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Around dusk on 31 December 2012, while nearly one million people jostled for vantage points around Sydney Harbour for the world famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, Trevor, from Stanwell Park, a small coastal town nestled on the southern edges of Sydney’s Royal National Park, was going for a quiet walk through the bush.
Trevor had walked this particular bush track many times before … but this time would be very different.
As he walked along the Bullock Track on Mt Mitchell in fading light, half an hour after sunset, Trevor’s attention was suddenly drawn to a large animal perched in the undergrowth just metres from him off the track.
Whatever was lurking there in the undergrowth, it was not any of the animals known to inhabit the area – an area in which Trevor is very familiar.
Trevor described to weirdaustralia.com what he saw.
“The one and only brief view of the black profile in the low light of twilight shadows of the escarpment forest … resembled Mike Tyson the boxer – a big head blending into big shoulders about the width of a human, no neck.”
From the position of the creature, and due to the low light, he could not see the animal’s tail or eyes. To Trevor, the creature also appeared all black with no markings visible whatsoever.
“It was facing me, raised itself to about one metre above ground, and one-third of a metre above the bush which is mostly Lomandra Longifolia, about half a metre high,” Trevor recounted.
“It was just a hop, step, and a jump from me … and if it were hunting, I would be dead now, not hearing anything until it landed on me… my luck day!”
Roared like a leopard in a cage at feeding time
Trevor heard the animal “roar” at him. “I have since matched [the roar] on YouTube to a similar roar of a leopard in a cage being fed, roaring at the handlers to leave it alone to eat in peace.”
After roaring at Trevor, the animal did not run away. Instead, it slunk to the ground, out of view and stayed put. “I would have heard any movement due to the crispy leaves and twigs,” Trevor stated.
“It made no more noise, stayed low in the undergrowth, and obviously observed me as a possible threat to its dinner. I slowly kept moving up the trail, in a non-confronting way, watching for movement, and listening for sounds.
“The ‘watched feeling’ sure kept my adrenalin pumping, and my fight and flight response was pretty keen,” he added.
According to Trevor, he was not the only one to have heard the panther’s roar.
“The roar was heard and responded to by a dog in the distance higher up the hill and on the eastern spur of Mt Mitchell where very few people use the track. It heard the roar, responded and was barking, and coming closer. Then a ‘whistle’ … the dog owner calling it back. I assume that the person and dog were hunting, probably deer. But I never heard them again, or saw them, though I was scanning the tree line of the hill for any signs of movement. There were none.
“At this stage I had relaxed my defensive posture, and slowly kept walking up the track in a ‘non-threatening way’.”
Following his brief encounter with the big cat, Trevor returned to his home on the fringe of the village, just 10 minutes away, and settled in to watch the evening’s New Year’s Eve 9pm fireworks display on TV. “That’s how close to suburbia this is,” he stated.
Trevor returned to the location four days later in brilliant sunshine, camera in hand, to look for any signs, but unfortunately he found nothing. While there, however, he recounted his big cat encounter to a teenager running along the track. The young runner told Trevor that he hadn’t seen anything but had heard some strange noises that didn’t sound like wallabies while running further up the hill.
While there, Trevor also put a notice about his big cat encounter on the track entrance and another in the local shop.
The civic-minded Trevor also tried contacting authorities, but to no avail. “I can’t get through to any government departments, like National Parks, or the Department of Primary Industries,” Trevor complained.
“I figure they just try to make it hard to lodge reports, so they don’t have to ‘explain’ or action anything – lazy public servants … in denial.”
“I’ve also mentioned this to some locals,” Trevor added. “They were flabbergasted and sceptical … like I told them I spoke to an alien or a Bigfoot or something.”
“Oh well, I know what I saw and heard.”
Other big cat sightings in the area
While Trevor had not heard of any other sightings of panthers or other big cats in the valley near Stanwell Park where he’d had his sighting, he has heard of other local reports. A property owner at Darkes Forest, just 5 kilometres to the west, had had a number of sightings while nurses at the nearby Garrawarra Hospital have reported seeing “big black cats” near the car park when changing shifts at night.
For more accounts of big cats and other strange animals, check out Weird Australia: Real Reports of Uncanny Creatures, Strange Sightings & Extraordinary Encounters.