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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Caitlin Cassidy

Mysterious pink glow in sky over Australian town revealed to be from local cannabis facility

Tammy Szumowski took the pictures of the pink glow in the sky over Mildura
Tammy Szumowski, who said she ‘didn’t know what was going on’ took the pictures of the pink glow in the sky emanating from a medicinal marijuana facility. Photograph: Tammy Szumowsk

An alien invasion? Season five of Stranger Things? A portal to the timespace continuum?

Residents in the northern Victorian town of Mildura were left pleasantly dumbfounded on Wednesday evening when the night sky was set ablaze with an eerie pink glow.

“It was very bizarre,” said Tammy Szumowski.

“I was on the phone to my mum, and my dad was saying the world was ending.”

But the explanation was far more mundane. Pharmaceutical company Cann Group confirmed the lights were coming from its local medicinal cannabis facility, where the blackout blinds had been left open.

“Cannabis plants require different spectrums of light in order to encourage their growth,” said Rhys Cohen, senior communications manager at Cann Group Ltd.

“A red spectrum light is often used. Normally the facility would have blackout blinds that come down at night, and will in the future block that glow.”

The federal member for Mallee, Dr Anne Webster, was driving home in the dark when she noticed the smouldering pink light.

“I thought that is weird. There is no city out there … What is it?” she said.

“When I understood the Cann processing site is there – but it still was the first time I’ve seen that pink glow. It was quite strange.”

Cann Group Ltd was the first Australian company to secure licences for cannabis cultivation for medicinal and research purposes.

On 7 July, its Mildura facility received its GMP licence to cultivate and supply a wide range of medicinal cannabis products in-house after acquiring the site in 2019. It gathered its first commercial harvest of crops in June.

Webster said it was “quite an exciting site”. Due to the nature of its business, however, it has a secret location and isn’t open to the public.

“Propagation of cannabis is really interesting and the way they use lights … to increase the growth cycle and speed up the whole process is quite amazing,” she said.

“I look forward to many other innovative producers coming to the region and bringing their glows with them.”

Across Mildura and surrounding towns, people flocked to their backyards and front porches to photograph the spectral glow.

The pink glow over Mildura on Tuesday night.
The pink glow over Mildura on Tuesday night. Photograph: Alexandra Talent.

Alexandra Talent’s husband was feeding the horses when he noticed they were “a little distracted” on Wednesday evening.

“The kids’ imaginations went wild and of course the topic of aliens was presented.

“My husband and I were a bit more optimistic.”

Red Cliffs resident Andrew Kynaston was on the way home from getting his Covid booster with his wife at about 6.30pm when they spotted the lights.

“It looked pretty and strange,” he said.

Kynaston is used to looking at sunsets but he said he’d never seen a view quite like it.

“I pinched my wife’s phone and took a couple of pictures,” he said. “It was around 6.30 when I saw it and thought maybe it was some kind of deflection at first.

“It wasn’t until I saw the comments later that I understood what it was.”

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