Meteorite hits the big 50

By John Lewis

Murchison is set to rock September with space experts, a treasure hunt, a dinner for the stars and big bangs to celebrate its loudest and most famous visitor — a 100 kg chunk of space rock.

Fifty years ago, at 10.58 am on September 28, Murchison was rocked by a massive bang as a meteorite exploded above the town, showering paddocks, hay sheds and back yards with pieces of what looked like lumps of coal.

As residents ventured outside to collect the rocks they noticed a smell like burnt tar or methylated spirits. Geologists and astrophysicists descended on the town from across the world and townspeople were told their visitor was about 4.6 billion years old — it was older than humanity, the earth, the sun and the entire solar system. In fact, it came from the dawn of time.

Pieces of the Murchison meteorite now sit in museums and research institutes across the world.

So, next month, the small town in between Shepparton and Nagambie really does have something to shout about.

Murchison Historical Society president Kay Ball said a sub-committee of eight had been working tirelessly for the past two years to create a busy program of events for the weekend of September 27 to 29.

There will be presentations from eminent space experts such as Dr Philipp Heck from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, the unveiling of a new meteorite display and labyrinth, a space treasure hunt and solar observation activity for children, a Dinner with the Stars for the grown-ups and big bangs around the town timed at precisely the moment the meteorite fell to earth in 1969.

‘‘We’re expecting people from across Australia and the world — it’s going to be a fantastic weekend of fun and memories and demonstrations and discussions about science,’’ Mrs Ball said.

Dinner With the Stars is on Friday, September 27, at the Murchison Community Centre from 7 pm. Tickets are $69, which includes canapes and a welcome drink in a 50th Anniversary Murchison Meteorite glass, which diners can take home. More information and bookings at