became the patron of the Tasmanian Unidentified
Flying Objects Investigation Centre when it was formed
in 1965. He remained interested in Tasmanian sightings
until his departure from the state in 1990. Rev. Browning
travelled to Melbourne soon after the 1960 sightings to
present details of the case to a VUFORS meeting.
is a small country town in the rural Northern Midlands
of Tasmania, about 30 k south-west of Launceston. The
surrounding area is mainly pastoral and relatively flat,
although the Western Tiers, some 20 k to the south-west,
rise to over 1200 m. A similar distance to the north-east
of the town is Launceston Airport.
RAAF files had a full account of the sighting together
with a sighting report form.
Browning stated that at approximately 6:10 p.m. on the
4th of October 1960, he and his wife were standing in
the dinning room of their Cressy home. They were looking
out through the window at a rainbow over some low hills
about 12 k to the east. The hills, the highest of which
are about 400 m, were partly obscured by low cloud and
rain. As they were looking at the scene, his wife drew
his attention to a long cigar-shaped object which was
emerging from a rain squall.
object was a dull greyish colour, had four or five vertical
dark bands around its circumference, and at regular intervals
along its length, had what looked like a short aerial
array which projected outwards and upward from the northern
facing end of the object. The object seemed to be slightly
longer than Viscount aircraft which Rev. Browning frequently
sees flying in that area and he therefore estimated the
object's length at about one hundred feet (32 m). The
outline of the object was well defined and was even more
so, a little later, when it had as a background the tree-covered
slopes of a rain free area of the hills. Rev. Browning
estimated from landmarks below the object, that it was
over Panshanger Estate owned by the Mills family and was
probably 3 to 4 miles distant (6-7 km).
object, after emerging from the rain squall, moved on
an even keel in a northerly direction at an estimated
speed of sixty to seventy miles per hour (100-110 kph)
at a constant height of about 400 feet (120 m). His estimate
of the speed of the object was made by comparing its rate
of movement with that of Viscount aircraft which he has
seen flying in the area. His estimate of the height of
the object was by comparison with the height of the hills
behind it. The object moved approximately one and a half
mile (2 km) north, also estimated by reference to land
marks below it, and then abruptly stopped. Within seconds,
it was joined by five or six small saucer-like objects
which had emerged at high speed from the cloud above and
behind the cigar-shaped object.
small objects stationed themselves at positions around
the cigar-shaped object, at a radius of about one half
of a mile (800 m) and then, after an interval of several
seconds, the cigar-shaped object accompanied by the smaller
objects, abruptly reversed back towards and then into
the rain squall from which it had emerged. The reverse
movement was at about the same speed and height as during
its outward movement. In all, the cigar-shaped object
had been visible for approximately two minutes and the
small objects for about one minute. Neither the Rev. Browning
or Mrs. Browning heard any unusual noise during the period
of the sighting.
Browning and his wife watched the area for several minutes
after the disappearance of the objects into the rain squall,
but there was no reappearance. Rev. Browning then telephoned
the Control Tower at Western Junction (Launceston) Airport
and reported the sighting. The weather at the time of
the sighting was overcast but fine after past rain at
Cressy, with showers still to the east in parts.
Browning stated that on October 9th. he gave a full report
of the sighting to the Launceston 'Examiner'. A sketch
of the object was superimposed on a photograph taken through
their dinning room window. The following day (October
10th). the story was published in the paper. The published
report apart from giving the length of the object as 300
instead of 100 feet and having stated that he knew of
other witnesses was accurate. He also stated the artist's
impression depicted a fairly accurate shape, size and
appearance of the objects, but they should have been shown
as being below and not above the skyline.
Browning stated that since making the sighting public,
he has received several reports of believed sightings
of flying objects and has also received many reports of
loud explosions. He himself heard such an explosion at
21.30 on October 27th. He is of the opinion that it was
too close and loud to have been from an area 10 miles
(16 k) distant where the Hydro Electric Commission does
rock blasting. Rev. Browning was of the opinion the explosions
are someway associated with the flying objects seen by
him and his wife.
Browning said that prior to his and his wife's sighting
of the unidentified flying objects, he had been sceptical
about reports of such objects but now he and his wife
are convinced such objects exist.
Hervey's book, UFOS Over the Southern Hemisphere (1969)
mentions the Cressy sightings and that another eyewitness,
a Mrs D Bransden who said: 'It was a fantastic sight
- like a lot of little ships flocking around a bigger
one.' In TUFOIC's 1970 report gathered from the Rev.
Browning and his notes on the case, a Mrs. Bransden is
also mentioned as having seen the cigar from near the
Rectory. A young child is also reported as having seen
the objects. Unfortunately, no further information is
know about the Bransden sighting.
hours after the sighting, many outlying residents in the
Cressy-Perth district heard a loud explosion. It was too
loud to be from Poatina, one of the residents, Mrs. J.
Robson of Barlington estate claimed. She said it was a
loud explosion like someone banging heavily on a wall.
She said she could hear the earth shake. Mr. B. Spencer
of Woodlands, Cressy, said the explosion shook the house.
It was followed by rumbling vibrations. It seemed to come
from towards the Panshanger estate over which Rev. Browning
had made an earlier sighting.
Civil Aviation Department said there were no aircraft
in the vicinity at the time of the report. They had made
a report to headquarters of Mr Browning's sighting.
several weeks following the Cressy sighting, there were
numerous reports of strange airborne objects in the Longford,
Cressy, Poatina, and Evandale districts.
1990, TUFOIC obtained copies of the RAAF sighting form
completed by Rev. Browning, but the form was undated.
McDonald received a letter from the RAAF officer who did
the interrogation of the Brownings. The Brownings impressed
the officer as being mature, stable, and mentally alert
individuals who had no cause or desire to see objects
in the sky other than objects of definite form and substance.
meteorological summary for October 4th describes a small
depression over the Central Plateau with a front extending
to the east of Flinders Island. Light to moderate rain
was experienced ahead of the front with rain clearing
after 15.00 (3 pm). However, extensive cloud build up
were associated with the trough along the Western Tiers
(south-west of Cressy) during the late afternoon. Thunderstorm
activity was reported from areas near the Tiers.
RAAF summary explained the case as 'Astronomical".
Moon rise would have been visible shortly after 6 p.m.
in an east south east direction; as the objects were seen
near the skyline, the moon's reflection on scud type cloud
associated with the rain squall were responsible for the
Browning dismissed the RAAF's explanation. The moon he
said would have been competing with a glorious sunset,
whilst the easterly skyline was not visible due to rain
covering the Ben Lomond area.
check reveals that the sun was indeed about to set in
the western sky, and if anything, would have been the
more likely of the two astronomical bodies to light up
the sky. Rev. Browning told Professor McDonald that the
sun was illuminating the objects, there being a distinct
difference in tone between the dull grey of the larger
object and the shiny, metallic lustre of the smaller disc-like
objects. The moon was just rising, but at the time of
the sighting, would have been at a mere 6 degrees to the
east. In fact, it may have had trouble at that time in
being visible over mountains to the east.
mention is made if the Brownings heard the explosions
two hours later, nor does the RAAF seem to have been informed
of these events. Possibly the explosion and rumblings
were due to the thunderstorm activity near the Tiers.
The residents of the Cressy district were quite used to
explosions from the Hydro works at Poatina but these as
a rule were daytime occurrences.
seems a pity that the RAAF did not take a more active
approach to the sighting and others reported in the press
in subsequent days. A logical step would have been to
interview Mrs. Bransden (the second witness to the case),
from a different view point would she have also seen moonrise
reflecting on scud cloud? The 1960 Cressy case remains
a classic sighting of a 'mother-ship' and attendant discs,
a type of case that seems to have become less frequent
in recent times.
UFO Investigation Centre Annual Report 1970.
Cressy Revisited (TUFOIC). Unidentified Aerial Sightings,
UFOs Over the Southern Hemisphere, Hervey (1969).
FSR, March 1979, Motherships over Australia by Paul Norman.
The Mercury (Hobart).
The Examiner (Launceston).
Notes and cuttings of Reverend Lionel Browning.