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What’s That Bloody Noise?

By Nicola Smith on August 24, 2020 in News

They’re watching us. Photo: Ray Diation

In the August 2020 edition of The Beast we published a letter from a Randwick resident, Jonathan, about a “high pitched, continuous tone” he had been hearing since he moved here on May 1. We subsequently received so many responses to Jonathan’s letter from concerned residents that we decided to investigate further.
The noise is described by other Eastern Suburbs locals as “a low-level noise, like a bunch of trucks idling”, a “white noise”, a “siren-like buzz” and something that is “quite loud”.
We received letters from people in Coogee, Bronte, Randwick and Bondi, confirming that they too hear this strange sound. Residents also confirmed that they had been able to hear the noise for some time, some saying as early as the 1970s.
The Daily Telegraph actually published an article on a mysterious noise in Bondi back in 2009, when Waverley Council voted to ask the Environment Protection Authority to investigate, but eleven years on and the hum remains.
Strangely, the Eastern Suburbs is not the only place in the world to hear this odd, ambient noise. A similar phenomenon was reported in Bristol, England, in the 1970s. Since then, residents of Taos, New Mexico, in the United States, Windsor, Ontario, in Canada, Largs in Scotland and Auckland, New Zealand, have reported hearing a mysterious “hum”.
In most cities it is estimated that around two per cent of the population can hear the noise, and it is unlikely to be tinnitus as it is often described as being low frequency. People who can hear it also claim to be able to move toward and away from the source and perceive a difference in the intensity of the hum.
Some potential explanations of the noise that have been investigated over the years include radio towers, industrial activity, wifi, testing of military weapons, restless Native American spirits trying to communicate, UFOs, electricity pylons, mass hysteria, armies of mating fish and the sound of your body movements (called somatasounds).
However, all of these theories remain unproven and those who hear the hum are yet to find any relief. People who hear this noise in other areas say it is not just irritating but has had serious effects on their health. Some of the local readers who wrote in to The Beast said that they need earplugs to get to sleep and that the noise has even caused insomnia. In other parts of the world people have reported experiencing stress, anxiety and depression as a result.
One popular theory is that the hum is caused by minute vibrations in the earth as waves pass over the ocean floor. This would make perfect sense to those living next to the ocean in the Eastern Suburbs but does not explain the phenomenon occurring in landlocked cities like Taos, New Mexico, in the United States.
Jonathan’s 5G network theory is ultimately unlikely as reports from Sydney and around the world trace it back to the early 1970s. However, the hum may be linked to a form of technology that was newly introduced to our lives around that time. We should note here that mobile phones were introduced to Australia in 1973 and microwaves arived on our shores in 1967.
The proportion of the population who hear the hum may also suffer from hyperacusis, a condition that makes a person very sensitive to certain frequencies of sound. So, whatever the source of the hum, it may only be heard by people who experience this condition.
While we may not find a solution to this mystery any time soon, it’s comforting to know that it’s not just people in the east experiencing it. If you’ve heard the hum, you can contact The Beast or visit to include your experience in a global research project trying to find its causes.


  1. We can hear the noise in Dolls Point too

    Posted by: Amanda | August 29, 2020, 9:08 PM |

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  2. I live in Rainbow Street South Coogee and I hear a low vibration that sounds like drilling from a far away jack hammer. It cannot be tenitus as its not constant. It comes in constantly like what I could describe as dots and dashes like morse code but in vibrations. I can actually hear in during the day in my office which is in the sub terrain area of my house. Sand is an excellent conductor of vibration. But this does not stop not even at 4 in the morning.

    Posted by: Ben O | September 7, 2020, 3:01 PM |

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    • That noise probably has a lot to do with the piling and earthworks on Oberon street where they are doing the underground garage for new apartments, take a walk around your area one day and you will see wonders !

      Posted by: SImon | February 20, 2021, 5:47 PM |

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  3. I remember as a teenager hearing humming from power lines; my high school science teacher explained it as being from the AC current, which alternates at 50 to 60 cycles per second. Human hearing can perceive as low as 20 cycles per second. When two power lines are out of sync slightly this can generate movement akin to an electric motor, except the power lines simply move towards and away from each other, at about 50 cycles per second. The movement itself is imperceptible to the eye, but it generates sound waves of low frequency.

    A different cause and sound is generated by high voltage power lines, which is when the surrounding air becomes ionised. Something called a Corona (nothing to do with the virus) discharge.

    To give an example of electric hum, listen at a quiet time hear an electrical substation. There are no moving parts as such inside, but you can still hear a low hum.

    Posted by: Doug | September 18, 2020, 5:28 PM |

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  4. It was so bad last night! Woke me up at about 4am super loud. Could move to and away from the sound. Major headache today!

    Posted by: William Jenkins-Manning | December 31, 2020, 5:36 AM |

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  5. I’m from the hills district, in Sydney and I can constantly hear it,
    I do live near an industrial area but it’s 24/7… it’s quite frustrating…

    Posted by: Amy | March 30, 2021, 2:53 PM |

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  6. I recently moved into Goldsborugh which is in Victoria 3472, on some nights i can hear humming. I have music going and the humming noise can still be heard, I also went outside and could still hear the humming noise. The noise seems to travel through objects, such as my house, and therefore, their is no escape from the humming noise. The noise is very stressful and it makes you feel very uncomfortable as their is no escaping it. I will be going to the Council and I will be asking them what is making this stressful humming sound, as I said earlier, I only hear it on some night, therefore it must be machinery that can be heard from a distance. My other concern is, that sleep is hard to get as this humming noise travels through the house that I live in

    Posted by: Rose Lynch | May 18, 2021, 10:33 PM |

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  7. Since moving from Botany St to Ethel St Randwick
    six months ago, my brother and I have been hearing
    this humming noise. I describe it as sounding like
    an angle grinder and very loud especially in the early
    hours of the morning. It’s only happening in windy
    weather and I’m wondering if the theory about arcing
    power lines fits the bill. We thought our neighbors were
    potty when they said they heard nothing.

    Posted by: Carolyn Howard | May 30, 2021, 6:45 AM |

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  8. I live in Kingsford near unsw and I could hear this humming sound ever since I moved here six months ago. It stopped for a while but it has just started again since yesterday. Almost forgot how loud it is especially at night/early morning. It’s been windy these two days not sure if it has anything to do with the reappearing of the hum. It goes gradually louder and weaker in about 20-30 seconds cycle repeatedly. I could block other noise from closing all my windows but was somehow not able to block the Ringing hum. Low hum but somehow sharp in a way it penetrates through walls and objects and my ears. It’s constant throughout the day… Was woken up by the loud low ringing hum in the middle of the night for the past 2 days

    Posted by: Daisy Smith | January 28, 2022, 9:47 PM |

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