1903 (1) - Queanbeyan Observer Article
John Gale, An Alpine Excursion (Queanbeyan, 1903) The whole book appears in serial form in The Queanbeyan Observer, 13th February to March 17th 1903.
[John Gale (1831-1929) was founder and editor of 'The Queanbeyan Age'. His published works contain two passages describing a hairy man or Yahoo.]
Swift, in his introduction to the travels of Gulliver, speaks of a tribe of animals with certain Human attributes, passions and vices. The work meantioned is, we know, fiction - satire. But there is one in reality (as in fiction) which is a creature?
Out in the fastness of the big mountains and deep, scub-tangled gullies west of the Upper Murrumbidgee, a strange, shy and wild creature is said to have been seen on many occasions.
It is spoken of sometimes as the "hairy man", sometimes as the "Yahoo". For thirty years or more, it has occasionally made its appearance in those regions, according to commom reports. If these reports were not so well authenticated, and abundantly confirmed, as I shall proceed to show, one might reasonably put them down to superstition or the exaggerations of imagination under the exitment of fear.
If the evidence before us is worthy of credence, then the creature referred to does exist, and is, in all probability, a quadrumanous animal, from its desription. I had hesitated to refer to the story of the Yahoo here; but on fuller consideration I arrive at the conclusion, that not only because it is a readdable matter, but because the alligations I am about to narrate ought to be known in the interests of natural science and the zoology of Australia.
My informants - the gentleman who (amongst others whose unsupported statements might be taken cum grano salis) aver they have seen this wild, mysterious creature- are not ignorant persons or superstitiously inclined; they are strong minded, experienced and educated men.
The subject of the existence and various apparitions of the "hairy man" of the upper Murrumbidgee settlers a generation ago, the "Yahoo" of the present generation, was the topic of conversation at the camp formed by Messers. McDonald, senior, Cox, and myself, as mentioned in the earlier passages of this narrative.
Mr. Cox was relating what had befallen him when camped alone in the ranges of Brindabella about two years ago on a shooting expedition. He was, he said, enjoying his billy of tea in the afternoon, when his attention was drawn to an enraged cry, between a howl and a yell, in the thick scrub of a gully close by.
He instantly seized his rifle and looked in the direction whence the sound proceeded. There he saw a huge animal in an erect posture tearing through the undergrowth, and in a moment it was out of sight before he could bring his rifle to his shoulder.
He distinctly heard the crashimg of the undergrowth in its flight, and he followed after it. Its speed was greater than that of its persuer; but as it fled its howling and yelling continued. That it was no creation of an exited imagination- (and from what I know of Mr. Cox, he is not a likely subject of wild hallucinations; but on the contrary, a remarkably cool, intrepid fellow, too well enlightened and educated to magnify a simple fact into a chimera)- is confirmed by this, that in his pursuit he met severalwallabies tearing up the gully in such alarm that, though passing close by, theytook not the least notice of him.
These were followed presently by a herd of cattle similarly scared. Further pursuit was vain, for the thing had now gone beyond sight and sound.[Mr. Cox's tale lacked corroboration; however, wrote Gale, this objection did not apply to the following story told by Joseph and William Webb] They were out in the ranges preparing to camp for the night.
Down the side of a range to the eastward, and with only a narrow gully separating them from the object which attracted their attention, they first heard a deep gutteral bellowing and then a crashing of the scrub.
Next moment a thing appeared walking erect, though they saw only its shoulders and head. It was hirsute, so much of the creature as was visible, and its head was so deep between its shoulders that it was scarcely perceptable. It was approaching towards their camp.
Now it was in full view, and was of the structure of a man moving with long strides and a heavy tramp. It was challenged: "Who are you? speak, or we'll fire". Not an intelligible word came in response; only the gutteral bellowing.
Aim was taken; the crack of the rifle rang out along the gully; but the thing if hit, was not disabled; for at the same sound of the shot it turned around and fled.
The two gentlemen, filled with amazement and curiosity, but not alarm, went to where they had seen and shot at this formidable-looking creature, and sought for its tracks in verification of what had happened. There were its footprints, long, like a mans, but with longer spead toes; there were its strides, also much longer than those of a man; and there were broken twigs and disordered scrub through which it had come and gone.
They saw no blood or other evidence of their shot having taken effect.
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