"There's a monster in my backyard!" Manbeast Tales from North-Coastal, NSW
During the preparation of this book, as I began the arduous task of sifting through my many hundreds of case-histories, I was aware of the frightening content of so many of the encounters, and the effect they were bound to have on my readers. After all, what would YOU do if you are driving along the Oxley Highway, through the forest covered coastal mountain country inland from Wauchope late one night , and some dirty big 'hulk' walks onto the road ahead of you forcing you to pull up quick, and just stands there in the glare of your headlights and refuses to budge.
Or, what if YOU are one of two timber-getters besieged in the dead of night in a lonely forest hut, while two or more man-monsters pound away at your walls and roof with huge hunks of wood and rocks, creating a din with terrifying loud snarls and howling, only to walk away leaving their giant-size footprints for you to find next morning?Such stories have been coming from the length and breadth of the north coast of NSW for generations and show no signs of diminishing.
The north coast could be said to begin on the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney, and which forms the southern extremity of the Central Coast district which includes the towns of Gosford, Woy Woy, Wyong and The Entrance; from here extending on up through the still largely wild coastal forest areas of the Hunter Valley to Taree, Port Macquarie, Kempsey to Grafton as far as the vast wilderness of the Border Ranges National Park on the QLD border, and flanked along its western perimeter by the rugged, and largely inaccessible coastal mountain ranges.It is an area rich in 'hairy man' traditions rivalled only by the New England Ranges beyond.
The former Aboriginal tribes of the Central Coast region believed in the existence of a race of 2.7m tall hairy man-like beings called the Rakatak. These monsters were said to inhabit the rock shelters and forests of the coastal mountain range, frequently emerging to look for fish and other food around the shores of Lake Macquarie north of Wyong, and in the swamps and foreshores of the Myall Lakes north of Newcastle, frightening Aboriginal fishermen away from their fishing grounds in the long-ago 'Dreamtime'.
It would appear that the 'Rakataks' still inhabit remote areas of the Central Coast. Consider the following two 'close encounters of the Yowie kind', experienced at the same bushland location by my friend and fellow field researcher, Andrew Leese and myself on separate occasions.
I quote from Andrew's own report he prepared for me:
On the night of Wednesday 22nd July 1998 around 10.30pm, after he had dropped off his wife Wendy at a friends house in Kariong, he drove off in hi s4-wheel drive vehicle for a planned overnight camp at a clearing, reached via a muddy track and adjacent to dense bush country outside the town, on his way back to their Blue Mountains home. With him was Zero, the family's pet black poodle. "I arrived at the clearing, parked and let Zero out of the car to go to the toilet. Whilst he was sniffing around I decided to arrange the back of the car for sleeping. Suddenly Zero started barking and took off into the bush as if after something. I thought it must have been just a kangaroo, so I let him go."
"After about a minute of continuous, really aggressive barking [which is totally out of character for Zero] I called him but he didn't return, but still kept barking. Because it was pretty late and overcast I couldn't see how far away he was, so I decided to go into the bush after him." I'd only gone about 20 feet [6.1 m] when zero came bolting past me with his tail between his legs, yelping. I started to follow him back to the car when I saw him jump into the driver' side, but I wanted to know what had run so I turned around and took about five steps and I stopped dead in my tracks. I had the most intense feeling of being watched."
"Being an intrepid camper, of course I didn't have a torch on me but did have a box of matches, so I took out some matches and lit a few all at once to get a brighter light. After my eyes adjusted I took a few more steps forward peering into the gloom, and that's when I saw 'it'." "Not 8 feet [2.45 m] in front of me stood a large man-shaped creature looking straight at me. And when I say looking, he was looking down at me. He must have been a good 2 feet [60 cm] taller than me and I am slightly over 6 feet [1.8 m] tall.
In the few seconds that the matches lasted I made out a few facial features that I could see, which were his very human eyes, but squashed nose; I didn't make out a mouth as he seemed to have a longish, reddish strangly beard, which covered it and which with the hair on his head and also the long, matted fur-like hair that was on his shoulders and chest, and which was about 6 inches [15cm] long in places. It was too dark to see the rest of him." "I have never felt such an intense feeling of foreboding, it was as if I could feel an intense surge of anger at my being there. My one and only feeling was to flee, at which point the matches burnt my fingers and went out. I turned and ran for the car, jumped in and slammed that door shut behind me."
"Zero was obviously as scared as I was as he'd urinated on the seat, where he was still cowering with his tail between his legs. The one thought that was going through my head was that I shouldn't be there and should leave immediately." "I drove out or there as fast as the muddy track would let me,. all the time hoping that nothing was going to step out in front of me on the way out. Needless to say I didn't camp in the bush that night, but in my friends driveway instead. It was quite obvious that what was down there did not want me or anybody around at that time."
There have been many similar experiences to that of Andrew reported to me from this region over the years, and Aboriginal rock engravings thousands of years old depicting the 'Rakatak' "Hairy man" are still to be found upon rock ledges around the Central Coast district. It was almost a year after Andrew and Zero had their experience that , while on an archaeological field investigation in the Kariong district, I happened to visit this same location with field assistants Fred From and Greg Foster, on Thursday 15th June 2000.
We were examining Aboriginal rock art, when I happened to stray from the others, following a rock ledge onto an extensive area of sandstone shoals bearing further rock art. This spot is surrounded by dense bush below a rise. The time was 2.23pm when I glanced at my watch. The sun had sunk behind the trees on the rise ahead of me. It was at this very moment that, about 15 metres ahead of me, I observed an orangey-brown long-haired arm and portion of the right side of a body, moving quickly, silently across an opening in the foliage, outlined in the back lighting of the sun, to vanish behind a large tree trunk.
The sighting had occurred in less than 2-4 seconds. For a moment I wondered if I had perhaps just seen a cow or horse, yet whatever it was it had made no sound, and despite the bracken covering the ground and the dense scrub, there was not even the sound of snapping twigs. I wondered if it was a hiker exploring the scrub. Then, as I stood there still wondering what it could have been, I spotted about 15 metres away an orangey-brown, hairy hominid-looking creature, observing me from another opening in the foliage. The figure was only partly visible, with the sunlight behind obscuring the facial features.
The figure was visible only from the waist up, the arms being held out from the body, the hands hidden behind the bushes. As with my first sighting moments before, the creature vanished silently into the scrub within seconds, leaving me rather shaken by my experience. I estimated the hominid to have been about 1.5 metres in height. Quickly alerting my companions, we searched the spot for any signs of the creature. There were no signs of footprints at the spots I had seen it due to the undergrowth of twigs , leafmould and sandstone rubble covering the area, and no evidence of freshly broken saplings were to be found, despite a thorough search of the scrub thereabouts.
How that creatures had been able to move about in that scrub without making a sound gave me an eerie feeling, and I was glad to leave the area. This had been my third "close encounter" with a Yowie the other two having occurred in the Jamieson Valley below Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, in 1970 and 1979 as already described in Chapter Ten. Local Aborigines also believed in the former existence of another "hairy man" of gigantuan proportions who roamed an area stretching from the Central Coast far inland up the Hawkesbury-Colo Rivers, where there exist rock engraving and cave paintings of this giant being. Datrumenus was held in such awe that he was regarded as the supreme being by these tribespeople.
Soon after my latest "hairy man" encounter, I received a phone call from Central Coast district part Aboriginal, Mr Frank Eather, who informed me that over 50 years ago timber cutters were in the habit of warning travellers in the Wollombi area to "watch out for 'Wobbly Foot'", which they described as a big-footed 'ape' of medium human height and body build. Convicts dispatched to this area to work in the early years of the 19th century and earlier, in the first few years of the colony at Sydney Cove [1988-1800] were terrified at the very thought of meeting up with him. "Wobbly Foot", said Mr Eather, was said to move about upon two legs, but with a wobbling, shambling gait.
The first colonists who befriended the Aborigines of the Sydney and Hawkesbury River districts soon learnt of these manbeasts - as early as 1788 as we have seen - and these Yowies were claimed seen in the Colo River-Weeni Creek area soon after European settlers began moving into these areas. "When I was a child 60 years ago, I was shown by two uncles a huge freshly made footprint of one of these creatures, embedded in the mud of a creek edge," he informed me. Old Aboriginal traditions of "Wobbly Foot" are still very much alive throughout the Colo wilderness areas,. where sightings of these primitive hominids, or discoveries of their freshly-made footprints in the forest soil are enough to discourage many a camping group from entering these wilds.