On a quiet night in January, 1988, a family was driving along the desert landscape of Nullarbor Plain in southern Australia.
On their way to see relatives in Melbourne, they had no clue that their lives were about to change forever.
In the car was Faye Knowles and her three adult sons, Patrick, Wayne, and Sean (who was behind the wheel), as well as their two family dogs.
Around one hour past midnight, the music coming from the car’s speakers suddenly became greatly distorted.
Shortly after, the radio ominously stopped working altogether.
Only 15 minutes after the audio disruption, a strange, large light could be seen in the distance.
Sean Knowles, who was the only one awake at the time, alerted the rest of his family.
Initially, they all thought the incoming object was a huge truck with a broken headlight.
Whatever it was, it came towards them at breakneck speed.
As the object got closer, a startling image came into view:
There was a large truck driving down the other lane — that much was true.
However, the intense, circular light came from above the vehicle, not in front of it — this was not a broken headlight.
Additionally, the trucker appeared to be under the influence, as he was driving back and forth between the lanes, with no signs of slowing down.
Fearing an upcoming collision, Sean quickly drove the car onto the side of the road.
Now out of the danger zone, the family watched as the humongous vehicle charged past them — with the mysterious orb of light right behind it.
Overwhelmed By Curiosity
Baffled, they decided to stop the car so they could have a look around the area.
As they were trying to make sense of the incident, another vehicle (a station wagon) drove past them at an incredible speed.
Directly above it, they observed yet another luminous orb.
Upon seeing this, the family decided they needed some answers.
Sean turned the car around and quickly gave chase.
As they were gaining on the station wagon and the orb, however, Faye Knowles felt that something wasn’t right.
She urged her son to give up the hunt and get back on the road to Melbourne, and so he did.
Still shook by what they’d seen, they agreed to contact the police when they came upon a phone station.
Destiny, however, had other plans for them that night…
When A UFO Attacks
Mere minutes after turning the car around, Sean saw a luminous object in the rear-view mirror.
It was heading right toward them, rapidly.
Seeing the light getting closer and closer, the family started shouting at Sean to drive faster.
With no other cars in front of them, he put the peddle to the metal in a desperate attempt to get away from the apparent UFO attack.
Still, it was not enough.
The bright orb hovered behind their car before it went up into the air — disappearing from view.
Shortly after, a heavy thud could be heard from above — something large had dropped onto the car.
The resulting pressure caused a dent in the roof and made the vehicle bounce.
Then, the whole automobile was somehow elevated into the air.
This made the family scream in sheer panic, and their dogs started barking and howling.
As the car continued rising above the ground, they had no chance of escaping.
Desperation Sets In
Soon after reaching a leg-breaking height, the object transported the car forward with great speed (according to Sean, around 120 miles per hour).
Fearing they would get flown off to somewhere else, Faye (who was in the backseat) quickly rolled down her window.
In pure desperation, she frantically tried to get a hold of the UFO to get it loose from the roof.
As she reached for the thing, her hand came into contact with a hot, squishy material.
Terrified, she pulled her arm back while screaming her lungs out.
Strangely, her hand had become reddish, swollen, and cold, and it was covered in some sort of fine, black powder.
The Horror From Above
With the window still open, more of this dark powder flew into the car and covered the entire family.
To their dismay, the mysterious substance stank like rotten flesh.
After the powder had made its mark, an otherworldly, piercing sound was emitted from above.
The family’s screams and barks then became weirdly distorted, as if they were slowed down.
This was accompanied by an intense, upwards pressure.
Patrick, the oldest son, felt like his brain was being slowly sucked out of his head.
Before any major damage was done, however, the noise stopped and the pressure subsided.
Seconds after, the UFO detached itself, and the Knowles were dropped straight down onto the road below.
This caused one of the tires to explode from the impact.
Back On Earth
As soon as they hit the ground, Sean frantically pulled the car to the side of the road.
With adrenaline surging, the family sprinted toward some nearby bushes to take cover.
They could now observe the UFO more closely, as it was hovering back and forth over the landscape nearby.
According to the Knowles, it looked like a large, glowing “egg in a cup”.
Fearing that the object was looking for them, the family decided to stay put among the vegetation.
Even after it finally took off (at an extreme velocity), they hid for another half an hour, just to be safe.
Figuring the coast was clear, they cautiously returned to their vehicle and changed the punctured tire.
Then, they headed towards the nearest service station — the Mundrabilla Roadhouse.
Finally In The Clear
On the way to the station, the Knowles kept a careful eye on their surroundings — fearing the enigmatic object would return to finish them off.
Luckily for them, they managed to make it to the Roadhouse without any more trouble.
Two truckers at the station later told the news that the Knowles were clearly scared and emotionally drained when they showed up.
They also examined their car and reported a stench that smelled like “hot insulation”.
Also, one of Faye’s hands was (still) red and swollen, and their dogs were visibly distressed — having shed whole clumps of fur in the backseats.
The Investigation Begins
After taking a sorely-needed rest at the Roadhouse, the Knowles rang up the local police department to report what they perceived as a UFO attack.
When officers arrived on the scene, they concluded that the top of their car was dented, as if something large had landed there.
Additionally, both the inside and top of the vehicle were covered in what they described as “an ash-like substance”.
This strange material was eventually collected by the Victorian UFO Research Society (VUFORS).
Analyzing The Enigmatic Dust
Perplexed by the strange substance, VUFORS decided to send a sample to former NASA scientist Dr. Richard Haines, who had it analyzed at a laboratory in California.
When the test results came back, Haines was amazed.
The lab had detected a mix of oxygen, silicon, carbon, potassium, and sodium chloride.
More importantly, however, there were also traces of astatine — the rarest naturally-occurring element in the Earth’s crust.
Astatine is radioactive but breaks down fast under normal conditions.
Oddly enough, though, there was still radiation present in the enigmatic material.
To this day, what the dark dust was, and how it was made, remains a complete mystery.
The Media Reacts
Only a few days after the so-called Nullarbor incident had taken place, news of the event had spread across the whole of Australia (and a good portion of the globe).
The Knowles family was then interviewed by many television and radio programs who were eager to use their extraordinary story.
There were also lengthy articles published in various popular newspapers, like the Daily Mirror.
Following this, the Knowles were met with a lot of ridicule and cold shoulders.
Many of their friends, neighbors, and colleagues were shocked that they would tell such a wild story.
They figured the family had either become mentally ill or were trying to make money off a hoax.
An Unfortunate Ending
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Knowles were approached by a number of shady types who wanted to exploit their newfound spotlight.
Most notably, a man named Wes Johnstone from a company called ‘Multi-Level Advertising” said he could make them rich by having them show up at various events.
He persuaded them to hand over their car, which he insisted he could use as a marketing tool.
However, after abruptly cutting contact with the Knowles, he instead auctioned off the vehicle for $7000 — of which the family never got a cent.
Despite skeptics’ claims of a money-making hoax, the entire ordeal ended up costing the Knowles dearly.
With car repairs, hospital bills, alienation, and nation-wide ridicule, the aftermath took quite a toll on the family.
Eventually, they left the whole thing behind them and did their best to return to their everyday lives.