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18/10/2019 Tim Casey
Min Min Lights


These mysterious lights have tormented Australian communities for more than a century, the first recorded sightings dates back to 1838 in the book “Six Months in South Australia” and further reported in 1918, these mysterious lights have been said to reduce men to tears. 

Many reports describe them as hoovering fluorescent balls with the lights appearing above the horizon.  Albeit sightings are a rarity, the Min Min lights attract thousands of tourists every year to Boulia region. 

With this unsolved mystery stimulating legends and fables with towns folk. Parents also tell their children to behave otherwise the Min Min lights would come and collect them. 

To indigenous Australians the lights are said to be spirits and locals believe if they catch you, you will never be seen again. Though much earlier stories about the lights can be found in aboriginal myths preceding European settlement and aboriginals are convinced that the number of sightings has only increased alongside the increasing movement of Europeans in the outback. 

Many witnesses to this phenomenon state lights hovering slowly back and forward in silence, most believing that is a neighbour or another vehicle.  The whole experience for all is spooky and unexplainable leaving many bewildered. 

This Australian mystery has literally put a small town of Boulia on the map. Like any phenomenon, many theories surround the lights – natural occurrence through to the extreme beliefs of UFO’s. More theories include a range of bio-luminescent bugs, fireflies or fluorescent gas.  

The lights named after the Min Min hotel (which burnt down in 1918) a mail exchange which used to stand on the boundary of two large cattle stations – Warenda and Lucknow located between Boulia and Winton.  Soon after the fire a local stockman was reportedly followed by a light on a journey to Boulia. 

A number of unexplained disappearances have been blamed and linked to the Min Min lights.  They have been seen in Queensland, northern New South Wales and the Northern Territory.  There are numerous stories and tales told and written about them. 

Other names of the Australian Ghost Lights: Paddy’s LanternsQuinns LightWill-o’-the-WispJack-o’-LanternGhost Lights  

The author Mavis Clarke wrote about them in her autobiography “Trust the Dream” in 2004 and in her children’s novel “The Min Min” in 1967. 

Professor Jack Pettigrew of the University of Queensland a Polymath and Neuroscientist has seen the lights on a number of occasions and believes that he has solved the mystery and has been able to create his own Min Min light. 

He says they are real, but distant lights, a fire or bright headlights.  Stating that you cannot see them as they are over the horizon and too faint. He has proved that a layer of cold air keeps it close to the ground so it can be seen over great distances. 

The layer of cold air can also concentrate the distant light and stop it from spreading so it doesn’t get weakened by extreme distance. He has used geometry to prove that a Min Min light was actually a very bright truck headlight up to 300km away. To make a point to a travelling group he drove 10km from a camp site and shone his headlights which at the campsite reported as a bobbing light just above the horizon, changing from a vivid red, to orange, yellow and green. 

The belief that the floating orbs are not swarming bioluminescent insects or even aliens, but light trapped in cold air is spooky enough. 

If you would like to visit Winton or Boulia, come along on tour with Casey Australia Tours in 2020 on the 15 Day Australia’s Longest Shortcut or the 15 Days Bourke and Wills – Follow the Legends Tours.  Head to the Casey Australia website for further details. 


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