Land of the Jimbra
As with the 'hairy man'
traditions of Aboriginal eastern Australia, the old tribes of the western
half of the continent, as we have seen, likewise possessed many different
names for the Yowie, confusing these primitive ape-like creatures with other,
and often larger, giant hominid forms.
The Western Australian tribes called one of these giant races the 'Ninya',
describing them as a white-skinned, 3-4m tall people, who emerged from Australia's
centre long before the appearance of the first Aborigines.
They also speak of a race of normal-sized, hairy, big-browed people with receding
foreheads; a race of tool-making, fire-making beings reminiscent of Homo erectus,
and who territory extends far eastward into the other states; and of tool-making,
fire-making giants, either related with those of eastern Australia, or else
representatives of other people entirely.
And then there are the 'little people', the pygmy folk of the far north, of
whom many Aborigines appear sometimes to be as much afraid of as they are
the Jimbra, Pankalanka and Tjangara.
During the mid-1970's there were a number of sightings claims of "little
hairy people" by Aborigines and others in the Wyndham-Ord River district
of the Kimberley, west of the Northern Territory border.
In one incident, which took place in 1975 a group of stockmen rounding up
a mob of cattle in the Carr Boyd Range south of Ivanhoe near the Ord River,
were startled when they noticed that they were being observed by a group of
little black men and women in nearby scrub. When one of the horsemen approached
them through the trees the little group scattered.
In 1977 an Aboriginal stockman 'Jimmy', was droving cattle on the Fitzroy
River near Gogo when, on a dusty track he met three pygmy size, frizzy haired
natives, two males and a female. "I spoke to them in my own Aranda tongue, and they seemed to understand
me. The intimated they were passing through from somewhere in the Grant Range
further west, where their tribe was situated. They were all no taller than
3ft 6inches to 4ft [about 1 to 1.2m] and the female carried a bark container
with yams and other bush tucker, while the men carried spears and stone knives.
All were clothed in kangaroo skins," he told a policeman.
Known in the Kimberley region as the Jim Jim [among other names] to the Aboriginal
people, these little natives are often claimed seen by drovers on lonely bush
tracks, by parties of explorers, by telegraph linesmen and surveyors working
in isolated locations over a wide area of the Kimberley-Arnhem Land wilderness.
Further south of the
Kimberley Plateau lies the vastness of the Great Sandy Desert, one of the
fabled homes of the dreaded Jimbras, those monstrous 3-4m tall, powerfully
built gorilla-like beings so feared by the Aborigines.
The Gigantopithecus-like beings continue to remind us of their presence.
Travellers in remote areas have claimed from time to time during the 1990's,
to have found the huge footprints of these creatures.
Much earlier, during
the 1970's there was a spate of claimed Jimbra footprint discoveries, such
as that of Mrs Joan McKendrick, who while prospecting with here husband Tom
near Lake Tobin, in the south-east corner of the Great Sandy Desert, one day
in 1972, stumbled upon several, 45cm long footprints in soft soil.
"I nearly fainted when I came across these large tracks in the soil.
I never thought such monsters ever existed outside Aboriginal myths,"
she said later to this author.
To the north of here lies Jimberingga. This community bears a name which is
actually another variant of 'Jimbra' and it too is an area of Jimbra sightings
in recent years.
It was about 10km north of this community one day in 1977 that two young property
workers, claimed they saw a "massive, black-haired gorilla-like monster"
emerge from bushes onto a road, waving a large tree limb menacingly at them
and emitting loud snarling sounds. The young men retreated to their truck
and drove off in haste.
Back in 1952, mineral surveyors working in a remote area on the edge of the
Gibson Desert in the Brassey Range, found over a dozen monstrous footprints
up to 60cm in length embedded in the dried mud of a water hole, about a day
old. An Aboriginal guide with the party told the men that a "Jimbra monster"
was nearby and that they should leave the area right away. The men heeded
his advice and promptly abandoned their camp!
Back in 1898 a Mr
Jack Petheridge was one of a party of graziers in search of good pasture lands
beyond Broome. Penetrating inland across the Fitzroy River, they entered the
Oscar Range country. Jack was 25 years old at the time and a good shot with
a rifle, supplying the group with kangaroo meat during the expedition.
What follows is from Jack's own diary still preserved by descendants now living
"My companions and I had been out from Broom for two months and as we
were low on food again I went out one day to shoot more game."
"I approached a stand of trees and dense shrubbery. When it was but 30
yards distant I heard rustling among the foliage. Then to my horror, an enormous
ape of the Gorilla family emerged into view, fully 14ft in height. His snarling
mouth displayed large teeth and his eyes were deeply set within thick eyebrows.
His forehead sloped back and long thick reddish-brown hair trailed from his
head, which was sunk into the shoulders giving him a stooped gait."
I observed his large genitals and his strong muscular body and arms, which
appeared much longer than a normal man's. His hands and fingers were very
large and he gripped a high tree branch with his left hand as he stood looking
menacingly at me."
"The man-ape began advancing toward me and it was then that I fired a
shot at the brute's chest. He screamed and clutched his chest but kept coming
so I fired again, a fatal shot at his head and brought him down only feet
"The man-ape was covered over much of his body in thick reddish-brown
hair and had very large feet with an opposable big toe. I ran back to camp
to tell my disbelieving companions, but after they saw the body the first
thought was how many more of the gorillas were thereabouts. But the creature's
great height and bulk was much more than any ordinary gorilla to our knowledge,
and anyway, what were such animals doing in Australia?"
The men left the 'gorilla' lying there and abandoned the region, heading for
home. Jack later returned to the area with a naturalist, but by then months
had passed and no trace of the creature's bones could be found.
There are many "historical period" accounts preserved across Australia,
as we have already seen, which demonstrate that our pioneers took the existence
of the "hairy men" seriously.