Rex & Heather Gilroy - Research of the Australian Panther - Marsupial Theories

Rex Gilroy hopes to inspire other future researchers to follow his example and dare to question long-established dogmas of our prehistory and, like him, reveal evidence for long-hidden mysteries about which the scientific establishment would prefer we knew nothing.
Excerpts from the 1995 & 2003 Updated version of Mysterious Australia - PART THREE - Cryptozoological Mysteries -Chapter 9 - Do Panthers Roam the Australian Bush? Chapter 10 . Mystery Lions of the Blue Mountains.

Excerpts from the 2006 Book Out Of The Dreamtime - The Search For Australasia's Unknown Animals. Part Three – Lions and tigers of the Australian Bush. Chapter Seven – What is the Queensland Tiger? Chapter Eight – Australia’s Mysterious Marsupial Lions – Meat-Eaters of the Miocene. Chapter Nine – The “Australian Panther” – Big Cats of the Bushland.

Rex & Heather Gilroy

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Rex and Heather Gilroy-Australia's Top 'Unexplained' Mysteries Research Team. Photos & Text copyright (c) Rex & Gilroy Heather 2010
• Research of Rex & Heather Gilroy - Theories - The Case For a Marsupial Cat

Study of the Australian Panther

The Case For A Marsupial

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Excerpts from the 1995 & 2003 Updated version of Mysterious Australia - PART THREE
Cryptozoological Mysteries -Chapter 9 - Do Panthers Roam the Australian Bush?

Hardly a day has passed in over thirty [now fifty] years in which I have not received at least one phone call or letter from someone reporting UFO or 'unknown' animal or yowie sightings to me, or telling me of some mysterious rock inscription or other 'unexplained' relic of our ancient past that they have found.

It was for this purpose some time ago that I established the Australian Unexplained Mysteries Investigation Centre, PO Box 202,Katoomba NSW 2780. Headquarters also of the Australian Yowie Research Centre, Phone 02 4782 3441. Here are gathered all manner of reports and other evidence for scientific assessment.

The thousands of reports of Australian mystery animals such as the "Australian Panther", the 'extinct' 'Tasmanian Tiger" or Thylacine, giant monitor lizards and the yowie, as well as the growing number of plaster casts of their tracks now in my possession, are more than enough to convince me, as I am sure they are more than enough to convince many of my readers, that the vast and often impenetrable Australian bush still holds many mysteries that it will not easily surrender.

Here then, my readers, is my thesis!!

The 'panthers' have been reported on numerous occasions from the nearby Wollongambi wilderness east of Lithgow and bordering the Grose Valley to the south-a wild, vast, largely inaccessible region in which any number of these and other 'unknown' Australian animals could survive unseen by man. It has been estimated by some geneticists that it could take up to 20,000 years of genetic mutation from the normal house cat for feral cats to reach the proportions often claimed for the "Australian Panther".

They are certainly not feral cats, so what else can they be?

The available evidence, as already stated, favours them as being a still surviving species of giant marsupial cat of ice-age times, perhaps related to the 'extinct' Marsupial Lion, Thylacoleo carnifex. This seems the most logical explanation for these large carnivores that continue to haunt the vast Australian bush. They have been reported seen in every Australian state: often huge, black-furred catlike animals that prowl the remoter regions of our vast mountain ranges, from where they emerge to terrorise scattered farming communities, killing livestock and leaving behind their large paw-prints as calling cards.

They are the mysterious "Australian Panthers", creatures around which much folklore has been spun and, like the Thylacine and Yowie, will continue to exercise a hold on the imagination of Australians for generations to come. The "Australian Panther" had been known to the Australian Aborigines for untold thousands of years before the coming of the Europeans. Thus, like all our other mystery monsters', it has inhabited this continent since ice-age times.

Popular Myth Of The Australian Panther

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

A popular myth has grown up about these animals; namely, that they are escaped circus or zoo panthers that have gone wild. In all my 30 years of investigations into the Australian Panther mystery, I have not uncovered one authenticated case of a panther having escaped from an Australian circus or zoo and gone wild. Nor is there much substantiation to the other exaggerated story that cougars were liberated in various parts of Australia by American servicemen during World War 2.

The "Australian Panther, like the still-living Thylacine, giant monitor lizard and Yowie, still evades capture; and until one is available for scientific study, its actual identity will continue to remain unestablished. One thing, however, is certain. It cannot be a member of the feline family as no such animal is known from the Australian fossil record.

In fact, as will be demonstrated from sightings descriptions to follow, our 'panther' is actually a marsupial-a giant marsupial cat species that has survived from ice-age times, perhaps, as with the "Blue Mountains Lion" (to be dealt with in our next chapter) related to the 'extinct' Marsupial Lion, Thylacoleo carnifex.

The amount of case histories of Australian Panther sightings is voluminous and far too extensive to be completely covered in this book, although the many reports that follow will give the reader more than enough food for thought on the subject. While known in every state, it is certain that their main distribution is concentrated throughout the vast eastern Australian mountain ranges.

Prior to the flooding of the Bass Strait land-bridge toward the close of the last great ice age about 12,000 years ago, no natural barrier existed to prevent these animals from entering Tasmania, and it is evident that today, isolated from their mainland counterparts, some of these marsupial carnivores continue to survive there.

It seems that the vast, often inaccessible forests of Tasmania's interior are the domain of not only the Thylacine but also the Australian Panther. The isolated expanses of South Australia's interior are the abode of other mystery 'monsters' including the Yowie; but then, Western Australia and the Northern Territory also possess 'panther' traditions going back generations.

Yet-unknown Native Australian Animal Species?

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Dozens of sightings of these mystery 'panthers' and chance discoveries of their paw-prints in remote areas make it clear that these creatures, far from being a few escaped alien Asian cats from some travelling circus or city zoo, are an as-yet-unknown native Australian animal species which requires a full investigation - but continues to be ignored by conventional scientists. Impossible? Preposterous? I do not believe so. The mainland sightings are no different, and there are far too many to be ignored.

University Zoologists & National Parks & Wildlife Service Rangers

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Many university zoologists and National Parks & Wildlife Service rangers are convinced the 'panthers' are only feral cats. They point out that feral cats develop from unwanted domestic cats dumped in the scrub by their owners. The cats survive by killing our native wildlife, and their offspring develop stronger leg muscles and larger claws for climbing trees, as well as increasing in body size. Some feral cats shot by farmers have reached lengths of more than 1.1metres.

However, a comparison of feral cats' paw-prints with those of the 'panther' show that this creature is no feline. And some eyewitnesses have claimed to have seen 'panthers' carrying pouched young. If so, it is obvious, as I've already claimed, that we are dealing with some hitherto unknown species of giant marsupial cat, perhaps related to the Marsupial Lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, which roamed Australia during the last ice-age at least 12,000 years ago.

The 'panther', like other elusive mystery creatures of the Australian bush, tends to keep clear of man by inhabiting the remoter mountainous regions. There it preys upon native fauna, leaving its natural habitat only in times of drought when a decline in the native animal population forces it onto remote farming properties in search of domestic stock.


Original Article

The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843-1893) Saturday 15 December 1866 Page 2


Mr.Barlec, principal shorthand writer to the Parliament, who probably has more kangaroo blood to answer for than any other city man in the colony, sends the following to the Guardian; it is dated from Kedron Brook: "On five distinct occasions, while hunting in the neighbourhood, I have seen an animal which I cannot classify as belonging to any known genus of the natural history of this colony. I have always found it in the same locality-a patch of grass-tree jungle, about three miles distant from my house.

In form it resembles, more than any other animal with which I am acquainted, the panther of North America; but it is entirely black. Its head is something like that of a well-bred terrier, the nose being short and pointed, while the ears are sharp and erect like those of a fox. Its neck is, however, far more elongated than that of a dog or cat.

It runs in a series of bounds, but does not take to a tree like puss, and it is at least double the size. I hope yet to secure this animal, but unfortunately I have never como across it when I have had a gun in my hand; and my dogs, although they have chased it several times, have invariably declined to worry it, and I need not say, worried me considerably by not doing so. Can it be the 'debbil-debbil' of the natives, or if not what that the debbil is it?"-Queensland Times.

Ben Lomond National Park

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Craig Black, a young fossicker, was digging in a creek in Ben Lomond National Park one day in 1961 when he realised he was being watched by a large black 'panther' further up the creek on the opposite bank. The animal emerged, then dashed across the shallow creek. It was apparently a female. "I am positive I saw that it was carrying a pouched cub," he said later to a ranger.

The Study of "Australian Panther" Migratory Habits

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

From my own researches into the "Australian panther" mystery, I am convinced that these giant marsupial carnivores do not deliberately go in search of farm stock on a persistent basis. Their natural diet is Australian native bird and animal fauna, and this normally confines them to their remote, mountainous forest domain. Only in times of bad drought and a decrease in the native animal population in a given region do they appear to emerge from their normal habitat to prey upon stock in remote, widely scattered farming communities.

As I write this chapter (April 1993), a bad drought is gripping the New England mountain ranges, and 'panther' sightings are once again frequently being reported hereabouts. Even as I write, a large black 'cat' has been sighted in Uralla, and a number of other sleek, black-furred animals are said to be bounding across the hills over a wide area of northern and north-western New South Wales.

So much is still unknown about these so-called 'panthers', particularly about their breeding habits, but it is becoming more certain that they are migratory and do not always appear in ones or twos. Indeed, several of these creatures have been reported seen in a single pack, near Gunnedah.

From my own researches I am certain that the 'panthers' of Kangaroo Valley periodically migrate to and from the south coast mountain ranges further to the south. Sightings of the creatures in Kangaroo Valley, and around Wandandian, Milton, Batemans Bay and Moruya to the south, always increase around April each year, and old-timers of the Kangaroo Valley believe that the animals' mating season occurs about this time.

It is mainly around April that eyewitnesses have reported seeing females carrying pouched young. As with the Thylacine, the pouch is said to face the rear, thus protecting the cub from injury whenever the mother is moving through low scrub.

It is in the March-April-May period that most Blue Mountains 'panther' sightings are reported, and chiefly across the Burragorang-Megalong-Kanimbla-Hartley valleys, so these dates suggest a south-to-north movement.

A major contribution to the study of "Australian Panther" migratory habits was made by researcher Michael Roberts in the late 1950s. The frequency with which these marauding catlike beasts emerged each year from the wilderness country of the Queensland-New South Wales border led Mr Roberts to make a study of the dates on which sightings of the animals were made. He found that the creature's movements coincided with the start of the dry season hereabouts, and formed a boxlike pattern (as can be seen by pinpointing the following locations on a map).

The animals usually began their 'run' in February around Coolatai, west of Ashford, then arrived in Ashford about April. They reached Emmaville in June, and Glen Innes that same month. Then they moved southward to Armidale and Uralla in July, from where they crossed the Moonbi Range into the Manilla district and travelled northward to Barraba by the end of that month. They were finally seen around Warialda, south-west of Coolatai, by September, thus completing an approximate seven-month migration.

A number of researchers believe that the creatures follow the native food chain, preying upon farm stock along the way. Our knowledge of 'panther' migratory habits and other aspects of their life history still remains sketchy at best, but information is mounting with the passing years. One thing, however, is quite certain. There are some big animals out there in the Australian wilderness awaiting scientific discovery.

Between Bridgetown and Donnybrook South of Fremantle
August 21 1979

If a seven-foot (2.3 m) 'panther' seems over-large, then consider the claim of Mr Lance Burrows who was on a property between Bridgetown and Donnybrook, south of Fremantle, in 1979. I was staying with a friend at the time. The date was 21st August. I was walking across a paddock towards a stand of tall gums when, to my horror, a monstrous black 'thing' emerged from tree-cover not 50 feet ahead of me and bounded in big long strides across the property.

"It had a body-length of at least six feet with a two-foot-long tail, and stood about two feet six inches off the ground. It had shiny black fur and big legs. It looked like a big jungle cat of the type found in Asia but for its big, almost dog-like head. I panicked and ran for the farmhouse as the animal jumped a roadside fence in a big leap and scrambled across the road into scrub."

Madura Area at the Western Eyre (Great Eastern) Highway
Eend of the Nullarbor Plain July 1982

The southern part of Western Australia is a region noted for many 'panther' or 'cougar' sightings. During 1972 in the state's central wheat-belt there was a wave of sightings of these big black creatures which had many people in lonely, outlying areas living in fear of attack. In August 1979 it was claimed that these carnivores had killed an estimated 1,000 cattle over the previous 18 months across a wide area from Western Australia to the Northern Territory!

Big, black dog-like beasts feature in Aboriginal folklore over a wide area of the Western Australia-Northern Territory interior. Early European settlers of the Kimberley region reported sightings of such creatures frequently last century, and stories of such encounters have been passed down to present-day families still occupying the area.

One day in July 1982, Mr Henry Adams was dingo-shooting in the Madura area at the western Eyre (Great Eastern) Highway end of the Nullarbor Plain when he spotted in the distance a large black animal walking across a dry creek-bed. He raised his telescopic sight-fitted rifle and could easily have shot the animal but chose not to.

"The animal was unique to me and was doing no harm, and, besides, my job was only to control the troublesome dingo population thereabouts so I let the animal move on. I would say it was up to six feet from head to tail, and stood up to two feet high on all fours. It looked something like a cross between a big panther and a dog of some kind," he said.

MacDonnell Ranges 1973

Over at Alice Springs and in the MacDonnell Ranges in 1973, there were numerous sightings of 'panthers'. Local Aborigines pointed to ancient cave art depicting these "devil dogs" of the Dreamtime.

Katherine July 1988

Big cats are said to roam Kakadu and the central region of Arnhem Land

At Katherine one July day in 1988, a group of tourists - men, women and children - were sightseeing on the nearby Katherine River when they spotted three black-furred catlike creatures emerging from river front scrub about 100 yards away to drink at the water's edge.

The two larger animals (obviously a male and female), and a smaller cub the size of a house cat, at first appeared oblivious to the humans, but once they detected the humans' scent they dashed off up the riverbank and into the scrub. "I watched the creatures through my binoculars for about two minutes and I'm sure they were not feral cats. They were not panthers, either, but something else-but what, I do not know," said one member of the group, Bill Cameron, to a reporter later.

Queensland's 'Monster Cats'

Queensland's 'monster cats' are no less terrifying. They have been the subject of much debate among settlers of the outlying, lonely regions of western Queensland for generations. For example, between 1936 and 1938, dozens of sightings were reported from the far west in places like Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Boulia and Winton.

In 1938, a stockman, riding in bushland outside Boulia, was thrown from his horse when he was surprised by a giant-sized, black-furred, catlike monster which he claimed was the size of a cow. Only a few hasty shots from his revolver saved him from attack, and the animal fled into the scrub.

Kangaroo Valley April 1981

If, as I maintain, we are dealing with a still unknown species of giant marsupial cat related to Thylacoleo, then we can cancel out the 'panther' feral cat theory. Undoubtedly, feral cats make up a large percentage of Kangaroo Valley 'panther' reports, but a comparison of physical descriptions and plaster casts of 'panther' paw-prints certainly distinguishes this animal from any feral cat.

After many years researching the 'panther' and studying the many hundreds of sightings reports from over a wide area of Australia, there is no doubt in my mind that we are dealing with a still-unidentified species of giant marsupial cat, and that a large number of these animals inhabit the rugged bushland surrounding the Kangaroo Valley farmlands.

During April 1981, a whole family got a good look at one of these 'panthers' on a property near the western side of the valley. Two boys and their parents were standing among trees on the edge of a large paddock when they spotted a large black animal moving through tall grass.

They watched as the creature began loping across the paddock, then stopped and looked in their direction. It appeared to be 2 m long from head to tail. By this time, the father had dashed to the nearby family car to get his binoculars. "The animal had a catlike yet dog-like body appearance about it, with pricked ears.

Its large head looked dog-like but the sleek black fur that covered the animal's body made it look similar to a panther. It had a long tail which did not appear to wag. We were about 360 metres from the animal. It then dashed off across the paddock, heading for a dry creek-bed, and vanished quickly," the father told me later.

Local "Bunyips" Of Ancient Time

A 'panther' was reported seen at Canyonleigh near Moss Vale in January 1983. It left large clawed tracks in mud on properties where it killed poultry and calves. Old Aborigines of the south coast claimed, on the basis of ancient tribal myths and legends, that these creatures were one of the local "bunyips" of ancient times, and that they still survived, breeding in the remote interior of the mountain ranges thereabouts.

There is a swamp in the Berrima district which Aborigines and also many Europeans claim to be frequented by these large catlike animals. Cows, calves, sheep and other animals have periodically disappeared from properties thereabouts, only to be found later about the area of this swamp with their throats ripped open and bodies dismembered.

In one incident in June 1989, two boys walking near the swamp watched horrified from bushes as a six-to-seven-foot-long 'panther' dragged a sheep across a field and began devouring the animal near the water's edge.

Wentworth Falls 1972

In another Wentworth Falls incident, Phil Briggs, brother Ron and a mate, Rod Coffee, were riding push bikes one day in 1972 out on Lawson View Road when a 'mountain lion', brownish-black in colour, and one-and-a-half feet tall by five feet from head to tail, ran across the road right-to-left in front of them. "It was a catlike animal, looking something like a cross between a panther and something else.

Rangers Valley 1949

One of the largest Australian 'panthers' ever reported was claimed seen in 1949 by Mr Harry Waters who told me the following story in 1979. "I was out shooting deer in Rangers Valley (situated between Glen Innes and Emmaville). The time was 11 am when, in pine-forest country, I walked onto a hilltop to get a view of the surrounding country. As I stood there admiring the view, I saw below me, 40 yards down the hillside, an enormous, black panther-type animal standing looking up at me.

It was a good eight feet long from head to tail, and about three foot six inches off the ground on all fours. It had It just stood there watching me for about five minutes. I had a ‘No.1' shotgun with me and could have dropped the creature if it made a move in my direction, but it just remained where it was. I decided that 'discretion was the better part of valour', so I turned and left the spot in haste. As I did so, however, I spotted the giant cat loping off into forest in the opposite direction."yellow eyes and its fur was a shiny black colour but not very long.

Forbes 1955

We shall now conclude our investigation of the "Australian panther" with a study of some interesting reports gathered from the central western region of New South Wales, where the number of gathered eyewitness reports rival those of the New England district.

For example, at Forbes in 1955, a Mr Neil Roberts was tending lucerne at a property located on the banks of the Lachlan River. With him at the time were several kangaroo dogs. It was around midday when he caught sight of a large catlike animal in a paddock of lucerne. It had a four-foot-long body and catlike head with black body-fur. Its tail stood straight up, curved on end and about three feet long.

"The dogs ran to attack the animal but then stopped and ran off in fear. The big creature then ran down into the Lachlan River bank and disappeared from view," he told me in 1972.

Glen Davis march 1981

The Glen Davis area north of the Blue Mountains has long been a 'panther' locality, but the year 1981 was significant with about 30 sightings reports and footprint finds over a wide area of this vast wilderness region encased by high valley walls.

In March of that year, a farmer (who wishes to remain anonymous) went to see what was making his cattle uneasy in a back pasture. As he approached a group of cows, he saw a “monstrous black-furred dog/catlike beast” emerge from behind a tall rock. He afterwards described it as “standing fully three-and-a-half feet on all fours, and with a body six feet long and a tail three-to-four-feet in length”.

“It stood there snarling, 20 feet from me, its face displaying a wrinkled, leathery-looking appearance with yellowish eyes. I had no gun and ran for my life. By the time I returned, armed, from the house, it was gone. I saw it in the distance, bounding up a rise into a stand of timber. It never returned," he told me later.

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Rex & Heather Gilroy - Research of the Australian (Marsupial) Panther -Sighting Reports

Kangaroo Valley: If, as I maintain, we are dealing with a still unknown species of giant marsupial cat related to Thylacoleo, then we can cancel out the 'panther' feral cat theory. Undoubtedly, feral cats make up a large percentage of Kangaroo Valley 'panther' reports, but a comparison of physical descriptions and plaster casts of 'panther' paw-prints certainly distinguishes this animal from any feral cat.
Rex & Heather Gilroy
Rex and Heather Gilroy-Australia's Top 'Unexplained' Mysteries Research Team.
Photos & Text From mysterious Australia copyright (c) Rex & Gilroy Heather 2010
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