Strange Phenomena January 1980

Giant Mystery Cats of Australia

By Rex Gilroy

Megalong Valley 1975

It was a bright sunny day that afternoon in November 1975, when Faulconbridge residents Mr and Mrs Harry Vanek were driving through the Megalong Valley towards Packsaddlers tourist ranch, situated far back of the valley in dense forest country at the end of along rough dirt road. At a spot situated barely one mile north of Packsaddlers at about 5pm, the Vaneks were startled by a large black-covered pantherlike beast which suddenly sprang on to the road in front of their vehicle from roadside scrub, immediately leaping across the road in two long strides to vanish into the surrounding scrubland. The Vanek's description of the beast was that of a large pantherlike animal 3 feet in body length, with a 2 foot tail, standing about one and a half feet tall on all fours, and shiny black in colour.

Jamieson Valley

Another identical creature was seen 10 years ago in the nearby Jamieson Valley near the famous Valley farm. Local council ranger Mr Brian Hastings was driving his four-wheel-drive vehicle into the valley after descending from King's Tableland towards the property. Suddenly some yards ahead of him and sitting upright in the middle of the road, Brian saw a large black catlike beast {about the size of the Vanek Panther} cleaning itself with one paw, as if oblivious to his presence. With one hand on the steering wheel, Brian quickly tried to fumble for his camera lying on the back seat, but before he could get a picture, the animal had bounded away into dense bushland. Brian has no doubts that he saw what locals refer to as the Jamieson Valley Panther, sightings of which dates back to the early years of the 1900's.

Panther-like Creatures

This is of course no means the only area where Pantherlike creatures have been sighted. People over a wide area of Australia have ben claiming sightings of such beasts far back into the pioneering days. Such animals are currently making themselves known again in the southern highlands and far south coastal districts of New South Wales, and they have ben known for just as long throughout the whole of the New England district of northern New South Wales. On my 1978 visit to far north Queensland I gathered further sighting reports from the Cape York region, and it is also certain that panthers occur in the jungles of the Gulf country, and the north-west Kimberly's region of Western Australia. Panthers have ben reportedly seen in every Australian State on the mainland, and I hear they are rumoured to occur in Tasmania and New Guinea.

The general description of these panthers is as mentioned above, however the term "panther" has invariably been used so many times and for such a variety of strange beasts seen in Australia, that the term has also come to be confused with creatures which do not fit the true panther appearance. It is certain the black panther of New England has often ben confused with another often larger brownish coloured beast, and also with a large striped animal seen in Western Australia, Queensland and northern New South Wales. This striped beast is certainly not the "extinct" Tasmanian Wolf and remains an enigma al of its own. And then, as if to confuse the issue al the more,cougarlike animals also enter the picture. Indeed having gathered sighting reports and other information on the creature for many years, I believe we may be dealing with at least six different species.

Whilst I believe the majority of these enigmatic monsters of our vast Australian bushland are indigenous creatures, one of them, the cougar, is but a recent introduction to this country, and before I proceed to set down each one of these strange animals I propose to deal with this creature first. During the second World War when American military might poured into Australia to prevent Japanese invasion, various military units brought regimental mascots with them, among these being American cougars. it is on record that such animals existed on American military bases near Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns. prior to being sent to fight in New Guinea, orders were issued to destroy the animals.

However although many of the cougars were shot, some servicemen no doubt with humane purposes in mind, preferred to take the mascots to outlying bushland and release them, where of course some inevitably perished-but others more hardy not only survived but appear to have found mates and bred. From available reports it is evident that these animals may still survive such places as the Adelaide Hills, the mountainous regions back of Melbourne, and in parts of northern Queensland in the vicinity of former American Army bases. Footprints apparently made by the creatures have been identified as those of the American cougar and the general description of the animals can also be said to match the species. Fur coloration described by various eyewitnesses may vary in shades of brown but this, like so many of our other indigenous creatures, can no doubt be put down to environmental factors.


The "Extinct" Tasmanian Wolf or Thylacine, enter our discussion, for although not being one of our mystery panthers, I fear it has often been confused with one of them. The Tasmanian Wolf thought to be extinct for at least 7000 years on the mainland and until recently totally extinct in Tasmania, is now certain too survive in small numbers {which may be on the increase} in the remoter parts of Tasmania. It is described as being doglike in appearance, even greyhound-like with its slender body and long thin tail tapering to a point, and which due to its bone structure does not wag. Descriptions sometimes describe its body colouration as being from fawn to light greyish, and with black stripes extending from the middle of the back down on to the tail. A large pantherlike beast which has been reported from every State on the mainland is described as being of much the same colouration.

However it has a catlike face and larger black stripes to those of the Thylacine, and these unlike those of the Thylacine extend from the back of the neck down to its tail. The body appears to be large, and the tail thick and kangaroo like. A photograph of the mysterious animal taken a few years ago near Perth, although a little indistinct, portrays a creature completely unknown to science. If is some unknown species of marsupial cat, or else a remarkable hybrid of some kind, or perhaps even some left over member of a primitive south-east Asian ice-age cat fauna, is something impossible to say for certain at this stage. There is also speculation that it may represent a species of Australian marsupial tiger, and it has also been confused with a yellow-furred bushy-tailed animal widely reported seen in various parts of Queensland and northern New South Wales.


Our next enigmatic beast is something perhaps even more strange, a veritable living fossil of the last great ice age, if eyewitness descriptions are any indication. The creature claimed by some eyewitnesses to reach as much as 6 feet in length from head to tail, and about 3 feet tall when standing upright upon all fours {such a creature approached a party of loggers some months ago in lonely bushland on the Atherton tableland above Cairns}, is completely unlike any of our other "panthers." The creature is invariably described as being from light to dark brown in colour, with long shaggy hair and a large catlike head from which, protruding from its upper jaw, are two long shearing teeth much like those of tee extinct saber-toothed tiger of ice-age Europe and Asia.

It leaves large catlike paw prints and appears to match the general description of the "Warrigal" of ancient Aboriginal folklore which they say wandered Australia back in the far off "Dreamtime." During late 1953 a group of Army officers and men undertook a cross-country march from Ingleburn to Katoomba, during which they kept a lookout for a "lion like" beast which about that time had ben reported seen prowling at night through bushland in the Blue Mountains between the towns of Warragamba and Katoomba. Loggers working near Mount Harris 15 miles from Katoomba informed the soldiers that the beast was covered with long shaggy hair and that it was about the size of a lion. They had named it the Erskine Gap Monster. Large paw prints were found in the Mount Harris-Erskine Gap region.

Blue Mountains 1950's

During the 1950's there were a number of well-recorded instances of lion-type animals having been seen on the Blue Mountains. In October 1955, Blue Mountains residents spent considerable man hours lion-hunting. Large parties of locals together with police searched extensive areas of bushland between Wentworth Falls and the Blaxland-Glenbrook area in search of a large shaggy haired lion-like animal.


In the Sydney press in 1953, a Mr W. B. Wilson of Cremorne Point, NSW, wrote that 36 years before, he had ben prospecting on the main dividing range. On climbing a small hill one day, which was covered with granite boulders, he found himself confronted with what he took to be a full grown female lion emerging from the mouth of a cave. As soon as it disappeared Mr Wilson climbed to the mouth of the cave and entered it to see if there were any more of the creatures there. He then followed the tracks of the strange animal into a rocky scrub and tree-covered area but failed to find any further trace of it. About two years earlier following this experience, he said another animal resembling a lion was seen by four men and some school children as it emerged from the bush and crossed an open space leading to a pond, where it proceeded to drink before it once again returned to the bush. Mr Wilson also recalled how around Sodwalls, children used to be kept at home from school on a number of occasions due to the beast's reported presence thereabouts, its eerie roars being heard at night in the district. In those times it was generally agreed among bushwalking circles that there existed a small pack of these huge shaggyhaired big toothed animals, and that their lair was situated somewhere between Breakfast Creek, Mouin Creek, and Cox's River.

Wild Dog Mountains

Prior to 1934 this region was described on maps as the Wild Dog Mountains and there are a number of reports of these big shaggyhaired lionlike animals having been encountered thereabouts. To the early Aboriginals of this part of the country these beasts were called "Warrigals," a name which in other parts of Australia usually described the Dingo.

Clarence Feb 1959

During February 1959, a railway workman, Mr Alec Donaldson {since deceased}, was working on electricity lines in deep scrub in the vicinity of Clarence on the western side of the Blue Mountains near Lithgow. Rain the night before had made the ground damp, and on the soft mud of a track Mr Donaldson came upon several fresh pad marks of some huge catlike beast, measuring a good 15cm in width. Needless to say, Alec Donaldson decided not to stay very long after his discovery and could never be persuaded to return there ever again.

Old-timers of the Clarence district say such large tracks have been seen thereabouts in the dense forest lands for generations, Could these tracks match other equally large prints found in areas of New England, particularly in the Armidale district of New South Wales. These footprints have been photographed and casts exist of some of them. They compare with others from other regions in Queensland and elsewhere.

Medlow Bath Katoomba 1978

These in turn can be said to match another set found by me in a cave at Medlow bath west of Katoomba in 1978. These footprints of a large catlike beast were a few days old when found but I was able to produce one plaster cast of the best surviving print. It measures 17cm in width by 15cm in length, and is different to a plaster cast of the panther footprints found recently in the Cambewarra Range district in southern New South Wales. The Medlow Bath paw print is, together with those from New England and elsewhere, identical to fossilised tracks of the "extinct" Marsupial Lion {Thylacoleo}, a large carnivorous marsupial of the last ice age, thought extinct for over 12,000 years or more.

Marsupial Lion

The Marsupial Lion like the mysterious "Warrigals" possessed two large shearing teeth protruding from its upper jaws. Such an animal was seen eight years ago in the Mulgoa district south of Penrith NSW killing sheep, and on another occasion, an enormous sabre toothed catlike animal is said to have approached three young shooters in the same area three years ago. Sightings of these marsupial Lion like animals persist to this day around the Blue Mountains, especially in the Megalong Valley below Blackheath, in the adjoining Cedar Valley-Jamieson Valley south of Katoomba, into Kedumba Valley to the south of Mount Solitary, around the backwaters of the Warragamba Dam and the southern side of the Burragorang Valley now largely flooded by the Warragamba Dam backwaters.

Red Dog Ridge {Mount Solitary} 1970

In August 1970 I explored the Red Dog Ridge area behind Mount Solitary with ranger Brian Hastings. The Ridge is another land mark which acquired its name from the frequency of Warrigal sightings in the past. Brian of course, ass mentioned earlier, had seen the Jamieson Valley Panther ten years earlier near the Valley farm. This black creature is of course unrelated to the Warrigals but it is certain that both species share these vast expanses of rugged forest country.

White Dog Ridge Oct 1937

In October 1937 a group of bushwalkers found on White Dog ridge the decaying body of a huge animal about 5 feet in length which had apparently fallen over a cliff known as Kelpie Rocks. Ten days after this find was reported, Mr Eric B. Gilmel of Ashbury NSW set out with three other bushwalkers to photograph the remains but found nothing. Instead they came across large tracks which they followed for about 500 yards in the direction of Mouin Creek where they petered out.

Korrowal Buttress {Mount Solitary} April 1945

Another bushwalking party in April 1945 descending the Korrowal Buttress of Mount Solitary must have been astounded as they watched through binoculars four of these Lionlike Warrigals loping across Cedar Valley. Cattle roam half wild around scrubland south of the Jamieson Valley farm and also the remote outlying regions of the Megalong Valley, just as they have done for many years past.

Cox's River 1949

On two occasions in 1949 three months apart Mr L. A. Adams found the freshly killed bodies of calves on the Cox's river near Konangaroo Clearing. Many people in the Mouin Creek area have heard weird howling and wailing noises believed made by these animals. The same sounds have been reported on and off over the past ten years in areas around the Blue Mountains, particularly in the Springwood, Blaxland, Glenbrook area. During 1970 there were a number of these big-tusked shaggy-haired Marsupial Lionlike beasts in the King Tableland area south of Wentworth Falls.

Mulgoa District

Marsupial Lionlike animals still persist in the Mulgoa district. Not long after the lionlike beast with long shearing teeth was seen killing a sheep on a property, a farmer shot what may have been a young tomcat-sized Thylacoleo. He presented the dead animal to Sydney University. Yet despite the totally different body structure and protruding teeth of the animal, the "experts" brushed it aside as merely "a deformed domestic cat"! Such "scientific" explanations do not hold water.

Marsupial Tiger

We now come to the equally mysterious often large striped catlike animal reported seen throughout much of eastern Australia. This animal I theorised may be a form of Marsupial Tiger, still undiscovered species of carnivorous marsupial of which I have collected reports as far north as Cape York, Cairns, through the coastal mountain ranges to southern New South Wales.

Cardwell {Tully} AUgust 1871

A police magistrate at Cardwell south of Tully in far north Queensland, Mr Brinsley Sheridan, and his son were walking one evening on 2 August 1871 with their pet terrier along a track near the beach of Rockinham Bay. The dog caught a scent among scrub and dashed off into the bush barking furiously. Their son pursued his dog through the scrub for half a mile until, catching up with his dog, he found it had its quarry at bay in long grass. "The animal was as big as a dingo with a catlike face. It had a long tail, its body had black stripes with yellow fur." The terrier attacked but was soon forced back, the "tiger" then dashed up a nearby leaning tree and the dog barked at it. The strange creature then dashed back down the tree past the boy and the dog, escaping into nearby scrub. Mr Sheridan later learnt of earlier incidents involving "tigers" which had occured in the Cardwell district.

Cardwell December 1871

For instance on 4th December 1871, Walter J. Scott informed him that six men working near the Murray and Mackay rivers north of Cardwell were awoken one night in their tent by a "loud roar." Leaping from their tent, firearms in hand, they searched the are for the mysterious intruder but found nothing. However next day they discovered tracks of some large carnivore about their campsite.

1978 Expedition

During my 1978 far north Queensland expedition I learned of numerous cases of shooters and others, often out in dense jungle country, who had come across large "panthers" or"tigers" perched high above them in the trees waiting for prey to pass below.

Lagoons June 1872

In the valley of Lagoons west of Cardwell on 5th June 1872, a native police officer, Robert Johnstone, with several other police officers spotted in dense scrub a large animal perched 40 feet above ground in a tree's branches. As the men approached it, the animal suddenly lept from its perch some 10 feet into another tree, clung to it, then slithered down the trunk tail first to escape. It was described as being larger than a pointer dog, with a fawn colouration with darker patches, and along thick tail.

Wederburn NSW

Mr Arthur Burton took a shot at a large striped yellowish-furred "tiger" near Wederburn NSW shortly after the end of World War Two, blowing off a chunk of fur in the process. Another "tiger" was seen eating crabs off rocks at Lobster Beach near Lion island only four years ago. Whatever this striped "marsupial tiger" is, it still remains yet another enigma of our vast still largely unexplored Australian bush.

Gwabegar Road

Two years ago in broad daylight Mr Jim Cornwell and his 22 year old friend Mike Parrot and other friends were driving along the Gwabegar road towards Pilliga out of Coonabarabran NSW, when they caught sight of an enormous black catlike beast with long tail running from the roadside into scrub. Stopping the car, the group walked to the spot where they had last seen the animal, where they found large catlike paw prints in the soil.

Murrurundi 1963

Mr Brian Gibson of Newcastle NSW saw the same sort of animal three times in the Hunter Valley. On the first occasion he was rabbit shooting at Waltons Creek near Murrurundi in 1963. He only saw it for a moment, he fired at it but missed. His next encounter took place in May 1964 while rabbit shooting with a mate. On this excursion he was to see it twice. Their first sighting was of a large black animal moving through trees. When it spotted them it dashed for cover in a rocky outcrop where it disappeared down a hole in the rocks. The boys decided to wait it out, keeping an eye on the spot throughout the night. The next day was spent in an exhausting watch. Finally at dusk the animal emerged, stood in the open but then, sensing the boy's presence, it dashed away into the scrub. The boy's fired at it but missed. They both agreed it stood 2 feet tall on all fours, was 5 feet long from head to tail, and was a sleek black colour.

Black Panther

The Mysterious "black panther" has long resided in the Dorrigo mountains near Coffs Harbour NSW and is part of local folklore throughout the whole of the New England region of NSW.

Marulan NSW 1978

Mr Peter Westmore of Sydney is quite certain that he saw a panther near Marulan NSW late one night in 1978. Peter was on a shooting trip around his farm between Marulan and Tarlo, which lies about 10 miles north of Goulbourn. Peter and his two friends arrived on the property on the 22nd of December and the following evening they were seated around their caravan when a noise made Peter look out the caravan window. He then saw in the dark a few yards from the caravan two yellowish-greenish eyes looking towards him. After his initial shock his friends wanted at first to rush out and shoot the intruder but finally decided against it in the dark. The next day was spent shooting and that Christmas eve night the animal returned to watch them in their caravan, its two eyes shining at them through the darkness. The mystery intruder watched them for a few hours. Finally one of the men could stand the tension much longer, opened the caravan door and fired his rifle at the beast in the darkness, and it fled.

On 27th December as the men were hunting around a rocky area overlooking the farm dam surrounded by dense bushland, Peter was lying amongst rocks overlooking the dam, scanning the region for game with his binoculars. Suddenly he spotted a large black pantherlike animal which he thought could have been their strange intruder four nights before. He saw the beast quite clearly as it moved out of the scrub towards the dam. It was approximately 5 feet in length, was dark black and had a catlike head. One of the men upon sighting it fired at the animal but missed, at which the creature bounded for the nearest cover. Peter said "It did not run but bounded in long strides, similar to a horse galloping."

Queensland June 1957

Mr and Mrs Ted Simms were camping in Queensland on the 5th of June 1957 when a large panther terrified their dog. "it looked rather like a leopard," Mrs Simms said. "it was too big for a domestic or wild cat, more the size of a dog, only it had short legs, pricked pointed ears and a long tail.

Katanning 1905

A man named George Summer claimed he shot one near Katanning back in 1905. It had grey and black stripes and a catlike head. " I feel sure it was not a domestic cat gone wild," he said, "Like a fool, I did not remove the skin and send it to a museum."

Zoologists Theories

Which leads me to another point. There is a theory current among some zoologists that a percentage of these "panthers" might just happen to be tenth generation house pets gone wild. Thoughtless people to lazy to look after their pet cats or not wanting to spend a few dollars to have them desexed invariably dump them in the bush or in rubbish tips. Continual breeding within a few generations results in wild cats of much larger proportions. However these giant-sized cats do not account for the many panther footprints found which do not resemble those of the domestic cat.


According to one of my contacts, Mr Peter Roads of Burwood, Victoria, black panthers have terrorised the Grampians region of Victoria for many years. Stock have been found killed, their throats torn open. Peter Roads relates that ten years ago a Grampian farmer was savagely attacked by "something." One morning as he and his wife lay in bed they heard noises coming from near the farmhouse. He arose, dressed and went to check his sheep in a nearby paddock. After he was gone for some time his wife went looking for him. She followed his footprints for some distance into the paddock where see found him flat on his back and with large slash marks across his chest. Despite these injuries he lived. He was in a state of shock and had been knocked by his attacker 15 feet and had been hit in an upward motion which was so powerful that it had lifted him right off the ground.

Black Mountain District

In the Black Mountain district of Northern New South Wales between 1958-1959 a party of cadets made a search for the panther, armed with .22 rifles and cameras following sightings in the district.

Yarramundi August 1978

On 1st August 1978 a Yarramundi NSW farmer spotted a large panther like animal in thick bush near his home. He fired two shots into the air above the animal to scare it away. About 20 minutes later from the shelter of nearby undergrowth it let out a roar "like a big jungle cat," as the farmer described it.


During 1960 the same man was rabbit-shooting in bushland near Yarramundi when he sighted an even larger panther to that seen by him years later in 1978. "It was bigger than an Alsatian dog and was going fast through the scrub. Soon afterwards I found footprints left by the animal. They were 5 to 6 inches in diameter and were found at a nearby dam where it had been drinking," he said.

Migratory Habits

A panther researcher, Mr Michael Roberts, wrote in a 1960 article of a possible migratory habit of these beasts based upon numerous sighting reports and their dates beginning near Glen Innes between 1958-59. He maintained that the dry season forced the creatures to undertake extensive migratory wanderings in search of food over a vast circle pattern in the New England District. Beginning at Glen Innes where kills were reported at the end of June 1958, the animal was next reported seen near Armidale {21st July} then south to Uralla {25th July}, the panther then appeared westwards at Manilla {28th July}, moving northwards up to Barraba {29th July}. Panthers were next reported seen further west near Wariadla {September 1958}.

They then appeared in February 1959 at Cooltai, eastwards near Ashford in April, at Emmaville in June, and stock killings by the mystery beasts occured around Glen Innes at tee end of June 1959. No doubt these panthers, like their monster cousins the Warrigals, do undertake extensive migrations across the country, up and down our vast eastern coastal mountain ranges west to the Great Dividing Range. It would be an interesting study to trace the actual extent of country covered by groups or individuals of these creatures.

Mount Boyce

Former Katoomba detective Steven McGlynn and his wife were driving towards Katoomba from Lithgow on 22nd July 1979. At 4 pm near Mount Boyce on the Great Western Highway near the Mount Boyce Lookout they heard coming from out of the dense scrub on the east side of the highway, a loud catlike screech like that of a panther and very piercing. However they were unable to get a look at the animal.

This report is but one of many from throughout the Blue Mountains.

Kedumba Valley 1977

Kevin Richards of Hazelbrook saw a panther as big as a calf and brownish in colour on 19th December 1977 in the Kedumba Valley behind Mount Solitary.

Bedford Creek 1976

Some time before, during November 1976 at Bedford Creek, Woodford, where the railway crosses and old stone structure and 300 yards south-west around the creek, he saw while cutting a hand trail at a yabbie pool up on the bank a number of yabbie shells and large catlike prints 1 and a half inches across in size.

Lithgow 1975

During 1975 a young Lithgow woman while bushwalking near her home in a gully spotted ahead of her an Alsatian sized black pantherlike cat perched several feet above the ground on a tree limb. When the animal saw her it leapt to earth and disappeared into a thicket.

Mount Victoria 1965

At Mount Victoria on the western side of the Blue Mountains in 1965 Mr Bill Forbes {now deceased} of Mount York Road farm was seeing an old friend home late one night at the entrance of Mount York Road, when suddenly they were almost knocked over by an enormous black catlike creature which sprang from out of the roadside scrub to bound across the road in front of them into a scrub-covered gully on the other side. The creature was 5 feet in length with a tail about 1 and a half feet to 2 feet in length, and was about 2 feet off the ground on all fours.

Mount Victoria

These pantherlike animals have always been known around Mount Victoria and there were many sightings during 1917-18.


In 1959 Mr Ken Beames spotted a large black pantherlike animal entering his bush-surrounded property about 50 yards from him to drink from a small dam near his house, after which the animal moved off back into the scrub.

Linden NSW

Other Linden residents have also seen these panthers thereabouts over the years. Lets face it-we still know practically next to nothing about all the many mysterious and unknown animals that inhabit the vast forests and mountain ranges of Australia. The ever enigmatic hairy apelike Yowie continues to make its presence known, the giant 30 ft monitor lizards still lurk in the cedar forests and mountain ranges of northern NSW, sharing Australia as they do with other even more remarkable reptillian giants that defy scientific knowledge.

I continue to receive reports of all manner of Australian Zoological enigmas here at my Kedumba nature Display Museum {which is in Kedumba Emporium, Echo Point Road, Katoomba NSW}. This is the headquarters for my Australian Yowie Research Centre, and also my newly established Strange Animals Investigation Centre. These facts prove beyond doubt that there are indeed many mysterious creatures inhabiting the Australian bush which are in need of a proper scientific investigation.

Strange Phenomena June 1980

Western New South Wales Yowies

By Rex Gilroy

Western New South Wales Yowies