The family claim the glowing UFO, shaped like an egg in an eggcup, chased and even lifted their car off the road, dropping it so heavily a tyre burst.
During the height of the encounter in January 1988, they said their voices became distorted and sounded like they were in slow motion.
They said they drove at speeds up to 200km/h, that the car was covered inside and out by a black ash, and that the UFO landed on the roof, leaving dents.
The incident on January 20 made world headlines, with many treating their story with scepticism — so much so that the Knowles family retreated from public view before being allegedly duped by an Adelaide marketing man, and losing the car after failing to continue its repayments.
What the family said
Here’s what the Knowles family — mother Faye, Patrick, 24, Sean, 21, and Wayne, 18, (ages at the time of the incident) say happened while driving their Ford Telstar, about 40km east of Mundrabilla near the SA-WA border.
It was a little before 5am when Sean swerved to miss a huge “bright glowing” object on the road.
It was bright and white with a yellow centre, shaped like an egg in an eggcup and about a metre wide, high enough to block their view.
“It was a weird-looking thing and we stopped to go back and have a look at it,” Sean told The Advertiser.
Walking towards the object, they became frightened and ran back to the car and drove away.
“It chased us and at one stage when we were trying to get away we were doing up to 200km/h,” he said.
He said the object, which was humming like a transformer, landed on the roof with a thump, pushing down the car and then lifting it from the road.
His mother reached out the window to touch the object, which she said felt hot.
“She told me it felt like a rubber suction pad,’’ he said.
When Mrs Knowles brought her hand back inside, it was covered with a fine dust.
While suspended in the air, their voices were distorted and it appeared as though they were talking in slow motion.
“I wound down the window — it came in the car like smoke,” Mrs Knowles told Channel 7. “We thought we were going to die. We were going silly. Something was going into our heads.”
Patrick said: “Something seemed to be on top of us. We looked around but it didn’t seem to be there. It seemed to kind of grab the car.
“I wound up the windows and the car began to smoke up inside. It smelt like dead bodies or something smelt really foul, like gas or something.’’
He said he felt as though his brains were being pulled from his head.
When the car dropped to the ground it blew a tyre.
The family hid in a bush and after about 30 minutes replaced the tyre and drove to the Mundrabilla roadhouse, where truckie Graham Henley said he also had seen the bright light in the area in his rear-vision mirror.
It was hovering above The Basin on the sweeping stretch of road just flickering in and out between the trees,” he said.
He said the family was in a state of shock and even their dogs were cowering in the car.
“The whole car smelt like bakelite or just like as if you’d blown a fuse,” he said.
“A soot was all over the car and there were four dents as though the car had been picked up by a magnet.
“I cannot explain it but all I know is that I saw four very terrified people at 4.45 on Wednesday morning.”
Police investigating the incident said the car had a dented roof and was covered with an ash-like material.
Ceduna policeman Sergeant Fred Longley said Mrs Knowles and her sons were obviously distressed when they walked into the police station.
“They were in a terrible state — even though it was five hours after the incident. Something happened out there. Their car, even after being driven all that way, still had black ash — or dust — over it. Even on the inside. Where did that come from? There’s no soil like that out there, only sand.”
And Ceduna officer Sergeant Jim Furnell said the car had dents in the roof “as if something had landed on top”.
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