FORGET the fairies at the bottom of your garden. There may be a Yowie lurking
According to self-appointed Yowie expert Rex Gilroy, Australia has a huge and hairy monster roaming the eastern States, and there was a reported sighting in New Guinea too.
The Yowie is different from Britain's Nessie and the Yeti or Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas because our monster likes the trees and undergrowth of dry warm land.
There has been a boom in sightings of the Yowie in the Queanbeyan and Hawkesbury areas of NSW in past months.
In October, the Queanbeyan Festival Board put up a $200,000 reward for the capture of a Yowie after a Googong Dam worker was terrified when confronted by "a dark grey, hairy creature with its head merging into its shoulders." It was about 180cm (6ft) tall, the worker insisted.
In the Hawkesbury River area, a fisherman gave chase after seeing two huge, ape-like creatures amble into the bush. He pursued them for some distance but retreated when they began pelting him with rocks from a high ledge.
"It's no laughing," says 32-year-old Rex who lives at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. He is so concerned at getting to the bottom of the mystery that he set up the first Yowie Research Centre in Australia in July.
Rex has been on the trail of the Yowie for the past 10 years. Now, the trail has become so hot that he has organized the first Yowie hunt — a search of theBarrington Tops area in the Great Dividing Range will be made soon.
"There are enough freshly taken plaster casts of footprints (some Yowie's footprints are as large as 60cm (2ft) long by 33cm (14in wide) to indicate that we are closing in on him.
"The search will be a major one and I'll be choosing the party" Rex says. "For instance. I don't want a champion marksman who volunteered. I want the Yowie taken alive for scientific study.
"The only weapons we'll carry will be cameras and tranquillizer darts. It is sad that whenever some rare creature is spotted, the bush is filled with homicidal madmen armed with guns."
Rex has a lot of Yowie evidence gathered over the vears, such as stone artifacts (too big and cumbersome ever to be used by man) and monster footprint casts, at his Mt York Natural History Museum at Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains. A self-taught geologist and zoologist, he claims to have the largest privately owned natural history collection in the southern hemisphere.
He first saw one of the huge footprints when hiking over the Katoomba area of the Blue Mountains.
"They were bare prints about two-and-a-half-times the normal size.
"Then at 3.30 pm on August 7. 1970, Rex says, "I was hiking back from Mt Solitary when I stopped to rest on a rock and eat my sandwiches.
"This creature jumped from behind a tree, scurried through giant ferns and into the rain forest making a grunting, gurgling sound that changed to a screech once itentered the scrub.
"It was covered with hair with no facial features and had the loping gait of an ape. I thought it was a circus orang-outang that had escaped.
"I shot home and told Dad - he's an old miner and he said he'd heard of these things being seen before."
Rex took to literature and read eastern Australian folk tales in which Aborigines describe a creature of "the Yowie or great hairy man."
Convinced that what he had seen was a Yowie, Rex told country newspapers in the Eastern
States about his experience.
He is sure that the Yowie is related to the Himalayan Abominable Snowman and the Sasquatch (or Big Foot) Man of North America.
"Australia was joined to Mainland Asia until the ice age of 20,000 years ago, as was America. I believe these creatures migrated from Asia before the ice melted.
"If this is right, it creates havoc with text-books, that say this country was first occupied by Aborigines."
As a result of his newspaper articles, about 3000 people wrote to Rex reporting sightings of Yowies.
In his fight to have the Yowie recognized, Rex has had to contend with a lot of ridicule. Even his wife, Helen, thought he was "a nut" at first. Now she is convinced there is something in what he says. Rex is also considered an eccentric by academics who have refused to accept his evidence. Many won't even look at it.
"A Sydney University man told me what I'd seen was a "large dog." A dog on two legs? Another uni bod said I'd imagined it. A Canberra paper returned my manuscript, having consulted a CSIRO scientist who said no such creature existed because if it did they would have discovered it by now. My argument is that we've never gone looking for it."
- Twenty-five have come from the Tidbinbilla area (near Canberra) recently sightings of Yowies on the move.
- A girl living at Dungay Creek, NSW, saw a Yowie while picking oranges. Dogs disturbed the creature in the scrub and forced it into the open. It was 180cm (6ft) and covered in long, brown hair.
- A Kempsey woman was confronted by a hairy and nasty-smelling creature that burst through a hedge and terrified her on her way home.
- Two men fishing at Toorooka at 3 am encountered a strange form in a quiet stretch of deep water. They thought it was a rock until it moved around their boat making strange gurgling noises, then they "rowed like hell for shore."
- At Carrai Plateau, a man was attacked by a hairy ape-like creature about 120cm (4ft) as he slept in his bed. It was covered with bristly hair about 13cm (5in) long, lt dragged him from his bed and broke free only when the man punched it heavily.
- Two timber-cutters were forced from their camp about 70km from Lismore because of repeated visits by a 240cm (8ft) tall, hairy creature.
- New Guinea highlanders recently reported sighting several 180cm (6ft) tall hairy monsters outside their village.
- In Tasmania, a 240cm (8ft) hairy creature surprised two rabbiters trapping in the Poatini foothills.
So, if you can produce a Yowie from the bottom of your garden, you've made the biggest zoological discovery of the century.