The History of Yowie-Research
Yowie / Bigfoot
An alien stole my baby
By: Rob Johnson
Sydney Morning Herald (NSW)
Date: March 23, 1996
Page Number: 41 (Good Weekend)
UFOs. JFK's assassination. Yowies. Governments know everything: they're just not telling us. At least that's what the conspiracy theorists like to believe ...
The view from Fossil Rock across to Mount Solitary, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, was magnificent. When Rex Gilroy led me to the lookout, there was already a family there taking in the combination of scenery and sunshine. I was about to walk over to them when Gilroy grabbed my arm and whispered urgently, "They're sitting on it!"
When they left, he ushered me down to the lookout. "Where you're standing," he said, "is the tail. And see that arrow-shaped rock there? That's the back fin." And as he spoke, the smooth pile of rocks around me took on the shape of what he was describing - a plesiosaur, the sea-faring dinosaur that Gilroy and others believe is the same species as the Loch Ness monster.
Admittedly, the "fossil" had no bones to distinguish it as a dead animal as opposed to, say, a pile of rocks. I stared at it as Gilroy talked of ancient inland seas and archaeological cover-ups. The story was sketchy in detail, but very seductive.
Gilroy's find might be treated with a bit more curiosity by the scientific establishment if he didn't also believe there was a colony of plesiosaurs still swimming around the murky depths of the Hawkesbury River. Or that giant yowies - two-metre tall ape-men who forgot to evolve with the rest of us - were prowling through nearby bush, competing for space with Tasmanian tigers, 10-metre lizards and giant panthers. Or, for that matter, that there are ancient Phoenician pyramids, copper mines and megaliths around Gympie and in far north Queensland.
But Rex Gilroy believes the truth is out there. As he writes in the introduction to his 1995 book Mysterious Australia: "'Impossible!' cry the sceptics. Yet ... having turned up so many mysteries of our ancient past, I can only feel sorry for these people. The word 'impossible' is found only in the dictionary of fools."
At the end of May, Gilroy will present his findings to the Nexus Conference at Sydney's Gazebo Hotel. He will share the stage with an authority on lost cities such as Atlantis, a man who says he can predict earthquakes with 80 per cent accuracy, a naturopath, an international researcher into secret government mind-control experiments and someone who claims to be a UFO abductee.
The common point of departure for all of the speakers is conspiracies, either on the part of the medical or
scientific communities, the government (usually the US Government), or the media - or all of them - to suppress information.
"The only thing these conspiracies have in common is they are not reported by the mainstream media," says Duncan Roads, editor of Nexus magazine and organiser of the conference."X Files fans say the media is covering them up."
The X Files, Network Ten's hit show about two FBI agents investigating unexplained phenomena, pops up often in conversation with Roads and Gilroy. Roads says the show has helped sales of Nexus rise in the past two years. David Hatcher Childress, the Illinois-based author who searches for lost cities and is speaking at the conference, says, "The stories in The X Files are a pretty good illustration of what can be happening. You can't always believe what the Government says."
Hatcher Childress supplements his writing by conducting adventure holidays where participants help him in his quest for lost cities, and by running the World Explorers Club. He sees himself as an adventurer primarily, but points out: "When you're interested in Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster, UFOs are a topic you often spill over into. When you start to get into UFOs, you start to see conspiracies and government cover-ups."
Those links can lead to strange partners. For example, take Jeni Edgley, who runs the Hideaway Health Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland. Edgley qualified as a naturopath in Sydney during the early '80s. She fell in love with Queensland while filming Coolangatta Gold with her ex-husband, impresario Michael Edgley, and decided to start a health retreat. "The general community are dissatisfied with health care," she says. "Doctors don't work on a whole lifestyle, and there are a lot of people out there looking for alternatives." Simple enough, but how does that lead to sharing a conference stage with UFO abductees and yowie hunters? "I've known Duncan [Roads] for 13 years," she says. "The forms of healing we use ... some are ancient remedies which have been forgotten. And in my knowledge, there are three people who have come up with cures for cancer which were banned because they didn't fit in with medical orthodoxy."
Although conspiracies have been around for years, Hatcher Childress traces the current vogue to the assassination of JFK. "If you've grown up in that era, it affects you. More than half of Americans believe the Government is involved." The key is in the cover-up. Duncan Roads believes the driving force of any cover-up is money. "We live in a capitalist society and people are taught from day one that it's survival of the fittest," he says. "I wouldn't say it's conspiracies, I'd say it's human nature. It's natural to want to do things away from the spotlight."
Hatcher Childress, for example, believes that the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC is hiding the skeletons of 2.7-metre tall, red-haired Indians discovered in Nevada so as not to upset academic dogma. "It's like at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark," he says, "when they're putting the ark of the covenant in this giant warehouse. My own investigations have shown this does go on. The Russians did this - they would just go back and rewrite history. What I'm saying is this is also happening in America and Australia."
One thing that characterises many conspiracy theories is an obsessive accumulation of data. Often what distinguishes a conspiracy is that the gaps between the facts are filled in with a rhetorical "what if?". For the lay reader, the immediacy of such stories, like neatly structured Hollywood films, can be very appealing. "People like to know what's going on," says Hatcher Childress. "I'm like that. I'm an info-nut. I read everything. I'm obsessed with information. More and more people are like that. Everyone can search for the mysteries of the world and be like a detective and find out the truth."
He is careful to point out that he doesn't believe everything he reads: "I'm a debunker too. I think of myself as a logical guy. I'm liberal, and I try and look at things with a broad mind."
Similarly, while many scientists dislike Rex Gilroy's far-out claims, many others are in awe of his butterfly collection, which he's been assembling since the age of seven. It's on display at his Unexplained Mysteries Centre and Butterfly World in Tamworth, NSW. He also has an impressive movie collection, which he screens for friends in a home-built cinema in the garage behind his house in the Blue Mountains.
When Gilroy addressed the Ancient Astronauts Society Seventh Annual Conference in Auckland, New Zealand, last year, he was heckled off stage. He tried to tell the audience that megaliths he has discovered in the Australian bush are not examples of early UFO contact, but were erected by early travellers to plot the seasons for agricultural purposes. The Ancient Astronauts Society thought this idea was ridiculous.
Not that Gilroy puts a lot of stock in UFO stories either. In Mysterious Australia, he devotes a chapter to the possibility of a secret UFO base being somewhere in the Burragorang Valley in the Blue Mountains. But now he admits "I made that bit up" - along with the editor of a science-fiction magazine (now defunct) - as a bit of a joke on the UFO fraternity. Not a nasty joke, mind you. There is a reason why Gilroy has all the time in the world for someone who believes in the unexplained.
He told me why as I was leaving. He was talking about his family, about his strict father who denied him a university education, and his grandparents, and how deeply he loved them. "I'll always remember the night of 22nd June, 1951," he said. That day, his grandmother had visited from her home about 30 minutes' walk away. She'd left in the early evening, and young Rex had seen her off at the door before going into his bedroom to look at his butterfly collection. As he remembers, 20 minutes later his grandmother reappeared in his room. "Be good to your mother," she told him. "Of course, Ma," he replied.
He then ran through the house to say goodbye to his grandmother at the front door for the second time that day. However, when he got there his mother scolded him. "But I'm coming to say goodbye to Ma," he protested. Only a minute after his mother finished explaining that Ma had not returned, there was a knock on the door. The two police officers outside apologised for intruding, but they had come with bad news. Rex's grandmother had died of a heart attack about 10 minutes down the road.
"I know I didn't dream that," said Gilroy. He looked up into my eyes, and I noticed he was crying. "That's why I'll always listen if someone has an unexplained mystery."
As I drove back through Katoomba, I decided to stop off again at the fossilised remains of the "plesiosaur". This time, without Gilroy's commentary, it looked just like a pile of rocks. There was nothing to distinguish it from its surrounds. Sure, it was an unusual shape. But a pile of rocks nonetheless.
Rex Gilroy would probably feel sorry for me.
The History of Yowie Research
Rex Gilroy Duncan Roads
David Hatcher Childress
Loch Ness Monster