Acacia Hills, Northern Territory 1997 (1)
Location: Acacia Hills, Northern Territory (approx. 70km south of Darwin).
Time: Mid-August 1997
Witness: Kate Tucker
Other References: Litchfield Times (NT) articles, Who Magazine articles. The taped interview with Kate Jones includes significant extra details.
Audio of the witness also on the AYR Site.
Kate Jones and her husband operate a 20 acre mango farm. They have lived in the Acacia Hills area for around 20 years. Kate was previously unaware of the yowie legend - this fact was quite clear given the questions she asked me during and after the interview. The Jones's property is quite remote - it's around an hour drive to the nearest shop.
For about the past five years, Kate and her husband had heard strange sounds emanating from beyond a mountain ridge around 5-10km. away. The ridge has a large number of caves. On the other side of the ridge is the Adelaide River.
The sounds were only noticeable during the dry season, July - August. The area has abundant wildlife, and she is quite familiar with dingoes and various birds, but this animal was clearly different. Kate described the sound as a high-pitched noise, like a howler-monkey. The sound changed in pitch from low to high. At one time, Kate heard the sound, and an 'answer' from another location. Whenever the sound occurred, her dogs (2 Doberman's and 2 German shepherds) would start to cry. There were other witnesses to the sounds.
Just prior to the sighting, it appeared that something had been upsetting nearby animals. Across the road from their place, a farmer's cows had jumped a fence. Another nearby property, a horse stud, reported that their horses had been spooked.
On the night of the incident, Kate was awoken at 3am (she checked her bedside clock) by the same sound she had heard previously, except the sound was much closer, and whatever was making it seemed distressed. All her dogs were going berserk. Katherine went out onto her verandah, as the really loud sound continued from close to their 'shadehouse'.
Kate took the 4 wheeler bike to locate the source of the sound - at this stage, she still felt that it could have been a farm animal caught in the high tensile fenceline. The shadehouse was located up a slight incline, in an open area. The night was dark, with heavy cloud cover - the previous week had seen nights with a full moon and no cloud cover. As she traveled up the hill, her mind was on what she would do if it was a trapped animal.
The lights then hit the creature, and she thought 'What the...". She swung the bike around, almost coming off in the process. As she swung the bike, Kate was hit with a smell that made her dry retch. As she recovered, she glanced back at the animal, which was then running off beside the fence line. The smell resembled a cave full of bats, or the inside of a chookhouse, or urine. At the closest point, she was around 8 feet from the creature.
The creature never faced Kate, but was right side-on to her. It was around 6.5 to 7 feet tall and covered in dull, dark reddish-brown hair. more brown than red. Its arms were longer than a human. The hair was around 2cm long and appeared matted. The creatures shoulders were sloped, not square like a human. It had no neck. It seemed more animal than human.
As it ran, its arms did not 'pump' as a human's would - it did not bend its elbows. It ran by bending its knees, and was stooped over. The animal also swayed from side-to-side. Kate said it appeared to run in 'slow motion', although it took large strides. She felt the animal was scared.
In the morning , Kate returned to the area and found footprints along the fence line. The prints had 3 big toes, with another 'thumb' located down on the instep. The prints were in an area that was spray irrigated, so Kate covered one of the best prints. A high tensile fence had also been 'crushed' Kate stressed that it was impossible for a man to even move the fence.
Not knowing what to do, she called the NT Museum. Kate was fairly 'cagey' talking to the Museum representative, only asking her to identify an animal's print. Eventually she did tell the full story. The NT Museum did apparently call the Litchfield Times and the Palmerston Police. A local naturalist also visited at the same time.
In the end, the NT Museum staff felt that Kate had been hoaxed - they did not dispute that she had seen something. The NT staff told her that no animal had 4 toes as the prints indicated. Palmerston Police appeared equally nonplussed. The officer who visited returned again with another officer to view the prints and talk to Kate. The officer, who was 6 foot 4" high, could not stretch to duplicate the stride between the prints - he was too short. The police indicated that they would be checking 2 empty farmhouses to try and locate a 'hoaxer'. Kate warned them that locals tended to shoot first and ask questions later!
[The prints certainly looked artificial, but the witness' story was extremely credible. A truly puzzling case.]
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