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10 Truly Bizarre Incidents From The Bass Strait Triangle

by Marcus Lowth
fact checked by Jamie Frater

There are seemingly certain parts of the world where strange things are seen and even stranger things happen. The Bass Strait Triangle is one of those places. This mysterious part of the world runs from the southern coast of Victoria in Australia over the stretch of water that is the Bass Strait and into the mysterious regions of Tasmania.

While most of the bizarre accounts on our list are connected to the Bass Strait itself, several times, these encounters have seemingly wandered onto the mainlands. Perhaps the most famous of these incidents is the case of Fred Valentich. While that has been covered here before, the first two points on our list share bizarre connections to the famous case, so that’s where we’ll start.

10 The ‘Invisible Plane’ Encounter Of Jason Manifold

Photo credit: Roy Manifold

On the same day that Fred Valentich disappeared (October 21, 1978), Roy Manifold would capture a picture (shown above) of a strange object in the sky over the Bass Strait. Whether the object in the picture is connected to Valentich’s disappearance or not is open to debate, but it is considered to be a genuine picture (in that there has been no manipulation of the image).[1]

Roy’s son, Jason, was with his father on the evening in question. He says that while his father had gone inside his shed after taking the picture, Jason remained outside watching the sky. Although he didn’t see anything, he could hear the sound of a plane engine overhead. Instead of gradually fading off into the distance, however, the engine suddenly came to a stop “as if someone had turned a radio off.” Then, there was nothing but silence.

Manifold believes what he heard was connected to the disappearance of Valentich. What makes his seemingly trivial detail all the more intriguing is that it comes up again in our next strange encounter, which, coincidentally or not, happened almost 44 years to the day previously.

9 Miss Hobart

Photo credit: Royal Air Force

In October 1934, while crossing the Bass Strait in perfect weather conditions for flying, the airliner Miss Hobart would vanish without a trace.[2] There were 11 people on board, nine passengers and two pilots. Neither they nor even the smallest amount of wreckage was ever discovered despite extensive searches by military aircraft and vessels.

Aviation experts, both at the time and today, believe the loss of the Miss Hobart to be a genuine mystery, not least due to the de Havilland DH86 aircraft (example pictured above) being one of the most advanced of its era. It made use of four independent engines, with the likelihood of all four engines failing at the same time being almost universally dismissed. Even if that had happened, the plane was designed so that it should have been able to be guided to an emergency landing.

The last transmission from the Miss Hobart spookily shares a detail with that of the Jason Manifold account. The crew allegedly claimed they could hear the sound of a plane around them, and there were even several reports of an “aerial machine” coming toward them. They then reported that the humming sound had suddenly stopped. Nothing more was heard from the Miss Hobart after that.

8 The Loina Incident

Photo credit: The Courier-Mail

Almost a year following the disappearance of the Miss Hobart airliner, another plane, the Loina, would vanish while traveling from Melbourne to Tasmania. The aircraft had just radioed the control tower in Tasmania to say it was preparing to make its approach to land when it suddenly went silent. It carried three passengers and two pilots.

While none of the five people on board were ever located, a search of the waters did recover some minimal wreckage. Three of the plane’s seats were discovered, as well pieces of the petrol tank.[3] Perhaps most intriguing, however, was a small piece of the floor of the plane. There appeared to be a burned patch only several centimeters wide. Further analysis suggested that the area had been in flames, and other material appeared to show someone had tried to “intensely” stamp it out. Whether this small detail had anything to do with the fate of the plane is unknown.

7 SS Amelia J.

In 1920, while sailing into the Bass Strait, the SS Amelia J. disappeared without a trace shortly after entering the infamous stretch of water.[4] The Australian military would conduct an extensive search of the area. However, two of the military aircraft involved in the search also vanished. Perhaps strangest about the incident are the reports of strange lights being in the skies over the Bass Strait.

Although this is perhaps the first strange occurrence in the Bass Strait to be connected with potential UFO activity, two other very similar accounts took place in the 1900s. In 1901, 22 crew members vanished into thin air along with the SS Federal in the Bass Strait, and five years later in 1906, the Ferdinand Fischer, a German cargo ship, met a similar fate as it made its way to the coast of Tasmania.

6 Westall UFO

Although the following incident isn’t immediately linked to the Bass Strait, given the fact that it happened near the northern coast of the Bass Strait Triangle and that descriptions of the object match other accounts of UFOs over the stretch of water in question, it would be perhaps a little shortsighted to not include this (and our next entry) on our list.[5]

On April 6, 1966, multiple Melbourne schoolchildren and school staff witnessed a huge disc-shaped object come into view and calmly make its way over their heads and to the trees next to the cricket field where they had been playing. The children would follow the object for several minutes before it vanished over the trees and out of sight.

Perhaps more intriguing were several reports from other witnesses, who stated that the larger craft was trailed by five other independent craft, either giving chase or acting as a guide unit, depending on which report you listen to. It is still one of Australia’s most well-known UFO cases on record.

5 The Bruny Island Disappearance

Anyone who has seen the Australian television show The Kettering Incident will perhaps be aware that many parts of the show’s story lines are based, in part, on real-life accounts, particularly of life in Tasmania along the coast of the Bass Strait. The show’s co-creator, Vikki Madden, has stated that she experienced many strange incidents in the area while growing up there.

Strange lights were often seen coming from the Bass Strait and over the treetops, or even from one of the 50-something islands that reside within the strait itself. There is also the question of the sheer amount of people who go missing—seemingly vanishing into thin air.

Perhaps the strangest, however, is that of a young woman who went missing from Bruny Island. Following her sudden disappearance, investigators would discover that none of her belongings had been taken and that her room was left as if had she been coming back to it that evening as normal. Her purse, full of money, was also discovered. In short, there was nothing to indicate that she had been planning on leaving.[6]

As investigations widened, reports began to emerge of strange lights being seen in the area on the evening in question. Whether or not there is a connection to Bruny Island woman’s disappearance in open to debate.

4 The 1978 Tasmania/Victoria UFO Wave

Whether there is a connection or not is unclear, but in the immediate weeks before and following the Fred Valentich encounter, a wave of strange sightings broke out across the coastlines of Tasmania and Victoria.[7]

For example, on October 9, a husband and wife witnessed a bright light above them that actually came down to the level of their car, maintaining pace beside them as they drove. Exactly a month later in Hobart, a taxi driver was suddenly forced to slam on his breaks due to a strange green glow in the middle of the road. His communication radio also went out. By the time he had returned his gaze to the road, the green object was nowhere to be seen.

On November 25 in Sanfrod, a woman reported a “doorway of light” suddenly appearing in front of her property. Perhaps even stranger, she could see through the doorway to her driveway on the other side. This last account, as crazy as it sounds, is very similar to both ancient texts and other contemporary accounts that speak of portals or gateways to other dimensions.

3 The Disappearance Of The Charleston

In December 1979, the yacht Charleston, along with the five crew members, would vanish without a trace while sailing along the Bass Strait.[8] The yacht was scheduled to arrive in Sydney for New Year’s Eve. However, after several days with no contact and no arrival, search planes were sent out in a desperate bid to find the apparently stricken vessel.

Nothing of the boat or the people on board was ever discovered. There are plenty of theories as to what might have happened, though.

Some suggested that, due to an increase in wind around the time the ship disappeared, it was possible that damage could have been inflicted upon the mast, or perhaps a loose container from the many ships passing through the area had damaged the rudder. If this was the case, it’s possible that the yacht could have drifted as far as islands to the south of New Zealand. Interestingly, in their absolute desperation for information, family members of the crew even visited a clairvoyant, who stated that the crew had come upon an island south of their last known location.

The yacht’s fate, however, is still a mystery to this day.

2 World War II Accounts

As you might imagine, there were numerous accounts of strange events in the Bass Strait during World War II. However, when it is considered that there were no official reports of any enemy fighters even entering the strait, perhaps it is a little strange that 17 military planes were lost in this stretch of water during the war years alone.

There were also other, less fatal incidents.

In 1944, a strange “dark shadow” came out of nowhere and flew beside a Bristol Beaufort bomber for almost 20 minutes over the Bass Strait. Then, without warning, it shot upward at an amazing pace and vanished.

Two years earlier in 1942, an Australian fighter pilot took his plane over the Bass Strait after orders to investigate reports of strange lights made by fishermen. As he surveyed the area, a huge bronze disc came out of the clouds and settled alongside the plane for several moments before vanishing as quickly as it had appeared.[9]

1 Pre–20th Century Accounts

There are many reports of ships vanishing in the Bass Strait during the 19th century. In fact, the first recorded incident appears to be the disappearance of the Eliza in 1797. (Yes, that’s a bit before the 19th century.) The vessel was part of a salvage operation for the Sydney Cove, which had recently become wrecked on the rocky coast. The Eliza seemingly vanished off the face of the Earth during the rescue attempt.

In 1858, the British ship HMS Sappho met the same fate as it ventured into the strait’s apparently deadly waters.[10] A similar event took place 12 years later when the Harlech Castle disappeared, taking all 23 crew members with her.

There are very likely hundreds of other examples that haven’t been recorded. If there is “something” in this stretch of water, perhaps some naturally occurring phenomenon that we simply don’t yet understand, it is unlikely to be a recent occurrence and more likely has been happening for centuries. Unless the reasons for the absolute bounty of ships, planes, and even people that have gone missing over the years in the Bass Strait Triangle is uncovered, more mysterious incidents are likely to continue to happen for many more years into the future.


Read about more mysterious incidents around the world on 10 Bizarre Paranormal Encounters From Old Europe and 10 Paranormal Investigations And Encounters In Africa.

fact checked by Jamie Frater
Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a passion for anything interesting, be it UFOs, the Ancient Astronaut Theory, the paranormal or conspiracies. He also has a liking for the NFL, film and music.

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