At the bottom of the above
picture is a mark on the road, it shows where the
The above Lagoon appears
to be the
This photo shows a creek with reeds going away and upstream from the Lagoon which starts from the tree in the center of the shot and snakes around the corner for a short distance then it is bone dry again.
and Rock Overhangs
As I walked around the dry creek bed I found these caves, the above cave goes down into an even deeper opening.
The above cave is right nearby the first one and I wouldn't be surprised if they both meet under this mountain area.
The above cave is going west
from the other two caves above. I took long shots as it appeared to be
surrounded by thick scrub and the cave itself looked very deep when I
was above it.
This was one of the widest and deepest caves I found on this day. I am still going West around this area from the original cave.
This opening was over 5 metres high and the area this covered was more than enough for many creatures to be safe from humans and the elements.
The dry creek bed runs right past all of these openings and cave systems.
This shows an unusual formation of rocks to form a sort of enclosure, in the middle is another long narrow opening which then disappears into a long winding hole to which I didn't trust looking into, at a later date we will.
The above shot shows the dry creek, no water has been through here in at least 6 months. This is looking West, the below shot is looking East.
Friday Media Day
I had gone to Luke's house on the Monday and on Tuesday Luke's Mum rang me to say that Ch 10 wanted to talk to me and that they would ring me later that day.
Ch 10 rang me to ask would I go there on the Wednesday as they wanted to talk to someone who has been investigating this incident.
I informed them that I was there yesterday and would be going back Friday. I then rang back Luke's mum and said that I was still coming Friday.
In the meantime the Hills Shire Times Newspaper had phoned also wanting me to go there on the Wednesday.
Apparently Luke's mum who had people ringing and at her home for days wanted the news and newspaper to come on the Friday also, mainly as Luke was studying and all of this was distracting him from his normal routine..
I had told Rex of this incident at a meeting on the Tuesday and then on Thursday when the newspaper and ch 10 news asked could we be there Friday afternoon, I informed them we had already planned to go out all day and talk to Luke that afternoon after he came home from school.
So by 4.30 Friday there was Luke, his friend and his mum and sister and father turning up later.
Rex, Heather (Rex's wife) and I, the photographer from the Hills Shire Newspaper and a cameraman and sound person and also the interviewer from Ch 10 and also Mike Williams turned up, so it was quite a sight.
Rex had taken some plaster casts of his previous finds and also a sketch, when I showed the sketch to Luke he said that's exactly what he had seen.
To Be Updated.
Also a new page for each sighting up in the future as well.
The Kenthurst Large Black Cat Attack
Latest Articles updated Wednesday 12th November
For the latest articles scroll down to:
Pride of "big cast" on prowl:Tuesday December 9th 2003: Used by Permission from the Hills Shire Times
Time to do DNA tests, says Mayor: Wednesday November 19th 2003. Used by Permission from the Hawkesbury Gazette
Panther precense likely: November 6th 2003 Used by Permission from the Hawkesbury Courier
Cryptozoology Encounters by Rex Gilroy
we have more information and evidence
Read an Interview With Luke..Click Here
The is the story of a large Labrador sized cat which attacked and left deep scratch marks on the arm of 17yr old Kenthurst resident Luke Walker on the 20th of March 2003 at approx 8:30-9:00pm.
I first heard of this incident via a phone call from a Mike Williams on the Thursday after, who informed me of an apparent attack on a young man by a large cat. Mike also told me a friend heard the story on 2UE, which I rang and no-one knew much about it.
I then phoned the newspaper in question and was put through to the writer of the article Gerald Rillstone (Hills Shire Times) who informed me of the details and the name of the young man.
I then searched the phone book for the last name and spoke to his mother who I informed I would be there in an hour if she would be there and if that was okay, she agreed and I drove the short distance from my home to the site of the attack.
(Photograph) Greg Foster
I then went into the surrounding bush to look for any evidence of the cat's presence in the area. There house backs onto the bush and there property goes down into a small gully which appears to be a water course in wet weather. I found that there isn't much water in the creek that surrounds the entire area because of the drought.
That in turn snakes down around the house boundaries and eventually a large wall like embankment where on the other side I found the only water in that area, a small Lagoon full with water and in the vicinity on one bank hundreds of droppings of numerous animals and birds as well as many feathers scattered amongst them.
There didn't appear to be any cat droppings but there were numerous feathers scattered nearby. it appears this was the only watering hole for most animal and birdlife.
I then travelled back along another dry creek and found two fairly old prints which could be cat prints but were very indistinct (the soil was too hard to really work out what they could be)
I also found many tracks in the hard soil of the native & local wildlife.
this dried out water course there are on either side of it's banks many
rock crevices of which only a few have any room for anything but lizards
and other smaller creatures to take refuge.
After a few hours of taking photographs and surveying places to search on other days I walked back through the water courseway to where I thought I originally had started. I ended up three doors up walking through a neighbours backyard and the lady was home and approached me as I walked out.
She asked what I was doing and I explained and she informed me of her cat that on one occasion had been attacked by something that left a deep puncture mark in it's groin.
I have since been back to the area on numerous occasions (with and without Rex & Heather, as I only live a short drive from the area, whereas Rex lives in Katoomba an hours drive or more away) and found many caves and a creek that snakes around the entire area which is and has been bone dry for months.
The Lagoon I found on the first day appears to be the ONE source of water for this area, even the Dams in the area are either low or non-existent.
of Scratch Marks
(Photograph) Greg Foster
Cryptozoology Encounters by Rex Gilroy
The Hills Shire Times
Monster Cat Stalks Hills
By Gerald Rillstone
(Photograph) Mike Szabath
A vicious attack by a feral cat "the size of a Labrador" has led to fears that an animal reminiscent of the infamous Lithgow Panther has taken up residence in the Hills. Last Thursday night, 17-year-old Luke Walker was badly scratched in a vicious and unprovoked attack on his Kenthurst property.
He said the huge cat leapt from the darkness in a blinding fury, clawing at his face and torso. "I was walking back towards the house and I could hear this cat growling behind me, said Luke. "I turned around and saw it about three to four metres away. It leapt and I put my arm up and its front claws then dug into my arm and its hind legs ripped into my gut," he said.
He described the animal as huge-"about the size of a Labrador". Mr walker said the attack finally abated when he punched the animal in the side of the face. "It jumped off and ran into the night...when I got back inside there was blood all over my T-shirt," he said.
Although he sought medical attention the wounds became infected and he developed swollen lymph nodes and flu-like symptoms. Luke's father Stewart said he first noticed the feline prowling the suburb about two years ago. "For years, people have been talking about sightings of a panther near the Blue Mountains and this could quite easily be mistaken for a small panther," he said.
Other giant cat sightings have also been reported in the Hills.
Anthony Costa lives at Pitt Town and got the shock of his life when a huge cat crossed his path about six months ago. "It was late at night and I was just coming home from work and as I pulled into the driveway there was this massive cat that looked like a tiger but was smaller. It just stood there looking at the car lights...I've never seen anything like it," he said.
'Big Cat' Mystery Deepens
By Gerald Rillstone
Following the recent vicious cat attack on 17-year-old Luke walker, other Kenthurst residents have come forward with sightings of the super sized feline.
Judy Pope couldn't believe her eyes when it attacked a litter of newborn kittens at her Jones Rd property. "I got the fright of my life when I heard this awful noise coming from the garage," she said. "I went to investigate and there were kittens scattered everywhere and this massive cat with a face three times the size of our cat and kittens."
She said the mother cat became so frightened that she wet herself while huddling in the corner shaking. "It grabbed one of the kittens in its mouth and ran off...it had long legs and was more the size of a cattle dog than any cat I've seen," she said.
Mrs Pope said she thought the giant cat might have come from the bush that borders her property.
Two weeks ago Bob McGuiness spotted what he thought was a large dark brown wallaby lying on its back scratching its belly. "I was on the verandah cutting my son's hair when I saw it...the kids approached it and it got up and strolled off down Blue Gum Valley." he said.
"It was just huge...but it was definitely a cat because you could see its big shoulders as it walked," he said. He said his Kenthurst property borders a myriad of interconnecting valleys that were rich in wildlife. However, he said this was the first time he had seen a wild cat of this size.
And the rogue cat is likely to remain at large for some time. A Baulkham Hills Council Spokeswoman said after lengthy consideration it had been decided that council would not put out a trap for the large cat.
"Council's animal control officers will continue to keep an eye out for anything unusual," she said.
'Big Cat' Frenzy
Tuesday April 8th 2003
SPECIALISTS who have been tracking big cat sightings for decades are hot on the trail of the "Kenthurst Cat" in the hope of uncovering the mystery beast which has been stalking the Kenthurst Valley.
The Times has been inundated with calls about the Labrador sized feline after we ran a story about 17-year old Luke walker who was attacked by the feral cat.
The teenager is still suffering from cat scratch fever after the giant cat attacked him, drawing blood and leaving deep lacerations on his arm.
Greg Foster, who has tracked big cat sightings for almost two decades spent hours last week searching the valleys around Kenthurst for evidence of the animal. "I've found some droppings that could be related to it and I will do some tests on them, " he said.
He has found what he thinks is a regular watering hole for the cat and will also be examining any fur he finds to determine if it is a feral cat "or something else".
He believes the cat may be living in one of the many caves in the area.
Rex Gilroy, a writer and expert on 'big cat' sightings, said there was definitely an 'unusual creature' living and wandering around the area. "I have been saying it's too big for an ordinary house cat. I am quite sure something unusual happened here," he said.
Several residents have contacted the Times saying they have seen the giant or have lost animals to the mystery beast including kittens and poultry. Judy Pope said she believed the feral cat had stolen one of her cat's kitten's and her neighbours, Edwina and Dave Collins, believe their poultry may also have become victims.
Over the past year we have lost several hens while they have been foraging down near the bush," they said. "Until now, we have thought these attacks to be the work of a fox, however they all took place during the day.
Another Kenthurst resident David Coxhead said he saw the big cat on Sunday morning. "I have small dogs on the property and some people in the area have small children that's what I am worried about," said Mr Coxhead.
Anthropology student Michael Williams has had an acute interest in cryptozoology for the past 20 years. He has interviewed Luke about the encounter with the Kenthurst cat. For the past two years Mr Williams has been on the search for big cats in Victoria and the Blue Mountains.
By Gerald Rillstone
(Photograph) Greg Foster
CYPTOZOOLOGIST Rex Gilroy believes the monster cat causing alarm in the Kenthurst area is a subspecies of a marsupial lion, similar to that which inhabited Australia thousands of years ago.
Mr Gilroy has found six massive paw prints-measuring 10cm in diameter-close to the spot where the giant cat attacked-17-year old Luke Walker four weeks ago.
(Photograph) Mike Szabath
In a terrifying struggle, Mr Walker recieved deep lacerations to his right arm which has taken weeks to heal. Mr Gilroy, best known for his research into the mythical Yowie, claims to be the father of Cryptozoology, the science of "hidden animals" in Australia.
He has been hunting Bunyips, Big Cats and Yowies for more than 40 years and has amassed a vast collection of footprint casts from throughout NSW. Mr Gilroy's search of tracks in scrub near Mr walker's home turned up distinct paw prints.
"It's definitely not a feral cat," Mr Gilroy said. "I think I have got the footprints of the creature that attacked him...it has the peculiar three-lobed pad that is a feature of a marsupial rather than a feline. He said the prints matched ones found in Dural and the Blue Mountains a number of years ago.
"A Marsupial cat is not a cat as such and not a dog either...but they have cat and dog-like features in the face," he said. Mr Gilroy intends to make further expeditions into the Kenthurst scrub to find the cat's lair.
He said drought and last year's bushfire emergency may have forced the cat to venture closer to built-up areas. "I would say the reason this animal attacked was because it was out foraging for food and may have thought it was going to be harmed," he said.
"Their whole food source-like native animals-has moved elsewhere to find water and so now they are settling into new habitats," he said. "I am going back out there to resume the search and think there is a possibility there are two creatures in the area.
"I am not out to shoot it or catch it...I want to prove that it does exist, and see that it is protected," he said. Mr Gilroy asks anyone who sees the animal to contact him on (02) 47-82-3441.
Mayor's call for action
By Gerald Rillstone
A plea has gone out to State Agriculture Minister Ian Macdonald to mobilise his staff to catch the "Kenthurst panther".
Hawkesbury Mayor Rex Stubbs said he plans to write to Mr Macdonald to express the concern felt in the community following the vicious attack on 17-year-old Luke Walker of Kenthurst six weeks ago.
In a terrifying struggle with the creature, Mr Walker received deep lacerations to his right arm which took weeks to heal. Sightings of the monster cat have been reported in an area stretching from Galston to Pitt Town since the Kenthurst attack.
Dr Stubbs is calling on the NSW Agriculture Department to take the sightings seriously before someone else gets injured. He wrote to the department on behalf of residents in 1999 after a number of sightings in the greater Hawkesbury area.
Last week, he called a meeting of concerned residents and department representatives in a bid to sort out the problem. "I believe there is significant danger and something needs to be done," he said.
A number of Hawkesbury residents banded together in 1999 to document sightings...many of them have actually seen the animal. A spokesperson said they had not sought publicity for fear of ridicule, and didn't wish to be named but they privately approached government departments for help.
The spokesperson said they had used their own resources to try and capture the beast on film but so far had been unsuccessful. He said "Kenthurst panther" sightings had been referred to him by police and government departments for the past five years.
"And in light of the recent attack, the government is failing in its duty of care if something is not done about it." National Parks and Wildlife Service senior ranger Chris Banffy said the issue was the responsibility of the Agriculture Department.
"For the many experts who say its [the panther] real, the same say it's not,' said Mr Banffy. "What is needed from this group of people who are asking the government to take responsibility is proof...they need to prove it's out there," he said.
NSW Agriculture program manager agricultural protection Graeme Eggleson said: "We are willing to assist residents...but until there is cold, hard evidence that there is an animal out there, there is not much more we can do," he said.
Warning Issued over 'Panther
Memos obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in 2001 showed wildlife authorities showed wildlife authorities were sufficiently concerned about the potential danger to Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury area residents that they commissioned an expert to track down the monster cat.
Agriculture Department head Kevin Sheridan wrote in a 1999 letter to National Parks and wildlife Service (NPWS) director-general Brian Gilligan: "The reports are becoming too frequent for us to ignore the possibility. "To do so could bring into question government's duty of care if these alleged attacks happened to result in injury to a person," Mr Sheridan wrote.
Three months later, NSW Agriculture's technical manager of exotic animals, Bill Atkinson, wrote to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, warning: Some eight months ago I started receiving reports from reputable people about a large [panther size] black cat being seen in the Grose Valley area.
"The animal has apparently moved into the Blue Mountains national Park each summer and returned to the Grose valley area every winter for the past five or six years and killed a number of sheep and goats," he said.
Wildlife ecologist Johannes J Bauer was also commissioned to provide his opinion. "Difficult as it may seem to accept, the most likely explanation of the evidence listed above is the presence of a large feline predator, [it is] most likely a leopard, less likely a jaguar," he said.
This triggered the Agriculture Department to send an officer to catch the cat. However, a three-day hunt proved fruitless, as did later attempts.
By Vanessa Massey &
(Photograph) Mike Szabath
ANOTHER significant sighting of the Kenthurst panther was made last Wednesday - just a day before the State Government announced plans for a low-level investigation into the monster feline.
While the announcement sparked howls of laughter and derision from some parts of the House, it was welcomed by Hawkesbury Mayor Rex Stubbs who called an emergency community meeting on the issue late last month.
The latest sighting was made by Kenthurst resident Vicki Taylor, a neighbour of Luke Walker,the 17-year-old student who was viciously attacked by the cat on March 20.
The attack, first reported in the Hills Shire Times, left the young man with deep lacerations to his right arm which took weeks to heal.
Mrs Taylor saw what she believes was a lynx-like animal last Wednesday afternoon on her way home along Pitt Town Rd.
"It completely stunned me. . . I certainly wasn't going to get out the car," said Mrs Taylor. "I have two small children and I certainly would not like them to be out at night with this thing around."
"It's about time for an investigation . . . I hope they catch it so they can put people's minds at rest."
Rex Gilroy's drawing
(Photograph) Mike Szabath
Cr Stubbs said he believed there were many panthers as the sightings had increased over the years. "There have been about 130 sightings since it was first reported in the 1940s," Cr Stubbs said.
"The number of sightings are increasing which makes me think there must be a breeding ground somewhere. "
National Parks and Wildlife Service senior ranger Chris Banffy said an investigation was needed to determine the existence of the panther.
However, he said he was sceptical any such evidence would be found.
Cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy has been collecting data which he says substantiates the existence of a panther-like creature in Australia for 40 years. In mid-April, Mr Gilroy took plaster casts of six massive paw prints - measuring 10cm in diameter - found near the site where Mr Walker was attacked.
He welcomed news of the investigation but said it should be conducted by scientists, not politicians. Cryptozoology is the science of "hidden animals", which in Australia includes the bunyip, big cat and yowie.
Mr Gilroy says he believes that the Kenthurst cat is a subspecies of a marsupial lion called Thylacoleo Camifex which inhabited Australia thousands of years ago.
On Thursday, Regional Development Minister David Campbell, who represents Agriculture Minister Ian Macdonald in the Lower House, told Parliament there had been 60 separate reports of a large cat-like animal attacking livestock and people in Sydney's west, north west, the Blue Mountains and Lithgow over the past 30 years.
He said in 2001 the NSW Agriculture Protection Unit and National Parks and Wildlife Service had conducted a low-level inquiry into the sightings but found no conclusive evidence.
On trail of the panther
By Vanessa Massey
The Kenthurst panther dominated headlines following its vicious attack on 17-year-old Luke Walker in March. So where is it now? VANESSA MASSEY..goes on a hunt for the big cat.
for answers. . . Rex Gilroy photographs a paw print (above) and (below)
his drawing of what he believes the panther may look like.
The Kenthurst panther dominated headlines following its vicious attack on 17-year-old Luke Walker in March. So where is it now? VANESSA MASSEY..goes on a hunt for the big cat.
THE Kenthurst panther must be purring with satisfaction.
feline had the Hills buzzing following its attack on 17-year-old Luke
Walker in March, and numerous subsequent sightings had residents fearful
for the safety of their small children and pets.
And then nothing. . .the elusive big cat went underground, frustrating the experts and delighting the cynics.
However cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy and his colleague Greg Foster believe the panther is merely lying low for the winter. The Times recently joined the pair on a hunt for clues to a mystery which has confounded authorities for 30 years.
Cryptozoology is the science of "hidden animals", which in Australia includes the bunyip, big cat and yowie.
Mr Gilroy said he believed the Kenthurst panther was a subspecies of a marsupial lion which inhabited Australia thousands of years ago.
Over the past 30 years there have been 60 separate reports' of a large cat-like animal attacking livestock and people in Sydney's west, north west, Blue Mountains and Lithgow areas.
Mr Gilroy said he was determined to prove the creature exists. He and Mr Foster started their hunt at Luke Walker's property at Kenthurst.
"Luke believes he may have heard it recently attacking ducks," Mr Gilroy said. "I think there is a family of them out there, When you 'are looking for prints you can usually tell the difference between a cat or even a dog's print. "This animal has what is called a marsupial pad, which is a lot different from any other animal's."
Equipped with a Camera and plaster of paris for recording paw prints, Mr Gilroy is meticulous in his record keeping.
"I consider Luke's experience one of the best reports," he said. It looks like Luke may have disturbed him and the creature literally bounded right through him [Luke] to get away.
"When I came out following Luke's attack, I managed to get six massive paw prints from that area."After looking at where Luke's attack happened, we moved into another area of Kenthurst where the creature's prints have been found in the past.
Mr Gilroy stops and points out some faint paw prints which he is sure belong to the panther.
Rex Gilroy (right)
He excitedly sets about recording his find, predicting that the Hills will see renewed activity from the panther in the near future. "I am interested in finding this creature to prove it exists," Mr Gilroy said. "I don't believe in killing it. I would much rather study the creature's habits and find out how it has been successfully been breeding in the wild all these years."
Pride of "big cats" on prowl
By Vanessa Massey
Cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy believes that up to six "big cats" are roaming the Kenhurst district, living and hunting as a family group.
Mr Gilroy said in recent months he and associate Greg Foster had uncovered the paw prints of two forms of large marsupial carnivores.
"The signs point to perhaps at least six (animals) living as a family group in remote rock shelters out in the denser scrublands," Mr Gilroy said.
"Greg and I are about to launch another field investigation here and also at other locations currently experiencing panther sightings."
The revelation follows a recent report by NSW Agriculture that found it was "more likely than not" that a colony of "big cat" was roaming north-western Sydney and the Blue Mountains region.
A number of sightings of a "panther-like creature" were reported to the Times after an attack on teenager Luke walker in March.
In a terrifying struggle with a "giant black cat", Luke, then 17 received deep lacerations to his left arm which took weeks to heal.
The attack and other sightings forced the NSW Government to re-open the "big cat" file after calls by Regional Development Minister David Campbell in Parliament in May this year.
My Gilroy has been on the trail of these mysterious animals since he was 14.
His search has taken him over a wide area of Australia.
"For many years my research into these creatures was met with scorn from government scientists who argued that these "big cats" were nothing more than ferals, "he said.
"Now we learn they have been maintaining a secret file on these animals.
"Obviously they recognise these cat's exist, thus vindicating what has been for me a lifetime's work.
Mr Gilroy said pawprints he had discovered indicated the 'cats' were marsupial rather than feline.
"Most of the western suburbs reports have been of labrador sized, black-furred animals and the paw prints of these full grown animals measure from 9.5cm to 10cm in length by 8.3cm to 8.7cm in width."
In April, he uncovered a giant-size paw print of "monster carnivore" in a Kenthurst gully.
"It measured 15cm in length by 16cm width across the paw," he said.
He and Mr Foster will soon conduct a search in remote areas of the Hawkesbury River region in the hope of finding traces of these animals in isolated, well protected rock shelters.
"At least four species of 'extinct' marsupial lion, thylacoleo carnifex are known from the fossil record and who can say with any certainly that at least two more such species have survived into the present, escaping scientific discovery for generations due to the largely inaccessible mountainous forest habitat in which they roam.
"From all the sightings going on at present in Sydney's west, it is certain that residents are sharing their land with living giant marsupial carnivores from another age."
Mr Gilroy asks anyone who sights the panther to contact him on 4782 3441.
Jokes aside leopards in Sth Windsor
Wednesday April 9th
(Photograph) Kylie Pitt
FORGET a pretty Persian or slinky Siamese, it's the company of two long, lithe leopards Kirstin Feddersen plans to enjoy at her South Windsor property.
One of the state's foremost animal trainers, Ms Feddersen has just put her application in to Hawkesbury City Council to build an enclosure to house two leopards at her rural property.
She said her dream was to bring in two leopard cubs - one black, one spotted '" from the United States where they are bred in captivity.
She hopes to secure "two boys" because "girls are unreliable when they cycle". "I want to keep them entire in case they can be part of a breeding program," she said.
During their five-month quarantine period, she would stay with them to ensure they bonded with her properly so they saw her as "Mum"
She plans to train the leopards on-site and transport them to mainly studio locations in the Sydney area for film work.
Ms Feddersen has worked on the children's ABC show "Out There" and the film "The Quiet American" plus an ever-growing list of television commercials and still shots.
After 15 years' experience in the business - including two years' training and handling big cats, mainly on an American wildlife ranch - she has gone to great lengths to ensure the enclosure is not only suitable for the animals, but absolutely secure.
"The safety of residents is obviously of prime concern," she said.
"The enclosure has been designed so there's a cage inside another cage which is above and beyond NSW Agriculture's standards. It will be possible to drive inside the exterior cage, lock the vehicle in, then open the interior leopard cages to load them into lockable cages in the back of a utility truck."
Both interior and exterior cages will be padlocked, plus there will be a locked front gate and security cameras. Ms Feddersen said her proposed enclosure would be surrounded by trees to reduce visual impact, and animal waste would be minimal and composted on-site using special worms to break down the faeces.
Noise would also not be a problem. "Leopards are very quiet. The loudest noise they make is a rasping sound which is nowhere near as loud as a barking dog."
If for any reason the leopards escaped, she said they would hide. "There's a problem with any animal. A horse can kick you to death. Leopards are fairly shy by nature, and mine will be well socialised."
Ms Feddersen said she had always wanted a leopard. "There's no-one else with trained leopards in Australia, and they would generate great business."
If Council approves her application, Ms Feddersen estimated it would still be about five years before she could have her leopard cubs. One major hurdle will be securing permission from the Federal Government body Environment Australia to bring the cubs into the country.
Black Cat Outrage
Wednesday April 30th
responded to community concerns about the "black panther" by
holding a meeting with residents at Council chambers on Monday, after
a report of an attack at Kenthurst late last month.
Agriculture is the body responsible for dealing with exotic animals but,
according to residents, the department refused to permit the
Local Area Command also failed to send a representative.
Residents who attended requested The Gazette not disclose their identity as they were concerned they could become victims of hoax calls, but they were clearly furious that they, along with more than 85 other residents who have sighted a panther-like creature in our district over the past two decades, were not being taken seriously by authorities.
is the government waiting for?" one resident said. "To find
resident said together with a friend she had seen what could only be
"There's something marauding and dangerous out there," she said.
"There's something that carries animals up into trees, attacks animals like a large cat, leaves big footprints and has the sound of a large screaming cat."
can't all be mad and deluded," a fellow-resident said. "There's
Sightings of a large cat-like figure have occurred throughout the district, including Bilpin, Grose Vale, Yarramundi, Londonderry, Blaxlands Ridge and St Albans, sometimes on roadways, other times near homes.
Prior to the attack on Mr Walker, victims have included dogs, sheep, goats, horses and deer, often left with telltale scratch marks and huge gouges out of their flesh with large paw prints alongside.
"If someone is attacked, NSW Agriculture is at risk of being charged with a breach of duty of care," a resident said. "There's no direct evidence from the science perspective," Mr Banffy said. "I personally don't believe it (the black panther) exists, but I'm concerned and that's why I'm here, but we need scientific evidence...
We need expert consultants to get things like DNA." He said some of the sightings of a long-tailed animal could have been confused with swamp wallabies.
resident said a senior vet with the Rural Lands Protection Board was "100
per cent convinced" the panther existed. "We've tried for five
the close of the meeting residents felt they were "back to square
the weight of evidence we've already gathered, there should be a
an effort to help residents, Mayor Stubbs agreed to write to the new
Panther seen and heard
Wednesday May 7th 2003
Steven Rose of Ebenezer had to rub his eyes early Tuesday evening last week. He could not believe what he was seeing-a large black cat at the rear of his family's 12-hectare property on Tizzana Road.
The 20-year-old got a good look at the animal when he was out jogging with his bull-mastiff in hilly bushland at the rear of his property. We haven't slashed there for six months," he said.
"The cat was bigger than half a metre to its shoulder and had a long tail which was thick all he way down. It didn't have a long snout. About 100 metres from the animal, Mr Rose and his dog surprised it stalking prey. It ran to a rocky outcrop where it stopped and looked at them.
Meanwhile a 23-year-old Londonderry man has approached The Gazette with a recording of the "high pitched sound of a wild cat" he taped outside his home last winter.
Daniel Dayley said he and his brother-in-law had both heard the "loud cat-like screaming" sound around 2am. Mr Dayley raced outside with his video recorder and, although it was too dark for filming, he captured the noise on tape, which also included a crunching sound as the animal moved about in the bushland.
"The dogs were barking and the plovers were going off too," he said. Mr Daley said the sound came from the Richmond greyhound track and old tip site which neighbour his property. This is not the first time he had come in contact with the animal.
In 1992 he saw and heard a large black panther-like animal while cycling through the tip with a friend. His family and neighbours have all regularly heard the high-pitched cat-like scream over the years. Mr Daley said his truck driver father told him 30 years a go a circus truck accident had resulted in several animals escaping including a black panther.
Fearful for their safety, Mr Daley would not allow his two young children-three-year-old Dana and one-year-old Dean-to play outside during the evening.
Hawkesbury Mayor Rex Stubbs said Council would this week send a letter to the new NSW agriculture minister Ian Macdonald calling for "proper resourcing" of an investigation into the matter. "Im impressed by the number of people reporting some contact with the animal and their reliability," he said.
"They're not the sort of people you would expect to be involved in a massive hoax. "There are 130 witnesses and I don't believe this is the result of mass hysteria.
I think there's something out there, and there may be more than one animal. "I don't want to panic residents, but we need to take this seriously. I would advise people not to go out into areas where the animal might feel trapped, particularly at night."
Multi-body approach needed for cat
There are few things as divisive as the black panther debate. Almost iconic as the Yeti or Loch Ness monster, the panther" can get people shouting within minutes.
It seems politically incorrect and deeply unfashionable to "believe" in the panther, but surely based on hard evidence, enquiring, scientific minds should be open to the possibility it (or they) exist.
A highly-credible Gazette source with experience with cats in Africa, has seen first hand the scats, claw marks and the way animals reported have been killed in the Hawkesbury and surrounding areas, and he stated unequivocally "there is a panther".
While his job position makes it politically impossible to go on the record, he has grave concerns for the safety of small children living in bush areas.
Yet any statement of warning brings howls of derision-"its a beatup, it's stirring up old fears of "the monster in the darkness", it's irresponsible scaremongering, it''ll bring out the backyard vigilantes".
If there really is a feline of this size, or more than one, we need to take it seriously. Most domestic cat owners have seen what carnage these efficient killing machines can wreck on the fauna around there homes, so it stands to reason bigger versions could do much worse.
The lack of any picture of the thing is often cited as evidence it doesn't exist. But this is a creature adapted to hunting at night-it's black, it's clever and it's stealthy. And most sightings have been when people are doing such mundane things as putting out garbage...oddly enough, they don't have a camera with them.
We're not a nation of UFO sighters or alien abductees. We're known globally as no nonsense, tending to the cynical. We should take reported sightings seriously. While there will always be hoaxes, there is a large number of credible people who say they have seen the panther.
Everyone concerned, especially authorities in charge of looking into such things, must keep an open mind. What if the unthinkable happens and a child is attacked, even killed? A "told you so" would satisfy no-one.
While last week's meeting at Council was a start, we need a co-ordinated approach from the police, NPWS, NSW Agriculture and Hawkesbury City Council, and a commitment to a serious investigation.
It's one thing to have urban myths circulating of a dangerous creature; it's another to have residents actually living in fear.
But the first action must be to stop vilifying those who report seeing it. To do so is unscientific, childish and arrogant.
Letters-Views Behind The News
Wednesday May 14th 2003
Editor: A new disease "Imaginitis" has now affected more than 100 people in the Hawkesbury. It is not selective, they come from all walks of life, and it affects the young through to mature adults.
Symptons include these sufferers seeing a large black cat the size of a leopard.
Others hear it scream in the night, while some have found scratches on trees and homes, sheep and goats in trees, and animals ripped open and gutted.
Now you imagine how you would feel if you came home to find your dog still on its chain, dead and eaten out.
The worst case scenario is of a young lad from Kenthurst, he has a severe case of this disease. He was actually attacked by this marauding cat and to date not one government body has investigated it.
There has to be more investigation from government departments.
But the Department of Agriculture, National Parks and Wildlife Services and the police are acting like ostriches and the burying there heads in the sand. (They should be careful, big cats just love birds).
Maybe this isn't a disease but a syndrome caused by the NSW Government's lack of commitment.
Map tracks big cat
Wednesday May 28th 2003
Part of the council new council map includes a detailed section on the Grose Wold/Grose Vale area which shows the very first sighting of what the Department of Agricuture still refers to as the 'Lithgow Panther' and a cluster of recent sightings and 'predations' near Cabbage Tree Road.
However a larger map shows 'activity' across much of the district.
COUNCIL has ignored the sceptics and released a map detailing sightings and attacks of a large cat - or cats - roaming our district. The map documents sightings dating back 77 years.
This week, The Gazette exclusively publishes a detailed area of that map.
Based on a database conscientiously kept by a concerned Yarramundi resident, the map reveals a concentration of cat activity in the Grose Vale/Grose Wold area, particularly near Cabbage Tree Road, and along Mahons Creek in Yarramundi.
But sightings and "predation: also extend into Bowen Mountain Kurrajong, East Kurrajong, Colo, Agnes Banks, Windsor Downs, Ebenezer, and the Macdonald Valley.
The first sighting of the cat was made in 1926 near Cabbage Tree Creek between today's townships of Bowen Mountain and Grose Wold. There have been a number of recent sightings and further up the creek near Cabbage Tree Road in Grose Vale.
Hawkesbury Mayor Hex Stub believed the maps would play an intrumental role in the re-opened State Government investigation.
He welcomed Thursday's announcement by Regional Development Minister David Campbell that NSW Agriculture would re-open a "low-level" inquiry into the "so"called elusive Lithgow panther".
But Mayor Stubbs has now written to the minister requesting a greater effort. "While the re-opening of the enquiry is much appreciated, I'm concerned a superficial review will be undertaken purely to placate public concern arising out of the recent attack on a youth in Kenthurst," Mayor Stubbs said.
The mayor said he had written on numerous occasions over the past, three years to then Minister for Agriculture Richard Amery outlining community concerns and requesting the government undertake positive action in "identifying and ridding the area of this potential menace".
"I believe there is enough evidence, including 89 sightings and 42 predation locations - as shown on our maps - to conclude a predatory animal of significant size exists within the Hawkesbury area," he said.
There's also reviews by independent experts of sites, photographs, footprints, scratch marks and witness statements to conclude a' predatory animal of significant size does exist within the Hawkesbury area," he said.
"Efforts should be concentrated on determining a methodology to eliminate it." He said with no conclusive evidence to date - DNA samples were required for the sightings to be taken seriously - he called on the government to set up a task force, including senior representatives of appropriate departments, residents, and a Council representative to review the available information and the best course of action.
"I believe there should be a whole government approach because there are at least three departments affected by the predator's existence-National Parks and Wildlife Service as it obviously lives partly on native animals during summer when its habitat is mainly national parks; Rural Lands Protection Board as in winter it supplements its diet with domestic animals; and NSW Agriculture due to its responsibility regarding exotic animals."
He said there was a growing urgency to act quickly because there was evidence the animal had returned to the Grose Vale area.
During several on-air interviews following last week's re-opening of the NSW Agriculture large cat inquiry, Mayor Stubbs discouraged any members of the public from undertaking shooting or trapping expeditions in the Hawkesbury area.
Besides the danger posed to residents by such activity, it could also impact on the investigation. He also warned residents to take care walking near bushland at night.
Cat seen at Kurrajong
Wednesday June 18th
A NORTH Richmond dentist had a lengthy and detailed sighting of the "black panther" running up the drive way of his Kurrajong home last Friday night.
Dr Robert Saltmiras told The Gazette on Monday he had turned into his long, steep driveway off Grose Vale Road when he saw what he could only describe as a large black panther about two metres away from his car.
"I turned around and came back up the road and saw it crouching down to one side and caught the yellow glint of its eyes in the car lights and noticed its rounded ears," he said.
The animal then ran in front of his car as he pursued it back up the hill with the animal about four or five metres ahead of him.
"It was large and black with a long thick tail," he said.
"I chased it for five to ten seconds
I definitely saw it. I'm not a 'panther hunter'. It's not on my radar."
He also rejected the idea it could be a feral cat. "It was just too large. It was a panther. It was larger than a dog. We had a Great Dane, and it was that height, but longer and jet black.
I don't care if people believe me or not, but I know what I saw."
Dr Saltmiras' 12 year old son Jack and his 11 year old friend, who were in the car vehicle with him during the chase were "totally hyped and saucer-eyed" by the time they got to the house.
He said he was concerned bout the welfare of his children. "Big cats attack and kill people overseas." He would not be allowing his children to walk around outside at night by themselves and he was also a "bit concerned" about the daytime. "they'll be under supervision outside all the time now."
Dr Saltmiras' wife Pip, who is an agricultural scientist, has collected some scats (faeces) she believes may have been dropped by the animal.
Hawkesbury City Council is now arranging for them to be DNA tested.
Mayor Rex Stubbs said there was "a growing urgency" for a "whole-of-goverment approach" into the situation.
"The animals are getting very close to human habitation. I'm concerned there'll be a dreadful incident, and with the increased spread of sightings there has to be more than one animal."
Mayory Stubbs also said his letter asking for a full investigation int the panther sightings to the NSW Regional Development Minister David Cambell-who announced a "low level" re-opening of the "Lithgow panther" inquiry on may 22-had now been forwarded to Agricultural Minister Ian McDonald for response.
Panther sightings at Grose Vale, E. Kurrajong
Wednesday June 25th
Two panthers-an adult and perhaps a younger animal-were seen last week on a Grose Vale property at the end of Cabbage Tree Road.
This follows a sighting on June 3 by a young East Kurrajong couple who almost ran their car into a large black cat on Bull Ridge Road near its intersection with Putty Road.
On May 31 another East Kurrajong resident-an experienced bushman-had also sighted a "black panther" in daytime crouching down in a paddock on West Portland Road.
And it appears the scepticism which once surrounded panther sightings is diminishing across the district.
Hawkesbury councillor Joan Woods, whose friend Robert Saltmiras saw a panther in his Kurrajong driveway, said she had been "a bit sceptical" about the existence of a black panther-or panthers.
"But there's definately something to be concerned about now. There is a significant threat to our community and we can't ignore it, especially now it has been seen so close to a residence."
Cr Woods' 25-year old son Ben said he and friends had also seen large paw marks" about the size of an adult's palm"-along the river bank at Upper Colo 18 months ago.
'No' to panther test
Ag rejects cat scat tests
Wednesday July 16th
WHILE residents continue to report more "panther" sightings to The Gazette, particularly in the Grose Vale area, NSW Agriculture has refused to fund DNA testing of evidence.
As previously reported in The Gazette, the State Government has agreed to fund "a low-scale investigation" headed up by NSW Agriculture.
Hawkesbury City Council's chief engineer Chris Daley said he had approached NSW Agricultureabout covering the $5000 cost of DNA testing of scats (faeces) found by Grose Vale residents at a site where it appeared the panther had been marking its territory by scratching trees, urinating and leaving its droppings.
"This would have been an opportunity to provide the proof we're all looking for," Mr Daley said. "But last week NSW Agriculture declined to assist."
Mr Daley also reported residents had found black hair about 40 millimetres long caught in a paddock fence at Grose Vale.
Meanwhile, NSW Agriculture has accepted free-of-charge from residents a detailed database of panther sightings over the past few decades which comprises five years' work, along with maps depicting the sightings and "attack sites" prepared by Council.
"We're planning to request a meeting with NSW Agriculture's director general, preferably on-site at Grose Vale, to allow him a first-hand look at the environment we believe the cats are living in," Mr Daley said.
'Something out there
Thursday October 29th
NSW Agriculture has confirmed its report on the black panther is now complete, but it appears no definitive conclusions have been reached.
The NSW Government undertook to carry out a low-scale investigation following representations from, across the community.
NSW Agriculture staffer Bill Atkinson was commissioned to prepare the report, but said he was not in a position to discuss his findings.
"There's something there, but I don't know what," he said. "All I can say is that there's no conclusive evidence...
"We do have a video of a Lithgow sighting, but we can't be sure.., And we attempted video evidence, but couldn't get it." Mr Atkinson said he interviewed many people and collated a lot of evidence, but the results were "still inconclussive".
"People keep seeing something," he said. " A number of people rang me (while I was preparing the report) from way down south and up through the Blue Mountains... They appeared rational people with no reason to trip me up. I don't know why so many have seen it."
Mr Atkinson said NSW Agriculture had not carried out any DNA analysis, but he believed it was "happening elsewhere".
He said privacy issues had to be dealt with before the report could be released. Read Report here shortly
Panther presence 'likely'
Thursday November 6th
A NSW Agriculture report has declared the presence of exotic large cats seems more likely than not.
The "low-scale" report, released this week, concluded: "Nothing found in this review conclusively proves the presence of free-ranging exotic large cats in NSW, but this cannot be discounted and seems more likely than not on available evidence."
With this somewhat ambiguous finding, UWS Associate Professor Robert Close is prepared to go big game hunting in the name of science.
"We have applied for funding for a student to take on a big cat project, which will basically involve swabbing kill eaten by predators and comparing the DNA to see what is out there," Ass. Prof. Close said.
"We're also going to follow reports of cats shot and buried at Mudgee and in the Hawkesbury and see if we can locate any remains."
Ramm on her Maroota property...
One of the people Ass. Prof. Close plans to contact is Maroota resident Ruby Ramm, who recounted in the winter edition of Hawkesbury Extra the terrifying experience of a catlike creature shot in the family chook pen when she was a child.
If funded, this research could be of use to 'NSW Agriculture, which has left the file on the matter open. A spokesperson said this was despite the fact the department's research had turned up "no scientific evidence of any (exotic) cat".
"There's plenty of credible evidence from the people interviewed, but no scientific evidence," he said.
"We're still receiving reports and will still keep investigating (the matter)."
The spokesperson said the department's investigations had also included scientific analysis of two scats (faeces) taken from the Mudgee area in August and October, but the first turned out to be kangaroo or wallaby, and the second-a dog.
Cat prints at Bowen Mountain
Wednesday November 12th
WHILE the State Government found "no scientific evidence" of a black panther in the Hawkesbury, it appears a large exotic cat is still roaming our hills.
Hawkesbury City Council's chief engineer Chris Daley gave The Gazette photographs he took on Sunday afternoon near Grandview Lane at Bowen Mountain showing a series of large paw prints measuring 10 centimetres wide by 12cm long, with a 190cm stride.
( I have since been there and the above 190cm stride is in-correct, there was actually another print mid way approx 80-90cm from each end. Greg Foster)
A domestic cat's paw is 3.5cm wide by 4.5cm long.
"The prints were found adjacent to the upper reaches of Hooemroy Creek which flows into Cabbage Tree Creek where there've been a lot of sightings," Mr Daley said.
"There were two clear footprints and others that were not so clear."
Mr Daley said a local resident was taking casts of the prints which also showed the back print placed over front print, a panther characteristic.
Residents also planned to send copies of the photographs to NSW Agriculture.
"I believe I'm a credible witness," Mr Daley said. "I've always believed there are large exotic cats around our district, and this is another example of their existence."
As reported in the October 29 Gazette and November 6 Courier, NSW Agriculture has just released its report into the black panther, which concluded its existence was "more likely than not on available evidence".
Photo taken 10/11/2003 by Greg Foster.
Time to do DNA tests, says Mayor
Wednesday November 19th
Hawkesbury Mayor Rex Stubbs said now the authorities had recognised the large exotic cat-or probably cats-"more likely than not" existed, some definitive action was required.
He said we either needed to capture the animals or warn the population of their existence.
"It's time to do DNA testing," the mayor said.
"I have been told elderly and young children are most at risk of attack, but if the cat hasn't attacked a human it's unlikely to be aggressive around humans-but it certainly horrifies dogs and other domestic animals.
Stubbs called on the State Government to provide advice on "what
to do if you bump into a panther".
Anyone with information about the cat, or to report sightings, should contact Hawkesbury City Council's engineering section on 4560 4528
be Continued Weekly as Reports come to hand.