That a form of marine reptile from the age of dinosaurs could still survive in the Hawkesbury River must, understandably, seem absurd to many people. Yet, when one considers the often enormous widths, the great depths, the length of the river (up to 120 kilometres) and its many branches snaking off in all directions, there is more than enough room for such creatures to have survived and bred undisturbed for centuries, as the following case histories suggest.
Old Aboriginal tales from along the river speak of canoes and rafts having been caught in whirlpools created by Mirreeulla's turning about beneath the surface. While many people might dismiss such myths, others are not so sure.
It was near Dangar Island during the 1930s that Mr Bill Dunn saw a 50 foot-length, long-necked plesiosaur-type monster, its head protruding high above the water as it pursued a school of mullet.
In 1935, in another incident just west of the island on the Hawkesbury River Bridge, a group of workmen, alerted by a workmate, ceased repair-work on the bridge to watch a
40-foot-long or more, greyish-coloured, plesiosaur-like sea creature swimming below them, headed westward upriver in broad daylight. Its head, long neck, large body with two sets of long, paddle-like flippers and long eel-like tail were clearly visible below.
Locals believe there is a spot a few kilometres downstream to the west of the North Richmond Bridge where boats and people have vanished under mysterious circumstances-victims, they say, of "the monster".
Back in 1939 near Broken Bay Mr Doug Bradburn and a mate had an experience
they would never forget. They were fishing in a rowing boat some distance offshore in Broken Bay when, suddenly, a giant snakelike head rose up out of the water to about 20 feet as a large scaly body surfaced behind it some 50 yards from them.
They could see long flippers thrashing about in the water. The men did not see a tail as it was obscured in the water, but by then they probably had their safety in mind. Remarkably, the men had harpoons with them but, in the ensuing panic, failed to use them. Instead, with the monster surfaced nearby, they began rowing for the shore-no doubt at a speed that might have done credit to the Harvard Eight! Close encounters with these creatures are often terrifying experiences.
Perhaps the fisherman's story to end all fishermen's stories concerning long-necked
monsters on the Hawkesbury River took place in Broken Bay 21 days after the end of World
War Two Sydney fishermen, John Nelson and Bob Orange, were fishing in a small motor
launch out in the middle of the bay at about 7am.
John takes up the Story
"A few hundred yards away to the north of us there was a large yacht anchored, and
we could see at least 12 people moving about on it.
Then suddenly, 50 yards away to the east of our launch, there was a disturbance in
the water and we got the shock of our lives when this ugly, snakelike head rose from the
surface, looking directly at us.
We reckoned later that its neck was at least two feet thick and that the head was a
good two-and-a-half feet long by about one-and-a-half feet wide. Within moments, the head
had risen up to about 10 feet above the water, the scaly creature being a dark grey in colour
but for the underside of the neck which was a pale yellowish-white.
By now we could see humps appearing above the water as the monster's body came
into view there were two of them about 20 feet apart and two to three feet above the water.
We could also see a disturbance in the water coming from flippers barely visible below
surface, and there was some disturbance behind the creature, presumably from a moving tail.
We watched the monster as it looked slowly about for perhaps five minutes, as it
made no effort to harm us. Anyway, Bob suggested we leave so we moved off toward the
At this, the monster suddenly splashed below the surface and we got a momentary
glance of its tail, paddle-like and perhaps 15 feet in length.
By now, the people on the yacht had sighted the creature also and were moving
about, agitated and shouting. We could see the head re-appear just above the surface as the
monster headed toward the yacht, submerging about 50 feet from the craft.
We waited a while, and there being no more sign of the monster we motored over to
the yacht and its occupants. Some of them had observed the animal's flippers-four of them
and up to several feet in length, thrashing about below surface. We all agreed, the monster
could have been from 45 to 50 feet in length."
At Lower Hawkesbury in 1949, when a young couple in a rowing boat saw a bull on a sandbank about 300 yards away from them,
drinking from a creek flowing into the river. As they looked in the direction of the bull, they also spotted a large snakelike head-a good three feet in length-appear from the water and rise up on the end of a long neck at least 20 feet out of the water.
A large humped body appeared up to three feet above the surface and was perhaps about 30 feet in length. The reptile grabbed the bull, dragging it into the water. With the girl screaming, the boy rowed in a panic for the shore. The whole incident was over within seconds, it seemed, and although they told locals later, not everyone wanted to believe them; but the owner of the bull did find blood on the sand and the marks of a struggle -and, of course, the bull had disappeared.