Min Min Lights and Jack O Lanterns
Wasn't sure whether to put this here or in UFOs or just in Folklore...
I notice there is nothing on the database so far on the Min Min Lights. Are the owners aware of this tale of ghostly lights haunting a ruined pub and graveyard in outback Queensland. I know this is mysterious Britain, but still, you have one Australian entry, and there are some interesting parallels with the Jack 'O Lantern, Spunkie, and Will O Wisp...
This account is from here:
"Min Min now is nothing but the light. History tells that it was once a roaring shanty notorious for 'lambing down' the shearers on sunset run, with a 'dead house' and a graveyard nearby. So many were its crimes and murders of kerosene and brimstone, that in righteous anger they burnt it to the ground. The place was stories and desolation- but the dead men would not be forgotten on their stoney plain. Just as a rider was passing by, out of that graveyard came the biggest Jack-O'-Lantern in Australia!"
The Min Min Light legend has long spoken of the light appearing soon after the Min Min shanty had burnt to the ground. Three sightings, in quick succession, allegedly started the mystery. The "Sunday Mail Magazine" of March 2, 1941 contains the earliest renditions of these reports that I could find and it dates them as occurring some 60 years earlier, that is, in the early 1880s or thereabouts. This places the genesis of the Min Min Light legend as contemporary with the establishment of the town of Boulia itself.
The first of these tales is in part consistent with the evocative legend related by Ernestine Hill and tells of an unfortunate stockman who encountered the light, soon after the Min Min shanty or hotel was burnt down. He was riding from Warenda Station to Boulia on a somewhat cloudy night. At about 10 pm, as the stockman passed the Min Min locality a strange glow appeared right in the middle of the little cemetry located at the rear of the old hotel. The glow appeared to grow to the size of a small watermelon, hover over the graveyard, and then move off in the same direction the stockman was travelling. Terrified, the man galloped towards Boulia with the light allegedly following him all the way, until he reached the outskirts of town. Not surprisingly, police and locals gave the poor man's story little credence.
However, in rapid succession, 2 further reports came to light, which seemed to substantiate the stockman's experience. A married couple visiting the district, who apparently did not know of the stockman's story, reported seeing the mysterious light, while riding on a track into Boulia from one of the stations. The light intensified in brightness while they watched and then moved away. The couple then followed the light onto the hard, plain country, for a few minutes. When they turned back to the track the light, which had been receding, began to advance and follow them. Legend does not detail how the light disappeared, but the couple were most anxious to find out from the locals what the light was. No one could provide an explanation.
Likewise for the next report that came in a few nights later. Another station hand said he had seen the light rise up out of the old Min Min hotel graveyard and go bounding up and down through the air across the stony plain.
Anyway, a recent scientist has put the whole thing down to a Fata Morgana, which is basically a mirage at night:
“Wonderful during the day, such Fata Morgana can be terrifying at night when a single light source gives no hint that it is actually part of a mirage emanating from a great distance. Even hardened Outback observers can break down when they are unable to interpret the unusual optical properties of the light in terms of their own, very different, past experiences.
“The unusual terrain of the Channel Country makes the favourable atmospheric conditions more likely, while its isolation increase the impact of a single light source since the observer knows that it cannot be produced locally but sees it apparently there in front.”
Professor Pettigrew said some people would prefer not to have the Min Min's mystique probed by city slickers.
I must be one of those city slickers. I far prefer the ghost story.