It took me some time before I could properly grasp the Gum Creek incident. On the surface it seems simple, but details actually vary quite a lot, depending on where you read about it. At one point, I was so confused that it almost seemed like I was dealing with similar, but separate, incidents from around the same time. Finally I got in touch with Australian researcher John Burford, who probably has more knowledge about the case than anyone else alive. He helped me clear things up considerably.
I hope readers will be able to follow both of these trails. I have done my best to separate them.
The Finnish-Australian Connection
In the early spring of 1963 (perhaps a typo, as there is no doubt that it happened in 1964) in the Adelaide suburb Plympton, South Australia, two boys of 9 and 10 years old witnessed a glowing disc like object land in a nearby field. Out of it came an approximately 7 ft tall humanoid with red skin (as if it was freshly sun-burnt), wearing a tight tunic, gauntlets, purple cape and leather cap. The tall entity also had a belt with a panel-like contraption, which it was constantly fiddling around with. After spotting the boys, it went back into the craft where another similar being was briefly seen appearing in a window. The craft took off with a humming sound.
In his article, Colin McCarthy makes an attempt of verification by drawing a parallel to the Gum Creek incident, which according to him hadn't yet gotten any publicity at the time of the Plympton encounter (and therefore couldn't have inspired the boys' story):
A few weeks prior to the Plympton encounter, In Gum Creek (about 100 miles north of Adelaide), a woman was woken up one night, by a strange light coming through her window. She looked out, and spotted a humanoid carrying a box-like contraption, about the size of a large cake tin, which it was directing towards certain areas of the garden. When it discovered her, it pointed the box in her direction, from which came a buzzing and clicking sound. According to McCarthy, the description of the humanoid “...agreed exactly with that given by the two Plympton boys.”
|FSR, issue 5, 1970: The humanoid appears.|
If we put aside any technical issues about the investigation for now, the obvious question we are presented with is: Could Heinonen and Viljo have read McCarthy's article in that issue of Flying Saucer Review, and then confounded the details from the two encounters, if only on a subconcious level? It certainly seems both possible and plausible, as they would be well aware that Flying Saucer Review was the main publication for their gradually unfolding tale. There is no way one can overlook many of the similarities between the Imjärvi humanoid and the two above: the similar garments, the belt with a panel, and of course the box. Put these things together, minus of course a few details such as the difference in height and skin color, you have almost all the main features of the Imjärvi humanoid.
These are interesting questions for sure, and some can in part be answered. But I would like to save that discussion for a later post, and instead look at another, more accurate, account of the Gum Creek incident. Regarding the Plympton case, it seems that Colin McCarthy got some of the details wrong here too, and that the boys could perhaps have heard about what happened at Gum Creek after all. I won't go further into it than that, but instead suggest that you look at this post on Keith Basterfield's blog, where Gum Creek is referred to as the Clare Incident.
The "real" Gum Creek
Years after Gum Creek, and the first wave of investigation, other Australian ufologists decided to dig further into the famous encounter, as well as the many other strange experiences of the woman who was at the center of it all - Doris Player. In 1968, John Burford, together with the already seasoned ufologist Colin 'Col' Norris, managed to unearth new (as well as more accurate) details about the original humanoid encounter. Burfords "version" has been mostly overlooked until now, but is much more representative of Mrs. Players experience:
Doris Player, who had already had a long series of strange experiences together with her husband at the time, woke up February the 3d, 1964, around 2:00 or 2:30 AM by a strange light coming through her window. It was a moonlit night, but she later speculated that the light could have been from a “craft”. Then she spotted a 5.4 tall humanoid, wearing a blue-green one-piece suit, helmet, and elbow-length gloves about 30 ft away. It was carrying a 18” (45 cm) square box like object, which she assumed to be some sort of camera with a lens in front, which he was directing at the garden. When it discovered her, it pointed the box at her, from which came a buzz and click.
As we can see, this is not completely off from Colin McCarthy's general description of the incident, but it does differ in some very critical places. First of all the comparison with the Plympton humanoid is incorrect. Doris Player described the figure she saw as 5.4 ft tall, not 7 ft, as implied by McCarthy. Also, the notorious box becomes a bit less mysterious in this account, sounding more like a “Brownie” box camera than anything else, which, according to John Burford, was also how Doris Player interpreted it.
This similarity between "the box" and a Brownie camera becomes even more clear, when looking at this sketch by John Burford from 1968, approved by Doris Player herself.
|A classic, box-style, Eastman Kodak Brownie camera.|
Doris Player, her husband Humph, and the original sketch she did of the humanoid, can be seen about 6 minutes into the video clip below. The segment is mistakenly labelled “Tasmania”. The third person seen being interviewed in the field, is Colin Norris:
You might notice that the two drawings are quite different, and although this could be attributed to differences in style and skills, it raises another issue: however good this account may be, it still has to be taken into consideration, that during the years from the McCarthy investigation until 1968, the Player's could have been influenced both by popular UFO culture and publicly available UFO reports. In fact, they almost certainly were, as there were all kinds of people flocking to the area during this time, projecting their own views and interpretations of the experiences onto the couple. According to John Burford, these experiences were always very dream-like to begin with, so one can suspect that they might have been particularly open to suggestion and change. So we may never really know what exactly happened, that night in 1964 - or any of the following, for that matter.
Albert Rosales' Humanoid Catalogue: http://ufoinfo.com/humanoid/
Buckle, Eileen: The Scoriton Mystery (1967)
Flying Saucer Review 1970 issues
Personal correspondence with John Burford, Bill Chalker & Keith Basterfield.