Wowie its a Yowie
Around Katoomba where until recently he ran a natural history museum, Rex is known as the yowie man. Local youths love screaming the word at him when he ventures out.
He has been jumped on by jokers in monkey costumes and a Katoomba milk bar once had the gall to capitalise on his efforts by offering "Yowie-burgers". There are, hoaxers who tell him of false sightings and professional practical jokers who even send him fake photographs' and footprint impressIons.
It is all getting a bit much for Rex, who has spept 25 years in the field searching for the rare animals and claims to ,have outlaid around $100,000 on expeditions and research trying to prove he is right.
"People say I must be mad because of the type of work I do. They forget I'm not just into the unusual but also carry out conventional research.
He will admit that his obsession is searching for animals never found or thought to be extinct. But, to Rex, that is not as crazy as it sounds. He says his work is scientifically known as cryptozoology, the study of animal species.
And to anyone who says the yowie is a myth rather than an animal, Rex points out that British scientists did not acknowledge the existence of the gorilla until it was found in the lowlands of the Congo in 1880.
Then there was the white cassowary of New Guinea
"It was thought to be a mythical native bird until 1901," Rex said, "People thought how could a white bird exist unseen in the green of the jungle, but it did.
Rex has been so sickened by the sceptics that he no longer gives television interviews and 'in four years has not written one article to back up his theories.
Surprisingly, this lack of action has had good results. Normally when he appears on TV or in print he gets reported sightings from boy scouts and tractor drivers about yowies chasing them through the bush. "That's rubbihs because a yowie doesn't move like a human.
"I've had, to put up with junk. People say the yowie looked like a wookie, one of those things in Star wars. I can then shoot them down (destroy their theories) because the yowie is not like that." Since he laid low he says he's been given about six sightings that are believable.
Rex keeps certain details to himself about how the yowie walks and looks in order to verify the truth behind sightings.
He's also sceptical about poor photographs.
"Loch Ness monster photgraphs are notoriously fuzzy. In other words, don't believe them," he said. "People who take these types of photos want to sell them at an exhorbitant sum whereas people who believe will give them over for serious research."
Rex interest in the unusual stems from his great-grandfather, Scottish naturalist Alexander Gilroy, who was the first man to make scientific examinations of Loch Ness and search for the monster.
He didn't find it.
Rex says he has been interested in natural history since he was a schoolboy of seven. "Dad used to fill my head with stories of the Loch Ness Monster, Stonehenge and ancient castles," he said. "By the time I left school in 1957 I was interested in the,yowie. I'd been collecting Aboriginal myths and legends while at Liverpool Boys High School.
He has supported his quest for the unusual through his writing, and the natural history museum he ran at Katoomba. Unfortunately his lease recently ran out and the buulding is now being turned into a pinball parlor. A disappointed Rex plans to open a new, museum at Penrith.
"It is a tourist venture but will house the largest privately-owned natural history museum in Australia. I have 80,000 insects from Australia and overseas." Rex is supported in his ventures by his wife Heather.
He confesses his work is a labor of love. Although he believes in the existence of some strange animals he knows he may die without being able to prove they do roam the Australan bush.
"It would be nice (to find one) but the most I could hope for would be photographic evidence and footprints," he said. "Even, then it's not really good enough but it's something to go on." He does have casts of footprints he believes were made by the Australian "black panther" and the yowie. And, yes, he has seen a Tasmanian, tiger.
"It was on the Great Western Highway near Blackheath. I was with a girl who had said she'd seen this creature,"he said. "I thought she was having me on because she'd been making fun of a few of my theories.
"I thought, oh blow you. Then it happened.
"This creature was caught in the glare of the headlights and was dazzled for about six seconds. It was the size of an alsatian with a greyhound body structure and a tail like a kangaroo. It had blackish stripesfrom the middle back to its tail, which would make it a male."
It happened too quickly for Rex to get a photograph but the sighting did give him a terriftc boost. "It is an experience, a high."
He may never get the high of seeing a yowie but Rex doesn't really mind. He says it is impossible to mount expeditions and suffcient camera surveillance in rugged terrain without government funding, or but will still carry on with his own scientific sortees into the Australian bush.
"We haven't scratched the surface of this country," he said. He has spent a lifetime searching for evidence and isn't about to give up until the day he dies. Even if he fails he has still had his rewards.
"I love to get into the bush and have seen a lot of areas Australians don't even know exist. I know it all seems silly to some but until you know you have to keep an open mind,"