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The Mysterious Min Min Lights of Outback Australia

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Cynthia is an author who has written a series of science fantasy books. She also writes short stories and is busy writing two more novels

Min Min Lights Sign, Boulia, Queensland

Min Min Lights Sign, Boulia, Queensland

What Are the Min Min Lights?

Will we ever solve the mystery of the Min Min lights of Outback Australia? For many thousands of years, man has been gazing up into the night sky, entranced by shooting stars and mysterious lights. Many cultures have developed myths and legends about the stars, and there is intense speculation to this day as to whether any of those distant orbs could be circled by a planet that is capable of sustaining life.

However, some of the lights we see in the darkness of the night sky are more mysterious than others. In the remote emptiness of the Australian Outback, there is an occasional sighting of a magical phenomenon known as the Min Min lights.

They are reported by witnesses as glowing spheres in the night sky that seem to have the ability to move around, follow people, disappear and then reappear. Descriptions and reports of what they look like do vary, but they have mainly been described as fuzzy balls of light that seem to hover just over the horizon.

Their colour is usually reported as being white, although there have been sightings where they change colour from white to red to green and then back again to white. Some observers have seen Min Min lights that were so bright that the ground around them was lit up and objects in the immediate vicinity cast a shadow, but other reporters say that the spheres of light were dim.

Where Can You See the Min Min Lights?

They have been sighted in the night skies of Australia from as far south as Brewarrina in western New South Wales to as far north as Boulia in northern Queensland’s Channel Country. The area surrounding Boulia is the epicentre for these sightings and one of the first recorded sightings was around 1912 when a stockman was riding near the the cemetery, in the vicinity of the Min Min Hotel which had just recently been burnt down.

The stockman saw a strange ball of glowing light rising from the cemetery, which frightened him so much that he raced his horse back to the town. The mysterious luminous ball followed him all the way until it disappeared as the stockman arrived in the outskirts of the town.

However, stories of the Min Min lights can be found in Aboriginal myths that predate the European settlement of Australia, but some of the Aboriginal people feel that the sightings of the mysterious phenomenon have increased as Europeans have encroached further into the remote areas of the Outback. According to many eye-witness accounts, they do follow or approach people travelling at night.

Their sudden appearance has so unnerved some drivers that accidents have occurred and people have been hurt. Some witnesses have been so spooked by the Min Min lights that they have fired shots at them, but although sometimes they disappeared when fired upon, they then often reappeared later. Many of the people who have experienced the phenomenon report feeling as though the Min Min lights are actually observing them. And a lot of those people who have witnessed them have had very strong reactions to their experience.

Even big, tough guys who have spent years in the Outback have panicked and shot at the lights when they saw them and started to scream and cry. Observers also seem to feel as though the lights have a form of intelligence and that they follow them around and even chase their vehicles when they try to drive away. Witnesses have said that the Min Min lights approached them several times before finally retreating and other witnesses have reported that they kept pace with their moving vehicle.

Are Min Min Lights Real?

Nowadays most people accept that the Min Min lights do actually exist, although there is still a lot of debate about what causes the phenomenon. Many scientific explanations have been put forward and these include optical illusions, piezoelectrics and swarming luminescent animals. But equally there are many people who believe that they could be ghost lights, spirit orbs or UFO activity?

It has been suggested that they are caused by swarming insects that have become bioluminescent from being in contact with agents found in the local fungi. Another hypothesis is that the Min Min lights are actually a species of owl that has its own bioluminescent properties, and is seen flying through the night sky.

Some experts believe that they are caused by known geophysical phenomena, such as piezoelectrics, although in many cases sightings are from geographical areas that are not favourable for such phenomena. Piezoelectricity is the ability of certain materials, including crystals, bone and certain ceramics to generate an electric field or electric potential in response to applied mechanical stress. If the material is not short-circuited, the applied stress induces a voltage across the material.

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Another theory is that they are the result of an optical illusion known as a Fata Morgana, which causes remote lights or objects to seem as if they are closer than they really are and distorts the lights or objects into a less recognisable form. A Fata Morgana or mirage is caused by rapid changes in air temperature, when the air above is warmer than the air below, which is known as a temperature inversion as it does not follow the normal gradient of the atmosphere.

A Fata Morgana can only occur when light travels through multiple distinct levels of temperature. An Australian neuroscientist called Professor Jack Pettigrew now says that he can reproduce the Min Min lights as he has calculated that they are an inverted mirage of light sources that could possibly in reality be as much as several hundred kilometres away. Professor Pettigrew even staged an experiment one night to see if he could recreate the Min Min lights phenomenon.

He picked a night where a cool evening had followed a hot day and there was very little breeze. Professor Pettigrew drove 10 kilometres over a slight slope and down into a watercourse, which below the normal line of sight of such a distant light. Subsequently, six witnesses saw the lights of the car float above the horizon.

So, What Do Think About the Min Min Lights?

So do you believe that the mysterious Min Min lights of the remote Australian Outback are a natural phenomenon that can be rationally explained by science? Or are they something entirely different? These haunting balls of light that dance against the velvet black of the night sky, following travellers, are they portents sent to warn us? Or are they ghost lights of ancient spirits who have returned to roam the night? Or even perhaps, extra-terrestrial craft or beings that have come to our earth to observe us and report back their findings to their homes on far-distant stars? I will leave you to decide.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 CMHypno


Adz on May 12, 2016:

I've seen these lights this year in April

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on November 17, 2015:

Very eerie stuff CMHypno. I have always had an interest in unexplained phenomena and the Min Min lights are one especially intriguing one. I do believe they are real and I enjoyed this well written hub.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on April 13, 2015:

Thanks for reading the hub John, we live in a mysterious universe where (luckily for us) there are still many things still to discover

John M. Spezeski from Boston on April 07, 2015:

These events are very strange indeed, I have posted a hub entitled "Lights in the Night Sky" you might be interested in.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on February 22, 2015:

Thanks for reading the hub Blackspaniel1. I'm glad there are still some mysteries in the world and that we don't know everything

Blackspaniel1 on February 16, 2015:

Wow! There must be something there for the stories to have endured so long, and since they have done no harm that is known they are probably harmless, yet unnerving.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on April 15, 2013:

What an awesome experience Zeron and thanks for sharing it with us. I wonder if we will ever find out what the Min Min lights really are, but I can see that it must have been scary and fascinating at the same time. Thanks for reading the hub and leaving a comment

Zeron on April 15, 2013:

Some friends and I saw around 10 of them afer both our 4wds were bogged in the bush, about an hour into our walk back to the farm about 11pm a cold night we saw 10 to 15 white orbs about the size of his 7 year old sons head, dancing under the tree line above a dammed up creek of a neighbours property, they cast their own light on the ground, moved with purpose were noisless moved up down left right and backwards and forward, a few came within 50 metres of us to check us out i guess, it was the strangest sight weve ever seen, some seemed to fade in and out, of this dimension i suppose. it was way cool and a little bit scary..

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on October 01, 2012:

Thanks for reading the hub shamani67 and leaving a comment. Fascinating that you have seen the Min Min lights many times, and maybe one day you will catch up with them? One of life's mysteries - not sure whether it would spoil it if we do find out exactly what they are.

shamani67 on October 01, 2012:

Well written and shows knowledge of the Min Min light. I myself have seen it many times throughout outback Australia. I am no longer scared of it, but the first few times frightened me. I now look out for these min min lights now that I am so much older. Much more exploration. Unfortunately you can never catch up with them, no matter how hard you try.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on September 26, 2012:

I also find it hard to believe that we are alone in this vast, magnificent universe Time traveller. Thanks for reading about the Min Min lights and leaving a comment.

Time traveller on September 26, 2012:

could they be associated with UFOs which officialdom debunks but many believe to be true. I find it almost impossible that God went to the trouble to make all these planets and fill our skies with stars and then believe there is but one planet that is inhabited by intelligent beings

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on September 29, 2011:

Glad that you enjoyed the Hub on the Min Min lights shamani67, and I will definitely check yours out

shamani67 on September 23, 2011:

Hey, great hub, well written, you should check out my hub on Min Min lights. Voted up.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on July 14, 2011:

Thanks for reading about the Min Min Lights Tracy and for sharing your fascinating story with us. I wonder what the light you saw really was? Another Australian Outback mystery?

Tracy on July 14, 2011:

We were camped along the Gunbarrel Highway a few years ago when just after dusk we saw a huge light appear over the horizon in the distance. It grew larger and larger as though it was coming closer but then appeared to settle somewhere near the ground. It stayed there a while and then just dimmed out to nothing. We didn't hear a sound. We tried to think of every possible logical answer for it but nothing could explain it.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 07, 2011:

Hi Mandi, Thanks for reading about the mysterious Min Min Lights. For more material, you could try local Australian newspaper archives for eye-witness accounts or any of the local blogs on paranormal phenomena/strange natural events. I haven't come across a book on the phenomena, but you might find one in Australia

Mandi on March 07, 2011:

I'm writing a script based on the Min Min Lights. Do you have any suggestions of other research material? I find the phenomenon quite fasinating.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on November 11, 2010:

Thanks for telling us about your encounters with the Min Min lights Ray, I hope that you get some answers one day about what these lights really are. Good luck with finding a thylacin, it would be really cool if you could discover a living one.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on November 11, 2010:

Hi Darren, thanks for sharing your experiences with the Min Min lights. I wonder if this phenomenon will ever be explained, but with so many different accounts there is definitely something going on in the Australian Outback

ray harvey on November 10, 2010:

many years ago lights followed me thru the bush . i stop and walk towards it . it moved away , a few years later in a different area it happen to my brother this light was about 20 feet on each occasion from us... over the years we have seen it a few times up closed also i have seen the effect that jack pettigrew has put forwards.this is a way of explaining some light forms . i have seen in the jungles of nth queensland plants and trees that give off a glow at night . also many insects , my brother got lost in very heavy jungle in the atherton tablelands area for 5 days and nights he saw large glowing lights the size of dinner plates which he thought could be some form of firefly, but coudnt get close enough. so now i am getting pictures of some strange lights with trail cams but only in one area , i conceed some maybe insects but the real large lights behave in strange ways i have put some up on flickr put in thylacins pad , i aint looking for these lights im looking for a very rare animal. and these lights have decided to appeared.

darren hargrave on November 01, 2010:

thanks for your response iwill say they definitely are intelligent in some way as i said i hoped out of my tent they were 20 feet above me then they moved about 40 feet away stayed at the same height of 20 feet they created a reddy orange glow that emitted a dull glow on the trees and ground with a wind around them because the trees were waving,they seemed to be observing me to because they slightly moved to corrospond with my movment i was camping on a firebreak around someones farm we were working on the road for 7 months camping in tents just off the road. the min min lights stayed there for2mins i called out for the others no one answerd then they move away following the firebreak like it was their roadways.i went to bed woke in the morning not a thought of what happened that night until one of the workers said what were you calling out for last night then all of a sudden it all came to me clear as if it had just happened which it did. before this experience i did not believe in this kind of stuff now i believe 100% the min min lights are real, so if there real which they are what else is. truly amazing thanks for letting me share my experience had to tell someone thanks again

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on October 31, 2010:

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your account of your experiences with the Min Min lights Darren. I hope that you find out more and that anyone else who has witnessed the Min Min lights in that area will come forward

darren hargrave on October 30, 2010:

hi there ive seen the min min lights very close my tent was flatened by a red glow i thought a car was backing over me i hope out of my tent and there were three red orange globes about 20 feet above me wow i need to know more and would love to go back there its just past the fruit fly inspection station on the way to kakadu northern territory anyone else had an experience near there

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on July 30, 2010:

The Australian Outback is a great place to explore, and there have been so many accounts of the Min Min Lights that there must be something behind the stories. Thanks for the read and the great comment Blue Mountains Getaways Guy

Blue Mountains Getaways Guy on July 29, 2010:

Great hub CM

I remember a friend telling me of his father's experience with the minmin lights 40yrs ago around Boulia when his car broke down, he reckons it was pretty real stuff. The outback is a great place to explore and enjoy and that's just one piece of it.

Max the blue mountains getaways guy

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 12, 2010:

Hi Nell, glad you enjoyed reading about the Min Min Lights. Like all good mysteries, it might be a shame if they absolutely proved what caused them. The real mystery seems to be the feeling observers have that the Min Min Lights have an 'intelligence' and that they follow travellers around. Thanks for the heads up on Fortean Times - I will wander on over and try my luck!

Nell Rose from England on March 11, 2010:

Hiya, that is fascinating. I have never heard of this. Maybe it is a kind of wilo-the-wisp which is seen over lakes and has been seen in graveyards, mainly over marshy ground though. It is thought to be gas from the marshes or wet ground caused by methane, and has been seen for many centuries over here. Also there is a lot of electrical storms that go of in the atmosphere, which is in the shape of a ball or spider type thing. They have only been discovered recently since the space explorations. interesting. Why not go over to Fortean Times web page, join, and submit this to the community page? they would love it. I have submitted a couple before. it is easy. Well worth a go. cheers nell

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 11, 2010:

Glad you enjoyed reading about the Min Min Lights, Hello, Hello and thanks for leaving a great comment.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 10, 2010:

Fascinating, absolutely fascinating and thank you for bringing it to our attention. I have never heard of it.

CMHypno (author) from Other Side of the Sun on March 10, 2010:

Hi rprcarz50, glad you enjoyed the Min Min Lights Hub. The Min Min Lights are not like the Northern Lights, which are an explained natural phenomenon. The Min Min lights are smaller balls of light that follow people around and hover over the horizon

rprcarz50 on March 10, 2010:

Very nice Hub ! This sounds so much like the Northern lights . Is this just a comparable thing on the opposite side of the planet?

Thank You


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