THE GYMPIE PYRAMID HOAX
September 21, 2006
by Dr Elaine Brown
This might be a concern if there really was a ‘Gympie Pyramid’. But the ‘pyramid’ is an elaborate hoax, an illusion based on nothing more than fantasy, fiction and a great deal of wishful thinking.
Gilroy’s ‘pyramidal structure’, the so-called ‘Gympie Pyramid’, is one of these stony ridges, an outcrop of ancient sandstone beside the road that leads from Gympie to Tin Can Bay. In 1868 the geologist D’Oyley Aplin described it as ‘a stratified quartz pebble drift of older date than the existing valleys … in a large pocket of the creek known as Macpherson’s Paddock’. In 1889 W.H. Rands, who methodically mapped Gympie’s geology and mines, described it as ‘a drift of large, waterworn pebbles … consisting of quartz and of hardened, jasperised sandstone’ with ‘layers of ferruginous grit and conglomerate’. Neither geologist reported any evidence of a pyramid or other unusual remains at Rocky Ridge.
The history of this area is on the public record. In the earliest days of the Gympie goldfield, John and Russell McPherson used the open forest land enclosed by the creek at the foot of Rocky Ridge as a holding paddock for horses, and the locality became known as McPherson’s Paddock.
Four Goldfields Homestead Leases at McPherson’s Paddock were taken up between 1875 and 1877 by a Swiss nurseryman, John William Cauper, who established a vineyard and supplied grafted planting material to local growers and householders. A letter Cauper wrote to the Gympie Times in 1884 about how to deal with phylloxera in grape-vines indicates that he was well-educated and skilled in horticulture.
In order to provide accessible, well-drained sites for some of his vines, Cauper terraced the lower slopes of Rocky Ridge, supporting the terraces with dry stone walls. He conducted his business on the property until at least 1890. Then, falling victim to several very wet summers, massive floods and the severe 1893 economic depression, he abandoned the land and left Gympie. He had no family in Australia, and he died at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum in 1931, aged 96.
Described in 1905 as ‘The Old Vineyard’, Cauper’s land was resumed and re-selected early in the twentieth century. Richard Edwards, a wood-cutter, took up sixty acres and kept pigs and poultry. His neighbour, George Preston, a Widgee Shire Councillor, established a five-acre poultry farm on the creek below Rocky Ridge. In the 1920s, ownership of these blocks passed to a succession of Gympie butchers, who used them as holding paddocks for their nearby slaughteryard. The hoofs of cattle, sheep and horses accentuated Cauper’s terraces and dislodged stones and soil, and when I first noticed Rocky Ridge in 1971, its slopes were eaten bare.
After the slaughteryard closed in 1973, wattles, gum trees, prickly pear and lantana began to cover the ridge, and a fringe of trees grew up along the creek. Houses have been built on the old vineyard and slaughteryard sites. The residents, whatever their opinions about the ‘Pyramid’, have all demanded that their privacy be respected and have firmly resisted the temptation to turn Rocky Ridge into a ‘Pyramid’ tourist destination.
In 1980, Rex Gilroy began to follow the trail of the mythical Yowie and turned his attention to the search for a Gympie ‘Yeti’. He did not return to the subject of the ‘Pyramid’ until 1983, when his patch was suddenly invaded by a Sydney pyramid researcher, Marilyn Pye. Her startling claim that the ‘Gympie Pyramid’ was probably built by extra-terrestrials 6000 years ago shows how imagination could blow Gilroy’s ideas into even more fantastic shapes.
In the Gympie Times, Pye discounted the theory that the ‘Pyramid’ had been an ‘Aboriginal vineyard’ on the grounds that Aborigines never built in stone and grapes were not introduced until after white settlement. She then added an entirely new dimension by claiming that the dry stone wall around Gympie’s Surface Hill Uniting Church was built from stones from the ‘Pyramid’, and she compared this wall with the ruins of Machu Pichu in South America.
The notion that blocks from the ‘Gympie Pyramid’ had been taken away to build other structures grew from the need to explain the lack of evidence at the pyramid site and the rugged, ragged state of Rocky Ridge. But where did such blocks go? The freestone used in some old Gympie buildings is known to have come from the South Side quarries. The sandstone at Rocky Ridge is crumbly, with large and small grains, and does not make a good building material.
Gilroy introduced his own version of ‘ancient Aboriginal traditions from the Gympie area’ with the tale of a group of mysterious ‘culture-heroes’, who ‘sailed into Gympie to erect the pyramidal structure (among other structures) and also to dig in the mountains (i.e. open cut mining operations) even to interbreed with the tribespeople, eventually abandoning the colony and sailing away out to sea promising to return.’ He did not state the source of this legend, and he was still basing his assertions on the mistaken belief that the ‘pyramid’ was erected near one of the backwaters of a large harbour, which then extended from Tin Can Bay to Gympie.
After this controversy, two members of the Gympie and District Historical Society, bemused by the unrealistic speculation that was being focused on a simple sandstone outcrop, put pen to paper in the Society’s Journal.
Dick Gould’s article, ‘The Gympie Pyramid – Fact or Fiction?’ described the rival theories concerning the ‘pyramid’, pointed out the fallacy of an ancient harbour, and quoted local knowledge and written evidence that the terraces on Rocky Ridge had been prepared for grapevines. He also dealt with the ‘Gympie Ape’, which an examination by the Queensland Museum had shown was of no great age and had been carved with metal tools.
Bill Mulholland, editor of the Journal, published two inquiries the Society had received, together with his reply: ‘I inspected [the pyramid] in detail before it became overgrown, and it contains certain interesting stones which could, in my opinion, be waterworn to their present condition. In one place, two large slabs of stone of almost identical appearance stand about twelve inches apart and are claimed to be an altar of some kind. On close examination, the slight bulges in one fit exactly into the indentations on the other, and they are apparently a stone split in half by the elements. There are terraces capable of being traced, and there is a tradition of grapes being grown in the vicinity.’
And there the matter rested until 1995, when the fiction phase of the Gympie Pyramid hoax began.
Enter Brett Green, a man so fascinated by the ‘Pyramid’ that between 1995 and 1999 he self-published five small books in a series entitled Tales of a Warrior, and in 2000 a sixth book, devoted entirely to The Gympie Pyramid Story.
These books were purportedly based on diaries written by Green’s direct ancestor, John Green (1819-1889), a pioneer of the Illawarra District in New South Wales, who is supposed to have ridden on horseback through south-east Queensland on various occasions between 1850 and the 1880s. The thread of mysterious ruins and legends runs through the stories.
From the time the first book, The Legend of Gympie, was published, many readers suspected that something was wrong with Green’s claims. The content of the Green ‘diaries’ contradicted surviving records in three important areas: local history, the history of the Green family, and Aboriginal history. Nearly every page contained errors of historical fact, and the list of references at the end included many books that had nothing to do with the topics covered. The book was illustrated with unsourced photos of Aborigines from different parts of Australia, and with ‘enhanced reproductions’ (digitally altered photos) of ‘mystery stone sculptures’ of ‘Dhamuri’.
These questionable characteristics continued in the books that followed, and it became clear that, whoever wrote the Green ‘diaries’, they were not authentic and the Tales of a Warrior series was pure fiction.
The first problem for Brett Green is that the original ‘diaries’ are not available for examination. He claims they were destroyed in a fire at his family home on Red Hill, Gympie. There was such a fire on 19 October 1984, but records show that the Fire Brigade arrived promptly and that only the lounge room was affected.
The second problem is that other members of the Green family deny that their ancestor John Green ever came to Queensland. They say that he could not have written the ‘diaries’ because he was illiterate, and he could not have jumped into a flooded creek to rescue an Aboriginal boy because he could not swim. In addition, the signature published by Brett Green as that of John Green is quite different from the signature shown on official documents, such as John Green’s will.
Green family historians Grayeme and Lynne Bone have produced a well-researched family history, The Green Book, which tells the stories of John Green, his two wives, his sixteen surviving children, and their many thousands of descendants through six or more generations.
According to the Green family, John Green was a farm labourer from Lincolnshire, England, who migrated to Sydney in 1844 with his wife Mary Vickers and eventually settled on a farm at Tongarra, near Dapto. Mary died in 1854, leaving four children, and John then married Mary Iles, who had twelve children. John Green lived at Tongarra until his death in 1889 and is buried in the cemetery of All Saints Church of England, Albion Park. The family man and Aussie battler revealed in The Green Book is a very different person from the emotional, opinionated writer of the Green ‘diaries’.
Brett Green’s third problem concerns the Aboriginal vocabularies and legends he has published. Aboriginal words with variant spellings and remarkable pronunciations have been concocted from existing, authentic vocabularies. Aboriginal legends that reveal a cosmology quite different from that of traditional stories – involving, for example, Sun Gods and Moon Goddesses – have been created. The language of the diaries is quaint in both construction and vocabulary. Why, for example, would John Green call mangroves ‘sea trees’, and talk about Aboriginal ‘sacred sites’ a century before this term became part of the Australian way of thinking?
Then there are the ‘eye-witness’ accounts of Aboriginal customs. John Green’s accounts of supposed Aboriginal sexual practices, orgies, disembowelments and massacres may titillate some readers, but others find them distasteful, even pornographic. The sensational passages in which they occur are similar to late 20th century writing and are at odds with writings from more inhibited Victorian times.
The maps produced by the author to show Aboriginal ‘territories’ in the Gympie District are another problem. The first general surveys of the Upper Mary River and coastal country were not carried out until the mid-1860s, and detailed maps came later. How could a roving white horseman of the mid-nineteenth century define Aboriginal boundaries on uncharted land?
Aboriginal people find it difficult enough to prove their association with particular lands using authentic, surviving records and traditions. Any claims they might make could only be confused by the fictions that appear in the Tales of a Warrior series.
Like Rex Gilroy, Brett Green believes there are government and academic conspiracies afoot, preventing his ‘truths’ from becoming accepted, and people who are inclined to believe conspiracy theories are inclined to believe him.
Gilroy and Green have followers who are interested in their theories. Some are people who will swallow anything, especially if it is said with confidence and earnestness, but there are also many who do not have the means to check out what is asserted.
In my work as a local and family historian, I find that most people are keen to reach the truth, and are prepared to devote themselves to genuine research – a process that finds facts, challenges fictions and debunks hoaxes.
Strange Images of Strange statues on or near the Gympie Pyramid site:
The three images above were supplied to me by Brett Green. He told me that they were given to him and that he had been told that they were taken from glass plate photographs reputed to have been taken in the 19th Century on or near the Gympie Pyramid.
To me there appear to be several problems with these statues and the images of them. Firstly I should state that, amongst other things, I have been a professional sculptor, carving stone, for over 15 years.
Firstly all three statues appear to be made of clay or some other soft moldable material. The head of (1) appears to be hollow and "glued" to a stack of three or more stone slabs around which grass has been arranged to hide the joint. Note that the grass at base has been moved to a different position for each photo. If the head had been solid stone it would have been unbalanced and toppled over long ago. The shadow in the eye socket from both angles also supports the head being hollow. Such a form could not be carved from stone. Likewise the construction of the lower jaw on both heads would have been extremely difficult and unlikely given the otherwise "primitive" nature of the "carvings". To carve the teeth and lower jaw out of stone without snapping would be difficult even with modern power tools. Only wood could be carved like this (though not hollow headed).
The image (2) is clearly modern as it had been taken at very close range with a camera that was using a flash. The camera being close to ground level pointing upwards. This is all obvious because of the relationship of the grass shadows and light.
The other images (1a) and (1b) are different angles of the same object. These have also been photographed using a flash but because the camera is elevated the use of an old fashioned flash or flash powder can not be eliminated. However the fact that both images were from the same source as (2) must cast some doubt on their integrity.
I could go on pointing out problems with these things as images or as statues but the point I want to make here is that when I pointed these things out Brett immediately acknowledged the images as fake and withdrew them.
Brett Green: Yowie Researcher
Dean and Trevor met up with Brett Green and his partner in crime 'Mick" who had organized to come
out for the day. Brett is a most amazing character with many experiences with the Yowie over the years and holds a lot of information
on this location and surrounding areas. It was at this location where Brett and 4 friends had witnessed first hand the power of the
Yowie in a freak incident while bush walking 3 years ago. They were out exploring one day (as they did often in search of Ancient
Aboriginal sites), when as they rounded a corner they heard what seemed like the noise of an animal fight of some kind. At this stage
they had no idea what was about to transpire.
As they came closer, they cautiously made their way to the ridge of a steep decline
that lead into a valley with a massive rock cascade. On the cascade were two large Male Yowie's fighting. The group of men froze in
disbelief as they slowly and quietly went to ground and observed this fearsome display. They were in total shock at what they saw,
and in Brett's words - "It was a Brutal fight". Although the men had cameras in their bags, they were far to taken by the event, to
think of taking pictures and as Brett said, "The last thing we wanted was for them to know we were there - they were angry enough
as it was". Because this is Brett's story and it will make an appearance in his next Book, we won't give the reader all the details,
however we can say that this fight seemed to be stemmed over either Territory or a Female. To cut a long story short, there were two
'clans' of Yowie there that day and Brett was lucky to escape with his life.
Operation Rotation April 2001
Brett Green and Mick Dale. Mick is smelling a piece of foliage that Brett thinks smells like Wee.
Brett showing us where he witnessed the Two Yowies fighting.
Home > User galleries > AYR Evidence Files > Cryptozoology > AYR Expeditions > Special Expedition Reports > AYR Random Pictures in the Field & Out'n'About
The image to the left was supplied to me by Brett Green and it was claimed to be an old photo that shows the summit of the Gympie Pyramid site prior to a previous land owner running a bulldozer over it.
The dry wall construction shown here is the same as the construction of the GP terraces.
The type of rock and size of boulders appears consistent with what one finds on the "G.P." site.
If the photo was taken in the southern hemisphere then the view is to the north (from shadows). Due to trees on the summit I cannot confirm the truth or otherwise of this view.
The terraces at the "G.P." summit do tend to form a "road" as is implied in this photo however the obvious question is why is the photograph cropped? Brett recently informed me that he has removed this image from his website after further research and information from various sources proved it could not be the Gympie Pyramid.
This shows how important it is that all information be thoroughly examined and scientifically tested before any claims be made about it.
Despite admitting to Dr. Brown that the images are fakes, Green still insists otherwise on his website:
The above photographs depict various strange stone statues that were found near or at the Gympie Pyramid site between 1900-1960. It
is understood all five were removed for examination by appropriate “authorities” in Queensland. the first four have since disappeared
and their present whereabouts are unknown – only the fifth (after community deputations) was returned to Gympie. It was displayed
at Gympie Civic Centre for many years. It is now on display at the Gympie Historical Museum.
our most controversial Australian stories has been fully researched by equally controversial Gympie author Brett J. Green. Taking
nearly 20 years to complete, Green aimed at presenting a fair, unbiased overview of myths, legends, stories, claims and counter-claims
associated with the decades old debate regarding the much acclaimed (and much distorted) Gympie Pyramid “discoveries” and other such
complexes within the Gympie-Cooloola region of south east Queensland Australia.
In completing the collective work despite the initial
years of opposition by vested community interests; some areas of local religious opposition; and later attempts to discredit, Green
with his end result revealed some astounding truths; discarded spurious claims; presented interviews; and documented “witnessed” recollections
from older residents. He also supports in part some previous researchers and authors who came under media fire with their theories
and “discoveries” while debunking other “out of this world” media statements. In making this comprehensive assessment, Green has raised
further unanswerable questions in relation to the Gympie Pyramid theories and their previous existence claims.
With his presentation
of never-seen before sketch drawings by pioneer settlers, genuine photographic evidences, claimed photographs and hoax “evidences”
– he has opened new areas for theories and research that will give just reason for sceptics and academics to reconsider their verdicts
on all past proclamations. His unbiased work is also an exciting historical insight journey (theoretical and factual) into unrecognised
Australian histories based on ancient nautical and cultural records held in national and religious institutions around the world whose
ancestors had extremely detailed knowledge of the region well before Australia’s “discovery” by a British mariner called James Cook.
"The ‘Gympie Ape’ - an examination by the Queensland Museum had shown was of no great age and had been carved with metal tools.
Nor was it found at the site of the 'Gympie Pyramid'. Current online speculation dates the statue as being 3000 years old."
Brett Breen’s supposed Gympie Pyramid Summit image (on the left) is actually of Filitosa – a megalithic site in southern Corsica,
Mystery of the
Aerial view of the "Gympie Pyramid".
Yeah, it's just an ordinary hill...
Terracing on the "Gympie Pyramid".
You gotta admire the craftsmanship of those ancient Egyptian/Pheonician/whatever travellers...
Cultural Heritage Survey
of Rocky Ridge
The Gympie Pyramid Story was a short documentary on the mystery surrounding a terraced step-pyramid on the outskirts of Gympie.
When a road works project threatens the historical site, can Brett and Mick save the future of the Gympie Pyramid? Or will progress destroy the legend?
Interviews with local experts Brett Green and Mick Dale and incorporating re-enactments, newspaper articles, animation and photography of artefacts, this film was nominated for Best Short Documentary at the Heart of Gold International Film Festival in 2010.