Strange Phenomena June 1980

Western New South Wales Yowies

By Rex Gilroy


It was 10 ft tall, hairy and had an overall fearsome appearance. That was how terrified truckie Bruce Cambell described the massive apelike beast that approached him on a Pilliga scrubland road near Narrabri. He had he said stopped along the road between Barradine and Narrabri to check the stock he was carrying. The night was dark but Bruce was not worried by all the "tall tales" he had been fed by fellow truckies, of the giant hairy gorilla-like monsters called Yowies that they said roamed the vast Pillinga bushland thereabouts at night. Having looked at his load of cattle bruce stooped to check a tyre. He was now about to have good reason to believe those tall tales. hearing a noise on the other side of the truck, he went to investigate torch in hand.

Standing inquisitively before him Bruce found face to face with him a 10ft tall hairy "apeman" like monster. Bruce at first frozen in disbelief came to life and bolted for the open door of his driving compartment to drive off in some haste. An experienced semi-trailer driver of 10 years, Bruce had never experienced anything like this. Not stopping until he reached Narrabri, he discovered that his stock crate had been damaged. A piece of timber had been broken off and pulled out. It had been too high above the ground for any normal human being to have done it as the slab of wood had been removed from a point 10ft above the ground. The location of this incident had been on No 1 break-a firebreak road-situated between Barradine and Narrabri.

Truckie stories of often hair-raising experiences with Yowies along the main roads of north-western and central-western New South Wales are among the most prominent reports recorded of these mysterious creatures in the whole of eastern Australia. Particulary along the full extent of the Newell Highway between Coonabarabran and Narrabri which passes through the Pilliga Forest country, a region encompassing hundreds of square miles of vast bushland where Yowies have been seen by settlers since the earliest years of European presence thereabouts.

For some years I have noticed the constant growth of reports of Yowies reports coming from these areas. It appeared to me that there existed a vast region west and north-west of the Blue Mountains inhabited by perhaps whole family groups of these enigmatic beasts. Finally after the establishment early in 1978 of the "Australian Yowie Research Centre" at my Kedumba Nature Display Museum {situated in the Kedumba Emporium at Echo Point, Katoomba, NSW}, and numerous other Yowies expeditions already carried out elsewhere, a search was at last organised to investigate areas in the Central West of the state in the hope of turning up further clues of the Yowie. Australia's hairy cousins to the Bigfoot of America, and Yeti {abominable snowman} of Asia.


Leaving Katoomba on Sunday the 8th of July 1979 for orange-our first stop-my wife Heather and 3 year old daughter Elizabeth passed through Bathurst which like Orange is steeped in Yowie folklore going back to the early days of last century. It was 1836 that settlers round Bathurst first became aquainted with Yowies. Farmers of outlying areas began claiming to have seen hairy ape-like creatures, man-sized to larger, soon after settlements began to spread in that region, although they had first heard of the creatures from Aborigines. With the discovery of gold at Bathurst and other areas of the Central West {1851}, European settlement spread even faster into the remoter areas such as Mudgee, Hill End and Ophir. Hill end situated deep in outlying mountainous country is still ideal territory for the Yowie.


During 1965 Mr Ted Knoph then 17 years old was camping out during a rabbit-shooting excursion. Instead of a rifle he was using a bow-gun. Late one afternoon as he climbed a scrub-covered hillside not far from his camp he sighted a dark figure moving among the trees some yards ahead of him. Suddenly the figure came into full view. There standing in front of him and looking right at him was an enormous-looking 10ft tall hairy covered apelike monster. Although terrified of the beast standing above him on the slope, Ted stared at the creature, observing it for a moment before turning to dash away back down the hillside, dropping the bow-gun in the process.

"It was very muscular, had long arms reaching down towards its knees, and it stood in a stooped position and appeared to have a bullet-shaped head {alluding to the pointed sagital crest of the skull, a typical primate feature in keeping with descriptions of Bigfoot/Yeti}, a receding forehead and thick eyebrow ridges with deeply set, large eyes. It did not seem to have a neck, the head being sunk into the shoulders," Ted told me recently. Some years later Ted returned to Hill End with two other mates on a rabbit-shooting trip. They camped down on the Huron River near the old township. Still remembering his 1965 experience, Ted however did not think he was to see the monsterous beast again.

The boys were sitting around their campfire late that night following their arrival when, among the surrounding scrub, illuminated in the glow from their fire the boys all caught sight of a tall hairy figure perhaps 50ft from the camp. "We grabbed for our rifles but before anyone could have aimed at the mystery invader it had turned and fled into dense scrub," Ted said. The next morning the boys discovered enormous apelike footprints embedded in nearby river bank mud.

Hill End

I have often said that the Yowie like the American and Asian relatives is basically a shy and timid creature living a peaceful forest-dwelling existence in remote mountain ranges over a wide area of Australia, where it survives on an Herbivorous/Insectivorous diet. However cases do exist to indicate that the Yowie if provoked could become violent, killing any would-be attacker. From what I have been able to gather this has only happened in situations where the creatures, perhaps thinking their young were endangered by human intruders on their domain or if cornered, have naturally put up a fight to escape.

Early 1900's

One famous story still told in the Hill End district is that of a young couple who in the early years of the 1900's were killed it appears, supposedly by a Yowie. The girl and boy were in the habit of walking along a track which went through thick dense scrub country for some distance between their homes. One night they both disappeared. The next day searchers found signs of a struggle at a point which included large indistinct footprints. Further searching nearby in the gully later resulted in the discovery of both their bodies, torn and bloodied. Old-timers put it down to the 'great hairy man," or Yowie, often enormous beasts which they had known of thereabouts since the gold rush days of the 1800's.

Yowies appear to be "territorial" creatures, individual family groups picking out a particular area, keeping others of their race away most of the time. Could the young couple have inadvertantly stumbled on a Yowie "territory"? Yowies have been frequently seen moving about the wild inaccessible country around Glen Davis and Capertee.


There are also outlying regions near Mudgee where people seldom go due to old traditions of Yowies wandering the areas. At one property five cows have been found killed, their necks broken as if by some massive beast. Yowies are said to roam the Kanes Flat area, inhabiting caves from whence they periodically wander into remote farming areas. Recently near Lue outside Mudgee an enormous apelike footprint was found near a farm, displaying perfect toe structure. Also at nearby Ulan, hikers came across large apelike tracks in soil. Early in 1977 other hikers found a series of large Yowie footprints 30 miles outside Mudgee in the rugged Mughorn Ranges.


Young schoolboy John Tindale of Glenco via Buckaroo outside Mudgee got the shock of his life one night in October 1977. He had gone outside his home on his family's farming property to get his uncle who lived in an adjoining cottage. As he walked through darkness an immense shadowy figure approached him from out of nearby bushes. John flashed his torch at the figure standing there in front of him and towering over his small five foot height was a longhaired apelike monsterous beast whose large eyes glowed red when the torch lit them. The beast at least 12ft tall stumbled towards the boy as he ran screaming back to the house to raise the alarm, but the creature quickly disappeared into the darkness.

Mount Frome 1976

Then there was Peter Robinson, teenager from Mount Frome. One June day in 1976 he was riding a minibike out past Ulan on a bush track when he spotted a large apelike footprint in the soil. Upon further examination he soon discovered more large tracks and nearby and overturned large hollow tree trunk, apparently from some creatures possibly in search of insect food.


Strange eerie noises-grunts,whistling and howling-reminiscent of those described of the Yeti/Yowie/Bigfoot, are common occurrences around Capertee, a remote mountainous, scrub covered area lying north-west of Lithgow on the Mudgee road and south of the "monster-men" of Sentinal Mountain, a region seldom visited for fear of the beasts. Capertee farmers have long been in the habit of carrying rifles whenever they have to enter thick scrub in search of straying stock. Saplings have ben found broken down or snapped off high above ground level and their stems torn down the centre in search for burrowing witchetty grubs, presumably by Yowie's in search of food. Old tales persist hereabouts of sightings of small to large hairy apelike creatures seen by farmers, campers and others, wandering the dense bushland. Similar tales abound down around the Fish River near Hampton, close to the western slopes of the Blue Mountains.

Fish River 1964

Mr Eric Rolf, a Sydney camper and pig shooter, told me that in 1964 when 14 years old he was on a weekend camping trip in the company of Mr Morris Patton. He said, "We stayed at a cabin situated on a road above the Fish River in an area standing in the midst of rugged mountain ranges. "Morris had a three cell torch and about 9pm on this particular very dark night he left me to go and study platypus's that inhabit the area thereabouts. "He soon returned white-faced and gasping that he had just seen some enormous thing out there in the dark." So together we went back to the spot on the river bank where he had seen this mysterious visitor, still not exactly sure what is was he had seen.

"Suddenly 30 yards away on high ground near the river bank in the glow of the torch we both saw the 'thing', a 7ft tall apelike beast standing upon two legs in a stooped position, very dark long hair perhaps a few inches in length, with broad shoulders. There was also a detectable pungent foxlike odour about the area. "Then no sooner had we both seen the beast that it turned quickly and dashed off into the dark making noises. We also turned and ran back to our cabin," Eric said. Eric had told me that he has frequently had the distinct feeling over the past 14 years during goat shooting trips in the Fish River area, of someone or "something" watching him from the surrounding dense scrub.

Yowies have in fact been reported seen by other campers thereabouts at least three times in the last five years. As my wife and I drove through Bathurst that Sunday on our way west I thought of the many sightings that have occured in recent years around outlying areas hereabouts.

Wisemans Creek July 1977

One frightening experience, that of a camping group, occured during the last week of July 1977 at Wisemans Creek south of Bathurst. The group, party of prospectors, was camped on a scrub-covered bank of the creek deep in surrounding mountain ranges. Around 2am one morning they were abruptly woken up by a "blood curdling scream" which seemed to come from deep in the nearby scrub. In the dim moonlight filtering through the trees, the men distinctly saw a huge shape perhaps 10-12ft in height moving among the shubbery as it crossed a bush clearing. The fleeting visitation convinced the men that they should stay up that night and at first light that wasted no time leaving the area.

Mount Canobolas {Orange}

Our first search for the Yowie on the trip began on Monday 9th of July at towering Mount Canobolas overlooking Orange, scene of numerous encounters with the creatures dating back many years. Hereabouts have been found often large footprints in the surrounding forests. Only a few years ago two trailbike riders claimed to have sighted a group of several small to larger -than-man-sized Yowies apparently oblivious to the men's presence, in the act of foraging for herbivorous matter among the scrub on a gully ridge opposite where the men had been resting for sometime prior to the strange creature's appearance.

About that period two local bushmen had sighted a large hairy creature moving through a gully along a small stream. The men were able to observe the animal for several minutes before they lost sight of it in the dense bush. They later described it as being about 7-8ft in height,, covered in long brown hair and walking with a stooped gait. The rough bracken-covered stony ground did not preserve any footprints of the creature.

Orange May 5th 1975

Another Orange resident, "Tony," saw a Yowie twice on the same day 5th of May 1975! Tony was driving along a road two miles east of town. The road went through a cutting and continued across a creek. it was at this point that a large 7ft tall hairy apelike beast suddenly appeared from out of bushes on the driver's side of the road, dashing across in front of his vehicle forcing him to apply the brakes. The beast was last seen crashing its way through scrub on the passenger side of the car. Tony then turned his car around and drove home. Several hours later he plucked up enough courage to return to the spot where he had seen the creature for a search of the area.

As he approached the spot he caught site of the animal standing among the bushes near the road. This time Tony got a better look at the beast. it was he said covered in long greyish-brown hair. Then as the creature turned and retreated back into the bush it let out a loud screeching sound. By now Tony had lept from his car and dashed to the roadside hoping to get a closer look at the animal. Due to the leafmound and rubble covering the ground he could not detect any noticeable footprints, but he did detect that strong pungent odour so often described in other Yowie encounters elsewhere in Australia.

1976 was a good year for Yowie reports around Orange and I related some of them to Heather as we continued on our way to Dubbo.