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The Sydney Morning Herald

YOWIES? NOT REALLY, ONLY A FEW HERMITS

Author: By JOHN STAPLETON
Date: 28/07/1987
Words: 601
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: News and Features
Page: 2
There could be up to half a dozen people "gone bush" in the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, at any one time, a ranger at the park said yesterday.

Instances of hermits living in national parks have been highlighted after publicity surrounding the so-called "Wild Man of Woronora Dam".

Eight young people claimed to have seen an ape-like creature near the dam last weekend.

Police, Water Board officials and local people have all dismissed the idea of there being a yowie or such a creature in the area and have attributed the sighting to a hermit who is known to frequent the park.

The man, originally from Yugoslavia, has been sighted by Water Board officials several times.

A Royal National Park ranger, Mr Peter Shadie, said yesterday: "It's hard to stereotype them. They are social outcasts, a bit like the people on Gilligans Island at Taylor Square. Because the park is so close to Sydney it acts as a refuge for all sorts of people."

He said he could see parallels between the hermits he found in the park and vagrants in Sydney.

"There are probably lots of similarities between being lost in the suburbs and being lost in the bush," he said.

Mr Shadie said many of the hermits created "a hell of a mess" and were moved on as soon as they were discovered.

Ms Cherrie Evans, another ranger, said the park had a long history of vagrants.

"The way you pick them up is you see the same person week after week walking up a track. They tend to be just lost souls," she said.

Ms Evans said that camping out in the park could be dangerous.

"Because the park is close to Sydney and has good access it attracts an unsavoury clientele at times. Over the years there have been murders, rapes, suicides, car dumping and stripping, and people growing marijuana," she said.

Mr Harold Senior, who worked at the Royal National Park for 43 years, retiring in 1985, said there had been a number of hermits living in there over the years, some of whom he remembered fondly.

There had been one young man, whose parents thought he was dead, who lived in the park for several years. When he was finally discovered he was charged with minor offences, such as stealing food and magazines from weekend camps. When his camp was cleaned up park staff found half a sugarbag-full of clocks.

During the forties Marley Jack lived in a cave at the north end of Marley Beach.

He had a stove built into the rock and a guttering system to provide fresh water.

When the police asked him to move Marley Jack, Mr Senior said, he put in a report on his good character, saying that he kept the beach clean and helped searchers find the bodies of people who drowned. Tidal currents bring many people drowned off Sydney's eastern beaches to Marley Beach.

Another vagrant, known as Deep Water Billy, lived at Jibbon Point, opposite Cronulla, for many years. He was regularly reported by hikers.

"He would lie up on the rock ledges, and his big blue mottled feet would make him look just like a corpse," Mr Senior said.

 
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