1882 - Illawarra Mercury, Australian Gorilla
A GORILLA AT INVERELL
Date: 23 June, 1882
The Inverell Times gives the following authentical circumstance from two young townsmen, Messrs. James Skinner and F. T. Booth. It appears that the witnesses of the strange facts in question went out on a fishing excursion and commenced operations at the Big River, at the bottom of the bite, and about a mile and a half from Mr. Browne's selection on the Kera run.
As they were fishing—at about half-past 12 o'clock—they were surprised to see, floating against the stream, two corks; while another cork was observed to splash in the water, about fourteen off. Scarcely a minute elapsed before a second splash occurred, bigger than the first. Under the impression that it was a fish which caused the disturbance, Skinner took his line to the spot; he had been there about five minutes, when Booth saw a stone skip the water, about ten yards from where he was. After skipping the water, twice, the stone sank near the opposite bank. A minute afterwards Skinner heard a stone whizzing, which must have been a pound weight, and which passed close to his head, he very naturally ''ducked," and the stone fell into the water.
Skinner very narrowly escaped another stone, which very soon followed, and which shared the fate of its predecessor. Skinner stepped back about ten yards when he saw something which made him cry out to his companion, "Oh my God, we are done; there is a gorilla." He then ran about ten yards. Booth shouted, "Don't run away; let's see what it is," and jumping on a neighbouring rock he saw what he believed to be a gorilla. The unknown rapidly disappeared, however, among some trees, rocks, and long grass in the bed of the river.
When Skinner saw the supposed gorilla he would be about twenty yards from it. He describes the body as being apparently covered with hair; and with head and ears resembling a monkey's. It stood upon two feet, and had arms and legs. The eyes, he says, were very huge—as big as a two shilling piece.
Booth's view of the creature was a back one as it disappeared. The back was completely covered with brown hair, fully five inches long. The travellers having probably seen enough for one day, turned towards the camp to get their horses. As they were leaving the bed of the river, two stones were thrown at them; these fell between Skinner and Booth, about twenty feet distant from each.
Having got their horses, they returned to the spot, to, if possible, catch another glimpse of the monster, who, however, was not now to be seen. Our adventurers then rode to Maids water—about two miles off, for further fishing.
They were there about an hour when Booth heard a low cry in the scrub about one hundred yards off. "Did you hear that?" he said to Skinner. "No." "I think he is here again," said Booth, and taking up his lines he went to the river bank, remarking to his companion, "You had better come home." Skinner complied, but on the bank, and when about to start, he discovered he had forgotten his pipe, to get which he returned to the river.
He was near the rock when another stone lodged on the ground about five yards from him. This stone (a parting shot) Skinner believes must have weighed five pounds. Nothing further occurred out of the ordinary course of events, and the young men returned immediately to Inverell, where they reported the foregoing strange occurrence to the police.
We believe that a search party is to be organised, and if the public are permitted to join in its ranks, we expect to see Inverell almost empty on the occasion, as a gorilla has been an unknown animal hitherto in this country, and great curiosity will be naturally felt to see the one described in the foregoing narrative.