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“As far back as I can remember, the yarn of the Hairy Man was told in the Blue Mountain district of New South Wales. It scared children coming home by bush tracks from school and boys out late after lost cows; and even grown bushmen, when going along a lonely track after sunset, would hold their backs hollow and whistle a tune when they suddenly heard a thud, thud of a kangaroo leaping off through the scrub.
Australian Poet Henry Lawson, The Hairy Man, 1903
“The Gundungurra people of the southern Blue Mountains … possess stories of the fearsome ‘Yaroma’, a large, powerful creature with human characteristics and hair covering its body. ‘If a man be pursued by a Yaroma his only means of escape is to jump into a waterhole and swim about, because these creatures cannot wet their feet. They have long teeth which they sharpen on rocks in the high ranges.’
“In the Aboriginal community which occupied the Catalina Park (sometimes referred to as Frog Hollow and now officially known as Frank Walford Park) area of Katoomba until the 1950s, there circulated stories passed down through generations of the ‘Gubri Man’, a giant man-like monster with ‘burning red eyes that peer from an oversized head’, and the ‘Hoori Woman’, his female companion who ‘possesses a fearful voice’. Both were said to occupy a rock shelter somewhere in the cliffs above Frog Hollow.”
John Low, Local Studies Librarian, Blue Mountains City Library
The Blue Mountains has long been home to fearsome creatures that have both terrified and captured the imaginations of generations of original inhabitants and colonial settlers alike.
The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal on 19 June 1902 published an article on the traditions of the Aboriginal tribes that once lived in the rugged mountains of the southern Blue Mountains. In Aboriginal Traditions, The “Yahoo” and “Rock Dog” the author spoke with a local Burragorang Elder who had told him about the Yahoo (what we now know today as the Yowie) and the little-known, but much-feared Rock Dog, which lived in a cave nearby to the Yahoo and was said to be as large as a “good-sized cow”.
The article’s author stated: “My informant also gave me some facts concerning the ‘Yahoo,’ I cannot call to mind the aboriginal name for this animal. The ‘Yahoo,’ (as we all know) is an animal said to resemble a man only that his body is covered with long hair, and his feet are turned backwards, the toes being where the heel should be.
“The aboriginals really believe that such an animal exists and they are all afraid of it. My informant confidently believes that one is still living. He, indeed, offered to take me to the place where I could see it for myself. He says this strange creature is to be seen at the Devil’s Hole, a point about two miles from Katoomba. He describes this particular Yahoo as being large and strong, and I will hand over my invitation to visit it, to some of our returned soldiers, who might like to exercise their curiosity while waiting for their discharge from the military authorities.”
Interestingly, this location was in the same vicinity as the cave said to be inhabited by the “Gubri Man” and “Hoori Woman”.
The author then recounted the experience of a friend walking in that very same area.
“On one occasion a gentleman was out walking amongst the mountains and had been out on the narrow neck, in the neighbourhood of the Devil’s Hole. He was belated and the shades of evening had set in before he left the secluded spot. After he reached home he informed his friends that the Yahoo had followed him all the way home. He had not seen it, but he could hear it quite distinctly following behind him and frequently heard the cry ‘Yahoo! Yahoo!’ The effect of this night’s experience was never forgotten by my friend, and I firmly believe that it was no fancy on his part.”
Man takes Yahoo woman for his wife
The article included another intriguing, yet sadly brief, anecdote from the Burragorang Elder.
“A story is told … that on one occasion an Aboriginal caught a Yahoo woman and took her to wife. Children were born and reared, but after a time the tribe quarrelled over the strangers and killed both mother and children.”
Another example of man and hairy beast interacting occurred around 1820 in the Pagoda Rocks country of the Blue Mountains. The story goes that a “7 foot tall female creature, clad in a marsupial hide garment” abducted seven-year-old Adam Firth from a creek bank near his family’s farmhouse. Adam later claimed that he was carried off by the creature and kept in a large rock overhang where the hairy woman tempted him with a kangaroo leg she’d cooked over a smouldering fire. While held captive, he could hear other creatures in the bush nearby. He escaped after the hairy woman bolted into the bush upon hearing the approaching cries of his family and the barking of their dogs.
The Rock Dog: Gubri Man & Hoori Woman’s pet?
Finally, the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal article included “another strange animal about which my informant spoke”. This was the “Rock Dog”.
“This animal, he says, lives in a cave near to where the Yahoo is living. He spends the day in the cave but wanders out at night time and is a dangerous beast to meet. He had never seen the beast but had heard it barking at night time. It was described as being about as big as a good-sized cow, and its bark is like the roar of a lion.”
Could the Rock Dog have been the ferocious pet of those two other terrifying man-beasts, Gubri Man and Hoori Woman?
For more reports of Yowies and other unknown animals, check out Weird Australia: Real Reports of Uncanny Creatures, Strange Sightings & Extraordinary Encounters.