The Man Who Turned Wycliffe Well Into Australia's UFO Capital
Lew Farkas is the man behind the legend of Wycliffe Well, Australia's UFO capital that was once listed as one of the top five global hot spots for UFO sightings.
Lew Farkas lived in Wycliffe Well, in the Northern Territory, and claimed to have spotted more than 30 UFOs until he packed up and sold the place in 2009.
According to Farkas, UFOs look like "light bulbs" and he believes Wycliffe Well lures extraterrestrials because of its "ley-lines" or "energy lines" that run along the earth.
"It's like a highway for them. In our area, it’s the crossroads, so no matter where they were going in the world they’d be crossing over in the Northern Territory," he told 10 daily.
As to why UFOs make the long journey to Earth, Farkas posits they could be mining valuable minerals that we haven't discovered a use for yet.
Another theory Farkas suggests is that they're inspecting human military installations at nearby Pine Gap, a US satellite surveillance site in Alice Springs.
The former sailor took over from the former the roadhouse owner in 1985 and transformed Wycliffe Well into an alien theme park of sorts after learning about the history of UFO sightings in the area.
He heard several anecdotes from the local Indigenous population about UFO encounters, and read handwritten records from World War II from servicemen who wrote about spotting unidentified objects during the night.
He only planned on staying five years in Wycliffe Well, but ended up spending 25 years and $4 million dollars on the place, putting the Northern Territory on the map for lovers of the unexplained.
On 60 acres of land, Farkas lorded over a caravan park, a petrol station and roadhouse and built an auditorium, as well as a lake for fishing.
Now described as "faded" and "unloved", some say there hasn't been a UFO sighting at Wycliffe Well since 2017.
It's a far cry from what Wycliffe Well was like at its peak, attracting backpackers from all over the globe.
During its heyday, it had country dancing, a mini zoo to be proud of with kangaroos, peacocks and emus, and the largest range of beer in the Northern Territory.
Thirsty backpackers were spoiled for choice with around 300 different beer labels on offer.
"In those days the Northern Territory was like the Wild West. There was a small population, the road wasn’t filled. Anybody with inspiration, with ideas, you could just do what you liked," Farkas said.
"There were no restrictions, the laws were easygoing as long as you did something that was beneficial to the Territories. We were out in the middle of the desert. I had all these ideas and it was the kind of place where I could put in the work," he said.
Farkas said one of the most "stressful times" in his life was when Wycliffe Well had a UFO encounter every day for almost a month.
He described "great big balls of light" hovering 10 kilometres from the caravan park for 40 minutes each night that would later take off like "a rocket" into the sky.
While tourists flocked to the area to go alien sightseeing, the phones were ringing off the hook. Farkas took calls from around the world through all hours of the night, updating the media on the situation.
"On the 29th day, it came and it was a hair-raising experience. The actual light veered a bit from where it normally was and came into the caravan park and everyone scattered like you wouldn’t believe," Farkas said.
"I had all these new plants and they were trampled down everywhere. We lost some kangaroos that panicked, the horses and the donkeys and the camels, everyone went crazy," he said.
Farkas was soon dubbed a UFO expert, receiving calls each time a sighting was reported in Australia, South America or Europe.
When Farkas spoke of Wycliffe Well, his voice was heavy with nostalgia about the strange guests, incredible business feats, stories of alien encounters and memories of teaching his kids the ins and outs of the family trade.
But some of those memories are also wrapped up in heartbreak like when he received a call from his daughter's teacher telling him that she wasn't coping.
His daughter Elvina, now in her 30s is a fashion photographer based in Singapore.
Growing up in rural Australia as Singaporean-Hungarians was a tough gig for Elvina and her brother Ben.
The kids and their mother were forced to leave Wycliffe Well to be closer to the Alice Springs school, a four-hour drive away and would only visit on weekends or school holidays.
The Farkas kids were ridiculed over their extraordinary family business.
Elvina told 10 daily about a school excursion where her class drove from Alice Springs to Darwin, making a stopover in Wycliffe Well.
"I just remember dreading every moment of it knowing that my whole class was going to exit the bus and roam around. It was like you’d invited your whole class to your house," Elvina said.
"There was an Elvis statue in the middle of the park and alien masks, Wycliffe t-shirts, it was mortifying for me. But I look back on it now and I think that was such a cool moment," she said.
It was an out-of-this-world upbringing for both Elvina and her brother Ben, a former paramedic who now works as a media integration specialist.
While Ben remembers cooking up feasts in the outback roadhouse, Elvina holds fond memories of her dad dressing her in tiny alien costumes as a child.
"We were fairly un-fenced and the magic of our place was that people would pull up to get fuel and there would literally be an emu trying to steal your chips from the backseat of your car because you've left the window rolled down," she said.
And like their father, when it comes to the existence of aliens, Elvina and Ben don't doubt that we're not alone.
"There are so many theories about why they're here, whether they're us from the future, or that we've got a particular energy on this planet that they have the power to harness," Elvina Farkas said.
"As a human race, you've got to be relatively naive to think there's nothing else out there," Ben said.