The Hairy Man of South Eastern Australia,


by Graham C. Joyner.


What follows is, apart from a few additions, an expanded version of some pages which I wrote in 1973 and gave to the National Library. It is first of all an inquiry into what was meant by the expression the hairy man, and incorporates all relevant material I could find from the Monaro and South Coast region, which happened to be conveinient and fruitful area to investigate. The material has been arranged in what I hope is a useful way, that is to say it is roughly chronological exept where the extracts from one locality have been grouped together. Wherever possible I have added comments, which when they do not indicate that part of a passage has been omitted are supposed to illuminate the text. But to many of the questions which might be asked about the hairy man there are, as far as I know, no answers. Perhaps it is, like the tail of the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared.


[1] A supposed Gorilla, newspaper cutting on the back of the plate depicting gorillas in a copy of Beetons Dictionary of Natural History (London 1871) in the Woolongong Public Library. The cutting is inscribed Mercury 14th April 1871 and is probably from The Illawarra Mercury (Woolongong) of that date. The same The Empire (Sydney) 17th April 1871, p.2.


The following particulars have been supplied to us by Mr. George Osbourne, of the Illawara Hotel, Dapto, concerning a strange looking animal, which he saw last Monday, and which he believes to be a Gorilla. It is to be hoped successful means may be adopted to capture the animal, (alive if possible), as it is quite evident it is one of the greatest natural curiosities yet found in the colony.


Together with the interest attached to the peculiarity of this strange monster in human form, there is something very remarkable and suggestive in the fact, that he should have presented himself to Mr. Osbourne, while that gentleman was going his rounds, collecting a census. The following are Mr. Osbournes remarks concerning the animal:- On my way back from Mr. Matthew Reens, coming down a range about half a mile behind Mr. John Grahams residence, at Avondale, after sunset, my horse was startled at seeing an animal coming down a tree, which, I thought at the moment to be an Aboriginal, and when it got to within about eight feet from the ground it lost its grip and fell. My feelings at the moment were anything but happy, but although my horse was restless I endeavored to get a good glimpse of the animal by following it as it retreated until it disappeared in to a gully.


It somewhat resembled the shape of a man, according to the following description:- Height, about 5 feet, slender proportioned, arms long, legs like a human being, only the feet being about 18 inches long, and shaped like an iguana, with long toes, the muscles of the arms and chest being well developed, the back of the head straight, with the neck and body, but the front or face projected forward, with monkey features, every particle of the body except the feet and face was covered with black hair, with tan-coloured streak from the neck to the abdomen. While looking at me its eyes and mouth were in motion, after the fashion of a monkey. It walked quadruped fashion, but every few paces it would turn around and look at me following it, supporting the body with the two legs and one arm, while the other arm was placed across the hip. I also noticed that it had no tail. It appears that the two children named Summers saw the same animal or one similar in the same locality about two years ago, but they say it was then only the size of a boy about 13-14 years of age. Perhaps this is the same animal that Mr. B. Rixon saw at the Cordeaux River about five or six years ago. The querie is, Where did it come from?


[2] The Illarwarra Mercury, 28th April 1871, p.2. Also mentioned in Eric Shackle, Mysterious Yahoos in the bush, The Australian, 1st January 1972, p.10.


Since the report of this strange animal seen by Mr. George Osbourne, on the Avondale ranges, and which he supposes was a Gorilla, has appeared, speculation regarding the existence and species of that natural curiosity have been rife in this district. [Here follows a description of a hunting party formed to search for the creature] A person who has resided on the Bulli Mountains for several years positively asserts that an animal similar to that seen by Mr. Osbourne, but considerably larger, has been seen in the bush in that locality more than once, and by different persons, and that no dogs can be found to face it.


[3] The Illawarra Mercury, 19th January 1883, p.2.


It is stated by several persons residing in the locality that a gorilla has again been seen in the mountain ranges in the vicinity of Mount Keira, or rather, between Mount Keira and the Mount Kembla coal tunnel. Different residents there say they have caught sight of the strange animal on separate occasions and in various places. They describe it as resembling a man, but covered with long hair, and having long sharp claws.


[4] The Manaro Mercury (Cooma) 9th December 1871, p.2. Also in J.a.Perkins Monaro District Items, MS 936, National Library of Australia, p.1121.


[This passage refers to the Jingera, a spur of the Gourock Range near Cooma] From the fastnesses of the Jingera, adjacent to or in the district of Monaro, comes the startling intelligence that a wild man has been seen in that place. A little girl, the granddaughter of Mr. Joseph Ward, senior, of Mittagong, asserts that she has met an old man, whose back is bent, and body is covered with a thick coat of hair,- in height (to use the girls words), about the same as her grandfather. The strange being in question had nails of tremendous length on his hands, and he seemed desirous of shunning the girl. The main points of the assertion are given with remarkable earnestness by Mr. Wards granddaughter; nothing can shake the simple outlines of her story. Confirmatory of the above incident, is the statement made by Mr. Kelly, of the Jingeras, who says that he himself seen the Wild Man. Anent the above, there is a tradition among the settlers of this place that the mysterious monster, the Yahoo, is a denizen of the mountainous country where the wild man has been discovered, and that it is only observable in stormy weather, or on the approach of bad seasons.


[5] Aboriginal Dialects: Cooma Sub-District, Science of man, 23rd August 1904.


Jingera: A huge mountain, supposed to be haunted by a hairy man or Yahoo. [The reference given to Jingerais one among a list of words and their supposed meanings. there is nothing to indicate who collected the words, from whom they were collected, or when. There is however the suggestion there, as in the following three passages, that the name Yahoo was used by the Aborigines although it is unusally attributed to Swift. See also [21].


[6] Superstitions of the Australian Aborigines: The Yahoo, The Australian and New Zealand Monthly Magazine, 1842, pp. 92.


The natives of Australia have, properly speaking, no idea of any supernatural being; at the same time, they believe in the imaginary existence of a class of which, in the singular number, they call Yahoo, or, when they wish to be anglified, Devil-Devil. This being they describe as resembling man, of nearly the same height, but more slender, with long white straight hair hanging down from the head over the features, so as almost entirely to conceal them; the arms as extraordinarily long, furnished at the extremities with great talons, and the feet turned backwards, so that, on flying from man, the imprint of the foot appears as if the being had traveled in the opposite direction. Altogether, they described it as a hideous monster, of an unearthly character and ape-like appearance. [The suggestion is made that tales of the Yahoo may have been caused by a castaway or runaway convict.] On the other hand, a contested point has long existed among Australian naturalists whether or not it does, and that from its scarceness, slyness, and solitary habits, man has not succeeded in obtaining a specimen, and that it is likely one of the monkey tribe.


[7] Mrs. Charles Meredith, Notes and Sketches of New South Wales during a Residence in the Colony from 1839 to 1844 (London, 1844) p.5.


I never could make out anything of their [the aborigines] religious ideas, or even if they had a comprehension of a beneficent supreme being; but they have an evil spirit, which causes them great terror whom they call Yahoo, or Devil-Devil: he lives in the tops of the steepest and rockiest mountains, which are totally inaccessible to all human beings...The name Devil-Devil is of course borrowed from our vocabulary, and the doubling of the phrase denotes how terrible or intense a devil he is; that of a Yahoo, being used to express a bad spirit, or Bugaboo, was common also with the aborigines of Van Diemens land, and is as likely to be a coincidence with, as a loan from Dean Swift............


[8] The Sydney Morning Herald, 21st January 1847.


At the Hunters River the reports of the natives would lead us to classify [the bunyip] with the carnivorous species. In this locality it is called Yahoo, and is described as having much resemblance in the form of the Human figure, but with frightful features..............


[9] The Goulburn Herald, 24th May 1881, Also listed in Errol J. Scarlett, Queanbeyan and the Country of Murray (including the Australian Capital Territory): Notes on History & People 1965.


[This and the following few extracts give further descriptions of a hairy man from the Jingera region. The name Yahoo is not used.] The Cooma Express relates that the Jingera hairy man has again turned up. It was seen on Saturday last by Mr. Peter Thurbon and one or two others. This was it\'s first appearance for some considerable time. The animal, if such it be, has the appearance of a huge monkey or baboon, and is somewhat larger than man.


[10] The Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 28th October 1893.


Says Braidwood Dispatch: Mr. Arthur Marrin, cordial manufacturer, met with a rather awkward reception as he was going in to Captains Flat on Friday last with a load of cordials. Shortly after getting upon the turn off road from the Cooma road, within two or three miles of the Flat township, he noticed his dog running up out of the bush at full tear and cleared off down the road in a terrible scare. He got down to see what had frightened him, when a formidable animal with which he was entirely unacquainted jumped up the lower bank on to the road. It frightened him quite as much as the dog, as it standing up on its two hind legs with its two fore feet stretched out likethe two arms of a man.

The road being a cutting on a hill side, was narrow, and the animal was making for him, either to follow the dog or spring upon himself. Being unarmed, having only the whip in his hand, which would have made very little impression upon such an antagonist, he dropped the whip and picked up a stone which lay close to him, which he threw at the beast, striking it on the temple, bringing it to the ground. He then ran up to it and finished it with the but end of his whip.

After he killed it he left it on the road, and on his return to Braidwood put its body in the cart and brought it home with him. We paid a visit to Mr. Marrins factory on Saturday and inspected it. It was four feet long, 11 inches across the forehead, with a face very much like a polar bear. It weighed over 7 stone. Its forearms were very strong, with great paws that would be capable of giving a terrible grip. It was tan clour like a possum with strong hair on its skin. When Mr. Marrin encountered it, it stood between 6-7 feet high. Some people think it is identical with a beast which has frightened several teamsters travelling through Parkers gap on the Cooma road at various times, so much that they have left their horses and run away.

Such an animal has been reported as visiting selectors places at Molonglo and Foxlowe, and there have been reports of the presence of similar ones in the Budawang and Sassafras ranges. It has gone by the name of the Hairy man. Other persons maintain it is merely a wombat and perfectly harmless. Met under such circumstances as those under which Mr. Marrin met it, most persons, however, would be inclined to give it a wide berth if possible, but as Mr. Marrin could not get away from it, he had to face it. The beast was a male.


[11] Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 31st October 1893, p.3. Also listed in Lea-Garlett, op, cit., p.477.


Since the notice in our (Braidwood Dispatchs) last issue of the adventure of Mr Marrin with the animal which he encourtered near Captains Flat and slaughtered with a simple weapon with which David brought down Goliath, he has had a great number of callers at his place to see the body, which he bought home with him. But unfortunately he buried it on Saturday. It is a great pity he did not preserve it before decomposition set in, and more particularly so as there are numbers of persons who put the whole thing down to a fairy tale and attempt to throw a doubt upon the truth of our description that as we saw it in the flesh and measured it with the assistance of Constable, who was looking at it at the time we were.

Of course it may be a wombat, and it may not. If it was a wombat the pugnacity it displayed is something all together opposed to the reputed character of that animal, as all those who have seen one aver it will run away from a man in place of attacking him, as this one did Mr Marrin. Its four legs were shaped just like a mans arm and about the same length, and the feet were shaped like a mans hands with the palm precisely similar and toes which had a close resemblance to fingers with over grown nails.

Its hind legs, upon which it stood upright when it faced it , were in proportion to the length of its body, nearly as long as a mans and as it measured from its head to its rump (from the top of the head and not the nose) fully four feet it could easily stand up between six and seven feet when standing on its hind feet, as Mr Marrin estimated its height when it sprang up the bank. But whether it was a wombat or large bear, or the identical hairy man which there are so many stories about, it would have been a most valuable acquisition to Darwin in support of his theory of the evolution of the human family from the monkey, as it would have accounted for the missing link, which has been so long the trouble in the want of all traces in man of the caudal appendage, which is so prominent a feature in the monkey tribe. The animal resembled the wombat in having no tail and would thus prove that there would be no need to look for the missing link in establishing the original kindred between the human being and the animal creation.


[12] The Queanbeyan Observer, 30 November 1894, p2, and The Cooma Express, 30 November 1894, p.3.


The Bradiwood Dispatch says that on the 3rd of October last young Johnnie McWilliams was riding from his home at Snowball to the Jimden P.O. When about halfway the boy was startled by the extraordinary sight of a wild man or gorilla. The boy states that a wild man suddenly appeared from behind the tree, about thirty yards from the road, stood looking at him for a few seconds and then turned and ran for the wooded hills and mile or so from the road. The animal ran on for two hundred yards across open country before disappearing over a low hill so that the boy had ample time to observe the beast. The boy states that he appeared to be over six feet in height and heavily built. He describes it as a big man covered with long hair. It did not run very fast and tore up the dust with its nails and in jumping a log it struck its foot against a limb, when it bellowed like a bullock. When running it kept looking back at the boy, till it disappeared. It was three o-clock in the afternoon and the boy describes everything he saw minutely. The boy is a truthful and manly young fellow, well acquainted with all the known animals in the New South Wales bush and persists that he could not have been mistaken. For many years there have been tales of trappers coming across enormous tracks of some unknown animals in the mountain wilds around Snowball. Of coarse, these tales were received with doubt, and put down as clever romancing on the part of the possum hunter, but the story of Johnnie McWilliams is believed by all who know the boy as a true tale. The proof of the existence of such an animal in New South Wales should be of some interest to the naturalist.


[13] John Gale, An Alpine Excursion (Queanbeyan, 1903) The whole book appears in serial form in The Queanbeyan Observer, 13th February to March 17th 1903.


[John Gale (1831-1929) was founder and editor of The Queanbeyan Age. His published works contain two passages describing a hairy man or Yahoo.] Swift, in his introduction to the travels of Gulliver, speaks of a tribe of animals with certain Human attributes, passions and vices.

The work mentioned is, we know, fiction - satire. But there is one in reality (as in fiction) which is a creature? Out in the fastness of the big mountains and deep, scub-tangled gullies west of the Upper Murrumbidgee, a strange, shy and wild creature is said to have been seen on many occasions. It is spoken of sometimes as the hairy man, sometimes as the Yahoo. For thirty years or more, it has occasionally made its appearance in those regions, according to common reports. If these reports were not so well authenticated, and abundantly confirmed, as I shall proceed to show, one might reasonably put them down to superstition or the exaggerations of imagination under the excitement of fear. If the evidence before us is worthy of credence, then the creature referred to does exist, and is, in all probability, a quadrumanous animal, from its description.

I had hesitated to refer to the story of the Yahoo here; but on fuller consideration I arrive at the conclusion, that not only because it is a readable matter, but because the allegations I am about to narrate ought to be known in the interests of natural science and the zoology of Australia. My informants - the gentleman who (amongst others whose unsupported statements might be taken cum grano salis) after they have seen this wild, mysterious creature- are not ignorant persons or superstitiously inclined; they are strong minded, experienced and educated men.

The subject of the existence and various apparitions of the hairy man of the upper Murrumbidgee settlers a generation ago, the Yahoo of the present generation, was the topic of conversation at the camp formed by Messers. McDonald, senior, Cox, and myself, as mentioned in the earlier passages of this narrative. Mr. Cox was relating what had befallen him when camped alone in the ranges of Brindabella about two years ago on a shooting expedition.

He was, he said, enjoying his billy of tea in the afternoon, when his attention was drawn to an enraged cry, between a howl and a yell, in the thick scrub of a gully close by. He instantly seized his rifle and looked in the direction whence the sound proceeded. There he saw a huge animal in an erect posture tearing through the undergrowth, and in a moment it was out of sight before he could bring his rifle to his shoulder. He distinctly heard the crashing of the undergrowth in its flight, and he followed after it.

Its speed was greater than that of its pursuer; but as it fled its howling and yelling continued. That it was no creation of an exited imagination- (and from what I know of Mr. Cox, he is not a likely subject of wild hallucinations; but on the contrary, a remarkably cool, intrepid fellow, too well enlightened and educated to magnify a simple fact into a chimera)- is confirmed by this, that in his pursuit he met several wallabies tearing up the gully in such alarm that, though passing close by, they took not the least notice of him.

These were followed presently by a herd of cattle similarly scared. Further pursuit was vain, for the thing had now gone beyond sight and sound. [Mr. Coxs tale lacked corroboration; however, wrote Gale, this objection did not apply to the following story told by Joseph and William Webb] They were out in the ranges preparing to camp for the night. Down the side of a range to the eastward, and with only a narrow gully separating them from the object which attracted their attention, they first heard a deep guttural bellowing and then a crashing of the scrub.

Next moment a thing appeared walking erect, though they saw only its shoulders and head. It was hirsute, so much of the creature as was visible, and its head was so deep between its shoulders that it was scarcely perceptible. It was approaching towards their camp. Now it was in full view, and was of the structure of a man moving with long strides and a heavy tramp. It was challenged: Who are you? speak, or we\'ll fire. Not an intelligible word came in response; only the guttural bellowing. Aim was taken; the crack of the rifle rang out along the gully; but the thing if hit, was not disabled; for at the same sound of the shot it turned around and fled. The two gentlemen, filled with amazement and curiosity, but not alarm, went to where they had seen and shot at this formidable-looking creature, and sought for its tracks in verification of what had happened.

There were its footprints, long, like a mans, but with longer spread toes; there were its strides, also much longer than those of a man; and there were broken twigs and disordered scrub through which it had come and gone. They saw no blood or other evidence of their shot having taken effect.


[14]The Queanbeyan Observer, 26th June 1903.


[The following is from a letter sent to Gale by Mr. Alex A. McKeahnie of Adaminaby] We have heard of the Yahoo as long as I can remember, both from the oldest lands and from the Aboriginals. The Yahoo of the aboriginals is a large bird of the mope-poke or cuckoo species...................[This would seem to be the Grey-Crowned Babbler which is apparently also known as the Yahoo, on account of its note.] As for the hairy man or Yahoo, no such animal was known to the aboriginals. Many times have I questioned then when there were large numbers of them in and about the mountains of Cowley, and the headwaters of the Murrumbidgee. It is utterly impossible that any animal could exist unknown to the blacks..................


[15] The Queanbeyan Observer, 7th August 1903.


[An opposing view to the one above is put in a letter to the editor of the Observer by Geo. Graham Webb which appears in print headed WAS IT THE \"HAIRY MAN\", \"YAHOO\", OR THE \"WILD BLACKFELLOW\" OF THE ABORIGINALS? IF NEITHER, WHAT WAS IT? The expression wild blackfellow appears in this way also to have been a name used for the hairy man by the aboriginals. On this occasion Webb and his brothers were camped on a small stream between Tidbinilla Mountain and the Cotter Iver when they heard some creature approaching them.]

Neither William or myself, owing to the scrub, etc., got a sight of it. Joseph says it was like a blackfellow with a blanket on him. [ A postscript to the letter mentions an interview with a Henny Williams, who saw the aborigines kill such a creature below the junction of the Yass River with the Murrumbidgee.] There were a good many blacks at the killing of it, and he saw two blackfellows dragging it down the hill by its legs. It was like a black man, but covered all over with grey hair.


[16] John Gale, Canberra: History of and legends relating to the Federal Capital Territory of the Commonwealth of Australia (Queanbeyan, 1927)


Next comes the creature known as the Yahoo, or Hairy man of the mountainous regions, in the neighborhood of Brinabella. The various and obscure reports of such an animal, and there are many, may well be dismissed as being not worthy of record. But who is to get away from this? Than the messrs William and his deceased brother, Joseph Webb, late of Urayarra, there are no more reliable and truth telling men to be found.

This I had from their own lips. They were mustering cattle in the rugged country on the north side of Brindabella, and at the close of one days muster, sat in the twilight enjoying their evening meal. Presently their quietude was broken by the rush of a herd of cattle from some valleys below. Following the stampeding beast was a man-like thing, whose coat was as hairy as that of a gorilla.

Though challenged by the suprised brothers, the thing neither spoke nor turned. Whereupon a shot was fired in the direction he had taken, and then there was silence and undisturbed repose for the rest of the night. Next morning the coarse taken by the stampeding cattle and their hirsute pursuer was followed by the brothers, who found distinct traces of blood, but no sign of anything living or dead. This was the story of two men of well-balanced minds, the very antitheses of hysterically-disposed individuals.


[17] The Sydney Morning Herald, 23rd October 1912.


The poet Sydney Wheeler Jephcott (1864-1951) spent most of his life in the bush as a cattleman and dairy farmer. The following account is from a letter sent to the geologist Edgworth David, portion of which was printed in the Herald, referring to some prints Jephcott had found on the Bombala River, and which he believed belonged to an unknown animal.] I may say, he writes to Professor David, that I took especial care on my first visit to observe any indication of human agency, and could perceive nothing of a suspicious nature. Indeed, the character of many of the persons who claim to have seen such an animal during a period of at least 30 years precludes any likelihood of a hoax. Already I have chosen a dozen names of reputable witnesses who have had experiences.


[Jephcott sent the following account of his discovery to the Herald] After nearly 50 yeasrs spent in the bush with every sense alert to catch the secrets of the wilds, up till a few days ago not the faintest scintilla of first-hand evidence had reached me that any animal of importance remained unknown in our country. But about 10 days ago, when riding through the jungle which lies on the eastern slopes of Bull Hill 9a trig, site, about 12 miles south-east of Nimitybelle railway station), I noticed on a white gum trunk a series of scratches such as could be made with a point of a dessert spoon. These scratches were in series of three on one side meeting a single scratch coming from the opposite direction, being exactly such as would be made by three fingers and the thumb of a great hand with abnormally strong and large nails. Beginning at a height of about seven feet. All these scratches were made by a right hand, suggesting that the creature which had made them shared a peculiarity of mankind.


From these indications I judged that some animal unknown to science was at large in this country, but took no further action in the matter. However, on Sunday (October 12), I heard that George Summerell, a neighbour of mine, while riding up the track which forms a short cut from Bombala to Bemboka, had that day, about noon, when approaching a small creek about a mile below \'Packer\'s Swamp\', ridden close up to a strange animal, which, on all fours, was drinking from the creek.

As it was covered with grey hair, the first thought that close to Summerells mind was: What an immense kangaroo. But, hearing the horses feet on the track, it rose to its full height, of about 7ft, and looked quietly at the horseman. Then, stooping down again, it finished its drink, and then picking up a stick that lay by, it walked steadily away up a slope to the right or eastern side of the road, and disappeared among the rocks and timber 50 yards away. Summerell described the face as being like that of an ape or man, minus forehead and chin, with a great trunk all one size from shoulders to hips, and with arms that nearly reached to its ankles. Hearing this report, I rode up to the scene on Monday morning. On arriving about a score of footprints attested the truth of Summerells account, the hand prints where the animal had stooped at the edge of the water being especially plain. These hand prints differed from a large human hand chiefly in having the little fingers  much like the thumbs (a formation explaining the 5-7 series of scratches on the white gum tree.) A striking peculiarity was revealed, however, in the footprints; these, resembling an enormously long and ugly human foot in the heel, instep and ball, had only four toes - long (nearly 5 inches), cylindrical and showing evidences of extreme flexibility. Even in the prints which had sunk deepest into the mud there was no trace of the thumb of the characteristic apes foot. Besides, perhaps, a score of new prints, there were old ones discernible, showing that the animal had crossed the creek at least a fortnight previously.


After a vexatious delay, I was able, on the Wednesday afternoon, to take three plaster of Paris casts - one of a footprint in very stiff mud, another in very wet mud, and a third of the hand with its palm superimposed on the front part of the corresponding foot. These I have forwarded to Professor David, at the university, where, no doubt, they can be seen by those interested. Anyone acquainted with the nature of mud will not expect to find a cast taken therein three days after imprint as technically perfect as a casting from a regular model, but I believe that any reasonable being will be satisfied by an inspection of these three casts that something quite unknown and unsuspected by science remains to be brought to light. Since this matter had made such a stir that people in this district have felt that they could attest their experience without further fear of ridicule, an astonishing number of confirmatory cases have come to my knowledge ranging over the country between Cape Howe and Wee Jasper. Such of these accounts as seen of significance I hope to collect. [Neither the casts themselves nor any accounts Jephcott may have collected seem to have survived]


[18] The Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 26 October 1912, p4.


[Mr R. W. Dawson of Goulburn had in his posession a letter written to his daughter in 1907 which contained a description of an unusual creature he had seen] It appeared to be a tall man with a fur cap and a pea jacket, and running with a peculiar attitude. [His experience was confirmed at the time by one of the Summerells who said he had seen a hairy man in the neighborhourhood a short time before] Another feature is this, that I spoke to Mr Fred Hefferman, of Thokom, some time afterwards, and he said he had had many a hunt for some animal because of the peculiar footprints he had seen (if my memory serves me right similar to what Mr Jephcott described), but failed to find it. Subsequently I was approached by a resident living in the rough hills between Gunningrah and Bungarby to go out and take other citizens with me and examine some peculiar footprints in a creek. The description tallies with Mr Heffermans.


[19] The Sun (Sydney) 10th November 1912.


[The following account was given by a Mr. Carles Harper, described as a surveyor from the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt.] For many years past vague and mysterious rumours have been current of an Australian gorilla, or \"Hairy man\", or some such animal, seen on and in the wild uninhabited mountainous and gorges forming the Currickbilly Range, which runs parallel to the south coast of this State, from the head of the Clyde River to North Gippsland.


[Harper thinks the Bombala story was perhaps a practical joke since the creature never leaves the dense jungle of the eastern slopes.] Along the Currickbilly range of mountains, from the head of the Clyde River extending southerly to the Victorian border, the eastern slope consists of excessively broken, lateral ridges, deep gorges, and dense jungles, extremely difficult of access for man or beast; therefore its primeval solitude is very rarely disturbed. Scientists assert that this animal, like the bunyip, is a myth, and such animals do not, and never did, exist on this continent, although the old generation of aboriginal natives assert the contrary in both cases.

In various parts of the southern district of this State on the coastal slopes, and at various times, extending over a very long period, I have met men (and intelligent men at that) who unhesitatingly assert that they have seen this hairy man-shaped animal at short distances. They were so terrified at the apparition and the hideous noise it made when it saw them that they left their work as timber-getters, and at once cleared out from the locality, leaving their tools and work behind them. The description of this animal, seen at different times by different people in several localities, but always in the jungle, a variably considered. At the risk of being considered by your readers the reincarnation of Ananias for the late Thomas Pepper, I will describe this animal as once seen as briefly as possible. I had to proceed some distance into the heart of these jungles for a special purpose, accompanied by two large Kangeroo dogs with a strain of the British bulldog in each.


[On the night of the second day, having just turned in, they heard a most terrifying sound which utterly demoralised the dogs. One of the men was induced to throw dry kindling on the fire, illuminating the scrub for distance around.] A huge man-like animal stood erect not twenty yards from the fire, growling, grimacing, and thumping its breast with its huge hand-like paws. I looked round and saw one of my companions had fainted. He remained unconscious for some hours. The creature stood in one position for some time, sufficiently long enough to enable me to photograph him on my brain. I should say its height when standing erect would be 5ft.8in to 5ft.10in. Its body, legs and arms were covered with long, brownish-red hair, which shook with every quivering movement of its body. the hair on its shoulder and back parts appeared in the subdued light of the fire to be jet black, and long; but what struck me the most extraordinary was the apparently human shape, but still so very different.


I will commence its detailed description with the feet, which only occasionally I could get a glimpse of. I saw that the metatarsal bones were very short, much shorter than the genus homo, but the phalanges were extremely long, indicating great grasping power by the feet. The fibula bone of the leg bone was much shorter than in man. The femur bone of the thigh was very long, out of all proportion to the rest of the leg. The body frame was enormous, indicating immense strength and power of endurance. The arms and fore paws were extremely long and large, and very muscular, being covered with shorter hair. The head and face were very small, but very human.


The eyes were large, dark and piercing, deeply set. A most horrible mouth was ornamented with two large and long canine teeth. When the jaws were closed they protruded over the lower lip. The stomach seemed like a sack hanging halfway down the thighs, whether natural or a prolapses, I could not tell. All this observation occupied a few minutes while the creature stood erect, as if the firelight had paralysed him. After a few more growls, and thumping his breast, he made off, the first few yards erect, then at a faster gait on all fours through the low scrub. Nothing could induce my companions to continue the trip, at which I was rather pleased than otherwise, and returned as quickly as possible out of reach Australian gorillas, rare as they are.


[20] The Sun, 24th November 1912. Also in the The Queanbeyan Age, December 1912.


[Colonel Ryrie of Michelago asserted that during a long residence in the district he had many stories of the phenomenon.] I first heard of the creature in my boyhood, he continued, Some folks are dreadfully afraid of it. It was really the bogey of the district. It was supposed to be in the Tinderry mountains, and what is known as the Jingera - the wild, rough country. [Ryrie was convinced that the man-ape was merely a story spread by little-duffers to frighten people away.] No ape could live in the country. A carnivorous animal might get along, but there were no nuts, no yams, no fruits for a man-ape.


[21] The Sun, 24 November 1912, p.13.]


Mr. A. B. Walton, of Granville, remembers, years ago, hering the blacks of the Braidwood district speak of big feller devil which they called a Yahoo. They describe it as being taller than a man, and covered with hair. They had seen it climb trees. On one occasion when disturbed by a party of blacks it seized a gin by the throat and strangled her on the spot. The other natives ran away in terror. According to the aborigines, the \"Yahoo\" was only rarely seen, but generations testified to its existence. I was only a boy at the time, says Mr Walton, and never saw the creature myself, but I have no doubt from what the blacks said that it is not a myth.


[22] R. H. Mathews, Notes on the Aborigines of NSW (Sydney, 1907) p.26


[Mathews (1841-1918) was a surveyor who also collected a huge amount of accurate information about the aborigines. This legend comes from the south coast of NSW. It seems possible to interpret it as a reference to the hairy man, although I know nothing further about the name Yaroma.] The Yaroma is a creature closely resembling a man, but of greater stature, and having hair all over the body. [Distinct from this, but still on the subject of names, I ought to say that according to Mr Rex Gilroy, the hairy man was always and everywhere called Yowie by the aborigines (see, The Sun Herald, 14 December 1975, p.126).

The aboriginal Black Theatre Arts and Culture Centre of Redfern subject Yowie, but put forward the names Djunjari, Njnbin, Duligahl, Quinkin and Dhuarngin (see The Queanbeyan Age, 12 November 1976, p.1). Neither Gilroy nor the Black Theatre give any supporting evidence for their claims though the latter are on present indications correct about Duligahl.] [23] H. Mathews, MS notebook no.5: Thurga & Jirringan Languages 1901], pp. 5, 195. The notebooks were (3.4.1974) in the possession of Professor R M W Dixon, Department of Linguistics, School of General Studiesm Australian National University, Canberra. A copy is held by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra. [The Dhurga and Dyirringan languages were formerly spoken on the far south coast of NSW. According to Mrs Eades (see [27]), Mathews is the only source of material for Dyirringan, which was probably a language seperate from and to the south of Dhurga (i.e. between Bega and Eden).

In the excerpts below note especially the name Thoolagal.] See p.195. Boom-ee-ga or Thool-a-gal or goon. - A man man and woman bolted away into the ranges away from their people - They camped near a big tree - they ripped a sheet of bark and curled it around them - By and by they saw what appeared to be stars - said Stars are coming out. Saw the monster by the eyes coming down - It has two sharp prongs on hand - put prongs into one end of bark - man went to other end - It went to other end - man went back - this went on nearly all night.

It went into tree when its young ones were crying - man watched opportunity ran away - It cam down rang along with a dire stick to prevent its smell rising - nearly overtook man who ran into water and kept quiet, - his nose only above in the reeds. It ran along both directions, but could see no sign and then made terrible stink and man swam away. He went back to the camp, the woman had likewise gone away - These people reported the matter and the tribe brought some old men back to the tree, and this monster came down and faced them - The old men killed him with their sorcery and burnt the tree down and destroyed the young ones who were crying like children. 195 Myth - see p.5 Thool-a-gal or Moom-ee-ga: Lives in a hollow tree or in a cave. Like a man only larger - very strong - No hair on his head - has claws on fingers. His feet are like ours. Several live together - He would catch blackfellow and take him to his own camp and eat him. [24] The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 1935, p.11


[This account by Eureka suggests that the douligah of the aborigines on the south coast is to be identified with a kind of gorilla.] Though there are few full blooded aborigines still remaining on the south coast of New South Wales, you can still hear all about the Douligah, or the hairy man, from the few who do remain. Every aboriginal on the south coast firmly believed in the evidence of the douligah, and they dreaded him as children dread the bogeyman. They describe the douligah as a man of powerful build, capable of tearing down small trees and lifting great rocks. He had hair all over his body, and though the remained in the mountains during daylight he frequently visited the abos camps at night, and sent them scampering for shelter in caves. There are more than one douligah in the bush, apparently. The natives about Nowra had seen one, whilse those at Twofold Bay also believed that one lived in the mountains there. We are apt to discredit these stories of the Aborigines, but it is quite possible that such a creature did exist in the early years. Perhaps he was a kind of gorilla. We have no proof that such creatures could not live here as they do in Africa and other parts.


[25] Roland Robinson, a passage on the doolagarl in \'3 Aboriginal Tales\', Bulletin, 13 October 1954, p. 27. This appears in a slightly different than in Black-Feller (Sydney, 1957) pp 122-123 and in Aboriginal Myths and Legends (Melbourne 1966 pp. 210-212.


The following description also comes from the south coast of NSW and part of a longer tale about the doolagari related by Percy Mumbulla. In gathering and other Aboriginal poems (Sydney 1970) Robinson suggests (p that the legend of the doolagarl may indicate that an extremely primitive man once inhabited the mountains of the south coast.] A doolagarl is a gorilla-like man. He has long spindly legs. He has big chest, long arms. His forehead goes back from his eyebrows.

His head goes into his shoulders, no neck. They live now on Cockwhy and Polawombera Mountains. Luise A Hercus. The Languarges of Vicotria: A Late Survey (Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, 1969) Part II pp. 392, 4443 474. [Included in this book is a survey of the scanty fragments of a southern form of Ngarigo, collected on tape from widely scattered informants. Ngarigo was once spoken in the southern Monaro region of NSW around Delegate.

The fragments recorded are intended to supplement the work of earlier writers]. [27] Diana Delloway Eades. The Dharawal and Dhurga Languages of the New South Wales South Coast (Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra 1976 pp. 78, 81, 88. [Dharawal was spoken from the southern shores of Botany Bay to the Nowra-Jervis Bay area, and Dhurga from the Nowra-Jervis Bay area as far as Wallaga Lake. The word Dul (v) ga (w) was recorded on tape from both Dharawal and Dhurga informants. GunamVldang, which may also be a name for a hairy man (the goon of Mathews?), was recorded from Dharawal informants only. It is surprising that there are no written sources indicated for dul(V)ga(w) because, as already shown, the word has occasionally appeared in written form. Possibly known instances of the use of the word cannot be positively attributed to one or other of the two languages, although it may also be that the range of written sources used, being the works of linguistic researchers only, is too restricted]


[28] Henry Lawson, The Hairy Man, in Triangles of Life and other stories Melbourne, 1913 pp 210-223.


As far as I know this material stands by itself except for the note by W J right below. Lawson (1867-1922) had already mentioned a hairy man from the Mudgee area in his story. The spooks of Long Gully (1894) and in his autobiography (1903-1906). He may have been inspiried to write this story by newspaper reports of 1912. An extract from the introduction to this story, even below, refers to the Blue Mountains, but the story itself is set in the Mudgee district.] But the Hairy man was permanent, and his country spread from the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range right out to the ends of the western shores. He had been heard of the seen and described so often and by so many reliable liars that most people agreed there must be something. The most popular and enduring theory was that he was a gorilla, or an orang-outang which had escaped from a menagerie long ago.

He was also said to be a new kind of kangaroo, or the last of a species of Australian animals which hadnt been discovered yet. Anyway, in some places, he was regarded as a danger to children coming home from school, as were wild bullocks, snakes and an occasional buchman in the dts. So now and then, when the yarn had a revival, search parties were organised, and went out with guns to find the Hairy Man and to settle him and the question one way or another. But they never found him. [29] W. J Enright, The Yerri-Wahoo, Mankind Vol, 2, No, 4 June 1937, p.91. A Crown Lands Surveyor, S., informed me that he lived as a boy in the Mudgee district, where a scrubby place was reputed to be the abode of a Yahu, and a resident in the Maitland district told me a Yahu, was reputed to live in a thick scrub there. Each said he was a big hairy man.




Researcher\'s Notes : A very special Thank you to Mr Graham C. Joyner.