Australian Officials Baffled By Giant Metal Cylinder That Mysteriously Washed Up On Green Head Beach

Published July 17, 2023

Police are still investigating the object's origins, but some experts believe the cylinder may have been the fuel tank of an Indian satellite.

Australian Beach Cylinder

Australian Space Agency/TwitterPolice kept the cylinder under guard to prevent the public from coming into contact with potentially “hazardous” material.

Locals and police have been left baffled after a mysterious, giant metal cylinder washed up on a beach in Western Australia.

Per The Independent, residents near Green Head first observed the object on the afternoon of July 16 and reported it to Western Australia police, who urged beachgoers to stay away from the possibly “hazardous” object.

“We want to reassure the community that we are actively engaged in a collaborative effort with various state and federal agencies to determine the object’s origin and nature,” WA police said. “The object is being treated as hazardous until the origin of it can be established. People in the area should keep a safe distance.”

So far, they have not released any answers or theories about the object’s origins, only stating that they do not believe it originated from a commercial aircraft. Police also urged people to avoid drawing any conclusions until their investigation is over.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped people from speculating about the object, with some rumors suggesting it may have come from the missing Malaysian MH370 flight and others claiming the it may be linked to UFOs.

According to the ABC, police have since determined that the object is safe and poses no risk to the community.

The Australian Space Agency has also gotten involved in identifying the object, writing on Twitter that it “could be from a foreign space launch vehicle.”

Green Head local Garth Griffiths explained that “a local lady and her partner discovered it just floating on the edge of the water and dragged it out with their four-wheel drive.”

Griffiths described it as a “semi-cylindrical object made of light carbon fibre material like lightweight resin.” Covered in barnacles, the object measures roughly eight feet across and eight to 10 feet long.

The object has been under police guard since 8:00 a.m. Monday, but Griffiths said many locals had gathered around the cylinder the night prior.

“It was a great social evening. It was a lovely, still night, the kids were digging sand castles around it,” he said. “At any stage, there could have been 20 to 30 people there.”

Some experts have suggested that the object could be a part of India’s satellite launch to the moon, possibly the fuel tank of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket. The most recent successful launch of the PSLV mission took place in April 2023.

“When a rocket launches, there’s usually multiple stages and often the first few parts separate before entering orbit, so if it is space junk, it is from the early parts of a rocket launch as there’s no evidence of the scorching patterns you would see on things that have re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere,” Australian National University astrophysicist Brad Tucker said.

PSLV Satellite

TwitterTechnicians working on an Indian PSLV, which many believe could be the origin of the mysterious cylinder.

This discovery comes just three weeks after another mysterious object was found floating off the shore of the North Beach in Perth in June.

In that instance, personnel from the Australian Defense Force had to detonate the missile-shaped object, which they found to be a marker marine flare — a device used by sea vessels to send out distress signals in an emergency.

Regardless of the cylinder’s origin, however, experts say they aren’t surprised by the interest it’s piqued.

“It is very interesting though,” Alice Gorman, an expert in the field of space archaeology, told The Guardian, saying the object “is a way regular everyday people can get close to space, as often these things turn into souvenirs. People like to keep some space junk.”

Gorman also said that police did the right thing in keeping the public away from the object, as she believes it very well could have contained toxic materials.

“A lot of rocket fuel is actually quite toxic, even though this one’s been around for a while, and clearly it hasn’t killed off any of the things growing on it, that precaution is justified — a lot of rocket fuels are not very friendly to living things,” she said.

In any case, the strange object remains a source of fascination for locals like Griffiths, who was lighthearted about the spectacle.

“Our shire might need to bill Boeing or Lockheed or someone for dropping space junk on our beach,” he said.

After reading about this mysterious object washing up on an Australian beach, read about the mystery of the Salish Sea feet that keep washing ashore in the Pacific Northwest. Or, read about the “Montauk Monster” that was beached on Long Island before it abruptly disappeared.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Matt Crabtree
Matt Crabtree is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. A writer and editor based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Matt has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Utah State University and a passion for idiosyncratic news and stories that offer unique perspectives on the world, film, politics, and more.