1889 - Bowral Free Press, Australian Gorilla
THE AUSTRALIAN GORILLA
Bowral Free Press
Date: 25 May, 1889
To the Editor of the Kangaroo Valley Pioneer.
Sir,—Under the caption "What can it be ?" in a recent issue of the Suburban Telegraph, I notice a paragraph copied from your journal, referring to a strange animal as having been seen lately at Meryla by a man named Mullany. This man will no doubt be looked upon by some of your readers—all-wise in their own conceit—as a liar, fool, or madman; but in confirmation of the truth of his story, and of the fact that at least one such animal as that he describes exists in the Barrima district, I herewith unhesitatingly submit my own testimony, which, if necessary, can be substantiated by three other witnesses.
One warm day in the month of February, 1871, whilst myself and party were having lunch at the foot of a rocky, cavernous hill at Bundanoon, our attention was drawn to the unusual and decided manifestations of terror exhibited by a large dog of the bull and mastiff species, which invariably accompanied me on my bush excursions, and which was, so to speak, "as game as a bulldog ant"—about the only living thing that will encounter fire.
The animal came from the direction of a large overhanging cliff, crouching up close to me, trembling, and whining in a most pitious and unaccountable manner. Thinking that a snake had bitten the dog, I, with my companions, proceeded in the direction of the cliff, taking care to well arm ourselves with the most effective weapons at hand—sticks and stones.
On emerging from the scrub we found ourselves on a strip of smooth, white sand, about 20 yards wide, fronting the cavern. On this sand we found fresh tracks of such size and shape as to baffle all our zoological speculations. The tracks were clearly defined, resembling in some degree an outline of the human foot, but much larger, considerably wider in proportion, and showing seven instead of five toe-marks, the great toe, unlike that of the human foot, being on the outer side. Between the lines formed by the footprints, was a trail such as could be made by dragging a bush or broom over the sand; and as this trail was equidistant from each line of footmarks, I reasonably concluded that it was caused by the tail of the tail of the strange animal that we had tracked to its rooky lair—for the tracks led right into the cave, about the mouth of which heaps of bones of various animals lay bleaching, including those of a horse.
With the object of dislodging the monstrosity, I caused a huge pile of dry bushes to be built and set fire to at the mouth of the cavern. In a state of breathless expectancy we awaited developments; and a favouring gust of wind blew the dense mass of smoke and flames fair into the opening.
A roar like an earthquake, followed by the sound of falling rocks from higher up the hill, startled us, and through the ascending clouds of smoke we saw clambering up the rugged face of the hill, with long, bushy tail erect, and dislodging the stones as it clawed its way upward, an animal such as I had never before seen, heard, read, or dreamt of in my philosophy, and which had escaped from the cave through a side opening, as I could see by the smoke which made exit from the same quarter. As near as I can describe it, the creature appeared to be fully nine feet in height; head large, and resembling that of a baboon, but with a face more human-like ; arms long, black, muscular, and devoid of hair; body large and round, almost balloon-shaped, and striped black and yellow like that of an iguana; legs of extraordinary length, with apparently two knee-joints in each, black, leather-like, and seemingly devoid of hair.
Before disappearing over the summit of the hill; it turned around and made several hideous grimaces at us, displaying a double tier of long yellow teeth. Attached to its back immediately above the tail, there swung its baggy appendage, from which something living protruded, and which we took to be either its young or some animal captured and stored for food.
About a week later I saw the same animal (or one similar to it) on a tree near the road leading from the top of the Barrengarry Mountain to Burrawang—about a mile from the junction ; and having, no firearms, I must acknowledge my cowardice, and admit that I made myself scarce pretty quick.
Some time ago I was reading a letter written by a Mr. McEwey to one of the papers, where he refers to the existence in the Trunkey and Forbes districts of a tribe of Australian monkeys. If the creature which I saw is one of these, then Australia can safely lay claim to the possession of the most hideous race of monkeys on the face of the earth; and it is no wonder the poor blacks have a wholesome dread of the dibbildibbil, yahoo, or bunyip.
J. G. HIGGINS.
Como, Illawarra Railway.