close-encounters-of-the-south-gippy-kindAn illustration of the being that Steve, one of TALK Group Australia’s founders, encountered on a remote farming property six years ago.

By Gav Ross

STRANGE lights, missing or lost time and frightening reports of abduction – South Gippsland is a hotspot for extra-terrestrial activity, according to a new Melbourne-based UFO awareness group.
And now, members of the group, named Truth Awaken Limitless Knowledge (TALK) Group Australia, are hoping to hear from locals who’ve spotted unidentifiable objects in the sky or have had more direct contact with otherworldly beings.
The group, a not-for-profit, non-religious collective, will be holding a seminar in Cowes next month, encouraging believers, or anyone who is interested in paranormal phenomena, to attend.
Spiritual counsellor Leigh (who, along with others in the group, prefers not to be identified by her surname), invites community members to a gathering she assures will be informative, non-judgemental, relaxed and confidential.
“We want people to know it is very real and it is happening,” Leigh said, referring to the countless alien encounter stories that are reported throughout the world every year.
“This will be a place for people to turn to if they have experienced such phenomena, or if they have had more severe contact, such as abduction.”
Currently made up of around 20 believers – all of whom have experienced contact with aliens in varying ways – TALK Group Australia knows full well the reaction most members of the public may have to stories of flying saucers and little green men.
However, Leigh says the majority of people seeking advice from the group since it formed last year are regular, everyday folk who just happened to have experienced something extraordinary.
“These people are normal, healthy human beings and they are portrayed as fruitcakes,” she said.
“We are here to support them.”
A part-time Cowes resident, Leigh says she has personally seen six UFOs with her own eyes, dating back to when she was a young girl.
The most recent occurrence, she explained, happened on Phillip Island less than two months ago.
“I saw and filmed a triangular craft in Cowes when it was a few minutes past midnight on New Year’s Eve,” she said.
“I was with 10 other people who also witnessed it.”
Leigh and her group of friends and relatives weren’t the only ones to see mysterious lights in the sky at the dawn of 2014, apparently.
Reports of UFO sightings soon after midnight were endemic worldwide, with media outlets in the US reporting on myriad witness statements originating from California in particular.

ETs in Bass Coast

Steve, another member of TALK Group Australia who lives in Drouin and works in the Bass Coast area part-time, says there have been several reports of alien activity in South Gippsland over the years, with one particularly disturbing account dating back to the late 1980s.
“A woman was abducted near Jam Jerrup as she was driving down South Gippsland Highway to pick her husband up at Tooradin one night,” Steve explained.
“While driving, she was blinded by a bright white light and the next thing she remembered was driving down the highway still, but highly confused and disoriented.
“Half an hour had passed and she had no idea how or why.
“Her husband went mental at her for being late but she couldn’t explain what had happened.
“The next day, she hopped into the shower and found a triangular pattern on her stomach she couldn’t explain.”
More recently, Steve received a report from a local ambulance officer concerning an eerie red orb glowing out at sea.
“This ambo was driving back from Melbourne early in the morning and was coming towards Phillip Island,” Steve explained.
“At around 3.30am he saw a constant, large red light out in the distance which was slowly moving.
“This guy is well aware of what aircraft and helicopters look like, and he said he couldn’t explain what it was.”
Close to the same area, Steve recalls a similar incident first reported around a decade ago.
“There was a nurse driving home from work towards the Island late one night when she spotted a craft hovering very low,” she said.
“Her radio started going crazy (changing frequencies) and her window wipers turned on by themselves.
“She was sh***ing herself, basically.
“It lasted several minutes and then she took off home.”

‘I felt like I was being watched’

While stories of alien encounters in and around South Gippsland are intriguing, it’s Steve’s own personal encounter, which he shared with the Sentinel-Times, that stands as one of the most remarkable.
He said he was confronted by a “star visitor” (he prefers this term over ‘alien’ or ‘ET’) out in the middle of nowhere; an experience which completely changed his outlook on life, death and the question of whether we’re alone in the universe.
Working as an arborist at a remote bush property near the Strzelecki Ranges in March of 2008, Steve spent almost an entire day with the unnerving feeling that someone, or something, was nearby, peering through the trees.
“I felt like I was being watched, basically, and as the day progressed that feeling grew stronger,” he recalled.
“Then, at a quarter to four, something life-changing happened.”
While packing equipment into his ute and preparing to head home, Steve locked eyes with an entity standing a short distance down a lonely bush track.
“At first I thought it was a child,” he said with a smile, the naivety of that initial, shocked thought, when his mind scrambled for rationalisation, now seeming so innocent.
After eye-balling the creature for more than 30 seconds, Steve noticed the birds stopped chirping, the wind stopped rustling gum leaves and, for an incalculable amount of time, everything stopped.
“Everything went surreally quiet,” he said.
“I don’t know how long I stood looking at it; it stayed where it was.
“Then I went into fight or flight mode.
Finishing packing his tools, Steve then noticed his body was vibrating, in a way he describes as akin to sitting in a massage chair.
“My whole body was vibrating and as I kept packing, I’d look up every now and then and it was still standing there.
“I didn’t feel threatened, just really scared.
“I started up my vehicle – and I was really glad it started – and started going down the road towards the front gate of the property.
“I couldn’t look back but I kept peering into the rear vision mirror, expecting more of them to be standing there.”
Steve said his entire frame kept quivering relentlessly until he drove about 80 metres away from the front gate.
“Then, just like turning off a light, the vibrating stopped….and it was back to reality.”
But it wasn’t the same reality.
Like most people dealing with the aftermath of an alien encounter, Steve, a former fire fighter and experienced pilot aged in his 50s, thought he was losing his mind.
“I didn’t tell my wife for three months,” he said.
“I’d look at myself in the mirror and think, ‘Am I crazy?’”
It wasn’t until he visited world-renowned UFO expert and hypnotherapist Mary Rodwell in Canberra the following year that his experience began to make some kind of sense.
“Through regression therapy, I discovered the (alien encounter) was actually my ‘awakening’,” he said.
“I was now awake and aware of what is going on.”
It turned out the luminous being Steve met in 2008 may not have been a stranger after all.
Through further hypnotherapy, he discovered he had been encountering star visitors all his life.
Now, he wants to help others who may be questioning their sanity, much like he did in the months after his 2008 encounter.
“When I had my experience, I didn’t know who to turn to,” he said.
“I consider myself a pretty sane sort of person; I’m not a liar or an attention-seeker.”
But while some who have experienced encounters similar to Steve’s can journey down a path of enlightenment, where they remain comfortable in the knowledge that we’re not alone, others are not so lucky.
Leigh says some people, especially abductees, suffer “devastating” psychological trauma.
“These are people who are being taken and experimented on,” she said.
“Tests are done, cells are taken and it’s terrifying.
“There are some people who end up in mental institutions because of it.
“They tell others they are seeing entities and they don’t want to go to sleep because they’re worried they’ll be taken again.”

Seminar open to all

The day-long seminar, set to take place at Cowes Cultural Centre, 91-97 Thompson Avenue, Cowes, on March 22, is open to all.
TALK Group Australia again assures anyone who may be hesitant that the group is non-religious, non-political and “definitely not scientologists”.
“We’re about making people aware of the truth,” Leigh concluded.
“And if anyone wants to speak confidentially to myself as a counsellor, it will be free.”
Mary Rodwell, the founder of Australian Close Encounter Resource Network (ACERN) and the hypnotherapist who helped Steve to understand his ‘awakening’, will be journeying down from Canberra to speak at the seminar.
To cover the cost of the venue, along with lunch, tea/coffee and nibbles, tickets to the seminar will be $35 for early bookings or $38 at the door.
To find out more, email TALKgroupaustralia@email.com