Early one evening in 1892, four experienced stockmen were relaxing by the river, doing a spot of fishing after a hard day in the saddle mustering cattle, when someone, or something, began throwing stones at them. What followed was a terrifying night for the four stockmen, as they were stalked through the bush for hours by the stone-throwing creature, later seen to resemble a man, about the same height, but with a much larger body.
The account of the stockmen’s ordeal on Kangaroo Hills station, 60 kilometres north east of Armidale, NSW, was published in The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser on 11 February 1892. The letter began:
“Please publish the enclosed account of an adventure which happened to four men while out mustering cattle on the lower end of the Kangaroo Hills run, and I may mention the account is perfectly true, and can be verified on application to the manager of the Kangaroo Hills station.
“On January 29th, a party of four stockmen went down to the lower end of the run to muster cattle, and fixed their camp on the Day’s River, about half a mile above the Bar. Just as it was getting dark they were fishing opposite a big, steep spur of the mountain, which ran right to the edge of the water in a very precipitous manner. They had been fishing about half an hour when they were startled by a heavy splash in the water, right in front of them, like a large stone being thrown in.”
According to the account, this first splash was quickly followed by two more. Naturally, each of the four men thought one of the others was responsible. One of the men called out to his companions to stop throwing stones as it would frighten the fish. All men denied throwing the stones. Then, three more stones splashed into the river close by the men. They now became alarmed. Was someone having fun with them?
“Who’s throwing stones over there?” one of the men called out. There was no answer. Then they heard something moving on the rocks above them.
They heard the steps of some heavy two-legged creature
“Presently, another stone fell right at the feet of one of them, splashing the water all over him. They all jumped up and made back to the fire as fast as they could, and then began to talk matters over, and wonder who had thrown the stones, when they distinctly heard the steps of some heavy two-legged creature crossing over the gravelly bed of the river, and coming towards them.
“They were so startled that they began to prepare for a hasty flight, if necessary, and were busily engaged in strapping their swags on to their saddles, when a heavy stone, evidently thrown from a, short distance, came with terrific force and struck the fire, scattering it in all directions. The men instantly seized their bridles, and ran to where their horses were feeding, about 200 yards away, and found them snorting and in a terrified state. They caught and mounted them bareback; then, after holding a consultation, decided to go back to the camp and get their saddles if possible.
“They found no one at the camp, and were in the act of saddling their horses when some more stones were thrown at them; they mounted their horses and galloped off into the bush. After they had gone about a mile up the river they stopped, and were speculating what it was that had startled them so, when, in about ten minutes, another stone fell about six yards from them. This one was evidently thrown from a long distance.”
The letter continued:
“They galloped off again up the river, and did not stop till they had gone several miles. The country through which they were riding was very mountainous, being about the roughest of the Day’s River gulfs, and they ran great risk of breaking their necks riding over it at such a pace on a dark night.
“On arriving at the junction of Kangaroo Hills Creek and the Day’s River they stopped again, and thought that at all events, by this time, they had given the animal – whatever it was – the slip; and indeed he troubled them no more for about an hour, when the horses began to snort, and tried to break away.
A large creature, resembling a man
“At this instant a stone was thrown with great force, and struck the ground in front of them, passing quite close to the head of one man. They galloped off again, and crossing the river rode up … a steep spur of the mountain. When they had nearly reached the top their horses began to get exhausted, and they were compelled to stop.
“They remained there for some hours, and, just as daylight was approaching, thought they were at last in safety, and were preparing for three to sleep, while one kept watch, when presently one of the men distinctly saw the form of a large creature, resembling a man, being about the same height, but much larger in the body, standing about 50 yards above them, on the spur they had been going up, and was directly in front of them, preventing them from going any farther.
“He stood for a moment in a clear place between the trees, and could be distinctly seen against the sky, in the pale light of coming day. He stood only for an instant, and then moved slowly and silently down the hill. All this time the horses were very fidgety, and snorting as if they smelt something they were afraid of.
Narrow escape from being hit by stones
“Presently they could see the animal sneaking quietly up the hill towards them, and this time on one side. They galloped off again down the spur. There were no stones thrown till they were in motion, when several flew swiftly past them, and they narrowly escaped being hit by some.
“The animal followed them for a short distance, and then, after throwing one more stone, made off up a very steep spur, a place no horse could possibly climb, and they saw no more of him.”
At last, after being stalked from dusk till dawn, the stockmen’s terrifying ordeal was over. And according to the writer of the letter, this account was an honest recollection of what had happened to the four stockmen on that night.
“The four unhappy men who were chased about all night, in this singular manner, are all quiet, reliable men, not given to romancing, and no-one here doubts their story, as they all assert it is positively true, and are prepared to swear this account is true in every particular, and not exaggerated in any detail.”
And, there was an interesting footnote to this letter.
“It is reported a gorilla was seen about three years ago, on Guy Fawkes River, by a man, who fired three shots at him without effect.”