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Newcastle Herald

Apparition or ape-like

Author: Jeff Corbett jcorbett@theherald.com.au
Date: 01/12/2010
Words: 699
Source: NCH
          Publication: Newcastle Herald
Section: News
Page: 8
I DON'T suppose any modern Australian would believe in yowies unless they'd seen one. For us the hairy ape-like creatures are in the same file as bogymen, black panthers roaming the bush and surviving Tasmanian tigers.

Belinda Garfoot felt the same until she and her husband, Peter, watched one crossing the road while on a driving holiday 14 years ago, and after talking to Belinda by phone at her Elermore Vale home yesterday I'm inclined to leave my mind ajar. There is no doubt that Belinda and Peter are sincere and that they saw the same thing.

I came across their account in a book taking a serious look at Australian reports of yowies, The Yowie - In Search of Australia's Bigfoot, by Tony Healy and Paul Cropper. Peter, who's 55 and a technical officer with Newcastle University, and Belinda, 54, were on a driving holiday with their two children when they stopped their car and trailer to let the brakes cool on the Kings Highway on Clyde Mountain heading from Braidwood to the coast.

As he sat in the car Peter saw in the rear-vision mirror a creature he described as large, hairy and upright walking diagonally across the road about 150 metres away, and he and Belinda turned to watch it for five to 10 seconds. The children were too small to see over the back of the seat.

Peter describes it as covered in light brown matted hair, about 125 kilograms and at least 2.1 metres tall (seven foot in the old money), and both Peter and Belinda agree it was much too big to be a man. Arms disproportionally long, no apparent neck, and it didn't slump as it walked.

Belinda told me yesterday it was their first and only such encounter. Does she believe in yowies? "I do now!"

As the authors detail, there have been many reported sightings of a similar creature in that south coast area over more than a century, and Aborigines talked of hairy giants there and in many areas of Australia's east coast. One of the hotspots is the Kempsey area, and only 15 years ago one of the authors, Paul Cropper, investigated a report backed by imprints of feet.

The Hunter has not been without reports of yowies. In 1827 a Royal Navy surgeon who had a farm near Mount Sugarloaf, captain Peter Cunningham, wrote of Aborigines' belief that the region hosted a creature that was tall, hairy and resembled a man, and in 1868 The Maitland Mercury reported an encounter between a timber cutter, Patrick Hogan, with a man-like animal covered in long, tangled hair and standing 1.7 metres (five-feet eight-inches) on the Lake Macquarie side of Mount Sugarloaf.

Reading through the 282 witness accounts in The Yowie book I see that in more modern times Oxley Island near Taree hosted three encounters between residents and what appears to have been the same yowie in the first half of 1977. A year later at Mount Talawahl, 16 kilometres south of Taree, a 17-year-old reports coming across a similar creature on an isolated bush track, and 13 years later, in 1990, at nearby Krambach a young girl riding a horse saw a hairy, crouching figure that rose on two feet and approached her from about 10 metres away. She fled on the horse.

In 1986 an American academic and an Australian tour guide photographed unusual, human-like footprints at Barrington Tops. The prints were a foot size of only 12 or 13 but were strangely wide.

The bush around Nowendoc, north-west of Gloucester and Krambach, has hosted two reported sightings of a shaggy-coated man-like animal, one by men driving along a dirt road in 1993 and the other in 1979.

One of the surprising features of these descriptions is the similarities. It is common for those who've seen a yowie to describe a pervasive stench, huge strides, the absence of a visible neck, brown with a shaggy coat like that of a goat, a stature like that of a man and a height of between two and three metres.

I'm not sure about the existence of yowies, but having spoken to her I am sure that Belinda and Peter Garfoot watched a huge and hairy man-like creature cross the road and it was not a bunyip.

Have you seen a yowie?

Blog with Jeff at theherald.com.au

Have you seen a yowie? Or are they in the

realm of bunyips?

 
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