Folktale Friday: Min Min Lights

Photo by Pixabay on

Min Min lights are mysterious disc-shaped illuminations that appear in the skies of the Australian Outback.

Min Min FAQS

“How can I see Min Min Lights?”

While not as reliable as The Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) which appear annually in the winter skies of Tasmania, Min Min appear primarily and sporadically in the Outback after dark.

Seen by locals, tourists and the indigenous, they have been described as colourful glowing orbs that leave some witnesses feeling “confused and frightened.” Other sightings have claimed the dancing lights were playing with them, racing ahead of their vehicles as if encouraging the drivers to keep up with them.

“How do I get to the Outback?”

First, go to Australia.

After landing in any major city, hop in a car (preferably something sturdy) and drive away from the coast. Eventually, you’ll hit the arid zone that makes up 70% of the country.

Alternately, program your GPS for Yunta, South Australia, the Kimberley Region in Western Australia or Brewarrina in New South Wales, as these are all areas where Min Min have been sighted.

Or why not try the town of Boulia in Queensland? It’s a mere stone’s throw from the ghost town of Min Min after which the aerial phenomenon was named back in the early 1900s.

“Ah, so the lights originated in Queensland in the 1900s?”

Oh heavens no!

Strange lights in the sky were sighted by Indigenous Australians long before European settlement. In fact, some Aboriginal folklore suggests the lights are spirits of the deceased returned to the land as supernatural caretakers.

In recent years, scientists and researchers have theorised that Min Min are created by luminescence or optical illusion. Meanwhile other more “creative” souls have attributed the lights to visitors from other worlds.

“So Min Min are harmless?”

Yes and No.

While not malevolent natural features like Gallitraps, or purposefully sly tricksters like kappas, Min Min Lights have led followers dangerously astray. In fact, traditionally it is believed that anyone who follows them is never seen again.


More like, hopelessly lost in a harsh and unrelenting environment.

No water, no wi-fi, no worries!
Photo by Tobias Keller on Unsplash

“How do I know I’m staring at Min Min Lights?”

Are you in the Outback?

Are there playful discs of light on the horizon?

When you move towards them, do they dart away from you like a stray cat or a celebrity?

If you answered yes to all these questions, congratulations! The Min Min Lights have found you.

However, if the lights are barrelling towards you at a frightening pace, then you are mostly likely staring into the headlights of an oncoming road train.

Photo by Will Swann on Unsplash

Also endemic to the Australian outback, road trains transport freight and livestock across the continent and although they can be dangerous, particularly to wildlife, they are neither mythical nor supernatural.

Photo by Rhys Moult on Unsplash

“What have we learnt?”

Viewed by Indigenous Australians centuries before European settlers arrived, Min Min lights are unidentified flying objects found in the deserts of Outback Australia. Much like a wellness influencer on social media, Min Min appear, from nowhere, all bright and shiny. Benign and entertaining at first, they can be extremely dangerous if followed blindly.

“Just a few drops of sulphuric acid and your wrinkles will vanish.”



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