Aussie Icons #6 – Min Min light, Boulia, Queensland

Last Updated on March 25, 2019 by Red Nomad OZ

Between Boulia and Bedourie, Western Queensland Outback
Between Boulia and Bedourie, Western Queensland Outback

The benign, blue sky stretches away to infinity around western Queensland’s Boulia, mostly unrelieved by clouds, birds or planes. Unremarkable – at least by Outback standards – Boulia’s boundless blue backdrop is the ultimate Big Sky luring travellers to the Outback.

But it’s not the splendidly panoramic sky of daylight hours that attracts visitors to this remote capital of the Channel Country.

Min Min light country, Boulia, Queensland
Min Min light country, Boulia, Queensland

It’s the mysterious Min Min Light which only appears at night!

The famous lights didn’t appear as we descended south from Julia Creek and Mt Isa into Boulia after 600km on indifferent outback roads.  Hardly surprising, given it was still daylight.

So with a mixture of anticipation and scepticism, we read signs around the town proclaiming we’d entered Min Min Light country.   Would we get to see the famous lights on our first foray into the paranormal world of this phenomenon for which there is no rational explanation?

Boulia's Water Tank - another Min Min sign
Boulia’s Water Tank – another Min Min sign

The Min Min light has been well known in Aborginal lore for generations.  But the first police report of the legendary light was lodged shortly after the Min Min hotel, 100km east of Boulia, burned down, leaving only a bottle heap and cemetery.

Panicking after seeing a glow hovering over the graveyard, a passing stockman spurred his horse for Boulia.  To his horror, the light turned and followed him most of the way back to town.

While his report was met with derision, a short time later a couple new to the area arrived in Boulia.  They requested an explanation for a mysterious light which moved away from them when they moved towards it, but followed them once they returned to the road.

Then, a few nights later, another stockman reported an eerie light originating from the Min Min graveyard, this time bounding through the air like a football.

Despite theories – phosphorescence, burning gas, ghostly apparition, alcoholic influence, even fungus!! – there’s no scientific explanation to completely explain the spooky light.  Now the Min Min light – often mistaken for a bright car headlight – has been seen by thousands of people since that first sighting nearly 100 years ago.  But  despite attempts to chase it down, it’s never been caught, outpacing runners, horses and cars.

A Boulia morning at the Burke River
A Boulia morning at the Burke River

Even if the lights HAD appeared at the excellent Boulia caravan park on the Burke river (named for the explorer) overnight, it would’ve been impossible to see them in the deep sleep we’d sunk into after a long day on the road.  So the next day, our paranormal adventure continued at the local Boulia Museum ‘Min Min Encounter’, the only place where a Min Min Lights sighting is guaranteed!

Kooree Yuppiree (or Aboriginal Corroboree) tree, Boulia, Queensland
Kooree Yuppiree (or Aboriginal Corroboree) tree, Boulia

Tragically, it’s not possible to photograph any part of the 45 minute journey we followed through this professionally designed hi-tech production.  

But it successfully debunks possible explanations through actual eyewitness accounts of genuine Min Min light experiences.

Then the journey ends with a simulated night bus ride through the moonlit outback terrain, where the Min Min lights appear just before dawn!

Back outside, the real world of outback dust, rocks and big blue sky seems an unlikely spot for otherworldly manifestations.  An Encounter staff member (who hasn’t seen the light herself) tells us the light hasn’t actually harmed anyone yet.

Unless you count being scared half to death!

So was I still sceptical?

Hell, YES!

But under Boulia’s spell, and keen to immortalise the uncanny occurrence we’d witnessed at the Min Min Encounter, I searched the gift shop for a suitably weird and wondrous souvenir to commemorate our visit. A fascinating booklet by local Charles Robinson to mark Boulia’s 1976 centenary (providing much information used in this post) was a good start – but I wanted MORE.

Then I spotted it.

The perfect way to keep the magic alive – AND to share it with you!

We didn’t see the Min Min light for real, on this trip anyway.  But thanks to the formidable forces of modern science, technology and kitsch souvenir production I can re-live the Min Min light experience every time I have a coffee!

And so can you …

Have U Seen the LIGHT

Want MORE?

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  1. @labbie1 – Welcome, and thanx! Maybe that’s just the best all round name for it!! I LOOOOOVE my mug – I’ll be devastated when it breaks, as it inevitably will …

  2. That was so very interesting! There are several places with lights similar to your’s here in the states–Joplin, MO being one of them. They call it simply “The Spook Light”

    The mug is great!

  3. @lina – why, thank you!
    @Diane – Me too! And I’ve mainly only found this out in OZ!!! God knows what’ll happen if/when I get to the rest of the world …

  4. @Reader Wil – Oh, there’s SO much of OZ for you to explore!! Although Cooktown & Cairns are wonderful!! ANZAC day is in April! Thanx for dropping in again – so nice to show you new OZ things!
    @Vicky – So much more to OZ than meets the eye! AND … plenty more travel to come!
    @Ken G – Me too! But sometimes you have to accept it – even when it can’t be explained!!
    @Genie – Thanx so much for visiting! Both OZ and NZ observe ANZAC day on April 25 (specifically about OZ/NZ troops)- and also observe Remembrance Day on 11/11 (specifically about the armistice date. Hope this helps!
    @seniorhiker – Welcome, and thanx! I’ll be searching it out when I’m next in the Outback!
    @Friko – Moi?! No, it’s all documented by people FAR more reliable than I!!

  5. I had not heard of the Min Min light before, and I found your account to be very interesting. It’s too bad you didn’t see the light yourself, but perhaps you’ll have another chance in the future.
    Thank you for visiting my site.

  6. Thank you so much for visiting my blog the other day and commenting on the “reflections” post about my daddy and WWI. I am SO sorry about not including the New Zealanders, but I read they celebrate Remembrance Day on 25 April – Anzak Day – instead of this year’s 11-11-11, so I left it off. After reading your post I went back and added the New Zealanders. I do have a question for you. Dos Australia and New Zealand celebrate it at both times of the year? I post a remembrance each year and I really would like to get it correct and not leave anyone out. Thanks for caring so much. We need more like you. genie

  7. Thank you for taking us into the outback! I never saw the Min Min lights and the Aboriginals in-laws of my daughter never speak about it. They live in North Queensland near Cooktown. Their compound is: Hopevale. I myself have often been there and in Cairns but not further down south in Queensland. I shall ask my daughter about it. It looks a bit like a ball of lightning, which can come into a house when the windows are open during a storm.
    Thanks for your comment. Yes I was once in Oz when Anzac day was observed. It is in July or August isn’t it?

  8. I love this! There is a place in Texas that has (or is supposed to have) a phenomonent like this — the town I think Is called Terlinnga, but I might have my places mixed up as it’s been a while and i don’t have time to look it up now. Anyway your stop looks wonderful and I wish wew could go caravaning in your wonderful country. (I love the line about the endless blue sky being normal, at least by Aussie standards .. I think they wouldn’t be normal too many other places!).

  9. I love this! There is a place in Texas that has (or is supposed to have) a phenomonent like this — the town I think Is called Terlinnga, but I might have my places mixed up as it’s been a while and i don’t have time to look it up now. Anyway your stop looks wonderful and I wish wew could go caravaning in your wonderful country. (I love the line about the endless blue sky being normal, at least by Aussie standards .. I think they wouldn’t be normal too many other places!).

  10. @Ken G – I hope not too sensible to enjoy a little mystery from time to time?!
    @Betty – mysteries like the lights are the price you pay for the Big Sky!
    @Sallie – Come caravanning by all means! But you’d have to elbow all the grey nomads off the road first!!
    @Sandy C – My pleasure!! Come back anytime … plenty more stories to come!
    @Michelle – 1000 splendid skies …

  11. @Alessandra – well, just between you & me, I was kind of glad I didn’t see it! That way, it’s still a mystery!!
    @Joan Elizabeth – I didn’t expect to see it – and I didn’t!! So what will happen if YOU go??!!
    @MJWC – Yeah, me too!
    @Chatty Crone – Well, make it happen girlfriend!! You don’t have to do the scary stuff …
    @Al – You’re on your own, buddy! I’ll stick to my mug!!

  12. That cup is very easy to find in the Internet. You may buy it and get a cup with any photo You want.
    When I was a child, I loved to read such a mysterious stories. And I believed in all of them. Nowadays I’m much more sensible 

  13. what a great article!
    i thoroughly enjoyed it.
    i’d love to visit australia sometime.
    such a glorious country!

    i love your photos, especially the first one…such beautiful sky and landscape!

    hope your weekend is going well.

    big hugs!
    betty xx

    so strange about those lights indeed..

  14. That would be so amazing to see it in person…. although, I would not do it alone. It would scare the bejeepers out of me if no one was with me.

    Love all the great pictures!!

  15. I read about the Min Min in some book when I was a kid. Ever since it has been something I expect to see out there in the land of the Never Never.

  16. @Pearl Maple – You got that right! And this is SO the blog to discover it all on!!
    @Wenche – Welcome, and thanx!
    @Y&R – Thank you! Hope your weekend is great too – the Outback is always AMAZING!
    @Riet – Thank you for visiting!
    @Mary – Hahaha!! But how can that many people be wrong??!!
    @Glen – oh, such cynicism!!
    @Ken G – WOW! I want one!! The unknown is always a bit frightening – I’m still not sure what to think about these lights!
    @Suzy – Likewise! My pleasure!!
    @Barb – Do you think?? Halfway through writing the post I realised there just weren’t too many pix I could use …

  17. I have got a similar cup :))) with photo of me and my boyfriend, and it appears when hot water is inside.

    These mysterious light are very interesting. I like the stories like this, but at the same time I’m a little afraid of them. It is strange, isn’t? :)))

  18. How could there possibly be sceptics:-). I loved your pictures and the recounting of the occurrence. I almost said myth but didn’t want to give myself away. Have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  19. @JBar – Thanx! Pretty hard to take a bad shot of outback scenery though …
    @diane b – maybe it just means our scientific knowledge just isn’t advanced enough yet!!
    @FruitCake – I too am a selective sceptic – but I’m fascinated by the bizarre and unnatural no matter what the cause! And the river? I don’t THINK there are any crocs that far inland …

  20. I had heard of these lights, but thanks for enlightening me.
    After seeing the weird gravity thing at Straws Lane in Woodend, I am no longer sceptical about unusual phenomena [tho’ eternally sceptical about supernatural causes].
    That river is just begging me to dive in!

  21. i have heard of these lights and it is strange that no one has discovered the real cause yet. I think it would be scary seeing them come towards you. I would think it is an UFO coming to carry me off.

  22. @Beach Bum – and yet there are still sceptics!! Go figure …
    @Courtney – Good girl!! Thanx again for your support – it’s much appreciated!
    @Manzanita – Thanx! But what’s the competition like??!!
    @Magsx2 – lots of video footage of the actual lights on YouTube – but I prefer my coffee mug too!!
    @Andrew – HAhaha, what a cynic! Do you doubt the evidence of my coffee mug???
    @Windsmoke – Yes indeed. Shall we produce it and go 50-50 with the profits??
    @Marshall Stacks – what can I do but agree??
    @Toni – OMG, welcome back! Glad the pix reminded you of home but sorry if that makes you sad! Have a great weekend – if you can find a good restaurant, that is!!
    @NJAMB – it’s also similar in some ways to the English ‘will o’ the wisp’!! Will check out yours soon!
    @River – The water tower’s a bit more substantial than the lights!!!

  23. Interesting! Here in Texas, we have Marfa and the Marfa lights, which appear to be quite similar to the Min Min lights. I wonder if it might be the same sort of phenomenon.

  24. what a great story, all that is new to me and I thank you for sharing.
    I love The Big Sky photo – god Australia is wonderful.
    X X X from Ballarat, Vic.

  25. There’s a spooky movie begging to be made about this and the title could be “Close Encounters Of The Min Min Kind :-).

  26. In the eighteen hundreds a drunken stockman was told about the Min Min by an Aboriginal workmate. Next morning when he woke with the horrors, he remembered seeing the Min Min the night before and oddly the regular drunk had credibility at the camp. My theory anyway.

  27. Hi,
    I think it’s great that they reproduce the light, at least that way you are guaranteed to see what it would be like.
    Love the coffee video. 🙂

  28. Hey, The Min Min is better than a Mae West “Rocket in the Pocket.” Spooky weird. But that lighthouse one is also a gem. Red, I vote for you, “Queen of humor.”

  29. SO cool! What a neat post and FULL of awesome pics. Again. As usual. I have heard of the similar phenomenon Beach Bum referred to, but have never heard of these Min Min lights. Super neat post. Learned something new today. Off to share away!

  30. Because the mysterious Min Min Light

    Someplace in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina or Tennessee are some similar lights that can only be seen in the distance. If I remember correctly people that observe the lights are usually standing on the side of a some mountain and they appear miles away over some wilderness valley.

    As far as I know they have never been explained.

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