Wonthaggi Beast

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: December 1, 1955
Page Number: 1
WONTHAGGI, Wednesday : A strange animal, with a "blood curdling yell" startled marine dealer Fred Rollandson and Mrs. M. A. Spurgess early this morning.
     "No, I hadn't been drink ing," Mrs. Spurgess said.
     "There it was up a tree," I said Mrs. Spurgess.
     "Big as a big dog, large claws, large head, furry body, striped like a Zebra, and a long tail.
     "When I heard the yell, I thought it was kids looking for a lost calf.
     "When it, saw us it sprang 50ft. to the ground and disappeared."
     "I've seen goannas, frill-necked lizards, wild cats and foxes, but it wag none of them.
     Asked if the animal resembled a tiger, Mrs. Spurgess said, "More like any thing I can think of. I didn't get a long look at it."
     A circus passed through Wonthaggi last week, but did not report any missing animals.

Mr. Crosbie Morrison said last night:
     Apart from the fact that the animal is described as having stripes, it sounds like the greater possum glider.
     This is a rather rare animal now and it normally comes out only at night. But this one probably went to bed late.
     The possum glider does not have stripes. However, the shadows of the branches of the tree might quite easily look as if it had stripes.
     If Mrs. Spurges insists that the animal really had stripes it may be a domestic cat gone wild.
     Some of these are enormous.
Strange Animals
Phillip Crosbie Morrison (1900-1958)

Cultural Heritage: New Zealander
Religious Influence: Congregational

Adult educator, conservationist, journalist, magazine/journal editor, marine biologist, naturalist, schoolteacher, zoologist.
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They've seen...heard blood-curdling scream

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: December 5, 1955
Page Number: 7
WONTHAGGI, Sunday: Several people have armed themselves against a weird, mystery animal which is
giving Wonthaggi the jitters.
     Three people have seen it and three others have heard its blood-curdling screams.
     Mr. Jim Drodge, an English migrant first saw the animal eight months ago.
     He saw it about a mile from where it frightened Mrs. Sturgess last week.
The animal, "big as a dog, long claws, long tail, big head, furry body and striped like a zebra," is giving local people the jitters.
     Drodge saw it at six o'clock one evening.
     He said: "It was standing in ferns 15 yards away looking at me. It had ugly tiger-stripes across its face.
     "When I stopped it turned and made off, padding like a panther. It was as big as a labrador, but it lacked a feline look."
Cyril Maurier, who share-farms for Mr. W. Honey, saw it twice two months later. It reared up at him but made off when he approached.
     Whatever the animal is, it has done no harm. Sheep and pigs have not been molested.
     Mr. and Mrs. J. Wright, who live about a mile from where Mrs. Sturgess saw the animal, are satisfied they heard it three months ago.
     They bolted the door of their home when a strange animal set up a blood-curdling scream.


     Mr. Rollinson, who saw the animal last week also, carries a shotgun when he goes into the stunted timber near his home.
     At 6.30 this morning he saw tracks in the damp clover which he thought might belong to the monster.
     A party, with pointers, foxhounds, cameras, and guns, this afternoon made a vain search led by Jack (Paddy) Brennocks, of "The Swamp Lady" search.
     "This one has me baffled," said Brennocks.
Miss Margaret Clements, the "Lady of the Swamp", lived as a recluse in a large dilapidated house surrounded by swamp since the late 1930's. The "Swamp Lady" disappeared in 1952 sparking a legal battle over who should be the rightful beneficiary of her will.
Further reading.
'Monster' may be cat, says expert

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: December 6, 1955
Page Number: 22
Mr. Crosbie Morrison, Argus wild life expert, believes the "Wonthaggi monster" might be a very large feral "gone wild", domestic cat or a very large wild dog.
     Mr. Morrison thinks the story may be "gaining embroidery" in the telling.
     He added:
     "From the original description I thought it might be a giant possum-glider with tree shadows for stripes, or a cat gone wild.
     "Later information eliminates the possum-glider.
     "Two possibilities now fit the facts.
     "One is that it is a very large feral 'gone-wild' domestic cat; the other is that more than one creature has contributed to the sum of evidence, in which case it is likely to be a very large wild dog (like the notorious Tantanoola tiger of years ago) with a feral cat providing the tree-jumping part of the story, and one of the shriek-owls or even an old koala contributing the night noises."
     Mrs. Hardy, of Huntly st., Elsternwick, rang The Argus yesterday to say she thought the "beast" might be an Afghan hound run wild.
     Mr. Ken Steward, of Park st., Seaford, says the beast fits the description of a "screaming woman" owl.
     But Mr. Morrison says:
     "An Afghan hound does not climb trees, nor is it striped. The powerful "screaming woman" owl does not run on four legs and it have a long tail."
Greater gliders have a head and body about 39 to 43 centimetres (15 to 17 in) long, with the females being generally larger than the males. Their body is covered with a shaggy coat of fur that increases their apparent size, and the tail is long and bushy, ranging from 44 to 53 centimetres (17 to 21 in).
Barking Owl aka "Shrieking Woman" Owl

They are a medium-sized brown owl and have an extremely characteristic voice that can range from a barking dog noise to a shrill woman-like scream of great intensity. Barking owls are often said to be the source to the myths and legends surrounding the Bunyip.
Wonthaggi 'beast' has town buzzing

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: December 8, 1955
Page Number: 11
WONTHAGGI, Wednesday: Not since the 1937 mine disaster has Wonthaggi been so stirred.
     The whole town is buzzing with excitement about the "beast of Wonthaggi."
     Daily bulletins, are displayed, and "the "beast" is the main topic in shops, hotels, and homes.
     One hotel notice-board read today: "It hasn't been caught yet."
     Customers ask shop assistants about latest rumors on the "beast, and if they don't raise the subject the shop assistants do.
     The "beast" is more discussed than the weather.
     Aeroplanes passing over Wonthaggi to Tasmania dip low.
     "Marine dealer Fred Rollinson, who saw the "beast" last week, is being over whelmed with questions.
     Rollinson has invited everyone to take part in a search on Sunday, and provide their own refreshments.
     A false rumor swept the town today that the "beast" had been caught, and brought the town to its tip-toes with excitement.
Beast Seen Again

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: December 15, 1955
Page Number: 7
WONTHAGGI, Wednesday: The Wonthaggi "beast" has been seen again.
     It was sighted by John Longstaff, 18, drill hand, near Kirrak Mine today.
     Longstaff noticed it hopping along 20 yards in front of a truck he was driving across a paddock.
     He said: "It froze like a rabbit, so I stopped the truck, grabbed a crowbar and walked up to it.
     "I got to within 15 feet when it ran on another 20 yards and stopped.
     "Although I did not take my eyes off it, the animal vanished in only a foot of grass.
     "I've never seen any thing like it. It was a cross between a wallaby and a fox, if that is possible.
     "It certainly had the short front legs that other people have spoken of.
     "It was brown striped across thc nose, head and neck about two feet high and four feet long."
     Longstaff's description tallies with that of four people who saw the animal in the same area last week.
Has the 'beast' gone North?

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: February 3, 1956
Page Number: 7
WONTHAGGI, Thursday: Has the Wonthaggi monster shifted to Mirboo North?
     Wonthaggi hasn't seen it for eight weeks, but Mr. McCracken, a Woodend visitor, claims he saw it near Mirboo North today.
     Mr. McCracken said he was driving his car when he saw the animal stalk two bronze-wing pigeons like a cat across the road.
     "It is a mottled grey, with a head like a wombat. "It is 5ft. long, with a tail twice as long as its body."
The monster of Woolamai

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: March 8, 1956
Page Number: 3
WONTHAGGI, Wednesday: A Woolamai farmer is carrying a gun while out tonight. Today his children saw a mysterious striped animal with long bushy tail, while they were cycling to school.
     The children, Betty Drew, 14, and her brother Robert, 13, said tonight the animal was much bigger than a cat,
dog, or fox.
     They saw it on a bush track 12 miles from the hunting grounds of the Wonthaggi "monster" reported in recent months.
     Betty said: "It had dark stripes through its furry coat, and a very long, bushy tail. It appeared to be stalking birds. It disappeared into scrub as we got closer. It had the strangest face, one can only describe as like that of an owl."
     Last night the Drews' cattle herd stampeded, waking Mr. Drew.
     Again this morning the cows kept rushing up to the house.
     Tonight Mr. Drew will search by spotlight for the animal.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: June 16, 1956
Page Number: 7
WONTHAGGI, Friday: Armed men will keep a watch over a staked sheep carcase this weekend in an effort to trap the Wonthaggi Monster.
     Seven times in the last month dead sheep, poisoned to kill marauding foxes, have been dragged 200 yards and eaten overnight.
     Wonthaggi people are talking of nothing but the monster.
     Mr. Ern Featherstone, one of 14 people who have had fleeting glances of the monster, says it is a Tasmanian
     Discovery of a 3ft. 9in. native cat at Lindenow leads others to believe that it is a rare native cat.
     Mr. Jack Hitchen, of Inverloch, thinks it will turn out to be a huge possum.
     Mr. Roy Sharrock says:
     "I'd bet pounds to peanuts its the huge tomcat that slept in my barn last winter.
     Mr. George Huntley says: "It'll be a huge cat," which the Kilmany tiger of 1931 turned out to be."
Tasmanian Devil
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Tiger Quoll aka Native Cat

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: June 19, 1956
Page Number: 7
WONTHAGGI, Wednes- day: A 1501b. bloodhound is being used to track down the "Wonthaggi Monster."
     The dog is owned by Mr. D. Mummery, a storekeeper, of Tarwin Lower, 22 miles from Wonthaggi.
     Mr. Mummery has outlined his plan to find the monster's lair.
     When a Wonthaggi farmer finds a dead animal eaten overnight, he is to phone Mr. Mummery, who will rush to the scene with his blood-hound to give his dog a chance to get a fresh scent.
     Huge Scottish deer hounds will be released when the quarry is sighted.
     The plan has been successfully used several times by a Myrtleford dingo trapper.
     "If the bloodhound is good enough to get dingoes, I don't think a timid monster will present much difficulty," Mr. Mummery said yesterday.


by Lindsay Mudge
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: June 22, 1956
Page Number: 1
TWO Argus men cornered the mysterious Wonthaggi "monster" in a dense tea-tree jungle only a mile from the town, late yesterday.
     But it is still at large. lt escaped after a fierce encounter with a veteran hunting dog.
     The dog tracked down the "monster" in the tea-tree after an all-day search through 10 miles of scrub country.
     Yesterday Argus photographer Percy Spiden and I made a special trip to Wonthaggi to hunt the mystery animal which has been sighted by a number of people since early this year.
     Fierce barking by our dog warned us that he had "flushed" the quarry, but only the dog got a good look at the "monster."
     Percy and I caught no more than a fleeting glance of a ginger body flashing through the teatree. I fired six quick shots from a high power rifle, but the animal escaped.
     The dog crashed through the teatree in pursuit, but returned to us in 10 minutes, exhausted and discouraged. We were assisted in the search by Mr. Peter Atkinson, a farmer at Lance Creek, and Mr. Ern Featherston, a motor-car salesman at Wonthaggi.
     Mr. Featherston saw the monster crossing the Inverloch road several months ago.

A monster - but not IT
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: July28, 1956
Page Number: 5
WONTHAGGI, Friday: Wonthaggi shopping centre buzzed this afternoon with rumor that the monster had been shot.
     But it was not THE monster....
    It was a 320lb. wild pig which fell to a fusillade of .303 bullets as it was feed- ing in Kongwak butter factory's whey dam last night.

FOOTNOTE: A 20-months old cow weighs 320lb. That pig was BIG.