From the Dreamtime the Yowie In Myth And Reality
National Park, Arnhem Land 1982
metre tall bad smelling creature with white Hair
Brutish, hairy, ape-like
monsters are said by many people to inhabit Arnhem Land's Kakadu National
Park. People who have penetrated this wild country in Land-Rovers have
been known to return to civilisation with stories of giant footprint
discoveries or claims of sightings of large hairy male or female creatures.
The monster hominids are
depicted in local Aboriginal cave art as tall, hairy figures beside
smaller Aboriginal figures for size comparison.
In 1982: there was one incident when a camping party awoke one morning
to find enormous manlike footprints embedded in the mud of a nearby
waterhole. Later that day one of the group, Miss Judy Clark, was terrified
at the sight of a three-metre-tall, bad-smelling male creature with
long whitish hair.
Carrying a large jagged
stone knife, he stood watching her from nearby scrub.
She later related her experience to a Tennant Creek Aboriginal elder
who introduced her to a young Aboriginal man, Brian Gumballa.
A few years before, in 1976, Brian had been camping one night on the
creek when a man-sized hairy figure stepped out from nearby bushes and
grabbed him. "We fought all over
the ground as I tried to get out of his powerful grip. When I did, I
grabbed a piece of wood next to the fire and struck the creature over
the head . Screaming, the creature retreated into the scrub, leaving
behind a strong, rotting smell and a greasy feeling all over me,"
Elders believe he had fought off a young male Pankalanka.
Boyd National Park 1982
and hairy, walking on two Legs
Beyond the Wild
Dog Mountains lie the Jenolan Ranges and, rising behind, high above
them, the vast range of the Kanangra Boyd National Park. It is yet another
region steeped in ancient Aboriginal folklore as the home of the "great
"It was about 2.7 metres tall, muscular and hairy, and walked on
two legs into the dense scrub without looking back at us."
That was how two bushwalkers described a mystery intruder in their camp
at dawn one morning in 1982 near Boyd River Crossing, high up in the
rugged, forested gorges and mountains that form the Kanangra Boyd National
The early Aborigines
hereabouts were not the only ones who took the yowies seriously: the
early white settlers living on the fringes certainly did, judging by
the many tales that have come out of the region from the 1800's.
Australian Aborigines 1982
The early Aborigines
certainly appear to have had a hard time, what with invading manbeasts
from Asia seizing their land and driving them out, killing and eating
them at every opportunity!
In fact, it would seem that Aborigines were considered a "blue
plate special" among the cannibal giants of "dream-time"
Of all the cannibal
giants none were more feared among Central Australian Aborigines than
the Pankalanka. Also known to some tribes as the Pungallunga, these
huge white-haired men and women were said to live almost entirely upon
the flesh of Aboriginal men, women and children.
are depicted in myths and legends as killing Aborigines, tucking them
into their hair-string belts around their waists, and carrying them
back to their camp to cook and eat them. Their jaws and
teeth were extremely powerful, and before eating the bodies of their
victims they would crush the bones completely and eat the whole body.
recipe for cooked Aboriginal was to first remove the intestines, then
bury the bodies in an earth trench, lighting a fire above it, similar
to the way Aborigines cook kangaroos. After
cooking, the bodies were dismembered with stone knives. Sometimes the
heads of their victims might be placed in the fork of a tree, to be
consumed as a snack the next day!
men and women were terrifying to look upon. They roamed the land in
search of Aborigines, and at night groups of them could be seen carrying
their firesticks. They would light great bonfires in the desert country,
roasting their Aboriginal captives in them.
made and used both stone and wooden tools which they carried about with
them. The men grew at least 2.6m to 3.3m tall and were very powerfully
built, while their females were a little smaller in stature. Occasionally
the Aborigines would fight back. One old legend relates how tribesmen
of the Mulara Spring district banded together and speared all but one
of a large group of Pankalanka. He was hunted into Kuniula Cave.
fire was lit at the entrance which burned away all trace of the manbeast.
documentary film maker, Mr Bill Marshall Interview 1982
shown to aboriginal children of the patterson Footage
On an Aboriginal
settlement in the Alice Springs district in 1982, noted documentary
film maker, Mr Bill Marshall, entertained the Aboriginal children one
evening with a video copy of the American documentary feature film.
"Mysterious Monsters". When the world-famous
footage of a 'Bigfoot' [filmed near Bluff Creek in California's Pacific
north-west by the late Roger Patterson] came on the screen, the children
began shouting "That's Pankalanka, that's Pankalanka"!
soon learnt that these white-haired people are very fierce, make large
stone tools and also fire. I said 'are' because according to the Aranda
tribal elders, and [as Bill Marshall learnt] also many Europeans, the
Pankalankas are still supposed to survive, consisting of several tribes
living in the remote Macdonnell Ranges area.
The region where
they are said to live is small hereabouts - about 45 square kilometres
- and Mt Viel and Mt Liebig are prominent landmarks, and the area is
situated at the tail end of the Macdonnell Range in the Belt Range,
some 400 km west of Alice Springs. In an interview
with this author some years ago, Bill Marshall said these giants are
said to possess a language and that the Aranda Aborigines are able to
communicate with them [hopefully when the Panklanka are not hungry!].
who have been able to penetrate the territory of the Pankalankas have
claimed to have found some of their giant-size stone tools, and also
seen their campfires in the distance at night. Bill Marshall
also informed me that he has seen the fires of the Pankalankas but not
their stone tools. Bill's wife claims to have seen one of these giants,
a 2.6m tall, white-haired monster, while they were visiting the Belt
Also, a friend of the Marshall's, a Mr Geoffrey Hulcombe,
informed them some time ago how he also had an experience with the Pankalanka. He related how,
one night in 1982 he camped at a wide billabong situated among large
rocks. The next morning he went to wash at the billabong and was shocked
to find giant man-like footprints in the mud leading down to the water's
are still said to wander the plains at night brandishing their fire
sticks, their appearance continuing to inspire fear among the Aboriginal
population, and any lone Aborigines unfortunate enough to come upon
hairy red Men
In April 1982
I was informed by an Atherton Tableland stockman that his Aboriginal
assistants were in the habit of leaving food on the edge of a fenceline,
for the "little hairy red men", who would emerge from nearby
forest at night and remove it. The food left
for the little natives consisted of vegetables and bread on most occasions.
Letter 1982-Encounter 1937
very small Blacks
In January 1982,
I received the following letter from Mr Jim West of Grafton NSW: "In 1937
I was on the track just travelling all over the country as were a lot
of others during the depression. I was with two other blokes, a chap
by the name of Bob Marshall and another bloke named Bluey Fowler.
He was supposed
to have been brought up by the blacks up in the Cape York Peninsula
area. He could hunt like no man I've ever seen, he knew exactly where
to get them. We were up at
Tully, collected our rations and were just sitting around the town;
the police got onto us and told us to move on. That was common practice
in those days, we were doing no wrong. So we went up the river a few
miles and made camp.
We had two push
bikes between the three of us, we used them to strap our swags on the
bikes and push them along. We were at this camp for about five days,
every now and again this Bluey fowler used to say we are "being
watched, there is someone around. I feel eyes on us", he said.
we were sitting around the camp when, just out of nowhere I looked up
and there were five very small blacks about 1 to 1.6 metres in height,
and they had spears in their hands.
Three of them came within 4-5 metres of where we were sitting, the other
two stood about 3-4 metres behind them looking very hard at us and the
bikes seemed to fascinate them.
used to do a bit of engraving with needles. He used to engrave anyone's
name on a tobacco tin, he used to charge 1/- or 2/- for his work, whatever
he could get. The three of us had one of them. After the natives
had been standing there for two or three minutes Bluey Fowler held his
tobacco tin out towards them making an offer for them to take a smoke,
but they made no move, so after a while he tossed the tin over to where
they were standing.
They stood for a few seconds, then one of them picked
the tin up, looked hard at it, then placed it under his arm pit.
While all this
was going on Bob Marshall slipped the old rifle we had out from beneath
the bunk we made up. He handed it to me as I was supposed to have been
the best shot with the rifle out of the three of us.
I just laid
it across my legs, while sitting down. I cocked it and was just waiting
for something to happen. The next instant they were gone, just scampered
back into the bush. After they were
gone we made a joke of Bluey losing his tin of tobacco. He told us that
the black who had picked it up would keep it until he died. I asked
how he came by that information. He said:"When the black placed
the tin of tobacco under his arm pit, it meant he liked it very much
and it was 'his' for good".
The round Capstan
tin was engraved with the name 'Bluey;' on the bottom of the tin with
a scrawl under the name and a small heart on top of the name, and probably
small naked black Natives
In January 1982
one startled farmer saw what he described as "three small naked
black natives", 1-1.3 m in height, with crinkly hair, carrying
spears, moving through a mountainside rainforest near his Tully farm.
In 1982 Mr Ralph
Kelly of Sydney, NSW related to me the following story: "I was
in the company of a group of bushmen exploring deep in the Barrington
Tops [inland from Taree] in 1977, when the men found a huge strip of
bark, 30 cm in width, which had been torn off a tree trunk up to a height
of 10 m.
This had in
turn been stripped of its fibre which had then been rubbed into balls,
in the same manner as Aborigines did, in order to make string for basket
was a musty smell about the site, and it soon became obvious to us that
the string makers had left the spot in haste at the sounds of our approach".
chert tools found near child-sized Footprints
In January 1982
a group of men were exploring up the Colo River from Kurrajong, carrying
canoes to ride back on. During their trek they came upon a spot where
small bare feet marks lay about the ground, as if a large group of children
had picnicked. However, there
were no signs of normal children, such as any scraps or other rubbish.
Instead, the men found small chert tools scattered about the ground.
ape-like beast 3.3m in Height
On the road
to Cabramurra is a road sign pointing to "The Ravine". This
has been a persistent location for Yowie sightings for a great many
years. It was here one night in the winter of 1982 that a Mr H Drew
saw a huge creature while driving on the road at 11pm.
was standing in the middle of the road when it was suddenly illuminated
by the car headlights. Mr Drew noted that the huge hairy ape-like beast
was about 3.3 m in height, but before he could observe much else the
huge hairy beast strode off the road into the darkness.
footprints in Snow
Mrs H.L. Drew
herself found a number of Yowie footprints, embedded in snow at Kings
Cross Road near Cabramurra in the winter of 1981.
North of Bathurst
lies the old gold mining town of Ophir, scene of countless 'hairy man'
encounters by settlers since the 19th century.
Here, one September
night in 1982, at 11pm Mrs Pauline Yeates was driving her car along
the Summer Hill Road. At the third crossing near Summer Hill Creek School,
she sighted ahead of her, a dark humanoid shape fully 8ft [2.4m] tall,
moving across the road, illuminated by the glare of the car headlight.
The creature vanished into thick roadside scrub.
says that one day during 1977, a group of hikers saw a 2.4m black haired,
ape-like beast moving through the scrub near the third crossing of Summer
Mrs Irene Daniel
informed me in 1982 that, when she was a young girl in the early 1940's,
she lived with her family at Crowdy, situated 50 miles south of Port
to walk in to the school with other children of a morning along a bush
track. Sandy hills
lay on one side, on a freshwater lagoon which lay between the ocean
and swamps and bushland." "On one
occasion the children found big footprints in the sand leading down
toward the lagoon.""I also
recall about this time, three men were out shooting one day when they
spotted a creature in the swamp thereabouts.
The creature was of great
height, about 12 ft [3.6 m]. The men at first thought it was a man walking
in the swamp, but once they realised it was no normal human they ran
off in fear of their lives".
During our October/November
2000 south coastal-southern Alps field investigation Heather and I happened
to stop for lunch at a picnic ground outside Tumbarumba, on our way
to Mt Kosciusko. Here we met
up with a 38 year old bushman Neil Hoskins [see Chapter Ten], who related
the following personal experience.
1982 I was up in north Qld, on a train travelling at 25 mph through
scrubland heading for Marlborough [north of Rockhampton]. Coming
round a loop an English tourist, looking out the window, spotted a 2
metre tall, hairy man-like creature standing near the railway line."
point I saw 'him' also." "It was
definitely not some bloke dressed in a monkey suit. 'He' was beside
a tree with his right arm slung over a branch." "I observed
a face not unlike that of a human and this was about 30cm tall by at
least 12cm in width. He had big eyes. This was all I could observe in
a hurry as the train sped past and I lost sight of him."
i received another
from Mr Jerry Kennedy, himself a fifth generation descendant of the
Troolwoolway Tasmanian Aboriginal people and a former Arnhem Land school
teacher. His letter follows: "I was
teaching at a small government school on the pastoral property "Mountain
Valley', situated on the southern border of Arnhem Land, about 500 Kilometres
south-east of Darwin in 1982.
One Monday morning
I told the kids that we would finish our work at lunchtime and go swimming
at the local creek, Flying Fox Creek in the afternoon." "The children,
all Aboriginal kids, went down to their camp for morning tea, and after
recess young Joshua Moore brought his father, Dinny, along to see me.
Dinny asked me not to take the children swimming to Flying Fox Creek
because that weekend they had both [ie Dinny and his son Joshua] seen
the 'Devil-Devil', and were very frightened of encountering it again." "They described
this 'Devil-Devil' as an extremely large hairy creature with "hair
on the palms of his hands" [ a fact that young Joshua found particularly
It was a creature well known to them in the folklore and legend
to that part of the Northern Territory, and Dinny said the creatures
live between north-east of the Northern Territory and across into the
far north west of Qld in the Gulf country, apart from their presence
further south into the 'red centre'." "I suppose
I should have gone down to Flying Fox Creek myself that afternoon to
look for tracks, but perhaps I got just a little bit worried myself!"
The nearby Macdonnell
Ranges has long been the scene of Pankalanka activity. In 1982 there
was one incident where a camping party awoke one morning near a waterhole,
to find enormous man-like footprints embedded in the mud, left there
during the night.
day one of the group, Miss Judy Clark, was terrified at the sight of
a 3m tall, bad-smelling male creature with long whitish hair, carrying
a large jagged stone knife, who stood watching her from nearby bushes. She later related
her experience to a Tennant Creek Aboriginal elder, who introduced her
to a young Aboriginal man, Brian Gumballa.
Brian was a few years before
in 1986, camped one night on the creek, when a man-sized figure stepped
out from nearby bushes and grabbed him. "We fought
all over the ground as I tried to get out of his powerful grip. When
I did, I grabbed a piece of wood next to the fire, and struck the creature
over the head. Screaming, the creature retreated into the bush, leaving
behind a strong, rotting smell and a greasy feeling all over me,' he
he had fought off a young male Pankalanka. "Anyone
who goes out in the hills at night must beware. The Pankalanka people
roam about in groups with their firesticks. If they catch you they cut
you up with their big stone knives and roast your flesh over their campfires
before eating you," Elders continue
to warn tribespeople and Europeans alike all over the 'Red Centre'.