Early Settlers Tales of Northern N.S.W.
We now turn to the rich store of 'hairy man' folklore to be found throughout the length and breadth of the Northern NSW mountain ranges, and as with the 'hairy man' traditions of the Blue Mountains and southern NSW, these also date from the first years of European settlement throughout the north of the state.
A station hand on Goonoo Goonoo Station near Tamworth, in the New England district wrote of his encounter with a 'Yahoo' in 1844: "I made a camp on the high bank of the creek, lit a fire and made myself comfortable, my dog down at the fire alongside me. I sat smoking a pipe as the moon rose." "About an hour later, when you could discern objects 200 yards [ie 200 m] away from the camp, I heard a curious noise coming up the creek opposite. One hundred yards away I saw him. He seemed as a man, only larger."
"He was something like an ape of a dark colour and making roaring noises. He went away towards Top Bingara, the noise getting fainter." "I started at daylight, getting to bells Mountain about 9 o'clock. Mr Bridger lived there so I stopped and had breakfast. I was telling them about the night before when they said several people had seen the hairy man about there." "He was often seen in the mountains towards the Gwydir and about Mt Lindsay. I thought, how easily this giant animal could elude pursuit, travelling by night and camping in rocks or caves in the daytime.""Some people think they are a myth, but this doesn't explain the many sightings of them by people in the old days."
This author is indebted to researcher Mr E.L. Bates, for the great wealth of material gathered by him, and which he so generously provided me with, when I first began preparations for this book during the late 1970's. It is this material which now makes up much of this chapter. The region covered by his investigations has remained virtually unchanged since pioneering days; rugged, forest-covered hills and mountains, rising up out of the forests of the Hunter Valley and New England Ranges, making up a vast expanse of often impenetrable wilderness.
Vast expanses into which few white men [if any] have ever penetrated. It is from these wilderness regions that, today hairy manbeasts [and womanbeasts!] are claimed to emerge, to wander onto the edge of lonely farms, leaving their sometimes huge footprints in the mud of waterholes as 'calling cards', before retreating back into their wilderness habitat, high amid those cloudline peaks.
Mr. Bates, first heard of the Yowies about 1905, while a child growing up at Caroda, which lies between Narrabri and Bingara. Yet as he grew older Mr Bates became sceptical of the 'hairy man' tales of his childhood. That was, until one evening in 1925, when he met a man at Glendon near Singleton. After learning that Mr Bates was a member of an old Pioneer family in that district, he asked him if he had ever heard of the 'Coories' [pronounced Coo-e-e-es] that once lived out in the scrub behind Minimbah Station during the pioneer days. The man stated that his family had not only heard about, but also seen some of these strange creatures during the later part of the 19th century.
The Coories, he said, stood around 2.6 m tall, the males being very strong, muscular brutes, with deeply set eyes, and curly body hair; that on their heads being about 8 cm in length. Then, during 1931 Mr Bates met an 81 year old man while at Brookfield near Dungog, from whom he learnt that these Coories also roamed the Canobolas mountains outside Orange, in the Central West. Although the old man had never seen one himself, he related that his father and a number of other early settlers of the Canobolas district had claimed to have seen them during the previous century.These, and other similar traditions soon convinced Mr Bates that the accounts of 'hairy man' encounters were more than mere bushman's tall tales.
He settled in the small sawmilling settlement of Upper Allyn Valley, which lies on the southern side of the rugged forest covered Barrington Tops Ranges, and 60km from Dungog. The Allyn Valley is an eerie, foreboding, densely timbered region of towering, steep mountainsides and gorges hemmed in on three sides by the Barrington Tops, some whose peaks rise well above 1,666 m above sea level. Some parts of the Allyn Valley are so impenetrable that they have not yet been completely explored. It was from old people of this district that Mr Bates obtained stories of encounters with 'Coories' reaching as far back as 1848.