On the Trail of Harry Mason
Editor: Helen Eagle-Lomas
Thumping hooves announce five cattle their ribs prominent under sagging hides coming in to water after a day grazing lower branches. A bawling cow, ever mindful of feral dogs, urges her playful calf to keep up. They come to drink at the rattling windmill pumping brackish water into overflowing tanks alive with flapping birds in the puddles underneath.
The more wary kangaroos linger amongst the trees, measuring any potential threat before gracefully stomping through their worn path.
But it's the indeterminate silence that unnerves a person as if this land is on the cusp of civilisation change. Fences are down, grids clogged with dirt; the rains are late and the cattle ever hungry at this windmill just west of the mysterious Banjawarn Station, 300kms north of Kalgoorlie.
The roads are quiet. Gone are the days when Land Rovers and utes crammed with shearers and jackeroos raced back to the homestead at sunset. Crashing prices and feral dogs fixed that. Thousand square kilometre stations are now run by husband and wife teams hiring only occasional seasonal labour.
The cattle retreat to the bush early in the evening but the kangaroos make a night of it racing through the whistling pine trees. My body tenses like a stressed office worker as random raindrops hit my tent. Tiny amounts of moisture turn dirt roads slippery and treacherous and impassable to cars.
I wear my only clean shirt next morning then drive the last few kilometres slowly to delay reaching my destination. The thinning vegetation is paradoxically matched by new star picket fencing, unusual when neighbouring stations are in decline.
The Banjawarn homestead entrance is lined with rows of derelict trucks resembling an abandoned junkyard; stuff that one day will have a use. Collie and Rosaree Day bought the Station for $300,000 from Aum Shinrikyo after the government forced the latter to sell up. Aum had initially landed commercial cargo planes on the Station's airstrip but after showing a strong disinclination for raising animals they jumped back into their planes − just before the dirt hit the fan.
An extremely lazy working dog warms itself around a wood fired copper. Its eyes open briefly then being too lethargic to bark or wag its tail it falls back to sleep.
"Someone's here," a voice says from a series of facing dongas joined by a generous walkway. Two boys, one wearing a dangerous looking jackeroo hat, and a girl carrying a calf baby bottle line up outside. Then their wiry mother, Sharon White steps out wearing boots that look worth more than my car. Local rumour says she has had four husbands, one of whom was shot by Rosaree, her mother. "I'm here to see Collie," I say, like an old friend.1
Sharon walks me across to her parent's house. Rosaree is sorting tax invoices using a battery lantern as the generator runs only at night. Collie rests in his bedroom after having taken a chemo tablet. Rosaree tells him he doesn't have to come out, but he does.
They make coffee and sandwiches and soon the three of them are shouting recollections of Aum Shinrikyo. "Purple pyjamas sat at this table," Rosaree says. "He had twelve helpers, young women." Sharon and I smile; Rosaree doesn't. She watches me like the solid nurse she was in Adelaide, as if ticking a checklist of patient symptoms. .
Sharon says the Australian Federal Police put Land Cruisers on the airstrip to stop planes landing and blocked the roads for nine days preventing anyone in or out of the Station. But they're full of praise for the police remembering some by name like old friends. Of the media they are contemptuous saying claims that the big pile of dead sheep were the result of Aum testing sarin nerve gas were wrong. They were sick and weak animals culled because they weren't expected to survive the season, Sharon says. But they do believe Aum made sarin nerve gas in the kitchen of an unused house.
The mood of our conversation changes dramatically when they realise that none of them actually invited me there. "We used to get a few weirdos turning up," says Collie, "not so many these days."
One such visitor was Singapore-based geologist Harry Mason who also raises dingoes on Perth's outskirts. He wrote the landmark "Bright Skies" articles in 1997 after spending two years and a small fortune researching Aum Shinrikyo's reason for purchasing Banjawarn Station.2 Mason says Aum's deputy leader, Kiyohide Hayakawa, obtained a Masters Degree in electro-magnetism and climate change and that his thesis is classified as top secret by the Japanese government. And that Aum's purchase agreement of Banjawarn was made just 35 days before the strange events began on 28 May 1993.
Mason's witnesses say a blue-white flash occurred at 2000 feet turning night into day. Then a coloured flare shot upward followed by a seismic event that shook the ground knocking people over follow by an explosion heard 250 kilometres away. An orange hemisphere three times the size of the setting moon rose from ground level then bounced about for a couple of hours.
Mason says the Mundaring Seismic Observatory near Perth recorded the event as a 3.9 Richter scale earthquake and that "…underground 3 inch steel pipes sheared clean in half and collapsed underground drives and shafts" at the Alycia gold mine.
This was followed by two similar events all three of which occurred within the boundaries of Banjawarn Station. But Sharon and her parents doubt Mason's claims.
"You can tell your readers that we think the fireballs are bullshit," Sharon tells me in no uncertain terms.3 And they're scathing of the British Broadcasting Corporation mini-documentary produced back of the meat shed.4 The BBC film crew reconstructed the event for the camera by getting witness Karen Vincent to pretend to be frightened all over again as an unseen hand shook a card table to resemble the effects of an earthquake. Sharon laughs derisively remembering how blue strobe lights were used to mimic the aerial flashes in the night sky. For people used to dealing with life and death situations these documentary techniques resembled fiction. They also said Harry Mason was rumoured to have offered indigenous people $300 a day to appear in the documentary and that one of his witnesses was so unreliable that he is shunned by his own people.5
And they're sick of me, too, and as I spread maps on the table for directions to Deleta Station. "Why did you bring him in?" Collie shouts at Sharon.
Even my latest government maps leave them unimpressed. "This map is so old," Sharon tells Collie. "Look, major roads marked that no longer exist." She makes thick zigzag lines on the map with a laundry marker. "When you get to the big tire marked 'Anchor', take the right fork and head north."
"How far?" I ask.
"Not far, about 200kms," she reassures me.
Collie decently sees me to my car. He's got spinal cancer and suffers obvious pain. "The doctor says I may live six-months or ten-years." But he's proud of a three metre deep pit within the homestead half filled with water. "Plenty of flow," he says, adding that they've put in over a hundred kilometres of new fences, 27 windmill heads and Sharon has planted sorghum. But he's also got 65 mineral claims on his land and a mining outfit wants to install a pumping station to ship the water out through a thick pipeline. Nearby pastoralists have already noticed lowered water tables after mines start pumping from their land.
"If it starts raining turn back," Collie says, walking away.
Sharon was right. The GeoScience maps are outdated and I'm lost 20kms past their airstrip. Soon my major road becomes an orchestral performance of branches scraping both sides of the car. I backtrack and take another road and for the next four hours not a single landmark on the map is recognisable. And there aren't people from which to ask directions. No wonder Aum Shinrikyo bought Banjawarn.
Near Bandya Station the Stella bore windmill has flooded the road with a black gooey mess. A face down gate with a sign reading: "Please don't shoot sign," is riddled with 126 bullet holes. Arrows point up and down to Laverton and Wiluna on a two-hundred litre drum lying on its side. Bandya was carved out of the Mulga by the Hill family in 1903. Corrugated iron on the generator shed rattles in the wind while sections of the roof of the shearers' quarters have blown away. Dung covers the shower block floor from kangaroos sheltering from the midday sun. They've flattened two fences behind the windmill still pumping water into a rusty tank leaking puddles on the ground. PVC piping gravity feeds water to a dozen eucalypts towering above the surrounding Mulga. Flannel weed and Mulga bushes spot the airstrip that runs up to a faded turquoise house with louvered windows on tin topped stumps to stop the termites. An archaic communications tower stands to one side while a rain gauge clogged with dry gum leaves sits concreted into the front yard. As the sun sets and the wind drops one expects the sounds of children and dogs and scolding parents preparing for the night, but there is nothing but that end of civilisation silence broken later by rattling bottles and sheet iron as kangaroos stomp about the station rubbish dump.
This is an ideal terrain for mysteries with tens of thousands of square kilometres lined with dirt roads and containing few people. The pastoral industry is so stressed that thousand square kilometre pastoral leases with buildings and water sell for the price of suburban city houses. With few road signs and few tourists this is the perfect country for exotic weapons tests and bizarre lights and inexplicable thumps.
The breezeless night is silent as if awaiting some thunderous event. Not a single vehicle has passed me in 24 hours. At dawn a merciless wind races across the runway snapping my tent poles and filling my eyes and mouth with grit that crunches between the teeth.
During property inspections Kiyohide Hayakawa inserted probes into the ground connected to his computer then spent the nights sorting the data. "For the benefit of mankind," he muttered when asked what he was doing.6
Mason and others suggest he was measuring the fissile component of the trace uranium deposits under Banjawarn Station, particularly the uranium235 isotope that when enriched is the main component of a nuclear weapon.
The hypothesis was that the Banjawarn electromagnetism tests that created the fireball events could alter the molecular structure of uranium changing uranium235 into the more stable uranium238 isotope.7 This would degrade an incoming fissile warhead into a heavy lump of stable uranium like that used to add mass to yacht keels and elevator counter-weights. A nation holding this technology could create an energy shield rendering its opponents' nuclear arsenals harmless, thus altering the global balance of military power.
Kiyohide Hayakawa wanted to measure these trace uranium deposits before and after the fireball events to determine the effectiveness of this new weapon. His desperation to finalise the purchase of Banjawarn suggests he knew when these tests would be conducted.
But who was conducting these scalar weapons tests in Western Australia's northern goldfields? And for whom was Aum Shinrikyo working? Aum doubled its membership to over 50,000 members after gaining extraordinary access to the Russian Federation. Their recruitment was so successful that Russian members soon outnumbered those from Japan.8,9 Hayakawa travelled dozens of times to Russia and its naval base at Cam Ran Bay in Vietnam. One might fairly assume that Russian and Japanese interests were working together. Harry Mason said on his BBC mini-documentary that he believes the American/Australian communications base at Exmouth in Western Australian is using Tesla technology. Nikola Tesla was an American/Croatian electrical pioneer who lived from 1857 to 1943 and allegedly invented a device that caused earthquakes.
The top secret Jindalee over-the-horizon radar receiver base lies just eighty kilometres southeast of Banjawarn Station, across uninhabited land while the transmitter base is located another sixty kilometres east, both of them in prohibited zones.10
If the Banjawarn fireballs were the result of American military tests they wouldn't have been too happy upon discovering that Aum Shinrikyo had been monitoring their results.
Aum's Guru Shoko Asahara predicted on 8 January 1995 in a Tokyo radio broadcast that "a foreign power" would initiate an earthquake at Kobe by means of an electromagnetic system. Kobe was where Aum's science minister, Hideo Murai had worked on "…highly advanced microwave and gamma/cosmic-ray physics applications…".11 The Kobe earthquake struck nine days later killing 5500 people. The epicentre was near Murai's old laboratories.
Aum Shinrikyo was also interested in artificial earthquakes with its members visiting the Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Croatia to review his research papers. They visited the Tesla Society in New York, but discovered that most of Tesla's work had been seized by the United States government.12
I reach another of Sharon's X marks on the map the following day. It's the tractor tire marked "Anchor" placed where the dirt road divides. I take the narrower right fork and for the next hundred kilometres signs dangle from the trees, all marked "Deleta". The government neglects signage and mapping out here and these homemade signs and markers are often the only visual guidance for truck drivers and emergency vehicles.
Horace Hill and his wife struck north from Bandya Station in 1926 driving their Chevrolet sideboard through the Mulga until they found promising underground deposits of water a hundred miles from Bandya. Horace named the new land, Deleta, after his wife, Dorothy Ellen Leahy, but the Great Depression and crashing prices forced them back to Bandya and Deleta reverted to the Crown. But in April, 1991 their tenacious daughter, Betty, returned to regain title.
The Mulga gives way to half-sized eucalypts and expanses of knee high Spinifex "grass" not favoured by cattle or sheep when its black and dry but throw a match to it and a stampede of camels, kangaroos, cattle and sheep will feed of the resulting soft green shoots. Close to the homestead a windmill fills calcium encrusted concrete water troughs. Finger-thick branches intertwined horizontally form a thigh-high circular compound awaiting a bull or cow requiring temporary isolation. Two yearlings playfully head butt each other then chase my car belying Betty Hill's rough and tough reputation.
Deleta is a smaller operation than Bandya, but planted with the same towering eucalypts as if defying the ubiquitous Mulga and Spinifex. Kangaroo-proof fencing surrounds a half-dozen dongas fronted with huge verandas on one of which sits a double bed. The generator powers a washing machine that empties onto the ground while a pump in the background fills a tank. The homestead is an oasis of green in an unforgiving sea of yellow and grey teal.
Betty doesn't hear me arrive. A sign on her gate says she's deaf. She's usually on her trail bike patrolling the windmills and fences and checking the stock but stayed home today drilling and hammering inside a caravan while awaiting my arrival. "Oh," she says, fifteen minutes later, her eyes jolting me from my paradisaical reverie. Her eyes watch with the stillness of someone who has few visitors; jackeroo eyes used to making hard decisions; eyes that notice my limp. Then they're benevolent women's eyes and her voice takes childlike tones. She makes tea and puts a plate of four muffins on the table: two plain and two covered in hundreds-and-thousands. We each quickly grab one of the latter.
Betty is in her mid-sixties and runs Deleta single-handed. She had a dogger named Dennis who with his working dogs hunted down marauding dingoes and crossbreeds, but he died. Red Cloud and Betty's other working dogs also died after taking poison from baiting. "You have to do it," she says, her tough voice breaking. Some stations have gone out of business from attacks on their stock.
Harry Mason and his pilot landed on Betty's airstrip in mid 1995. Mason was interviewing people within a three-hundred kilometre radius of Laverton and was funded by Sandia Corporation, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. Sandia provides nuclear weapons technology to the United States military to "Ensure a safe, secure, & reliable nuclear deterrent." The Banjawarn fireballs were initially suspected of being nuclear explosions set off by Aum, and it was Mason's pre-eminence as a geo-physicist in Western Australia that prompted Sandia to secure his services. After interviewing Betty Hill Mason wrote in "Bight Skies" that the Banjawarn fireballs were seen from Deleta Station.
"I've never seen any fireballs," 13 Betty tells me, her eyes not leaving mine, but nevertheless adds that one night Red Cloud and the other dogs went berserk, "not acting normal, completely different". When she looked towards the fowl shed in the direction of Banjawarn Station she saw an orange dinner plate-sized object "bobbing up and down" but "couldn't say how far away it was." She phoned Cecilia, her daughter in Laverton. "Shoot it, Mum. Shoot it," Cecilia shouted down the line. But Betty held her fire. "I don't know what I'm shooting at," she told her daughter.
Betty's hardnosed sister, Robin Prentice, visited a few months later. She's a chain smoking local government Councillor in Laverton who buys and sells indigenous art work at the Laverton Outback Gallery. She was at Deleta in late 1993 six-months after the first Banjawarn fireballs. They'd both put in a day of hard physical work and fell into bed exhausted until Robin awoke at 1:50am and looking towards the east, away from Banjawarn, and saw orange plate-sized spheres amongst the trees. She awoke on two more nights that week, again at 1:50am and saw the same spheres. She tried to awaken Betty who, strangely, couldn't be roused. "Something subconsciously told me to wake up and look down there," Robin told me as we sat at the back of the gallery.14
Six-months later in May, 1994 Betty was fixing the main gate about ten kilometres from the homestead buildings when the ground shook with a massive thud. Her first thought was that the gas fridge she'd installed the day before had gone bang. She raced back but instead of finding her dongas ablaze she found her pregnant daughter, Cecilia, drinking tea with two miners. "'Bloody hell,' one miner said. The other just shook," remembers Betty.15 But when one miner was located by Harry Mason he claimed he hadn't heard anything. Later when he visited Deleta again Betty asked him why he'd lied to Harry. "When something happens like that they come and get you," Betty reports him saying.16
Local people from the Leonora and Laverton area frequently see inexplicable lights. One prospector told me:
"I do a lot of gold prospecting, which involves camping out under the stars.
In April of 1998 I was camping at the Specking Patch which is 6 km north of Leonora. The night was cold and overcast, I was laying on my camp stretcher about 9 30pm. looking at the overcast sky. I was amazed to see a ball of red light flash across the sky, from one horizon to the other in a matter of a second. The red ball (the colour of a glowing red fire ember) made no sound and although being an overcast night, the red ball seemed to be the size of a full moon…I still even now wonder what that thing was."
Another incident is remembered by Bert Davis who was the caretaker at Mt Morgans mine 40kms southwest of Laverton. He and his wife were driving to a function at the Laverton Sports Club when a blue light appeared "straight ahead" then followed them to the Windarra mine turnoff 18kms from town. They weren't too worried seeing it the first time but upon their journey home a few hours later they found the light waiting for them at the turnoff where it followed them partway back home. "We went home after a few hours at the Sports Club", Bert told me. "The bugger of a thing appeared again…but to see it going back. I don't know about that. We were a bit reluctant to talk about it. We never told anyone."17
And such elemental phenomena wasn't restricted to outback stations for on the first of May 1995 a huge bang sounded over Perth at 2am that awoke half the population.18 While governments predictably write-off such events as meteorites entering the atmosphere the fact remains that neither Betty hill or the miners roving across Deleta Station have ever discovered impact craters or burn marks. Nor have the owners and workers at Banjawarn Station or even Harry Mason in his airplane discovered any obvious signs.
The Western Australian government's lethargic investigation of the Banjawarn events shouldn't be surprising given that the then Premier, Richard Court and his wife spent the day of his 1993 election win at the Japanese Sukyo Mahikari centre in Perth. Jo Court was an active member in Mahikari, a Japanese political/spiritual religious group that cultivated the wealthy and influential.19 The significance of this being is that the woman who introduced Mahikari to Australia in 1974 was Japanese born Yasuko Shimada. Shimada used her Australian citizenship to form Mahaposya Australia Pty Ltd and Clarity Investments Pty Ltd thus allowing Aum Shinrikyo to circumvent foreign ownership laws and purchase the 190,000 hectare Banjawarn Station in 1993. They paid $540,000 for the grazing lease then spent an extra $150,000 for the mineral rights to keep out prospectors and mining company geologists.20,21
Nor was Kiyohide Hayakawa a simple devotee of Aum Guru, Shoko Asahara. Harry Mason says he was an ex-"Moonie" who in 1987 moved to Aum from the Korean based Unification Church bringing with him "…20 million dollars of their funds, the deeds to several Tokyo buildings, and the rights to several Moonie businesses…" and "some 35 fellow Moonies. He [Hayakawa] almost immediately rose to the position of deputy leader, and ran a nearly separate organisation…" So while Guru Asahara sits in a Japanese prison cell under sentence of death and Aum Shinrikyo effectively destroyed, MahiKari and the Unification Church remain untouched.22
As for the reason for Aum's presence at Banjawarn Station even the Australian Federal Police (AFP) cast doubts in their own report that Aum Shinrikyo used the Station to manufacture and test Sarin gas, the same gas allegedly used in the Tokyo subway gassings of 3 March, 1995. The centre of the AFP investigation was the smaller group of 29 sheep carcasses at Banjawarn Station amongst which hydrochloric, perchloric and nitric acids were found. These are not components of sarin gas, but chemicals commonly used to assay and analyse soil samples, an activity conducted there by Aum. Tiny amounts of methylphosphonic (MPA) acid, a component of the breakdown of sarin gas, were found, but not isopropyl MPA, which must also be present to prove that sarin gas had been used. The sheep carcasses also showed evidence of "blunt force injury, consistent with a flat hammer head." 23
While Aum Shinrikyo was an unsavoury organisation it is doubtful they were working alone or that they purchased Banjawarn Station to simply produce and test Sarin gas on sheep. That tale becomes increasingly unbelievable - merely a cover story to mask something else. Aum Shinrikyo had much bigger fish to fry.
R. I. P. Harry Mason
Harry died from a heart attack in 2014 in Vietnam.
1 Personal visit to Banjawarn Station in June, 2008 where the author spoke to owners Collie and Rosare Day and their daughter, Sharon White.
2 Mason, Harry. "Bright Skies". 1997. Nexus Magazine. PO Box 30, Mapleton, Queensland, Australia. 4560. Available online at http://www.cheniere.org/misc/brightskies.htm Mason's formal qualifications are B.Sc., M.Sc., M.A.I.M.M., M.I.M.M., F.G.S. (Geologist-Geophysicist)
3 Personal visit to Banjawarn Station in June, 2008 where the author spoke to owners Collie and Rosaree Day and their daughter, Sharon White.
4 The British Broadcasting Corporation 8-minute mini-documentary produced in 1997 can be viewed at http://www.cheniere.org/misc/brightskies.htm
5 Harry Mason's witnesses on the BBC mini-documentary were Stanley Vincent, Karen Vincent and Kelman Murphy with the implication that others had witnessed the events.
6 Mason, Harry. "Bright Skies". 1997. Nexus Magazine. PO Box 30, Mapleton, Queensland, Australia. 4560. Available online at http://www.cheniere.org/misc/brightskies.htm
9 Global Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction:
A Case Study on the Aum Shinrikyo
Senate Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
JOHN SOPKO & ALAN EDELMAN (Minority Staff)
October 31, 1995 Staff Statement
10 The two Jindalee over-the-horizon radar bases on either side of Laverton are encased in prohibited zones their locations of which are left out by most mapmakers. Like all secret installations only the insiders really understand their true purpose. Harry Mason implies they might be part of the electromagnetic weapons development tested in Western Australia in the 1990's. Their locations are shown on the GeoScience Australia Natmap (Topographic Map), Laverton, Western Australia SH51-02 available from better map shops.
11 Global Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction:
A Case Study on the Aum Shinrikyo
Senate Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
JOHN SOPKO & ALAN EDELMAN (Minority Staff)
October 31, 1995 Staff Statement
12 Mason, Harry. "Bright Skies". 1997. Nexus Magazine. PO Box 30, Mapleton, Queensland, Australia. 4560. Available online at http://www.cheniere.org/misc/brightskies.htm
13 Personal visit to Deleta Station by the author in July 2008 where he spoke to owner, Betty Hill.
14 Conversation between the author and Robin Prentice in Laverton, Western Australia in July 2008
15 Personal visit to Deleta Station by the author in July 2008 where he spoke to owner, Betty Hill.
17 Personal conversation between the author and Bert Davis in July, 2009 at his house in Laverton
18 Seymour, Jane. 1995, 'Meteor Dazzles Night Owls'; West Australian Newspaper. Perth. 2 May, p. 1,3. The Perth Observatory was closed that night but Seymour's report concludes not unexpectedly that it was caused by a meteor. Harry Mason differs.
19 Greenwood, Gary A. All The Emperor's Men: an inside view of the imperial cult - MahiKari. Revised Edition: January 2005. ISBN 0 9585279 0 3
Greenwood was an active member of MahiKari for seventeen-years most of that time as the second-in-command of MahiKari in Perth, Australia. He was reportedly last seen in China.
20 The AFP investigation into Japanese sect activities in Western Australia. Compiled by Richard Crothers with contributions from Federal Agents Mark Boyle, Tracey Dickerson and Jeff Penrose. Australian Federal Police Media and Public Relations http://www.aic.gov.au/policing/case_studies/afp.html
Daly, Sara; Parachini, John; Rosenau, William. Aum Shinrikyo, Al Qaeda and the Kinshasa Reactor. Rand Corporation. www.rand.org available at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb270/11.pdf
Mason, Harry. "Bright Skies" 1997 Nexus Magazine. PO Box 30, Mapleton, Queensland, Australia. 4560. Available online at http://www.cheniere.org/misc/brightskies.htm
21 Sharon White was at Banjawarn Station during the police raid. She was also befriended by Yasuko Shimada who phoned her each Christmas. On the final call Sharon says Yasuko told her she'd been poisoned by Aum and that she was expected to die and if she didn't call next Christmas she would be dead. Sharon didn't hear from her after that, but Harry Mason emailed me saying she is still alive.
22 Mason, Harry. "Bright Skies" 1997 Nexus Magazine. PO Box 30, Mapleton, Queensland, Australia. 4560. Available online at http://www.cheniere.org/misc/brightskies.htm
23 The AFP investigation into Japanese sect activities in Western Australia. Compiled by Richard Crothers with contributions from Federal Agents Mark Boyle, Tracey Dickerson and Jeff Penrose. Australian Federal Police Media and Public Relations http://www.aic.gov.au/policing/case_studies/afp.html