Location: Gayndah, Queensland
Event: Bear Sighting
Source: Interview with local witness Julian Nott - Gayndah Bear 2000
Interviewer: This is a recorded interview between Steve Carter and Julian Nott at Gayndah on Sunday the 26th day of November 2006. We’re here to talk about the rumor of bears in the Gayndah area. Can you tell us anything about that?
Julian Nott: Yeah alright, well, for several weeks leading up to when I sort of had a sighting, umm, there were rumors of a bear like creature around here, mostly down the end of ah, Boyd Street, there was a couple that lived there, and it kept….they’re down on the river….and it kept coming up under their house. It used to eat, umm, it ate rock melons. It actually chewed little holes, of the rock melon, and got its’ tongue in and scooped everything out.
Julian Nott: Umm it ate the biscuit tin under the house. It chewed that til it came open, ate all the biscuits. It used to, they would sometimes see it, once or twice, not very often, down the orchard, and it would actually stand up on it’s hind legs and eat the lower fruit off their tree, off the mandarin trees. Umm, and that was a rumour that was going around…..and then some. I think it was channel seven came up here and did an interview with them, and they went downtown and interviewed hundreds of people and they picked about three people that looked like country yokels. They’re not really, but they come over as that and they put, they presented them in such a way that it was really disgusting I thought. Umm…. made us out to be a bunch of in-bred yokels.
Interviewer: To downplay the story….
Julian Nott: Yes, just to make it look like we were just a mob of idiots up here, umm, but that’s really got nothing to do with, umm, my sighting. I’m….I’ve got a background in national parks. Worked in national parks for fifteen, sixteen years, something like that, before coming here. I’m in the Gayndah landcare group. I’m the president of the sub committee of the riverbank committee, and what we’re, we’ve got a national heritage grant to re-plant the river bank with all….take down all the umm, what they call, Chinese elm, umm, and re-plant them with native trees. But before that, we were down there doing a survey and taking photographs. We had to take photographs before we started to show you the difference from when we started to when we finished – and this is several years ago. And, a mate of mine was with us, he comes along on a lot of my bushwalks and that. He had his camera and he was down there and we were just walking down the riverbank, taking photographs all the way down. And we went right down to the end of the riverbank, down to Oakie Creek. And, this thing was just there on the riverbank. And I sort of said, “Look, what’s that?” Kept him behind me and he immediately took a photograph of it, and it immediately went “boomp”, and it was gone. And he said, “I got two photographs.” And one of them you can sort of see it looks like a bear and the other one is just a little brown bum disappearing into the bush. And that’s it. That was all there was about it. It happened so quick, umm, that was it. We just took the photograph immediately to…..it had been in the local paper so we took the undeveloped film to the lady in the paper, and gave it to her and said, “Look, whatever’s on it is yours”, sort of thing. And it sort of went from there. And those were the photographs. Ahh, and that’s it. I don’t think…I don’t know if it was a bear or not because I was basically looking behind me, not at it, to see if the other people were being quiet and not walking around and scaring it and y’know, boomp, and it was gone! And that was that, so……you get all sorts of impressions when you see it, but it’s only an impression. And then you sort of think back on it and you fill in all the spaces with what you think it should have been, but I didn’t really see it all that well. I couldn’t say it was a bear. Prior to that, umm, there was one person in town here who is very, very skeptical. Totally, completely, skeptical. He lives on the riverbank, down near the council pump shed. And his dogs were always barking at something that was coming up into his compost heap.
Julian Nott: And one day he was taking the dogs for a walk along….we’ve got a track along our riverbank. It goes about two kilometers. You can actually walk right along our riverbank out to the weir and back. And the dogs ran up into the bush and scared this thing, and this thing broke cover right behind him, went across the track behind him and dogs, scared, ran out into the middle of the river which at this stage was totally covered with umm, just gunky bush. And he said he didn’t see what it was but it had short, coarse, curly hair, and that’s all he could tell. But he was, it was kind of like, umm, y’know, bloody Lennon had seen God, sort of thing. Y’know, one of the famous communists had seen something that didn’t exist. He didn’t ring me, he rang my wife, and Janet said his voice was actually shaking. He had seen this thing , it actually existed and it was there and he didn’t know what it was. Since then a few people have told me they have seen it and heard it, umm, just off and on. And one fella coming into town it crossed the road right in front of him. Umm, just as you come down that street into town. Umm, other people have heard it. One fella said it came out from basically under his feet, but he had a little track cut through all these really high reeds, right over your head. And he said he didn’t see it but he said it scared the hell out of him. But it’s never attacked anyone. It’s never worried anyone. Umm, I think it’s quite harmless. I myself think it’s a wombat. Wombats are native to this area. They’ve been native since up to about World War two. Umm, people around here, the older families, umm, people still talk about when they were kids, throwing rocks and sticks at them, til the wombats chased them and they’d run up a tree. And the wombat’d race round and round the foot of the tree trying to get at them. And couldn’t get them. Ahh, there is a national park, I think it’s off Gladstone, which is North of here, which is actually for the umm, wombats. So they are native to this area. I think someone has hit a mother wombat, found there was a baby in it’s pouch, taken it home, and reared it up, and it’s been an old male and got really grumpy, and they’ve let it go, because it’s been too hard to handle and far as I know it’s just gone down on the river bank and they dig a hole……those wombats dig holes in the ground and even if a dog attacked it in a hole, the dog would come out far worse. There have been dogs ripped up here. Ah, the vet has actually sewn up a couple of dogs that were badly savaged, form out, just out, again out along the riverbank here. But since the drought’s been on, since those sightings, umm, it’s become very, very sparse vegetation here, and hasn’t been seen since. It was seen, oh probably getting on to about twelve months ago now, some kids out here at Mt.Debatable. Were, they, they go out and visit some other people on the farm and the people there have a four wheel drive motor bike. And there were two of them one was about eight years old and one was I think, about six. And they were riding along on the four wheel motor bike and they went down on the river and they were coming back and had to cross the railway line. So they got out, opened the gate and drove the bike into the middle of the railway line and as the older kid went back to close the gate the younger kid said, “What’s that up on the railway line?” The older kid said, “It’s a bear”, and he opened the gate and away they went. That was the last sighting and they definitely, they were just kids, they wouldn’t make up that sort of thing. They definitely saw it and went back to it and that was the last one that I know of. But there is a precedent for it because back in the fifties or sixties, it was a long time ago now, a lot of circuses came through town. Umm, we’ve actually got an elephant skull up here from an elephant that died here that was in the circus. And the scouts went……it did die about forty years ago and the scouts went and dug up the skull…it’s up at the scouts den
Interviewer: Oh, I see...
Julian Nott: So, the circuses do come here, funny thing that. And, coming down the Binjour Range, a semi trailer overturned and one of the council foremen, he went out there to see it and he wrote a report about it that a trailer had overturned and two Himalayan female black bears and a male black bear had escaped and were never recovered. So whether this is progeny of that or whether it’s a wombat, or whatever it is, I have no idea, I’ve, I really don’t know what it is. But, that’s it. That’s as far as I’ve gone.
Interviewer: So with your encounter, that was in the year two thousand, was it?
Julian Nott: I have, I don’t remember, probably, would’ve been back that far.
Heather Nott: Yeah it was.
Julian Nott: Since then, we’ve had unremitting drought and even the trees are dying around here, so there’s not a lot of cover left.
Interviewer: Do you remember what month, around about that was?
Julian Nott: I have no idea.
Heather Nott: It was early in the year I think.
Julian Nott: You could go back through the papers, cause it made the front page of the paper.
Janet Nott: I’ve got the paper…
Heather Nott: I think it was January or March ….
Janet Nott: I’ve got it.
Julian Nott: Have you? How ‘bout that.
Heather Nott: I don’t remember exactly when..
Interviewer: So with that encounter you were with, umm, Peter Raffles.
Julian Nott: Yeah.
Interviewer: And he had a camera on him…
Julian Nott: Well he was actually taking photos for me for the riverbank.
Interviewer: For the riverbank….
Julian Nott: Yeah
Interviewer: For your job….
Julian Nott: Well it’s just a voluntary thing
Julian Nott: Umm, yeah I’m just with land care and there was a lot of things about umm, re vegetation. Re vegetation of dunes, and that. We were very lucky. We are the only inland area that has got a grant to re vegetate a river bank. Umm, plenty of it’s gone down the coast but no one’s ever gone inland so we were very lucky and we’re still doing it today. We’re still…but the drought’s sort of …………But we’ve planted thousands of trees and thousands have died. There’s still a lot of them there, but…….. That’s me. (Pointing to newspaper clipping photo) You can’t really see much can ya? Someone said it was a heffer. Might be too.
Heather Nott: No, a lot of people said it was a dog.
Julian Nott: Or a dog. Yeah I thought I saw it one day. I was down there looking for platypus and saw this back…big back go along a track. Just up and up and up, and I thought, that’s it, that’s gotta be it, and it was a great big red setter dog.
Interviewer: Oh, right
Julian Nott: Had this big long tail on it. So, I could have taken you a great big photograph of that and showed you. You would have said, “Yeah that’s it”.
Julian Nott: Would have been a movie picture too, but umm, yeah..
Interviewer: So that was the bank of the Burnett River, was it?
Julian Nott: Yeah, just where Oakie Creek comes down….
Julian Nott: I could take you down and show you if you want…There’s not much there…the film crew that….the ABC then come up and they treated us pretty well. We did drop them very broad history like a ride in a helicopter, they let us do it, but..
Julian Nott: They spent a night down there. We actually took then down and showed them and when we were down there some huge animal, I don’t know what it was, I think it might have been a dog, but it really had teeth as big as my hand. It come out of the river, walked up around a sandy bank, and walked back down again.
Julian Nott: Gone back into the river. And I don’t know why, I don’t know why a dog would come out, walk around, and go back in again. Don’t know why any animal would. But I just said to them, “Look, you can’t say we made these up.” And they camped down there that night but they never saw anything.
Interviewer: So what was your first impression when you umm, saw what, what Peter had photographed?
Julian Nott: Well, well actually, I didn’t see it first. We gave the photograph to umm, oh, what’s her name?
Heather Nott: Joanne Went.
Julian Nott: Joanne Went. She rang me up and said, “It’s a bear.” But of course she was looking for a bear. And I said, “Oh yeah, is that right?” And anyway I went down and said, “Yeah well it looks like one, but..”
Heather Nott: I remember you saying, “What’s that?”
Julian Nott: You can’t..
Heather Nott: I was round, behind some bushes, somewhere, I was looking for rocks for my aquarium..
Interviewer: Oh were you there as well were you?
Julian Nott: But she wasn’t really there…
Heather Nott: I was looking for rocks for my aquarium so I actually didn’t see much..And I heard him say, “What’s that? What’s that?” and I thought, oh God, what’s he on about? And I came round and I saw …well I saw the bum. I saw the big brown bum vanishing into the under growth. And I thought, “Jees, that ain’t, what was that?” And I sort of, I looked at Dad and I looked at Peter Raffles and sort of
Julian Nott: And Peter said, “I caught it on the photograph.”
Heather Nott: Thought, what’s happening, and gotta photo…
Julian Nott: And it’s an automatic camera and it winds so he just went “click” and he went…you know how quickly they rewind. Well that was two photos. Bang. Bang.
Interviewer: So he only took the two photos…
Julian Nott: Yeah that’s what we got.
Heather Nott: Then it was gone then..
Julian Nott: And I, I sort of looked around.
Interviewer: You seen it…You saw it as he was taking the photo?
Julian Nott: Well, Peter took that and I looked around to see what he was doing and then when I looked back all I saw was the bum. I didn’t see it move..
Julian Nott: I didn’t…And he said, “Oh, I got it.” And well he probably didn’t see it move but he was looking through the camera.
Julian Nott: So it was sort of one of those things where we weren’t really looking at what it was. Just trying…He was just trying to take a photo and I was trying to make sure he wasn’t going to spook it but it was too late then, and it was gone. Yeah..
Interviewer: So how big do you estimate it was from the bum that you saw?
Heather Nott: About, yah high…
Heather Nott: It was pretty big.
Heather Nott: That, that’s how it looked, I mean, like distance can be deceptive. But that’s about how it looked…
Interviewer: So about half a metre tall, or..
Julian Nott: Yeah probably..
Heather Nott: Yeah it was..
Julian Nott: Yeah a bit over knee high
Interviewer: And that was on all fours then, was it?
Julian Nott: Yeah, well, yeah.
Heather Nott: Yeah I’m pretty sure it was moving on all fours.
Julian Nott: And that was about it.
Interviewer: Well, that’s very interesting.
Julian Nott: Much like all those things, you just see all these things on T.V. and you say, “Oh, gee, that’s out of focus.” And that’s funny, and yeah well, that’s what it is. It’s like that.
Heather Nott: It’s like that.
Julian Nott: When you’re not thinking about anything.
Heather Nott: Well you don’t have time to actually focus on it when you’re taking a photo. And yeah the photos did come out.
Julian Nott: But I’ve been down there a few times since then and haven’t seen anything. <chuckle>
Interviewer: Ok. Nobody went after it?
Julian Nott: Well, then we were on the other side of the creek
Interviewer: Oh, ok
Heather Nott: Yeah there was a creek running..
Julian Nott: The creek had just been in flood and I don’t know how deep it was, it could have, I don’t know how deep it is there. It could have been pretty deep.
Heather Nott: We were just looking at each other and it just happened.
Julian Nott: It just raced off, crashed through the bush and it was gone then.
Heather Nott: Didn’t really crash. It just sort of, went.
Interviewer: And this is the newspaper article?
Julian Nott: That’s the photo that Peter took, yeah.
Interviewer: Dated, ah, March the first, Wednesday, Two Thousand.
Heather Nott: Yeah, that would make it February. I was right.
Interviewer: Ok. Wow. Umm, about the scouts recovering that, umm, was it, elephant skull…
Julian Nott: Elephant skull yeah…
Interviewer: Is that still up at that scouts den?
Julian Nott: Yeah. The scouts are sort of defunct now. But umm, they did have a fellow who ah, used to lead them here, and that was one of the things they did. An elephant died down here at the show grounds and they got a bulldozer to drag it out onto a property further out of town and they dug a hole and buried it there. And that happened probably forty years ago. And everyone knew about it. Knew where it was and that. And you get the scouts sort of interested in something and they went out and dug the skull up and they brought it in. Umm,
Interviewer: That’s still up there, cause is that now used as a dance hall is it?
Julian Nott: No, no the scouts hall is umm, a different place.
Janet Nott: Porter Street.
Julian Nott: Porter Street.
Interviewer: Porter Street..
Janet Nott: I’ve seen the elephant skull.
Julian Nott: Oh yeah, it’s definitely there.
Janet Nott: Years ago I saw it in the scout hall.
Julian Nott: I know the guy who went and dug it up.
Julian Nott: Oh yeah, it’s definitely there. But you know, lots of things happen around Gayndah, and, actually, I sort of don’t know or don’t really…I think it’s a waste of resources looking for something like that. I’m more into more natural things like if you’re trying to chase the golden shouldered parrot. Or the..
Julian Nott: Or the Coxen Fink Parrott or something that I’d be more interested in that.
Heather Nott: Yeah he’s more into that.
Julian Nott: Well, more interested in endangered species, and the golden shouldered parrot was last seen here in Gayndah and it built in termite nests and that and since then there have been reported sightings but not confirmed. Umm, I’ve taken bird watchers around here. They’ve never seen it, though they’re probably looking in the wrong place for that. And coxen fink parrot has been sighted here. It’s one that’s an endangered species. Umm, there’s a lot of controversy when they put this dam here that it would destroy all the big trees.
Interviewer: They’re building a dam here are they?
Julian Nott: They built it yeah. .
Interviewer: Oh, right…
Julian Nott: They did a white elephant. It’s not for us. It’s for Bundaberg. That’s the sort of thing I’d be more interested in. Like, alright, if there’s a bear, then there’s a bear. So what, if it’s progeny of something that escaped, it’s like wild dogs. It’s..
Heather Nott: It’s not like it’s ever attacked people.
Julian Nott: Yeah, I don’t know. Yeah well I don’t think anyone’s ever been hurt by a Himalayan brown bear. They’re pretty docile sorts of things.
Heather Nott: Occasionally the vet gets dogs come in with scratch marks on them.
Julian Nott: Yeah.
Interviewer: Getting back to what you saw that day, how far away was it from you?
Julian Nott: From here to the other side of the road.
Interviewer: Ok, so…
Julian Nott: Maybe not quite that far.
Heather Nott: I don’t think it was quite that far.
Interviewer: Could you estimate how many metres?
Julian Nott: Oh, thirty, thirty to forty I suppose.
Interviewer: Ok. And did it make any noises that you could here?
Julian Nott: No, just…
Heather Nott: Apart from walking through bush, no.
Julian Nott: No, it didn’t scream, didn’t cry out, didn’t say anything. Just gone.
Julian Nott: Sorry to be so negative for you but there’s…..
Interviewer: That’s alright..
Heather Nott: It was just there…
Julian Nott: I could tell you anything. I could tell you all sorts of things. It was screaming out, it jumped up and down… It yelled at us..
Heather Nott: Oh, yeah. It stood up and looked at us…
Julian Nott: Yeah, but that wouldn’t be right.
Interviewer: Nah, I’m not interested in ah, exaggerations..
Heather Nott: No..
Julian Nott: Well, like, it was a brief encounter it lasted probably one second. It was gone and what can you make of it. Y’know, I can only tell you so many different ways it came and it was there, it went click, and it was gone. And..
Heather Nott: It was a bit of a non event really. It was kind of just there and then it was gone.
Interviewer: Have you ever seen wombats around Gayndah?
Julian Nott: No, I’ve never seen them.
Julian Nott: No, I have talked to people that say they have seen them, still. But, mostly the cultivations…they used to lie on the river flats and they’re all cultivated, different things and are, they I don’t, I think they would be an extremely rare species up here in Gayndah now.
Interviewer: How large do wombats get, do you know?
Julian Nott: Oh, about the same, same size..
Interviewer: As…compared….about half a metre tall on all fours?
Julian Nott: Yeah, a big old, a big old wombat, Yeah, a big old male wombat.
Interviewer: They grow that large do they?
Julian Nott: Yeah.
Heather Nott: Yeah they had big wombats at Dreamworld and they were pretty big.
Julian Nott: Yeah, but a really old male can get, get bigger.
Interviewer: Yeah? Alright.
Julian Nott: I suppose they’d weigh probably thirty kilos.
Heather Nott: Oh yeah, they’d weigh a lot.
Interviewer: Did anything else strange happen that day? Do you remember?
Julian Nott: Nup! No, we sort of got a bit excited about it and went straight up and gave it to Joanne Went. But no, there were no strange things happen. Strange things happened after it. Tim the Yowie man came up here and rolled around on the ground.
Heather Nott: There were no strange flashing lights or anything in the sky.
Julian Nott: ….They took photographs
Interviewer: That was after it…
UFO Story 1:
Julian Nott: I could tell you we saw UFOs too, but not at the same time.
Heather Nott: Not at the same time.
Julian Nott: No, I’ve, I’ve, but there have been a lot of sightings of those around here. And I, Peter Raffles owns an airplane, y’know. He’s got a night, umm, VFR, thing, and we flew up to Monto. We got up to Monto and we couldn’t turn the lights on up there so we couldn’t land, so we decided to come back via Mundubberra. It’s a big circle. Monto’s North of here, Mundubberra’s West. So we went back down to Mundubberra, and we turned over Mundubberra, and we could see Gayndah. And we were going pretty quick, cause we were pretty high and when you’re going to let down, he, he, oh I generally fly sort of thing. He said, “Oh start your descent.” So I just normally wind a bit of down trim down on it. You can get up into the yellow band in that and that’s going pretty well. That’s sort of ninety, ninety five knots.
Janet Nott: You probably shouldn’t say that on tape.
Julian Nott: And…No, yellow band’s alright, you’re just not allowed to use a lot of controls on it. And we were coming down pretty quick and we could see Gayndah and there’s this bright light….came across the airport and went up into the hills behind Gayndah and Peter said, “Oh, the helicopter’s coming.” Cause the helicopter comes in. It actually comes into the airport and flies up to the hospital, lands up at the hospital. But this didn’t land and I said, “Well those guys are pretty professional.” Because we didn’t hear a radio call or anything. So, umm, we thought, “That’s funny.” And then as we got closer to Gayndah it started to go away from us. But it was right down low on the ground and like I say, we were probably doing ninety-five, a hundred knots. And it was getting away from us. And it got out the back and a little light came up to it and went down again. And it kept going, and it just got further away from us that we couldn’t see it. It was like a car headlight but it was going in a straight line. There’s no roads out there. Went out over back of Ryan’s pastures.
Heather Nott: No roads…
Julian Nott: And no one flies around in a plane with spotlights shining backwards. What was it? It didn’t worry us, we weren’t spooked or anything, didn’t think aliens had been here or anything. But alright, it was a UFO. What was it? You tell me.
Interviewer: So how long ago was that one?
Julian Nott: Oh, years ago now.
Interviewer: Was that in the evening or the day?
Julian Nott: Yeah day, umm, night time. Oh, probably, no it was a bit after eight o’clock. Cause all the farmers had gone to bed. They had their lights on as we went up they were all totally black coming back again. They all go to bed about eight o’clock.
Julian Nott: Yeah, no, when we got back here, I said to Janet, I said, “What, the helicopter come in?” She said, “Nup, there’s been no helicopters tonight.”
Interviewer: Oh, right. That’s interesting.
UFO Story 2:
Julian Nott: Yeah, well, that’s the second UFO we’ve seen. We saw one, what, thirty years ago, forty years ago. We used to live at Chourboug. And we were coming into Murgon, and in those days the road went parallel to Murgon and then turned around and went straight towards it. And as we were coming in, we could see a bright light over there and Janet said, “What’s that?” And I said, “I don’t know, but when we go into Murgon, we’ll see.” And we started to go towards it and it was going slowly…it was keeping pace with us, and when we turned towards it, it kept going, and the only way I can describe it, is it went so fast you couldn’t see it. It just accelerated and it was gone.
Julian Nott: I didn’t know what it was.
Heather Nott: When I had a friend who used to live next door, we used to take walks around the place. We saw a couple of funny lights in the sky.
Julian Nott: We’ve seen funny lights in the sky for decades.
Heather Nott: We saw like this white, there was this white flash once. It was just like a white flame. Flashed in the sky and it was gone.
Heather Nott: That gave us a bit of a fright.
Interviewer: So there’s an airport here at Gayndah is there?
Heather Nott: Yeah, just out there.
Julian Nott: Just over our back fence.
Interviewer: Oh right, o.k.
Julian Nott: Yeah, my brother in law’s got a plane up there and he just drops the fence down and drives across.
Heather Nott: And a friend of mine said she was walking from the Duke and Dutchess one morning and she said she saw some lights flashing along the ground.
Julian Nott: Probably the same night we saw ours.
Heather Nott: I said, “Probably a farmer driving along in a truck or something”, and she said, No, they were different colors.”
Julian Nott: Yeah well, I don’t think they’re aliens. I don’t know what they are but I don’t think they’re aliens.
Interviewer: And have you had any other strange, umm, things happen around Gayndah?
Julian Nott: Nup. Oh, well, strange things happen around here all the time.
Interviewer: Nothing else that you’ve experienced?
Julian Nott: No.
Heather Nott: Oh, a friend of Dad’s did once see some crop circles. Or something like crop circles.
Heather Nott: Remember Steve…Nelson. Told you he was in his plane once and he saw some crop circles.
Julian Nott: Don’t remember it. Do you have milk?
Interviewer: Oh, yes thanks.
Heather Nott: Oh, he was just flying around somewhere and he just looked down and saw them and didn’t tell anybody.
Julian Nott: That’s what I was thinking we should do, put a few crop circles here and get back on the map.
Julian Nott: But Janet won’t be in on it, she won’t let me go out at night.
Heather Nott: Destroy people’s crops…it’s not a good idea!
Julian Nott: Oh, I was just going to put some …..in it.
Heather Nott: There’s a guy in England who says if he catches anybody else making crop circles on his property, he’s going to shoot them. He’s just totally annoyed with all these people making crop circles. Well, he presumes they’re people. <chuckle>
Interviewer: Now, I’ve got a friend of mine who runs a website called “Strange Nation”.
Heather Nott: Yeah, been there.
Interviewer: Would you be for or against this interview like appearing in print on that website?
Julian Nott: No, you can print it if you like. Do you have sugar?
Interviewer: Ah, yes, one thanks.
Adendum question by way of phone Sat. 23/12/2006:
Interviewer:: Do you remember what time of day you had the sighting of the bear?
Julian Nott: Y’know, I can’t remember.
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