From the Dreamtime the Yowie In Myth And Reality
national park Sutherland 1913
is typical of old settlers tales of the region and was given to this
author by Mrs JuneMullans of Kempsey, NSW.
Her father, Mr Frank Bran,
was born in Royal National Park, Sutherland, in 1900 and lived with
his sister Mary and their parents at their residence, [above the causeway
on the eastern [ie Sydney side] of the Woronora River], on Lady Carrington
Drive [now Lady Gowrie] at Audley.
Frank's father [also named
Frank] was the first ranger to be appointed in charge of the park, which
then, as now, was a vast region of dense coastal jungle and scrubland,
itself an extension of the dense forest and scrub country of the South
Coast extending down to, and beyond the Bulli/Wollongong district. Frank and his sister Mary
attended nearby Saltwater School, walking to and from the school every
day along a lonely bush track, always crossing the river at the causeway.
One afternoon in 1913, when
Frank was 13 years old and Mary 11, they were returning from school
and were crossing the causeway. As they neared the east bank of the
river, they both spotted some distance ahead of them, a strange dark
figure standing in scrub at the base of a cliff above the causeway.
I quote Mrs Mullans: "Mary would have been
apprehensive, but Dad was not afraid of anything and walked up towards
the figure for a better look. He soon realised that it was a big brownish
haired, naked male creature, much taller than his 5ft 11 inch [1.8m]
height and very thick set". "As Dad approached it,
the creature moved forward quickly and grabbed him. Dad escaped after
fighting him off, but he was badly scratched as a result of his encounter."
"One afternoon a couple
of weeks later, again on their way home from school [and no doubt a
bit wary as they approached the causeway], they spotted the creature
again. This time he was standing above the cliff at the same spot. Frank
and Mary ran home as fast as they could in another direction." "They never saw the
strange manbeast again." "Eerie cries - terrible
screams - have been heard about the park area in the old days. It was
enough to terrify people and discourage them from camping out at night."
"The 'hairy man' that
attacked Dad is a well established family story ," says Mrs Mullans. A common warning to misbehaving
children of that district lingers on: "The hairy man will get you
if you don't watch out." [This author still remembers
much the same warning from his mother while still quite young, living
on our bush-surrounded farm at Lansvale, outside Cabramatta at the beginning
of the 1950's].