Tania Poole -Central Victoria
Here, I interview Peter and Pam, a couple I know through some friends. Ironically, Josie Harris who I interviewed on my last ‘Tales from the Antipodes’ (see posting on 24th May 2010) is connected with this one – Peter is Josie’s boss at Ballarat Secondary College and Josie told me what Peter and Pam had seen. I spoke to Peter and Pam back in March, and heard their story about the possible sighting of a Thylacine. Peter is a very intelligent, sensible man, who is rather a sceptic, so I can’t help but understand his curiosity of this sighting – as far as I know he did not report it, probably because he did not think it credible enough.
Interview with Peter and Pam Waugh
Tania: So where was this?
Peter: This was on the West side of the Grampians, so that’s the dry side, where the Grampians slopes down. The East side has the more lush steep cliffs. It was probably 1981. It was the end of summer, February, March, that time of year. It was late afternoon – not dark.
Pam: It was not yet dusk
P: It was still light. Because it was summer, it was maybe 7pm. We’d been camping all weekend and were heading back to Ballarat.
T: Were you heading South?
P: No, We would have been heading north, up
Pa: I don’t remember it being heavy with trees. It was scrub.
P: Yes, it was very open, the scrub wasn’t thick. Scattered gum tress, She-oaks, boulders here and there, like the You Yangs Ranges.
T: Not a tall or dense forest?
P: No. The left was heading into farmland. We were heading north on this road, and then we saw this movement to my right, to the East. We saw this animal come running down across the grass, it wasn’t hidden by trees, it was well ahead of us, we were driving 80Kms an hour. And then it crossed the road in front of us. It was not very distracted by us, but maybe the car had flushed it out?
Pa: We were not that close to it, how far?
P: 100 metres
T: Ahead of you?
P: Close enough to get a look at it
T: So you recognised it?
Pa: No, we didn’t know what it was.
P: We looked at each other coz we thought, the way it ran; it did not run like a dog.
Pa: It did not run like a fox, it did not run like anything we’d seen. It was really different. It was quite large, it wasn’t small.
P: It was grey-ish. It would have been 2.5 - 3 feet long, big head, tail, dog shaped, but it did not run like a dog and that was what really attracted our attention.
Pa: First of all, I thought it was a strange pony, because it was that sort of galloping, very fluid motion, it wasn’t trotting.
P: It was loping.
T: Was it a Tiger? I mean, a Thylacine, or a Big Cat?
P: No, it wasn’t a cat. It was grey in colour.
T: Did it have stripes?
P: Couldn’t see them from where we were
T: Didn’t have a long tail like a cat?
Pa: No, not like a cat.
T: Stiff straight tail, stuck out the back?
Pa: Well, it was hard to tell
P: The way it was running
Pa: Because of what we remember from later, and what you imagine.
P: I stopped the car, and we watched it run off down through the scrub and probably kept it in sight for 2 to 3 minutes as it just disappeared. From what I’ve seen of pictures of tigers, I would be 99% sure that that’s what we saw. And that’s with me being totally and utterly sceptical of there being any surviving Thylacines anywhere. I haven’t been able to find anything else that would have matched with what I saw. So the rationalist in me says it couldn’t have been a Thylacine, but…
Pa: But we don’t know what it was
P: Totally inexplicable. It’s a very remote part of the Grampians. It’s on a road where you might see only 2 or 3 cars on one day. It was late afternoon, just when the kangaroos were starting to come out.
Pa: But we said ‘What was that?’
P: We thought at the time ‘We’ve just seen a Thylacine.’ Had the big head. I can’t remember now in detail the way it ran, loping would be the best description.
T: But it was still something you’d never seen before, the way it ran, and not since.
P: No, not since. And I’ve never seen a Thylacine run. If I did I could compare it.
Pa: We’ve been all over
P: I saw it a grey sand colour. But it wasn’t a cat, and we saw it for such a long time.
T: Did it run very fast?
P & Pa: Yes
T: But you saw it for a few minutes?
P: We saw it coming down the hill and thought, ‘Good God what is that?’
Pa: It came down at an angle, diagonally down the slope. We stopped to watch it.
T: So obviously it was so strange, it made you stop to watch it, and you thought of a Thylacine straight away.
P: Yeah. Had it been clearly a recognisable dog, I would not even have remembered it or be telling you this now.
Pa: Another story we’ve heard was our friend Ian Smith, who has passed on since. He was VERY positive he frightened one (Thylacine) out of his chicken shed in Mt Clear (Ballarat). He saw it clearly.
P: In the early 70’s.
Pa: No, much earlier. The 50’s, I think.
T: Wow! Mt Clear would not have really been much of a suburb of Ballarat then like it is now.
Pa: True. He was positive he saw one.
T: Thanks for your story!