Wycliffe Well is not really a town. Not that they claim to be a town, but on my mission to visit the place I really expected a full band of UFO obsessed weirdos set up in some sort of Independence Day-esque campervan settlement, like the crazy man in that movie who turns out to be SUPER SMART and WAS TELLING THE TRUTH THE WHOLE TIME KIDS NOW YOU CAN LOVE ME AGAIN.
Anyway. You know what I mean. In fact, it’s literally just a roadhouse – there’s a servo, a shop, a small restaurant and a caravan park. But damn, it’s worth the stopover.
According to Atlas Obscura, the UFO sightings in the area date back to World War II times, when the space was a stopover for soldiers. Apparently, so many sightings were being reported that the roadhouse started keeping a log of them, which continues to this day.
Quick segue – do you love aliens and weird stuff? You should listen to our mystery podcast, All Aussie Mystery Hour. I am in it! So is my Editor! We cover one mystery per episode, ranging from unsolved murders to paranormal weirdness. Have a listen on iTunes, Spotify, or below:
OK MOVING ALONG.
So. Wycliffe Well. In 1985 a guy named Lew Farkas decided to capitalise on this UFO business there, injecting a cool 4 million into turning the small roadhouse into a full-on ~alien experience~ complete with an auditorium (sadly now defunct), restaurant and man-made lake. FYI, VICE actually visited a literal year, almost to the MONTH, before I did and ended up interviewing Lew. It’s worth a read (although it gets pretty depressing, Lew abandoned the site eventually because he had no family life due to living so remotely).
Anyway – aliens! I found this absolutely mad quote on Unexplained Australia from Lew that I absolutely must share with you regarding the UFO sightings.
Scientists say the sky is full of Ley Lines, which act like highways for the UFO’s to travel along.” He says “But these energy lines must meet somewhere and one of those crossroads or intersections lies directly above the middle of Australia. That’s why we see so many here.
….I mean. Wonderful stuff. They also had this photo of the apparently huge logbook that documented all the sightings guests would see – which was RUDELY not around when I visited.
There was an older logbook that was allegedly stolen from the front desk by a tourist in the 90s. Guys, come on. That is the definition of zero chill and no love for your fellow UFO enthusiasts.
The alien sighting thing is sketch at best – there’s a lot of RAAF flyovers that happen in the area, not to mention the terrain around there is very flat, meaning you can see car headlights kilometres away, which can (if you’re drunk and/or really fanging for a UFO sighting) look like unexplained lights in the sky.
But whether there’s real aliens there is totally not the point! Who cares! We’re here for the schtick and the schtick is what you bloody get, folks if you visit.
Firstly, you have this epic sign as you drive in off the highway:
It gets clearer once you’re in the actual roadhouse area. In fact, it’s so clear what this place is here for, it’s like they’re continually smacking you over the head with a large mallet titled “WE HAVE ALIENS HERE, SEE THE ALIENS”.
Honestly, it’s like aliens threw up all over the place.
These guys were a particular favourite. There really is no rhyme or reason with the alien representation at Wycliffe Well. It’s predominantly these green dudes, though.
See that touristy photo op in the back there? Yeah this is what happens when you’re travelling alone and want a photo in one of those things.
Here’s some more alien shit around the exterior.
Inside, it’s all very “buy our poorly made yet novelty shit!”. Which I absolutely did – I spent $60 in this place and I cannot tell you what I bought, because a) it was like I was in some sort of LSD-like trance where I emerged with no memory of what exactly I did in that place, and b) because friends of mine are reading this who are absolutely getting some shitty Wycliffe Well merch for Christmas from me.
Guys did you know wine coolers exist.
If beer is your thing (it is everyone’s thing in the NT) you have a world of choice.
Or maybe you are just in need of some new footwear to spice up your wardrobe.
Once you’ve merch shopped and snapped away at the decor, that’s about the extent of the fun you can have at Wycliffe Well. Which is exactly why it’s perfect – it is, essentially, just a roadside stop on a long stretch of unforgiving highway. It really delivers what you need – a break for your eyeballs, some entertainment and snacks.
Oh, I forgot to mention the great snack offering:
Anyway. Will I be back? For sure – I have to drive back up the old Stuart Highway on this trip, so I’ll pop in for a snack. Should you completely alter your trip, adding days and days to it to visit? Er, no. But chances are if you’re road tripping around Oz, you’ll be visiting Alice Springs – and in that case, absolutely add a few hours.
Have you seen a legit, real UFO? Been abducted by aliens and lived to tell the tale? Well please share your yarn at firstname.lastname@example.org — we might even write a story about it.