Brisbane Courier, Queensland
March 17th, 1928
The Hairy Man.
By GEOECKE M-VEE.
SOON after I first visited the Auburn River I made the acquaintance of Chapman, then king by heredity of the Hawkwood tribe or rather what remained of it. Chapman had a grievance, and he explained it fully to me as we sat in the shade of a large gumtree. The quarter moon plate and chain showing kingship had never been issued to him, by the Government.
He had no rival, and no one disputed his clairm, hence he could not understand why the plate had not been granted to him as in the case of the heads of other tribes. I promised to do whatever I could in the matter. On making inquiries, however, I found there were valid reasons why the plate had not been issued, so I let the matter drop.
A Haunted Cave.
MORE interesting was Chapman when the conversation turned upon the cataract known as the Auburn Falls and the haunted cave concealed behind them. It would appear that many years before the Government had proclaimed a fairly larger area in the vicinity as a reserve for the aborigines. For ages, however, the blacks believed the cave to be haunted, and would not go near it, hence they made little use of the reserve, which was afterwards cancelled. Strange as it may seem, some of the early white pioneers shared the belief of the blacks that the cave was haunted.
There can be no doubt whatever about this, for more than one of them openly end seriously averred their belief.
Previous to the interview with Chapman, I had visited the cave, and there was certainly some excuse for the belief entertained by the blacks. Immediately behind the falls was a large elongated hollow, which, during the course of ages, had been carved out of the granite formation by the flood waters. The floor was a deep pool. In flood time numerous sticks and other debris were forced into the cave and whirled round and round with the turbulent waters.
In their rapid and forceful movements the sticks continuously come in contact with the granite walls, and the ends were thus rounded so evenly and smoothly as to suggest the handicraft of man rather than the work of nature.
The peculiar design of the entrance precluded many of the oval-ended sticks from being carried away as the flood waters went down, hence there was always a good supply of them in the cave, which was not accessible at flood time. The blacks believed these finely-turned sticks to be the work of the hairy man, whom they, averred always lived in the cave, and ever ready to do them harm.
I explained to Chapman that I had been to the cave, but saw no hairy man. He replied that might be so, as the hairyman only worked at night. In reply to my inquiry if he had seen him the response was in the negative, but he had often heard him at work. Chapman got a short piece of wood and began striking the ground with it in imitation of the noise made by the hairy man when busy on the sticks with his tomahawk. I mentioned to him that the tapping noises to which he referred produced by the sticks striking the walls as they were being hurled round and round the cave.
Chapman, however, was not convinced. He pleadingly advised me not to try to visit the cave at night, -and I knew that he was in earnest. The, blacks also had legend that if any or more of the hairymans sticks were removed that many would find their way back to the cave during the first night.
Some of the earliest white settles believed this legend to be true, and nothing would induce them, to touch the sticks in the cave.
Some of the later settlers, however, with that stick beak element that pervades all modern thought, decided to test the Legend by removing the sticks from the cave. So far I have not heard that any of them were missing on the following day.
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