A WILD MAN AT TALLAROOK.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.)
Date: August 3, 1880
Page Number: 6
[BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.]
(FROM OUR OWN REPORTER.)
For the past three years the Tallarook district has been possessed of a wild man of the woods. This mysterious individual was first seen about three years ago by Mr. Thomas Mullavey, a boundary rider on Mr. McKenzie's Mount Piper Station.
Mullavey was travelling over the run, and at a rocky range about five and a half miles from Tallarook he observed a stranger, who immediately disappeared in the range. Two years elapsed and Mullavey again saw a strange man near the same spot. This time he came within speaking distance, and Mullavey asked him who he was. The mun replied that he was prospecting. Mullavey had a barney with him, and said he suspected that he was a sheep-stealer. The man protested that he was honest, and then Mullavey offered him some work, but he declined.
Whilst they were conversing the man kept walking into the range, and when he got into a place on which Mullavey could not follow on horseback he ran away, and disappeared. Twelve months passed before anything more was seen of the wild man, as he came to be termed in the district.
On Thursday last, however, a son of Mullavey's was strolling about the haunted spot, and observed a man, who suddenly disappeared from his view. The lad went home at once, and told his father. The strange man was seen on the same day in a different part of the range by a man named Meadows, and on being seen he decamped at a run.
On Saturday morning Mullavey went to look for the man amongst the range. At one place he found a spring of water, from which led a beaten track up amongst the rocks. He followed the track, and on looking over a large boulder he saw a slab of broken granite. As there was an artificial appearance about the slab, he went up to it and raised it with his hands.
To his great surprise he found a hole underneath with two steps in it, and heard a noise as of some one moving about below. He quickly lowered the stone, and retreated. When some distance away he made a dog he had brought with him bark. This was a signal he had previously arranged to procure assistance.
His son and a man named William Kirby, who lives in the vicinity, at once responded, and came forward. They then went up to the cave, but found the stone thrown back, and the bird flown.
Mullavey's son was then sent into Tallarook with information to the police, and Constable John Shanahan at once proceeded to the range. Shanahan states - "When I arrived at the spot, I found that the entrance to the cave lay between two large boulders.
I descended with a lighted candle. The cave is a regularly built house on the side of the range, covered over with soil and made to appear part of the range. The side of the range is one mass of rocks, and the roof of the cave forms a small level area. A quantity of stuff had been dug out, and the place was then built up substantially of masonry and slates.
It appears to be 12 years old. After descending the two steps I found a turning on the left, and was confronted by a door. Entering by this door I found a room formed of posts and slabs, with a bark roof.
There was a fire place built of brick, and a long chimney trending in an oblique direction. On the left hand lay a sleeping bunk, and on the floor I found several billy cans with wooden ends, a little bag of peas, two tins of white sugar, some early potatoes, baking dishes, frying-pans, knives, and other articles.
A nice little stack of dry wood and a bundle of bark stood near the fire place. The stack of wood was evidently intended for fuel and the bark for lighting the fire. Of course, I found no one inside. On examining the chimney outside, I found its top a long distance from the cave , it was between two rocks, and a dead sheoak was thrown over them to conceal the discolouration occasioned by the smoke.
I searched about the ranges on Saturday and Sunday without finding any one. To-day I discovered a second cave, quite near the first. A stream of water flows out of it, and I had to creep in on my hands and knees with a candle.
After crawling some distance, about 10 yards, I was able to stand upright, and found myself in a long narrow hall. I went along, and came to two compartments, one on the right hand and the other on the left. I entered the one on the left first, and found there a box full of chaff, the bare bones of pigs' heads, beef bones, turkeys' legs, some slabs and bark where a still seems to have stood, wooden shovels, an empty flour bag, and some old shirts.
The right hand cave was empty. It was so small that I had to get a boy to inspect it. The entrance to this cave was concealed by ferns. The cave itself is a natural formation. The turkeys' legs and bones were lying on a ledge of the rock. On making a further examination of the vicinity of the caves, I found what appeared to be signals. Fifty or sixty yards up the range there is a large rock, and a tree growing near its end. In the fork of this tree there is a prong like a skewer, on which is stuck a fresh piece of moss.
A little further up on the same track two pieces of dead wood have been placed on a rock, and higher up still there is a wattle which has been cut in a peculiar style. The place where the caves are is known on the station as the Horseshoe Bend, and it was very seldom visited until about six months ago, when the man Kirby took up a selection on the flat below. What these caves were used for is not definitely known, but the police suspect that an illicit still has been carried on there by someone from the Reedy Creek diggings, about 10 miles from here, for a series of years.