As a sequel to last week’s post on 19th century encounters with the hairy man of the Blue Mountains, this week weirdaustralia explores more recent close encounters with what we now commonly refer to as the yowie. Such encounters are regularly reported up and down Australia’s eastern seaboard, from the far south coast of New South Wales to Far North Queensland. Here we’ll explore some modern close encounters with the yowie of the Blue Mountains.
It looked sort of like a monkey, but more human
The Megalong Valley is a picturesque valley of green rolling paddocks dotted with pockets of eucalypt forests framed on each side by rugged sandstone cliffs and thick bushland. It’s a popular spot with sightseers, bushwalkers and horse riders.
In 2006, Catherine, her husband Brendan and their friend Sarah were spending an enjoyable afternoon of horse riding in the valley when Catherine’s horse started lagging behind the others. “It was sniffing the air and turning around to bite me, and I knew something was wrong,” Catherine said. As the horse continued acting up, she suddenly smelt “a real foul stench like salty blood”. It was then that she saw it standing there, just left of the trail where the ground dropped off into the scrub. It was about 10 to 15 metres away. “It just stood and looked at me”.
She then went on to describe the creature standing before her.
“It looked sort of like a monkey, but more human,” Catherine told researchers Tim Healy and Paul Cropper. It was “smaller than a human, about four feet tall”. She described the creature’s body as “solid” and having “square shoulders”. It was very hairy, “dark brown, all tangled, like a shaggy dog that hadn’t been washed for a while”.
The creature had a “pushed in nose” and “two canine teeth that protruded over its lip”. She couldn’t see ears, because of the creature’s hair; she could see eyes, however not distinctly. It had long legs with three claws on its feet. In its hands it held something, “like a dead kangaroo, but smaller, like flesh, like it was skinned, inside out.”
She watched it for maybe two or three minutes. She then kicked her horse and it bolted off down the track in pursuit of the others. “I held on for dear life. I kept smelling [the creature, and] felt like it was watching me.”
Thirty minutes later, all three riders heard rustling in the bushes. This time, Sarah saw something “… a monkey … an ape sort of thing … just glaring at me … real scary.”
Again, Catherine’s horse bolted and she hit a tree and was thrown to the ground. She suffered deep abrasions on her right forearm and hip, a fractured right collarbone, two fractured ribs, bruised legs and swollen ankles and was taken to Katoomba Hospital. When she spoke to the owners of the horses later, she learned she was not the first to have had such an encounter while riding in the Megalong Valley.
Perhaps surprisingly, this is not the first description of a diminutive four to five feet tall yowie in the Megalong Valley. While some suggest that these may be adolescent yowies, some researchers suspect that they may in fact be a separate species of hairy hominid.
Campers chased away by a big hairy thing
Years earlier, a group of friends camping in the Megalong Valley had a terrifying experience with a much larger cousin of the creature encountered by Catherine and Sarah. It was around dusk when the group of teenage girls sat around chatting waiting for their male companions to return with firewood. After hearing rustling in the nearby bush, the girls turned to see a “a big hairy thing standing watching us on top of the bank”.
“The thing started to descend the bank slowly, toward us. We were watching its every move. Then it dropped down on all fours, hiding in the undergrowth. As it crawled out and stood up, it then began to run at us.” Naturally, the girls did not wait around, they quickly jumped into a car and took off, searching for the boys.
Several years ago, a friend of mine was walking the Six Foot Track from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves with a friend. Camping overnight in the Megalong Valley they heard strange noises that were unfamiliar to them and late during the night they heard heavy footsteps around their campsite, just outside their tent. No other hikers were camping close by. Neither would get up to investigate. While my friend couldn’t explain the strange calls or the heavy nocturnal footsteps, he refused to accept that there may have been some kind of unknown creature snooping around their campsite that night.
You don’t have to venture far off the beaten track for a close encounter with the yowie, however. You might just as well be driving along the highway.
Late night highway encounters
In 1999 a witness reported that he and his father were driving along the Great Western Highway between Woodford and Hazelbrook at around 4am on their way to the family property at Cowra in the Central West of NSW. They were driving through a 60km/hr zone when they spotted what at first appeared to be a man running along in front of them on the opposite side of the road. The witnesses had the impression that this early morning runner was in trouble, as they kept looking back over their shoulder. The driver steered his car across the lane to get a closer look “to see if we could help”.
That’s when they realised that it wasn’t a person.
“It was a lot taller than six feet, had shoulders straight out from its body and long arms down to its knees. It was covered in hair, and loping along, like a human would if they had a sore foot.”
There were no other cars on the highway at that hour and so they stopped their car. “We turned on the spotlight, the creature was about 40 metres away. It stopped, like it was almost stunned. We kept moving towards it over the median strip. We turned off the spotlight and it started running again. It turned down a side street, this was a residential area. We turned and followed it.”
According to the witness the creature ran down the middle of the street. Each time they turned the spotlight on, the creature stopped and turned around. When they switched the spotlight off, it would start running again. “It was moving left and right, like it was disoriented.”
“Once it could see the bush at the end of the street, it ran straight for it. We put a spotlight onto the bush, we could see the tops of the trees moving and swaying around.”
The witnesses described the creature in familiar terms; around eight feet tall; arms almost to its knees; reddish-brown hair, matted and dirty; a face like a human’s only larger.
On the same highway several years later, a man was driving home late at night when he was suddenly confronted by a seven feet tall dark, hairy creature that ran out onto the road in front of his car. The man braked heavily to avoid hitting the creature. The surprised yowie halted, put his hands down on the bonnet of the car and peered in through the windscreen at the terrified driver. It then calmly walked off the road and disappeared into the bush. Shocked and confused, the witness drove his car into a nearby ditch, called the police and told them that he had hit a cow.
Others don’t even have to leave the comfort of their own homes for their close encounters.
Your friendly neighbourhood hominid
On a quiet Hazelbrook street with rugged valleys on either side, a yowie has apparently been making a nuisance of itself by roaming amongst the houses late at night. In 1994, a couple living on the street in a pole home claimed that the creature was “walking under the house with its hand in the air slapping the beams as it went”.
When the man of the house ran outside, the yowie was “startled so much that it ran at a great speed into one of the poles”. The couple said that it rocked the solid house by almost two inches.
Further down the mountains in Faulconbridge, a family living in a very deep valley surrounded by thick bushland have had a nine feet tall “friendly yowie” regularly visit their home. According to the lady of the house, the creature would come down making “comforting tones”. It would run its hands along the walls of the house at night. The woman’s husband, son and daughter have all claimed to have experienced the “friendly yowie”, which was said to have “taken special interest in the daughter”.
Whether it’s terrifying horse riders and campers, surprising late night motorists, making a nuisance of itself or just making friends, it appears the hairy man of the Blue Mountains lives on today.
Dean Harrison’s Australian Yowie Research www.yowiehunters.com