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

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 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 - Panther Research New South Wales - More Stories Up June 2010

Marsupial Carnivores

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Let us now turn to NSW, where we shall begin in the southern region of this state. The Snowy Mountains and south coastal and inland mountain ranges northward to the southern Highlands-Kangaroo Valley wildernesses are regions which have produced a mass of ‘panther’ reports far too voluminous to be covered in this chapter, and like other parts of Australia, old stories of these marsupial carnivores date back well into 19th century times. One such area containing a store of early settler’s tales is that of Adelong, nestled at the foot of the rugged Snowy Mountains.

Adelong Falls 1984

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

During 1984, Mr Noel Ewins [then 37] was camping with his two sons and two other boys outside the town at Adelong Falls near an old gold mine.

“At about 2am I got out of our van - it was a moonlit night - and spotted, at a distance of 20 yards away, a large black animal bigger than my boxer dog. It was taller and longer in fact, and standing on all fours. The animal’s front legs were slinking forward as it was climbing over a rock ledge at the time. I got back into my van to get my torch, but the animal had gone when I returned. I did not notice the animal’s head and tail. It was heavy and large. My dogs would not settle down all night. The next morning I found tracks in the soil above the Falls. They were bigger and deeper than those of my dogs,” Noel informed me.

Faulconbridge on the Blue Mountains 1960

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

“Back in 1960 I had an earlier experience with the ‘panther’. At the time I was living at Faulconbridge on the Blue Mountains. I was returning from a hike with fellow Boy Scouts. We had reached the top of a ridge near the town around dusk. Suddenly we saw a large black panther-like animal in nearby bush. However, it vanished quickly into the scrub.” he added.

Kangaroo Valley Research

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Nestled in the Southern Highlands behind Nowra lies Kangaroo Valley, where the Australian Panther’s existence has been taken as a matter of fact by the locals for generations. It is an area where just about every inhabitant has a story of his or her own to tell about these creatures.

An air of mystery pervades the sleepy little community of Kangaroo Valley. It has persisted thereabouts since before Europeans first settled the valley, and it shows no signs of abating. The mystery concerns hundreds of sightings of often large, black-furred cat-like animals that have been known for generations as the “Kangaroo Valley Panther”.

Farmers often blame the ‘panther’ for their periodic stock losses, and many of them carry guns if they are working alone in remote paddocks. It seems likely that one of these farmers will eventually shoot one of these elusive beasts, and establish its true identity once and for all - such is the frequency with which these animals are seen in the valley.

The mystery of the Kangaroo Valley Panther has held my attention for the past 35 years, during which time I have made frequent field expeditions there in search of evidence.

Rex Gilroy Kangaroo Valley Sighting 1981

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Doris Blinman Cast

The two large tracks Rex Gilroy found on June 27 on the
property of Doris Blinman in Kangaroo Valley.
A close-up of the two "Panther" tracks cast by Rex
Copyright © Rex Gilroy

In June 1981 I found my first paw prints of the ‘panther’ on a remote farm near the southern end of the valley. It was also during this expedition that I had my only encounter with one of these creatures. On the afternoon of 9th June 1981, my wife Heather and I arrived at the farm of Mrs Doris Blinman, following her request that we investigate recent ‘panther’ experiences she had had on her property.

We had not been there very long than she related how she had seen a large, cat-like, sleek black-furred animal leap over her backyard fence. It had also lurked around the property late at night emitting loud weird howling and screeching sounds, and had nearby property owners terrified.

I shall never forget that 9th June evening for the terrifying situation I was to find myself in when I came face-to-face with one of these fearsome-looking animals. That night I went alone, torch in hand, to investigate the paddock over the fence where the ‘panther’ had been seen to leap, to get some idea of the conditions there.

I flashed my torch around the paddock and the trees bordering it atop the rise that sloped down into a creek. It was from across this creek that the weird cat-like sounds had often been heard late at night. The time was 8.20pm when, some distance away, I heard a loud cat-like screech. I then heard sounds of something climbing through wire on a fence bordering a creek about 180m away, followed by the sound of twigs snapping as something moved quickly into scrub in the paddock to my left.

I had already switched off my torch by this time, but upon hearing the sounds I switched it on gain. It was then that the beam caught a blackish creature, at least a metre tall on all fours, standing among a clump of gum trees about 160m away. Its silvery eyes glowed in the torchlight.

The animal disappeared into the trees, but within seconds I heard the sounds of twigs breaking in a stand of gum saplings only a few yards away. Flashing my torch in this direction, I suddenly found a large dark shape standing amid the saplings barely 6.1m from me, that pair of silvery eyes shining in the torchlight.

Never before in my life have I ever been frightened by anything in the bush, yet on this one occasion I was gripped by a fear of the unknown. I retreated to the gate 6m away. Once behind the closed gate I turned and flashed the torch at the stand of saplings, but to my surprise and relief the creature had vanished. We all kept a watch late into the night hoping the animal would return, but it did not; nor could we find any tracks the following morning.

However, two weeks later, in a small muddy patch of ground down the far end of the paddock, I found several large paw prints from which we produced plaster casts. They were 24cm apart and measured up to 15cm in length by 13cm width, the heel being 8cm long by 7cm wide. The animal that left them must have been large - at least the size of the creature I had seen in the paddock earlier that month.

University zoologists in Sydney who later studied copies of the casts, said the tracks belonged to “no known animal”.

Twin Pines Area of Kangaroo Valley April 1981

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

During April 1981 in the Twin Pines area of Kangaroo Valley, an entire family got a good look at one of these animals. 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 2m in length from head to tail. By this time, the father had dashed to the nearby family car to get his binoculars.

“The animal had a cat-like, 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 360m from the animal. It then dashed off across the paddock, heading for a dry creek bed, and vanished quickly,” the father told me later.

Kangaroo Valley Dec 1985

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Farmer Keith Adams’ house overlooked a densely wooded gully. On 2nd December 1985, at about 1am he heard a noise which made him get out of bed to look outside, but he saw nothing. The next morning he discovered that something had attempted to lift the strong metal lids on two garbage tins. In his garden he found a large number of strange paw prints.

A plaster cast of a single track measured 8cm wide by 11cm long, and there was a distance of 40cm between the paw prints. The depth of the paws in the moist soil suggested the animal weighed around 87kgs. When I visited Keith a few days after his discovery, and obtained the paw print, I was able to match this cast with those made from the tracks I found in the Valley in June 1981.

Southern Highlands Communities

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Beyond Kangaroo Valley are many other Southern Highlands communities that can claim generations-old ‘panther’ encounters.

One of these is the Moss Vale district, where at nearby Canyonleigh in January 1983, one of these animals left large paw prints in mud on properties where it killed poultry and calves.

Old Aborigines of the south coast claimed, on the basis of ancient tribal legends, that these creatures were one of the local ‘bunyips’ of ancient times, and that they still survived, breeding in the more remote interior of the mountain ranges thereabouts. There is a swamp in the Berrima district which Aborigines and also many Europeans claim, is frequented by large panther-like animals.

Cows, calves, sheep, goats 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.

June 1989

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

In one incident in June 1989, two boys walking near the swamp watched horrified from bushes as a ‘panther’ of over 2m length dragged a sheep across a field and began devouring the animal near the water’s edge.

Blue Mountains

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

We turn now to the Blue Mountains, whose vast, often impenetrable wilderness areas contain so many mysteries.

Mt Boyce July 1979

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

On 22nd July 1979, Detective Steven McGlynn and his wife were driving from Lithgow to Katoomba. They were near Mt Boyce at 4pm when they heard a loud, cat-like screeching sound coming from nearby scrub. A few days later, bushwalkers in this area came upon a number of large paw prints in soil.

Evans Lookout at Blackheath 1979

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

News of these incidents brought forth Mr Neil Liddell. On Sunday 1st July 1979 he was walking out from Evans Lookout at Blackheath, along a bush track above the Grose Valley, when he came across a rock shelter in which he found large paw prints in the soil.

Grose Valley 1982

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

The Grose Valley has long been a ‘panther’ habitat. On Saturday 22nd May 1982, hikers reported finding a number of 15cm length cat-like tracks in creek bank mud. Several more such reports, including about a dozen sightings claims, have come from this valley between 1999-2001.

Blackheath 1982

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

In a letter to me in November 1983, Mrs M.J. White wrote of a strange panther-like animal she saw at Blackheath in late 1982.

“My husband and I lived at Blackheath well out near the rubbish tip. We saw a big black animal resembling a panther. It was lying along a log eating a bird. My daughter has also seen one of these animals while horseriding in this area.” Several years before, there were reports from nearby Mt Victoria of a large, panther-like animal raiding farms and killing poultry and lambs.

Press publicity of my ‘panther’ researches at this time resulted in many local eyewitnesses coming forward, such as Mr Phil Briggs.

McMahons Fire Trail Wentworth Falls

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

“My wife and I were driving south on the McMahons Fire Trail road beyond the Queen Victoria Hospital, Wentworth Falls when at a point 800m before Mr Jansen’s property, “High Valley” and on a downward slope, we saw a large black ‘cat’ cross the road in front of our car. It was during the week and all was very quiet out there.

We both saw the animal bound across the road and enter bush on the high-side embankment. On stopping where the animal crossed some 30m ahead of us, we were able to estimate its size.

The body, which was jet-black and shiny, was about one metre from head to rump. The tail also would have been about one metre in length or slightly shorter. It curved up at the back the same as a lioness’s tail does when she is running. The ‘cat’ took steps like a feline in that it ‘bounded’ with the two front paws and both back paws coming up to meet. The whole episode took less than 10 seconds, but we both saw the animal and were literally stunned by what we saw.

I know what we saw was not a feral cat of the domestic type. Its body was far too big, and had it not been for its jet-black coat I would swear it was a lioness with the shiny, smooth fur. I notice that an animal similar to ours had been seen in the New England Ranges, and some people down in the lower Blue Mountains have seen the same type of animal.”

Large panther-like animals have been claimed seen across the Blue Mountains since early 19th century settlement times, particularly in valleys such as the Burragorang, Megalong, and Kanimbla, that open onto the central west of NSW where many, many sightings continue to be reported.


Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Lithgow has always had a big feral cat population problem, which has existed since the early coal and shale oil mining days of the later half of the 19th century. Yet there remain reports of that other ‘big cat’, the “Australian Panther”, and also those equally large carnivores, known from Penrith to Portland as the “Blue Mountains Lion”. Fresh tracks of both these large creatures have been found in the nearby Wollongambie Wilderness.

Lithgow Film Footage

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Accompanied by Lillian Saleh and two other journalists from the Daily Telegraph, including “Gilroy team” member and close friend Greg, I investigated the area behind the Pound’s house, an open grassy flat bordering on the base of a steep scrub and pine tree covered hillside. This hillside eventually levels off into a densely-forested gum and scrub area leading up to the fringe of the Wollongambie Wilderness, and it was from this hillside that the animals emerged.

A number of indistinct paw prints were found about the area behind the house, these being obscured by the grass. The best of these was undoubtedly that of a feral cat. Climbing the steep hill I directed Greg’s attention to a pile of collapsed sandstone slabs forming a shelter, in which there were signs something had recently inhabited it. “An ideal shelter for a feral cat”, I thought.

There were a number of other feral cat paw prints up on that hilltop, mixed with those of local dogs. As nobody had thought to bring along casting plaster, Heather and I returned the next day, and I attempted to cast the best two of the obscure tracks. Unfortunately, due to the grass impressed in these tracks, neither turned out clear enough to show any distinct features.

Heather and I returned with Greg for another look at the area a few days later, but no more fresh traces of the “Lithgow Panther” were to be seen, the creatures had once again melted away into the vast forestlands of the Wollongambie. Hopefully the feral cat population will eventually be trapped by National Parks and Wildlife Service Officers, as these felines are a greater threat to our wild life than the ‘panther’ or ‘lion’.

It is certain that the “Australian Panther” and “Blue Mountains Lion” are marsupial carnivores, and that populations of both these species inhabit that vast forestland behind Lithgow. They are therefore surviving links with Australia’s past Ice-Age megafauna.

Glen Davis

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

North of the Blue Mountains lies the Glen Davis area, another ‘panther’ locality, where in 1981 there were about 30 sightings reports and footprint finds over a wide area of this vast wilderness region, encased in high valley walls.

Glen Davis Area 1981

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

In March that year, a farmer 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-yet-cat like beast” emerge from behind a tall rock. He afterwards described it as “standing fully three and a half feet [1.7m] on all fours, and with a body six feet [1.83m] long, and a tail at least three-to-four foot [ie up to 1.22m] 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 back to the house. By the time I returned armed, 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.

Mudgee District 1979

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Further to the west lies the Mudgee district, where, during the winter of 1979, 20 fowls were killed in one week, reputedly by a large blackish-brown furred panther-like animal of fearsome appearance, which left tracks over a wide area of the Mudgee district. Livestock disappearances were also blamed on this creature, which eventually vanished into the ranges.

Mudgee Farmer 1990

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

In 1990, a Mudgee farmer was ploughing his field when he was startled by the sight of a 2.1m length, black-furred cat-like monster, attacking and killing a ram in an adjoining field. The ‘big cat’ then proceeded to feed upon its ‘kill’. Stopping his machine the farmer grabbed a large piece of wood, waving it at the animal as he ran toward it. At this, the creature bounded away for nearby scrub.

‘Panther’ Incidents

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

By the early 20th century the forestlands had been largely cleared back towards the edge of the Blue Mountains, but for areas along the Georges River and what is now the Royal National park, while there also remained a considerable amount of wilderness along the Hawkesbury River through what is now the Hills District and Yarramundi-Nepean area, and it was from these areas that sightings and close encounters with ‘Big Cats’ continued well into the 20th century.

Today ‘panther’ incidents still continue from the Royal National Park, which borders onto the south coastal scrublands, although these have diminished somewhat. Reports from the farmlands on Sydney’s south-western fringe continue, these concerning animals that have strayed from out of the nearby Burragorang Valley.

From hereabouts some make their way periodically northwards into the Mulgoa area south of Penrith, while other regularly appear to migrate back and forth between the Grose Valley-Kurrajong region and Hills District [ie Kenthurst]. Some ‘panthers’ and ‘lions’ have apparently begun establishing themselves in the Hawkesbury scrub on the western fringe of Hornsby.

Panther’ Incidents

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Luke Walkers Bleedign Arm After Attack

Luke Walkers Bloodied Arm after Attack
Copyright © Luke Walker 2003

To report every ‘Big Cat’ story from the Hawkesbury-Kenthurst-Yarramundi scrublands would take a book in itself, but the following accounts will give the reader some idea of the wealth of information and other evidence so far gathered throughout this region by the Gilroys, together with our colleague Greg.

Lately considerable public interest in the so-called ‘Big Cats’ of Sydney’s north-west has been generated by the “Hills Shire Times” newspaper, which has kept the public informed on just about every ‘panther’ and ‘lion’ sighting experienced by locals, as well as our researches in the district.

It all began with an article by staff journalist Vanessa Massey concerning the encounter by 17 year-old local high school student, Luke Walker, with a large ‘cat’, “the size of a Labrador dog” [as the Hills shire Times stated].

Luke’s home is situated out in the Kenthurst scrub 17km south of Berowra Waters and near Dural. His home lies down a concrete driveway below their street, overlooking a densely wooded gully. As Luke told me, on the night of Thursday 20th March, 2003 he had walked up the driveway from the house to collect his parent’s mail from their letterbox.

The time was 9.30pm. There is a sandstone wall extending up the driveway on the right side a metre or so high atop which is some shrubbery. Having collected the mail he was returning down the driveway when, the black-furred animal suddenly sprang at him from out of the shrubbery in the darkness.

“The whole attack couldn’t have lasted more than five seconds. I was walking back towards the house and I could hear this cat growling behind me. 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 [right] arm and its hind legs ripped into my gut”, he said. Luke described the animal as huge – about the size of a Labrador dog. The attack finally abated when he punched the animal in the side of the face.

“It jumped off and ran off into the night … when I got back inside there was blood all over by T-shirt”, he added.

Although his parent sought medical attention, the wounds became infected and he developed swollen lymph nodes and flu-like symptoms. Luke’s father, Stewart, had actually seen one of these animals prowling about the Kenthurst bush about two yeas before, I was informed.

Together with Greg, Heather and I met Luke at his home at Friday 4th April, when I was able to hear his account of the incident. Soon afterwards a Channel TEN television news team arrived and interviewed us. They filmed plaster casts of ‘panther’ tracks I had brought along to show Luke, and the interview went to air on the 5pm news, Monday 7th April.

Greg and I carried out a search of the dense scrub in the gully below the house, which led into a reedy pond. We agreed that this gully was dense enough to hide any ‘panther’, but it was obvious that it had entered the Walker property from scrub on an opposite ridge on the north side of the gully; and it was there that Greg and I were to discover numbers of ‘panther’ paw prints on future searches in the weeks following our meeting with Luke Walker.

Our first return visit, carried out on Thursday 10th April, saw us make a search of roadside scrub on the ridge directly north of the Walker property. A dirt track led off the roadside and some distance along this track, in dry sand Greg found a ‘trackway’ consisting of day-old unmistakable ‘panther’ paw prints, made by an animal moving from south to north.

Many were indistinct, but we were still able to prepare a few plaster casts from the best preserved specimens. It was obvious that the maker of the paw prints was heading towards another gully on the north side of this ridge. The cast paw impressions were afterwards measured at 10cm in length by 8.3cm in width. We would find more ‘panther’ tracks on future visits to this site.

Other, smaller paw impressions were measured at 9cm length by 8cm width. These were found at another nearby sandy patch and appeared to be those of a more juvenile animal. All paw prints found possessed the unmistakable three lobed pad impression of a marsupial. At another situation along the bush track we came across a single, much larger ‘panther’ paw print. A distorted impression, it measured 15cm in length by 16cm width across the toes.

Panther’ Incidents

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

2003 saw a mass of ‘panther’ reports, with our phone at the “Australasian Unknown Animals Research Centre” literally ‘running hot’ as people from over a wide area of Sydney’s north-west contacted us with personal encounters.

Massive ‘cat’ that Looked like a Tiger but was Smaller

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Among these reports was that of Mr Anthony Costa, who the previous October got the shock of his life…

“It was late at night and I was just coming home from work and as I pulled into the driveway of my [Pitt Town] home, there was this massive ‘cat’ that looked like a tiger but was smaller. It just stood there looking at the car headlight. I’ve never seen anything like it”, he said.

‘Big Cat’

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

Sheree Beamont was driving home on the Pitt Town Road to Kenthurst on Friday 19th April 2003 at 1.30am. A cycle path extends along the roadside and it was at one point here that he spotted a ‘Big Cat’, as it was walking along the cycle path in the darkness coming towards her vehicle, illuminated by her headlights.

“It had green eyes that glowed in the headlight glare. I estimated that the animal was 2 ½ ft tall by 5-6 ft in length from nose to tail tip. It had a long body and the tail was raised up. The area was bush tracks and there is a waterhole nearby where these creatures could drink from”, said Sheree. When she spotted the ‘panther’ she was unable to stop the car at that point, but then the animal quickly disappeared into the darkness.

Black-furred ‘Panther’ Bounded Across Road

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

During March 2003, Mr Peter Rolands was driving along Pitt Town Road about 6.30am one morning, when a large black-furred ‘panther’ bounded across the road in front of his car.

“Huge ‘Cat’, 2 Metres From Window

Copyright © Rex Gilroy 2003

In another incident, Mrs Chalice Petrie happened to look out of her kitchen window about 8pm on the night of Monday 7th April 2003, to see a “huge ‘cat’, 2 metres from the window and crouching down beneath a street light outside my [Baulkham Hills] home.

• Reports - Sightings From the 1995 Book Mysterious Australia * Click Here *
• Original Newspaper Accounts * Click Here *
• The Best Sightings * Click Here *
• Theories - The Case For a Marsupial Cat * Click Here *
• Timeline of Sightings * Click Here *
• Expeditions Australia Wide * Click Here *
• Drawings * Click Here *
• Plaster Casts * Click Here *
• Compilation of Descriptions of Eyewitnesses * Click Here *
• Radio Interviews * Click Here *
• Television Interviews * Click Here *
• Newspaper Interviews * Click Here *
• Reports - Sightings From Out Of The Dreamtime - The Search For Australasia's Unknown Animals * Click Here *
• Message Board - Report a Sighting Australia Wide * Click Here *
State By State Sighting Reports
• Panther Research New South Wales * Click Here *
• Panther Research Victoria * Click Here *
• Panther Research Queensland * Click Here *
• Panther Research Northern Territory * Click Here *
• Panther Research Western Australia * Click Here *
• Panther Research South Australia * Click Here *
• Panther Research A.C.T (Canberra) * Click Here *
• Panther Research Tasmania * Click Here *
Reports on Panther Activity by Government Departments

• NSW Agriculture Report on information available on the reported large black cat in the Blue Mountains. Prepared by: Bill Atkinson, Agricultural Protection Officer * Click Here *

• Legislative Assembly - Thursday 22 May 2003 * Click Here *
• Australian Zoos * Click Here *
Internet Reports
• Message Boards * Click Here *
• Newspaper Reports * Click Here *
• Blog Reports * Click Here *
Photographs/Video/Video Stills/Drawings
• Large Cats * Click Here *
• Feral Cats * Click Here *
• Private Zoos * Click Here *
• You-Tube * Click Here *
When Animals Attack
• Attacks involving lions or tigers in Australia since 1980 * Click Here *
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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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