Tin Can Bay, Queensland 2003
Location: Camp Kerr, Tin Can Bay, Queensland
Event: Yowie Encounter during Military Ops
I was recently recounting an unusual experience I had from my Reserve Service a few years ago, and was advised to have a look around the AYR site and contribute the account.
Account is as follows:
I’m a scientist, I don’t subscribe to so-called paranormal activies. But I have had an experience that makes me scratch my head.
I don’t know about paranormal like ghosts and stuff, but a few years ago, my patrol had some sort of ‘encounter’ whilst on Ex in mainland Australia.
We were on Ex in Tinkers (Wide Bay Training Area) playing enemy in a Troop level force on force engagement practicing our cavalry role. The Blue forces were a cavalry screen trying to prevent our infiltration through their observation line (a series of mounted and dismounted OP’s [Observation Posts]) as part of the initial manoeuvre recon battle at Bde [Brigade] level.
The Troop had just detected a blue force Troop trying to intercept us across a valley. What resulted was the two Troops playing submarines with each other trying to locate, close with and *simulated* destroy each other. What results is a game of cat and mouse, where both units are doing a lot of running, stop and listening. Darkness had fallen, and the Troop Commander had issued orders to me to take my ugly boys forward, locate and prove a crossing point for the Troop in the creek line at the bottom of the valley, and locate the En Troop to enable our Troop to break through and get eyes on the Enemy operating area.
My patrol at the time was a mixture of new blokes (straight chock) and some bloody experienced hands (my sig was ex-RAR recon platoon, and my 2IC had spent 8 yrs in two Bn’s [Battalions] of the RAR). So I had some experienced blokes, God only knows why they followed me at times. It worked out nicely, with an experienced bloke able to pair up with a reo and give some well-needed mentoring and guidance. It made my job very much easier.
All of us had a gamut of experience in the outdoors, from bushwalking, climbing, hunting and military experience from very young ages. One of my reo’s was a park ranger in civvy street, so he spent a large amount of his working life in the outdoors in rough remote country.
It was a dark night, and we had no Ninox [passive image intensifying goggles]. Visibility was lucky to be about 3-5m under tree canopy.
We pushed up to the creek line, found and cleared a crossing point for our troop to pass over. We then moved onto the next task of locating the *simulated* enemy. It was dark as f#ck, when we thought we’d come across some sort of standing patrol or early warning sentry for the position.
Initially, we thought it was one of our Sqn [Squadron] mates trying to take us on. We started manoeuvring aggressively against what we assessed as *simulated* enemy. At this stage, something in our guts realised the reaction wasn’t quite right. No shots (blank) fired at us, no shouts or orders, nor were some of the signs and sounds just quite right. Such that we just had this gut feeling not to start shooting until we could ID the target. We also knew that the Troop commander and Troop Sergeant of that particular call sign would never put early warning out further than a visual bound from the cars. There was nowhere that they’d park up their troop for observation, the ground was completely unsuitable for parking up a Troop of M113’s.
In the time honoured fashion, knowing it might start spooking people in the dark, I started throwing rocks and sticks at this individual to put the wind up them. The bugger dodged them. Yes, DODGED thrown rocks and sticks at night.
The target (singular) was just outside of our visual detection. We assessed that they had bloody NVG’s [Night Vision Goggles] and were starting to play with us.
Since we’d propped, and were listening to this individual wander around, we were starting to get worried. One of my blokes (ex-RAR and a very experienced hand) sidled up to me and hissed one of my suspicions: this bloke was f#cking close to us, and a tall b@stard – he took bloody big steps for someone walking around sh!tty scrub at night (hip height vegetation), with it’s many trip hazards.
Now, we all knew that sounds at night seem 4 times closer than they really are (or alternatively, 4 times louder). So when this bugger sounded like he was just outside arms reach, we knew he was at 6-7m away.
In fact, the bugger was starting to play with us, probing us like we would conduct a CTR [Close Target Recon] against a position. My experienced blokes had drawn my two reo’s into a harbour formation (shoulder to shoulder) as our new ‘friend’ stalked around us. I had my sig and 2IC both say something was just not right about this whole scenario.
In fact, the both of them started verbally abusing our new ‘friend’. With the time honoured tradition of calling them a useless ****. It was about this stage they swore blind it was a humanoid shape when it moved in closer to us. And a big tall, shape in the darkness when they could get their eyes adjusted right.
The patrol arrived at the same conclusion pretty quickly, we were recon, be buggered if we would sit and wait for our ‘friend’ to keep possessing the initiative for this little jaunt.
In a fairly loud voice, I gave order to form up in extended line.
In what I hoped was a fairly calm, authoritive voice, I issued hasty attack orders:
“THIS IS THE LD [Line of Departure]. WE ARE ADVANCING TO CONTACT AGAINST UNKNOWN ENEMY – NO DUFF, NO DUFF, FIX BAYONETS!!”
Hell, my reasoning was if it was someone playing silly buggers with us, and they had NVG’s, they’d say something like “S’alright boys, you can put those sharp pointy things away now, it’s just a joke.”
Later, the boys reckoned I sounded like I was ready to take on the world, apparently it helped calm them down that I hadn’t succumbed to fear. Inside, was a hyperventilating, screaming little boy, I was about to sh!t myself. It was an interesting leadership experience, keeping your voice calm when life starts getting exciting and scary at the same time.
Only one slight hitch to this inspirational little O-group [Orders Group], my poor gunner says in a small, quavering voice out of the darkness:
“I can’t do that corporal”
My 2IC tells him to sling the b!tch and draw blade, or use the spare barrel as a club, which helps the gunner get a grip of himself.
In fact, there's something to that old line about live steel steeling resolve of the boys actually.
We advanced on our ‘friend’ with live steel. The whole time, my overactive imagination is wondering what in the bl00dy hell we’re going to do if our ‘friend’ decides to make a fight of it.
To be honest, had the patrol been carrying live ammunition, I would have ordered extended line and fire ten rounds out to see what I’d come across.
In the event, our ‘friend’ was moving off just outside of visual (well, as much visual as we had that night) away from us and eventually sloped off to destinations unknown.
The patrol had a bit of REORG, attempting to calm ourselves down and hash out in hissed whispers what in the hell had just occurred. We were in two minds whether we’d stirred up some animal, or actually been playing bush-tag with some twit. There was only one bloke who mentioned yowies and the reputation of the sector we were in at the time.
I’m a scientist, I don’t subscribe to superstition, but something about this whole scenario was just wrong. But I have experienced some weird things in that sector before.
Now, you may be sitting reading this thinking I’m on drugs. That my little ‘friend’ was a roo, or an emu, or some bloke with NVG’s. I’ve been spooked by roo’s and wallabies as a young bloke in my early teens wandering through the scrub doing orienteering. In the Brindabella’s, I’ve been awoken by a brumby pawing through the campsite (THAT was a mindf#ck).
But in my experience, roo’s, wallabies and emu’s don’t tend to hang around too long when you’re onto them. They don’t move around a hasty harbour, probing the individual patrol members to see who’s paying attention.
Nor do they dodge thrown objects in the black of night whilst moving. I’ve seen some very competent blokes who are used to using NFE [Night Fighting Equipment] and can move like a cat, but I’ve never seen that.
The funny thing is, when we calmed down our clenching sphincters and continued on task, we could still hear our ‘friend’ wandering around the place. 400m later, in more open terrain, we spot the enemy Troop in defensive loc sitting on a hill, and I see the Troop Sgt standing on his car (he had a very distinctive build/silhouette at night).
Had a chat with him a couple of days later, in a Sqn harbour, when he told me he’d heard my boys coming in. He’d heard me from a few hundred meters out giving some sort of orders, and then heard us approach his position. When I quizzed him on which direction he was looking, he mentioned the direction our ‘friend’ had taken, not the direction we were coming in from. And the kicker?? He hadn’t put his scouts out that night – they were acting as close protection to the Troop expecting us to bump them. He hadn’t heard us approaching on our final run-in to target. There was also no other unit in the area. We had the entire sector to ourselves, due to the risk of running over sleeping grunts at night with our cars.
What was our ‘friend’?? No idea. Still couldn’t tell you. All I know that whatever it was, was a lot better than us. It left of it’s own volition, not because of anything we’d done to discourage it.
End of account.
Since I wrote this for a discussion forum of predominantly military audience, I've just added in brackets for the average person to decipher what I mean.
Hope this helps add another data point for your records. Any illuminations you may have would be greatly appreciated.
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