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MinMin (December 1967)
contributed by BAtherton
(contact BAtherton about this story)
The existence on min-min lights has been well known by "westerners" and for many years the cause of this phenomenon was not known. Many still have reservations about the lights and probably rightfully so - if you see an unexplained light in an area where you know there are no people and it then follows you at 40 KPH, you may be entitled to allow your imagination a little freedom.
The mailman and local courier was Dave McKerrow from Oorindi siding. On this day Dave made a trip with mail and drums of fuel to the out station on Dalgonally. The road followed the Ernestina boundary fence up past the airstrip. It was late in the afternoon when Dave made his outbound trip and after unloading he started back. Unfortunately his truck was not cooperating and with a few coughs from the engine came to a stop about 10 Km from the Ernestina homestead. It being an abnormally hot day Dave waited around the truck until the sun started to set then made off on foot towards Ernestina. He took his water bag and a carbide lamp because in his words "I didn't want to step on any snakes in the dark".
As the night proceeded, Dave's wife called the Ernestina to report that Dave had not made it back home and to ask if we could go out in search of him. So we piled into the LandRover and set off up the road. The headlights of the old Rover were little better than a couple of candles so a hand held spotlight which was used for roo shooting was used to illuminate the road ahead to search for the missing driver.
It was now about 9 PM and Dave was approaching the Ernestina boundary fence when he saw the lights of the Rover coming towards him. He was alos spotted by the search party who by now had reached a wire gate and had stopped to open it. But what baffled the people in the Rover was the behavior of the light. It stopped moving for long periods, then started to move again. It repeated this many times. Concerned that something m,ay be amiss the spot light was turned on at regular intervals in the hope of catching a glimpse of Dave and his light.
Dave at first had been quite relieved to see the oncoming headlights but when he saw the spotlight he panicked. What if the people in the Rover saw his carbide light and mistook it for a minmin light? What if they then did as many people did and took a shot at it. All these station vehicles carried high powered rifles in them and he knew that our vehicle was no exception.
Dave stopped walking and placed the light on the ground in the middle of the road and moved off to one side of the road and waited. Then concerned about snakes, he came back picked up the light and continued to walk - until the spotlight was turned on again. Then down went the light and Dave went bush as fast as he could.
The only sympathy Dave got was "If I had of known that was what you were doing I would have taken a shot at the light when it stopped moving!"
This story was uploaded into the Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia entry for the Homestead 'Ernestina Plains'.