Sea serpents explore Australia’s scenic southern coastline

In the winter of 1935, sightings of sea serpents were reported right along the scenic coastline of western Victoria in Australia’s chilly southern waters.

Following a sighting by two boys in June, two fishermen in a boat 300 kilometres away were terrorised by a sea serpent a month later. They resorted to shooting at it to make good their escape. Nearby, road builders clambered down to the shoreline and attempted to capture the serpent using heavy ropes and a draught horse before deciding it was probably far more sensible to leave the creature be and “not curtail its liberty”.

serpentSea serpent finds its way into Portland Bay

The Portland Guardian on 24 June 1935, reported, somewhat reluctantly, of a sighting of a sea serpent by two lads at Blacknose Point in Portland, Victoria.

“In Saturday’s Star appears the startling announcement … that a sea serpent has found its way into Portland Bay. We have heard of its appearance, but will give the credit to the Star of vouching for the authenticity.”

“A report from Portland states that while strolling along the beach beyond Blacknose Point one day this week two lads saw what they thought was a school of porpoises. When the object came closer they were so startled they climbed to the higher ground, where they had a better view, and were also further away, because, as they said, ‘They did not know if it had legs.’ The body, it is reported, was a slaty blue colour, from 80 feet to 100 feet long, with a neck between 15 feet and 20 feet long, the head being something the shape of a giraffe’s.

“The head was high in the air, the body had a dorsal fin and a wide tail, something like that of a whale, with serrations on the end, and slaty grey and white stripes along it. The object was travelling parallel with the shore. It then turned and went out to sea. The head and neck were visible high in the air for several miles out. As the tail thumped the water in travelling along, great masses of spray arose.

“Now, one can only wonder where the old gentleman [the serpent] will turn up next,” the article concluded sarcastically. But the sceptical writer of that article would not have to wait long for an answer.

Just over a month later on 31 July, the Morning Bulletin reported on the “well-authenticated” appearance of a sea serpent in the waters off Barwon Heads in Victoria, around 300 kilometres away from the Portland sighting.

The creature was described as combining the characteristics of “a snake, a whale, a sea lion, and a seal, with other features unknown to science”.

“Two Queenscliff fishermen have reported that as they were sailing three miles off Point Lonsdale, yesterday evening, their boat was threatened by an aggressively poised creature 20 feet long and eight feet thick, with a head four times the size of a diver’s helmet, eyes like saucers, a neck three feet long and like a snake’s, and a coat of short, black fur.” 

Strange enough for a museum … ugly enough for a nightmare

“One of the fishermen said that they first noticed the monster about three yards from the boat with its head poised in an attitude suggesting an imminent swoop upon them.

“After the first shock of amazement had passed, he picked up a gun and fired, whereupon the creature disappeared, only to return more belligerent than ever.“

The fisherman then took aim at the angry sea serpent once again, but his gun misfired. He then fired a third shot, and the serpent dived into the water.

Happily for the frightened fishermen, they did not see it again.

“I thought we were gone,” the fisherman said. “I do not know what it was, but it was strange enough for a museum and ugly enough for a nightmare.”

Road workers attempt to lasso the monster

The two fishermen were not the only ones to have witnessed the sea serpent off Barwon Heads, according to the same article.

“Road workers about a mile from Barwon Heads attempted early yesterday to capture a creature which they described as about 18 feet long, of a grey colour, with a head and neck like a serpent’s, an enormous mouth, a fur-coated body, and a white-striped chin. It slid from the rocks as they tried to lasso it.”

The Northern Standard, on 2 August 1935, elaborated on the road workers’ foolhardy attempt to capture the unknown animal. “Working on a new road between Barwon Heads and Torquay, workmen looking from the outer cliff saw an extraordinary sea monster. The foreman sent a gang of men to the beach equipped with ropes and a draught horse to capture it. After trying to lasso the monster from a distance they decided not to curtail its liberty. It then waddled into the sea and disappeared. It was about 15 feet long, greyish in colour, snakelike head, enormous mouth, white stripes under the chin, eyes like motor car lamps, and possessed other characteristics unknown to science.”

Probably just as well that their attempt to lasso the creature failed. Perhaps they should’ve settled for a smaller specimen.

Smaller serpent also spotted nearby

A smaller sea serpent was also sighted according to the Central Queensland Herald on 8 August. Could this have been the offspring of the serpent sighted earlier?

“Hard on the heels of the news of the reappearance of the Barwon Heads sea serpent near Queenscliff comes a report from Airey’s Inlet of the appearance of a sea monster, which appears to be a younger and smaller relative of the creature seen at Queenscliff.

“J. Davis, of Airley’s Hotel, who saw it lying on the fringe of the surf, said the body was about 10 or 12 feet long … The head was a light grey in colour, and it had a sparse coat of darker coloured hair. It had big eyes like those of the Queenscliff monster, but there were no stripes on the body. The head was round.”

Following this sighting, it appears these sea monsters headed back out to sea as sightings along the rugged coastline of western Victoria soon dwindled and these unknown creatures were soon forgotten.

Such sea serpent sightings are not unique to the southern waters of Australia, however.

Similar creatures have been sighted off the coasts of Western Australia and Queensland. The carcass of an unknown sea creature was reported to have washed up on the shore at Narooma on the south coast of New South Wales. Interestingly, this was in April of 1935, just two months before the sightings in Victoria.

Read more sea serpent reports, including the Narooma carcass in Bunyips, serpents & other creatures lurking beneath our waters.

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5 thoughts on “Sea serpents explore Australia’s scenic southern coastline

  1. I notice that most of the reports cited here had the characteristics of elephant seals-big black eyes, body 15-20 feet long and 5-8 feet thick, medium-short neck, big head with a big open mouth and a tail divided into two fins. The first one reported with a giraffe-like neck was however a good sighting of the Longnecked type and I don’t doubt that you have more sightings of that type also in the area. Somebody was wrong when they said it was up to a hundred feet long: with the neck that long, half that length would be more like the usual proportion. No doubt some witnesses were actually measuring the wake. But there was no reason to get surly or sarcastic about it: that is the single most-often observed category of Sea-serpent worldwide.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.


    • Hi Dale,
      Thanks for your excellent feedback … and apologies for taking so long to reply.

      The report of the creature being around 100 feet long was from the two boys so there may have been some youthful exuberance evident in their reporting. I’ve since come across several more reports of creatures estimated at up to 90 feet, but as you said, this could mistakenly include the wake. In regards to the reporting, thankfully, most newspaper reports were fairly evenly balanced compared with more modern times.

      If you’re interested, I posted some other reports of sea serpent sightings, and in one case a carcass washing up on a beach, in Bunyips, sea serpents and other creatures luring beneath our waters.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your knowledge.


    • Thanks Dale, appreciate your interest.
      The Bunyip, or debil-debil, has many different descriptions even among different Aboriginal groups (who have an intimate knowledge of local flora and fauna). This makes me think that perhaps the bunyip is more a ‘cultural memory’ based on stories passed down over many, many generations of long-extinct mega-fauna. From the reports I have read, the only similarity in relation to bunyips and debil-debils is that the Aboriginals were terrified of the creature.


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