I've seen a UFO and not everyone can claim that.
Denise says if there were not about 10 of us then no one would believe it.
It was 1979 or 1980 (the exact date is published in a book and newspapers)...a group of us sitting on Bundagen Beach at about midnight (south of Coffs Harbour NSW) when a large light over the Pacific Ocean danced before our eyes.
We thought it may be a plane or a weather balloon but It's path was very irregular so we ruled those out.
I held up a 20 cent coin and though it was distant the light was the size of the coin to the naked eye.
It hovered at intervals...shot off at various angles...no regular course...watched it for quite a while...until it disappeared East across the Tasman Sea.
Slept on the beach...complained of sandflies and cool breezes...emerging for breakfast at the cafe that was next to the Bellinger River .
Then we saw it. "UFO"
emblazoned on a newspaper hoarding.
Two jets from the New Zealand Air force had chased it then lost it.
A map of the reported sightings on the Australian
Our sighting was further south than the newspaper reports other than the pursuit area of the NZ Air force.
Yep...we have seen an Unidentified Flying Object.
And years later I found the event detailed in a glossy book.
Maybe we should have reported it...but just because we didn't does not mean we didn't see a UFO.
'Cos 10 of us know we did.
I watch the stars at night waiting for a shooting star or two.
First saw Saturn by telescope when I was 10...even saw it once with its ring vertical (standing on end) rather than the usual horizontal.
Used to look at Jupiter with 4 moons in a small telescope I had...thought I'd discovered a right angled triangle constellation near one of the stars of the Southern Cross...thought this and sometimes that.
One night after picking up our son Simon from a friend's house we both exclaimed, "Can you see what I am seeing?"
A meteor so close we could see sparks flying off it.
We reported that one!
At one stage ours was the Sydney sighting furthest north but
numerous other reports are it landed in Galston Gorge behind our place or maybe over the gorge at Dural.
The night sky has always fascinated me...seeing the Southern Cross in the Northern Hemisphere in Mali...Haleys Comet at Coonabarabran, NSW...super moons...solar & moon eclipses...the clear skies of Tibet...the altiplano of Bolivia and Chile...the pulsating Milky Way in the High Pamir of Tajikistan with Denise, Dangerous Dave & MJ...following the Voyager missions to Jupiter, Saturn & Neptune.
But bush walking at night can risk a relationship...so beware.
One time after I disappeared into a precipitous bush valley with only the moon to guide me, Denise when we were dating was so angry she smashed my car door window and stomped off.
Maybe I'd better not tell that one!
Well I somehow survived & married Denise...bought a simple cottage next to National Park and Galston Gorge...disappearing into the bush...precipitous cliffs...our kids born then doing the same...sometimes the bush draws us.
Denise & I self drove Patagonia...down the Andes from Bariloche to Torres del Paine in a 4WD...in and out of Argentina & Chile...National Parks of volcanic plugs, wilderness, Tolkien forests, pampas, jaw dropping
peaks, hanging lakes and glaciers...just us on dirt roads...sometimes not even roads.
When we returned...walked into our Aussie backyard...the bush we call home.
But blocking our path was a 4 foot wall of spikes and burrs of vegetative venom...'Biden'..."farmer's friend"
some know it..."burrs of the apocalypse"
I call them.
So Denise walks up the street and knocks on doors seeking help to try to make our bushland backyards pristine like the Patagonia.
And that is how 'Alan Avenue Bushcare Group' was born.
Five couples...once a month weeding for 2 hours...best morning tea in Hornsby Shire (we even got an Award for that)...best friends now...best thing Denise could have done.
Now for the point of the story...
Two years ago (2017), Peter from Bushcare says there are some luminous mushrooms
on the bush track...thinks I may be interested.
One had a diameter of 10 inches (25cms) so of course I am!
I had taken photos of a ring of these mushrooms around that tree in 2015...no idea then what they actually were.
Denise is away for the weekend...so at 9.30pm I grab a tripod and my Sony
NEX 6 with 18-200mm lens and head into the bush.
No moon...a torch to light me...no wife to prevent me...only my wits to protect me.
Then I saw it.
A pale white glow
at the base of a tree...a 70 degree slope into blackness...loose soil but someones gotta do it...so down I go.
Set up the tripod...manual 30 second exposure...trying various ISOs and focal lengths...click...waiting in darkness each time...checking playback each time...pretty excited.
I return after two hours...onto my computer...green not white images jumping out...clarity sketchy at best...into bed disappointed.
Falling into sleep of the unrequited...dozing at best.
But this dancer has never been one to be put off by being out of step...so the following night I return.
But this time I take the 50mm lens that saved our Peru, Bolivia, Atacama trip after my 18-200mm lens failed in 2015...hope springing eternal.
Another 2 hours...various ISOs and focal lengths...onto the computer...smiles...bright green images jumping out
...clarity crisp and focus clean...sleeping better that night...pretty chuffed actually.
December 2018 I check out the base of that tree after rain...mushrooms emerging...returning 3 nights later but too late...reduced to mulsh...bioluminesence
lost...none further until a few weeks ago.
Only an afterthought that I check out the base of the tree recently...heaps of ghosties smiling.
So I decide, "Tonight must be the night."
So I set out before dinner...gumboots...insect spray...headlamp...tripod...50mm lens.
Dull white glow intensifying when my torch is off....bioluminescent mushrooms at their zenith...around three adjacent trees...by tomorrow they may fade away.
Bioluminescent mushrooms are found in temperate or tropical forests...produce an enzyme that creates light by chemical reaction...only about 80 species in the World...only a handful of species in Oz...only glowing when the lights are off.
I got my best results at ISO 3200 for large clusters of mushrooms because they created the strongest glow.
Of the three clumps at the base of three trees, one had a stronger white glow than the others, which I presumed were probably a day or two older than the other clumps.
Anything less than 30 second exposures or distance greater than 40 cms was sketchy at best.
Some at ISO 6200 to 12800 were too bright for large bunches or too grainy for small bunches or single mushrooms.
My guys are ghost fungi...Omphalotus Nidiformis
found in Tasmania or South Australia, Australian Geographic says...so I reckon I'm lucky to find them in my Sydney Aussie backyard.
They say their glow is not to attract but to deter predators but I have found one type of insect on them so maybe there is a symbiosis in action to spread spores.
Some reports say they are not poisonous...others say they are dangerously toxic.
Aboriginal legends tell they signal bad spirits thereabouts...but to me they are lucky.
Other bioluminescent lifeforms in Oz are corals, scorpions, sea snails, glowworms, algae and jelly fish.
I hear my ghost mushrooms echoing the words of Mick Jagger at the end of the song "Something happened to me last night" on the "Between the Buttons" Album: "Well thank you very much and now I think it's time for us all to go. So from all of us to all of you...we'd like to say God bless. So if you're out tonight, don't forget...if you're on your bike...wear white. Evening all."
Relax & Enjoy the glow,
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