Yowies

THIS is a topic which, if raised at a party, would soon see you standing alone. It is illogical that a bigfoot-like creature three metres tall or more can be stomping around the Australian bush. However, apparently this tall, hairy beast does not know that he should not exist because thousands of people have reported seeing them right along the east coast of mainland Australia. And they have been seeing them from the earliest colonial days sight through until today.

As a young journalist at at the Sale-based The Gippsland Times, I was contacted by famed New South Wales yowie hunter Rex Gilroy who asked if I had received any reports of the legendary hairy man of Gippsland which the Aboriginals believed to be real flesh and blood creatures. I had never heard of such animals but Gilmour wrote: “Last century (1800’s) there were a great many sightings claimed from settlers of the Morwell, Sale to Bairnsdale area, inland across the Gippsland region of the Great Dividing Range. Even early this century (1900’s) people were still claiming they had seen often taller-than-human hairy ‘man-beasts’ in the Victoria/NSW alps." I kept his letter in a file as all good journalists do, thinking it might one day be handy.

That day came back in 1985 when I received a visit from an acquaintance, Mick, whose son was scared witless by what he claims was a female yowie in the Mullungdung Forest about 40km south of Sale along the South Gippsland Highway. His son, then aged 15-16, had been bored sitting around inside on what was a terribly cold day in Gippsland with snow falling in many areas not normally used to having snow. Mick suggested the son rug up and go for a walk along Four Mile Creek which runs beside his Darriman property which is surrounded on three sides by the Mullungdung Forest. The son returned some time later in a panic claiming that he had seen a large hairy creature squatting by the dry creekbed. He claimed it has been a female with large, pendulous breasts.

After much encouragement Mick convinced his son to return to the area but the son would only go if they were accompanied by one of Mick’s malamute dogs. Mick found nothing but noted a strange “chicken soup” odor where his son claimed to have seen the creature. Mick was interviewed some years later by Australian Hominid Research and claimed in that interview that he had been told that in 1986 a hunter had come across a smaller yowie about a metre high in the pine forests at Longford (perhaps 30km from the Darriman sighting) and had fired several shots at it. I tried to speak to Mick's son about his sighting but Mick said the young fellow flatly refused to talk about the incident. I was tempted to raise the topic when I met the son at Mick's funeral in 2011 but decided it was not the time or place. Mick’s report was the only one I ever received about a yowie but I am aware after visiting the AHR website that there have been many other Gippsland sightings, dating from Phillip Island in 1849 through to modern day sightings in places such as Briagolong, Aberfeldie, Dellicknora, Licola, Mt Baw Baw, Noojee, Nowa Nowa and even Cranbourne which is now a highly urbanised area. There have also been many sightings just over the NSW border in the Eden area.

Some people have pointed out that there is an intermittent stream called Monkey Creek not far from the Mullungdung which suggests that early settlers may have also seen a yowie or monkey-like creature in the area. I am not sure where the name comes from but given that my grandfather, who grew up nearby, referred to koalas as "monkey bears", it is likely that it is named after koalas.

I should mention that when I was a youngster growing up at Devon North, near Yarram, a local resident was ridiculed after claiming that he had seen a monkey up a tree in the Strzelecki Ranges foothills above Devon North. This man was prone to telling a few tall stories and so his claim was dismissed by everyone as just another attempt to fool a few people. Perhaps he was telling the truth after all!

There was another celebrated sighting of a yowie on the suspension bridge which overhangs a ferm gully in the Bulga section of Tarra-Bulga Park which is in the Strzelecki Ranges midway between Yarram and Traralgon. This made national TV but was debunked as a prank. Apparently a friend of some members of a group visiting the park donned a gorilla suit and suddenly appeared at one end of the bridge. Apparently a great prank but he was seen by others who reported a yowie.

I can recommend that anyone interest in the subject of Yowies to visit Dean Harrison’s Australian Hominid Research website http://www.yowiehunter.com.au and read the excellent 2006  book The Yowie - In Search of Australia's Bigfoot by researchers Tony Healey and Paul Cropper. Over the years I have spoken several times to Paul Cropper who gave me a lot of information about the Gippsland Tiger Cat and Black Panther sightings. The Mullungdung Yowie sighting is included in this book as Case 162 (Page 256).  

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