Where do we draw the line between reality and fantasy? Be it an event or a fleeting glimpse of something unusual, at what point do we dismiss it to be just a figment of our imagination? And what then if a bizarre occurrence is played out before a larger audience?

Textbook psychology eloquently explains it away as either an influence by suggestion, or mass hallucination. This theory of mass hallucination is a grey area and is nothing more than an anecdotal explanation for an inexplicable event observed by many.

The unexplained is not only dismissed by academia but many of us have difficulties digesting the extraordinary and accepting the fact that there are many different aspects of our Universe (or perhaps more accurately described as Multiverse) that we are unaware of or simply do not understand. This is the intangible, the unpredictable nature of certain phenomena that can’t be measured or evaluated in a controlled environment.

It amazes me that around 90% of the world’s population accept the existence of an anthropomorphic creator yet we have issues believing in the existence or entertaining the thought of intervention from extraterrestrial intelligence, despite the countless reports from bona fide witnesses.

So where do we draw the line to what is real and what is not? Does it have to be tangible for us to classify something to be real? If that’s the case then we may as well dismiss everything we cannot hold, smell or touch.

And if there is intervention, what makes up believe that ‘their’ motives would be the same as ours?

These were just some of the questions that crossed my mind after this particular expedition in April 2009. What we witnessed on that April night was unlike anything we had experienced before.

This expedition, like many others, began with the usual undertaking of setting up base camp and ensuring all equipment is tested and ready.

The first night watch in this rugged lonely countryside ended at dawn. There was nothing extraordinary to talk about that morning other than the few deep sky objects we observed through a 6-inch Newtonian telescope. Here the clear skies produce some of the most spectacular celestial displays even for the naked eye. Coming from the fringes of a large city, one rarely sees the galactic plane with such clarity. Teaming with stars it stretches across the night sky like a thick luminous cloud band.

During the day a few of us decided to get better acquainted with the terrain by tracing the mountain top and descending down into a nearby gorge.

When nightfall came, we positioned ourselves on a large open clearing. It was like sitting in a large crater with the mountains around us and the crescent of a big open sky above.

Then we noticed intense flashes of light coming from all directions. One would consider fragments of rocks burning up in our atmosphere. And we left it at that – meteorite activity and nothing more.

Soon this light show came to an end … and so did everything else. The breeze that brought an uncomfortable chill came to a sudden halt. The shrills and whirls from the trees went silent. It was as if all the wildlife had abandoned the landscape and left us to deal with whatever was coming next.

Heads began to turn down hill. It was as if a group of people were walking up towards us with heavy steps. Darren and I took off towards the approaching sound and found nothing – not a soul in site. The others remained scanning the terrain with our hazy GEN 1 night vision monocular and bionic ear. With the right tools we had more clarity now in the clearing and among the trees that spread across the mountain range.

Darren and I waited. Just then another sound alerted us. This time it was coming from the edge of the gorge. Gently moving forward, the decent became steeper and steeper. There was a small outcrop, just enough to sit still on and maintain our balance. Again we waited, staring vigilantly towards the trees down the throat of the gorge.

Then Darren waved his hand at me and pointing down at a tree. There amongst the dark void a black figure drifted forward. Whatever it was it looked human-like but much smaller and spindly. What really shocked us was the way it drifted.

It remained in sight for a few seconds then it simply drifted back in. This sight was an uncanny resemblance of an encounter back in 2003, again at Hill End.

The amazing experience didn’t end there. Within seconds of its disappearance, we heard a disturbance on the opposite side to where the first sighting occurred. Something appeared further away – a similar outline drifted forward, stopped as if waiting for something to happen, and then it just seemed to glide back into the darkness. No longer amused by this Houdini act, Darren and I decided to pursue it. We knew we weren’t dealing with some wacko who had watched too much Deliverance. And it didn’t take much mulling over to comprehend the fact that we were dealing with something incredible. What ‘it’ was we weren’t sure about. All we knew was we had to get a closer look.

As we walked along the edge close to where the last sighing took place, we could hear movement again but up near the Bridal track. When you spend enough time in the bush, you can almost instantly identify the different sounds made by certain wildlife. This was unlike anything we heard before. It almost sounded like children running but it would stop and continue in a completely different area.

So we continued up the dirt road. It was almost pitch black.

This cat-and-mouse game went on in the dark until we saw the fire trail completely disappear into a white wall of light - a dull light of some kind. The next thing we knew we were walking back to base camp.

When we arrived the others voiced their concerns about our lengthy absence. It seemed unreasonable. We had only been gone for about half-an-hour. But when we were told that it was around 1-½ hours, alarm bells began to ring. It seemed impossible and I recall debating with the others about the alleged missing time.

Furthermore, Darren and I were told that while we were away, the crew heard heavy steps coming towards the camp again. The immediate thought was that Darren and I had returned. But when they jumped up to greet ‘us’, nobody was there.

The eerie silence continued. Close to midnight everyone became lethargic. We were left with only one choice, and that was to hit the sack. By the time we decided to collect out equipment, it was 12.20am. Estimated time to pack and stack was 5 minutes. Estimated time to walk to base camp was under 5 minutes. When we checked the time at our tents, it was 1.20am.

Here we have a situation that is concerning to say the least, no to mention difficult to comprehend.

First of all the intense flashes in the sky. One would consider meteorites or a looming thunderstorm beyond our line of sight. Meteorites perhaps. Thunderstorm? I think not, considering that these flashes originated from not one region of the sky.

The ghostly footsteps – Considering that our visibility improved by the use of our GEN 1 monocular and our survey of the area, it was confirmed that nothing of a physical nature was within our vicinity.

Anthropomorphic shadows – I would have speculated that some one who knows the terrain quite well and is prepared to run-a-muck a night may have been the culprit. But after trekking through the gorge that day I find that to be unlikely. Moreover, the figure would have been far too small and slight for it to be an adult. In addition there were no irregularities in the outline to suggest any bulky clothing, considering the cold night we had.

The terrain is fairly steep and scattered with debris from trees and loose rocks. It seems like an impossible task to manoeuvre without stumbling over something or at least creating a lot of noise during the day let alone at night.

Regardless of the abovementioned, the gliding movement is what really puzzles me. I had seen something similar to this in 2003.

Again the only rational explanation would be hallucination or the power of suggestion. I have difficulties accepting the fact that more than one person can hallucinate the same event down to a tee. Suggestion is out of the question because there were no words exchanged during the encounter.

The sounds were heard could be debateable. Relying on both our assessments and judgement at the time, our conclusion was that the sounds were not produced by wildlife, but rather something with intelligence.

Wall of dull light – I do recall this phenomenon encompassing the track around us when we were within close proximity. Unfortunately the next episode we could remember was walking back to base camp.

Could it have been mist? It is a possibility. We have visited this region on a number of occasions. Any mist/fog usually forms in the valley around the Turon River and not at such high altitude, especially after persisting wind.

Time dilation – This is another occurrence that perplexes me. One would suggest that time seems to move without noticing when one is so preoccupied. That is true. But Darren and I we were conscientious about our absence from the group, considering what led us on this goose chase in the first place.

The last peculiarity was the 50 minutes it took us to walk 50 metres or so.

There is no doubt that whatever transpired that night was indeed abnormal to say the least. It is difficult to even speculate or theorize a plausible explanation. One can rest assure that whatever happened that night was not a product of mass hallucination.

The case remains inconclusive.

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