Monday, 30 May 2011

Meet the Cryptozoologist: Neil Arnold

How did you first get involved in researching strange and mysterious creatures? 
I logged my first report when I was nine years of age (I'm 36 now) and watching the creepy docu-drama 'The Legend Of Boggy Creek' also had a huge impact on my life, as did a book by Carey Miller called 'A Dictionary Of Monsters & Mysterious Beasts', which, many years later I would base my 'Monster!' book on.

What were some of the early influences in your life? 
As above I guess, although stories from my dad and grandad played a big part in me becoming the person I am today.

Have you personally seen one of these creatures? 
I have seen a black leopard on three occasions - one creature twice in 2000, and another cat in 2008. I have also seen a lynx on two occasions, which was caught on film.

What creatures particularly interest you? 
I have always been interested in the more commonly known cryptids, but what interests me are the monsters no-one knows about, the creatures which are more ethereal, or the stuff of legend, i.e. Bunnyman, Noodleman, Capilla Del Monte imp, vampire cats, multi-coloured hellhounds, Musca Macedda, Screech owls, Koguhpuk etc. That's why I wrote my 'Monster!' book, because cryptozoology is too much of a confining label and too many people think Mothman, Jersey Devil etc are cryptids, which they aren't.

What cryptids are most likely to exist in your opinion? 
I think there is a strong case for Orang Pendek, Bigfoot, Yeti, the thylacine, and certainly some sea serpents.

What’s your favourite?
I don't really have a favourite cryptids, Bigfoot I guess.

What’s your favourite Australian cryptid? 
Mmmm, I don't personally think the Yowie is flesh and blood so it wouldn't be a cryptid so I guess the thylacine, because to me the large, elusive cats roaming Australia are explainable and not cryptids.

Have you developed any theories around where the more unusual animals - i.e. yowies/bigfoot - have come from? 
I think Bigfoot is a flesh and blood creature, but I don't believe the Yowie is although there is certainly enough vegetation to hide such a creature. Bigfoot may well be gigantopithicus, and again, there is enough undergrowth to hide a small population of very elusive animals - the footprint casts speak for themselves, especially with the dermal ridges. Too many people see Bigfoot for it not to be real.

Have you written any books/articles? 
I have written hundreds of articles for magazines such as Fortean Times, Fate, Paranormal, and written for hundreds of newspapers, and am the author of: Monster! The A-Z Of Zooform Phenomena, Mystery Animals of Kent, Paranormal London, Paranormal Kent, Haunted Rochester, and the forthcoming Mystery Animals Of London, and also a book pertaining to cryptozoology in film.

Do you have a website(s)? 

How many mystery animal reports would you receive a year? 
I am a full-time monster hunter so I receive many reports a year, and my main research covers big cat sightings and on average receive about 150-180 sightings a year covering the south-east of England.

What’s the closest you’ve personally come to finding something? 
Seeing the actual cats although finding evidence such as eaten sheep, paw prints, faeces etc is the next best evidence.

What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to go ‘in search of’ mystery animals? 
Loch Ness, Scotland, in search of the fabled Nessie - which I believe is a large fish, something like a catfish.

What’s next for you - any trips planned? Books or articles to write? Talks to give?
I conduct talks on 'big cats' and folklore for a living, and conduct up to six a week. I write articles daily and carry out local expeditions at least twice a week.

Could you share some of your favourite cryptozoology book titles with us? 
Rebecca Lang and Mike Williams 'Australian Big Cats' is a brilliant book, one of the best I've read for a long time. Other favourites include, Jon Downes' 'The Owlman & Others', Richard Freeman's 'Dragons', most of Karl Shuker's books are a fascinating read, and also 'Out Of The Shadows' by Cropper & Healy, and also their 'Yowie' book. Anything original is always a good read. I have thousands of books but not many hold my attention like some of the more obscure crypto books.

What advice would you give anyone getting into the field of cryptozoology? 
Always maintain a level of mystery, don't succumb to the petty politics, follow your heart, and always believe in monsters.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Giant snake - a real reptile or herp hoax?

Whoa! Is this the biggest snake you have ever seen? According to the email that arrived in our inbox a few hours ago, it's apparently a King Brown or 'Mulga' snake - which can, for the doubters out there, grow as big as three metres - but is it legit?

Pseudechis australis is a species of venomous snake found in Australia. It is one of the longest venomous snakes in the world and the second longest in Australia. Despite one of its common names, King Brown, it is part of the Pseudechis (black snake) genus.

We received this picture in an email that declared it was a Queensland native (is that possibly sugar cane, a staple Qld crop, growing in the background?).

But it also made the Hunter news in NSW recently, where it was claimed local road workers at Branxton flushed out the monster while road work was underway. Branxton is just outside Cessnock and is the gateway to most of the Hunter regions famous wineries.

And as far afield as America, where bigger is always better, they're claiming the snake as their own, a scaly refugee from the Mississippi floods no less!

So is this photo real or photoshopped?

The folks over at seem to think it is a fake, as do the folk at the Australian Reptile Park on the NSW Central Coast (not far from the Hunter).

Update: This just in - a well respected herpetologist friend of the CFZ has poured cold water on this giant snake. "This is not genuine as King Browns don’t grow this big ANYWHERE!!! Also when I look carefully I can see certain unevenness and lumps along the body that indicate that this is not real or alive, Be interesting to know the background on this one!"

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

More on the Grafton Yowie

Yowie researcher and author Paul Cropper was interviewed recently on ABC Radio in relation to the latest Yowie sighting - north of Grafton, NSW - to hit the headlines. 

“In our book we recorded around 350 reports going back to the late 1700s, early 1800s, but I imagine there’s a lot more than that which don’t ever reach the media – people have these experiences and then just keep it to themselves,” Mr Cropper told the Daily Examiner last week.

“One thing you can say with absolute certainty is that Aborigines and Europeans have been recording these things for a long time – the Aboriginal stories go back to the Dreamtime and the European stories go back to basically the first settlement … there’s just this consistent thread of stories up until (last) Tuesday morning."

The related ABC Radio interview is great and the witness statement sounds intriguing indeed! Have a listen.

If you're interested in reading about similar sightings, or checking out the Bible of Yowie research, The Yowie: In Search of Australia's Bigfoot, be sure to drop by Paul and co-author Tony Healy's website

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Quinkana - the land crocodile

Quinkana is an extinct genus of mekosuchine crocodile that lived in Australia from 24 million years ago to 40,000 years ago.

The terrestrial crocodile had relatively long, agile legs, very different from the splayed limbs of modern crocodiles, and its teeth were curved and sharp, like those of a tyrannosaur dinosaur.

By the Pleistocene Quinkana had become one of the top terrestrial predators of Australia, possessing long legs and ziphodont teeth (lateromedially compressed, recurved and serrated).

Unlike today's Australian crocodiles, this large 220kg land-dwelling reptile's long legs made it a fast hunter. It tired out its prey of mammals, birds and other reptiles in long chases.

Its sharp teeth allowed it to tear apart its prey, unlike its water-dwelling surviving cousins whose teeth are better suited to holding and drowning their prey.

Quinkana belonged to a group of crocodiles (mekosuchines) that are now all extinct. Quinkana comes from the 'Quinkans', a legendary folk from Aboriginal myths.

Mystery beast of Vietnam caught?

Is this the pet-butchering beast that has been terrorising Vietnam's coastal villages?

The powerfully-built porker invokes memories of the painful Australian
B-grade horror movie Razorback, in which a giant wild boar terrorises the Outback and kills and eats anyone who gets in its way.

Authorities in the central province of Quang Ngai believe the pig is the culprit after they caught the boar on Sunday - it is believed to have attacked and killed as many as 20 pet dogs in a coastal village in the past two weeks.

The boar, weighing an estimated 100 kilograms, was previously spotted in a bush by local residents in Dong Lo village near the Son Tra coastal village, where rumors about the dog-killing “beast” have left villagers petrified with fear recently.

After the boar was taken to the communal building, Le Cu, a local farmer, confirmed the animal belonged to him and that it had escaped from his farm last month.

“After the sow gave birth to five baby pigs, the boar broke the cage and ran away,” Cu said.

Cu added he raised two boars and two sows at home since August 2009.

The attacks of the “unknown animal,” which began on May 6, 2011 at the Son Tra village in Binh Son District, had left carcasses of the dogs almost decapitated and their entrails missing.

Villagers said they had heard the roar of the beast from a nearby mountain, and found large footprints (about 12-15 cm diameter) in the sand.

The Quang Ngai Provincial Forest Protection Department later sent a team to the village to search every bush and uninhabited places in an attempt to find the “beast.”

Several wildlife researchers assumed the animal may belong to the cat family, such as a panther, while others said it may be a bear.

While wild boars are generally plant eaters, they will happily devour any animals they can catch - including, it seems, curious dogs!

Camden's Macarthur Panther Mk II

Further to our post of several days ago, here's the story behind that 'big cat' footage.

THE mysterious Macarthur panther has been spotted again - but this time a glimpse of the animal has been captured on film.

Camden’s Paul Fuller and Jarred Seedsman, both 17, were trailbike riding in bushland at Appin on Tuesday when they filmed the panther-like creature. It is believed to be the first footage ever shot of the elusive beast, which has been seen repeatedly across the Macarthur and Sydney regions for more than a decade.

Jarred was filming their ride near the Appin motocross centre using a mobile phone attached to his bike’s handlebars. He captured Paul’s shock at seeing the cat as well as the creature crossing the track ahead of the riders.

Paul described the animal as unlike any other he had seen.

“I am almost 100 per cent sure it had to be a panther - it was running quickly, really fast,” he said. “We were going about 40km/h when it jumped out in front of us and it was probably going just as fast as we were.”

The boys went home after the sighting to research the animal on the internet.

“When I found a picture of a panther I thought ‘yeah it looks exactly like this’. It would have been above my knee in height, about two foot, and its tail was really long. It had a fat face, short nose and it was all black,” Paul said. Both teens are adamant they saw a panther, not a dog or feral cat.

Last week’s sighting follows dozens of reports from residents to the Macarthur Chronicle of a big cat from Macquarie Fields in the north to Bargo in the south.

Greendale resident Elizabeth Tabone said her sons saw a large cat around the same bush area in Appin last year.

“Yeah, I’m definitely convinced it’s a panther - my boys wouldn’t lie and they had such a shocked look on their face when they got home that night,” she said.

Bradbury resident Margot Shugg said she encountered a large cat in 2008. “We were driving along the road towards the Thirlmere Lakes area when it jumped out away from the road, so I jumped out of the car to see and it ran into the bush, over a tree and it’s tail flicked up - the underside was much paler.”

Monday, 23 May 2011

Meet the Cryptozoologist: Jonathan Downes

How did you first get involved in researching strange and mysterious creatures?
I was raised in Hong Kong - the last jewel in the crown of the British Empire on which the sun would never set. In terms of the Imperial timeline it was a few minutes before dusk. 
From an early age I had been interested in animals. From that point of view, Hong Kong was an ideal place to grow up. Whereas my counterparts in the United Kingdom would have had to make do with foxes, badgers, and hedgehogs, I had the South China Sea as my playground, and the entire Continent of Asia as my hinterland. I could see large swathes of Tropical Forest from my bedroom window, and I was surrounded by exotic and beautiful, wild creatures. My mother always claimed that the first word I spoke was “zoo.” As Gerald Durrell's mother claimed exactly the same thing, I do not know whether to take this piece of information cum grano salis or not. Four-and-a-bit decades on, it doesn't really matter. 
As I got older, my interest in natural history grow, and I filled every inch of my bedroom with jam jars, shoe boxes, and fish tanks that all contained a wide variety of the local fauna. Much to the eternal credit of my mother and our servant Ah Tim, I got away with it, and over the years I learnt much about the husbandry of small creatures - something that has stood me in good stead throughout my adult life. 
My mother encouraged my interests in natural history and the written word, and, every Thursday she would go into town to play tennis at a venerable institution known as the Ladies' Recreation Club (LRC). After a game of tennis and a leisurely lunch with her friends she would go to the Central Library and get out library books for my young brother and I. 
One day I found that my mother had got me a book that would literally change my life. It was called Myth or Monster and introduced me to the concept that there were, indeed, monsters living in the world. This book introduced me to the Loch Ness monster, to sea serpents, to the Yeti, to its North American cousin, Bigfoot, to the fearsome Mngwa - the brindled, grey, killer-cat of East Africa, and to the mystery beasts of the South American jungle.
This was heady stuff for an eight-year-old. I read the book in one sitting, had my tea, went to bed early and read it again. The next morning I woke up, my head and heart filled with a new determination. 
“I'm going to be a Monster Hunter when I grow up,” I announced at breakfast. And I meant it. I'm not going to rewrite history and pretend that my parents were wholeheartedly supportive of my childish outburst, because they weren't. To be quite honest, I can't remember what they said. I can imagine, however. I was at the age when children want to be astronauts, or train drivers, or soldiers, and my parents can easily be forgiven for not taking this momentous and life changing decision seriously. However, the die was cast, and any chance of me leading a normal life had gone completely out of the window.
What were some of the early influences in your life?
Two of the most important influences in my life arrived in my psyche during childhood, and have basically stayed ever since. These were (and are) Gerald Durrell, the literary, boozy, and always amusing father of modern conservation, and Professor Bernard Heuvelmans, the father of cryptozoology.  I discovered both in the mid-60s and they have influenced my life ever since.
Add to them Penny Rimbaud (British Anarchist) and Tony “Doc” Shiels, the one-time Wizard of the Western World, and you have all my major influences. We never got on but I learned a hell of a lot from my father, the ex-Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong, and I learned all I know about stagecraft from a British rock singer called Steve Harley.
Have you personally seen one of these creatures?
Yes. I saw a mystery cat crossing the road on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall during the early summer of 1997, and I saw two more fortean ‘creatures’; a BHM phenomenon at Bolam Lake in Northumberland in 2003 and three putative lake monsters in the Republic of Ireland during 2009. 

What creatures particularly interest you?
As I grow older the creatures that particularly interest me grow smaller.  At the time of writing I am studying various British butterflies which, although deemed to be extinct, may still survive. But the thing which has taken up most of my time over the last six years is the strange hairless blue dog of southern Texas. The fact that certain crypto-pundits have claimed that I am wasting my time because they are nothing but mangy coyotes has – I am afraid – just spurred me on to ever more diligent researches. 

What cryptids are most likely to exist in your opinion?
Thylacine, British big cats, giant eels…

What’s your favourite?
Almost certainly one of the more obscure invertebrates like the giant earwig of St. Helena.

What’s your favourite Australian cryptid? My favourite Australian cryptid isn’t really a cryptid at all but it is the elusive night parrot.  The fact that specimens are so few and far between totally fascinates me.  If my fairy godmother made me win the National Lottery which is fairly unlikely because I don’t buy any tickets, and I had unlimited financial resources this would be the creature I would go and look for. 

Have you developed any theories around where the more unusual animals - i.e. yowies/bigfoot - have come from?
Oh yes!!!!!  I refer the interested readers to my books Rising of the Moon (1999), co-written by Nigel Wright and now published by Xyphos Publishing in Northern Ireland and the final chapter of my autobiography Monster Hunter (2004) 

Have you written any books/articles?
I have written or edited 30+ books and Lord alone knows how many articles.

Do you have a website?

How many mystery animal reports would you receive a year?
Hundreds, but many of them second hand.

What’s the closest you’ve personally come to finding something?
We did find the monster of Martin Mere; a giant wels catfish, and I am fairly pleased with the theory about the Chupacabras that I published in my 2007 book The Island of Paradise. 

What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to go ‘in search of’ mystery animals?
Puerto Rico (twice) 

What’s next for you - any trips planned? Books or articles to write? Talks to give?
Apart from the day to day running of the CFZ, I am planning a return trip to Texas, one to Hong Kong, and a search for odd snails in Madeira. I am also part way through writing two books, one on the cryptozoology of butterflies, and one on my searches for the Texas blue dogs. 

Could you share some of your favourite cryptozoology book titles with us?
  • On the Track of Unknown Animals by Bernard Heuvelmans
  • Searching for Hidden Animals by Roy Mackal
  • Mystery Cats of the World by Karl Shuker
  • Out of the Shadows by Healey/Cropper
  • The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel
  • Monstrum by Tony Shiels
  • Alien Animals by Janet and Colin Bord
(Yes I know some of these are not strictly crypto)

What advice would you give anyone getting into the field of cryptozoology?
  1. Do it for the right reasons.
  2. Never expect to make any money out of it. 
  3. Remember that life is an adventure.
  4. Always share your findings.
  5. Try to put more in to the crypto community than you take out.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Our top five - and it's a bit of a surprise!

Ever wondered what the most popular posts (among the many) on CFZ Australia are?

We often do, and it is with some surprise that we can report today that there is nary a Yowie or Australian Big Cat in sight!

Here are the top five - we can't shed any light on *why* these are the most popular posts on our blog, but it is not for us to wonder - enjoy!

Nov 8, 2010
6,002 Pageviews
May 28, 2007
2,847 Pageviews
Nov 10, 2010
1,661 Pageviews
Nov 15, 2010, 2 comments
1,438 Pageviews
Aug 28, 2008
1,437 Pageviews

Is this the end of Port Maquarie's koalas?

A Senate Inquiry has been told it is too late to rely on research to save the dwindling koala population in the Port Stephens area, north of Newcastle.

The Hunter Koala Preservation Society says nearly 800 koalas died along the Tilligerry Peninsula in the 10 years to 2009.

The deaths have been blamed on fires, dog attacks, disease, development and car accidents.

The Society's President, Jill Taylor says she is sceptical about the work of steering committees dedicated to protecting koalas.

"These steering committees are full of National Park officers," she said.

"They're not the people who are on the coal face, they are some people that are more interested in doing research.

"Research is OK but let's have it, the koalas are dying at those numbers while they're adding up figures and doing research.

"Let's be real about it, let's put the money into what we need to keep the habitat."

Friday, 20 May 2011

OOPA: Gotcha! Wallaby caught in the UK

CFZ US blogger Nick Redfern has a great post about an out of place animal - a wallaby - on the hop in Dorset in the UK. It's not the first British wallaby that's been featured on this blog (we featured a mother and joey bouncing around Cornwall last month) and no doubt it won't be the last.
As Nick relates, there are a number of interesting stories relative to how and why they are here - but nothing too mysterious. You can read his musings about OOPAs in general here.
This hapless macropod has however since been caught and is destined for a life in a wildlife park in Exminster, Devon.

Is this the Macarthur Panther?

Right on cue we have our first 'panther' sighting for the colder months in Australia, right from Sydney's south-western fringe. Is this "a ^%$#@! leopard?!" as the bike rider exclaims? It's nigh on impossible to tell - see for yourself - but it's intriguing nonetheless! More information as it comes to hand...

And here's some additional food for thought: in October 2008, two Nattai bushwalkers discovered large paw prints in the Burragorang Valley they believed could belong to the Macarthur panther.

Photographed in September 2008 by Gavin Noakes and friend Rick Inskip - and later submitted to their local paper, the Macarthur Chronicle - the paw prints measured 12cm to 15cm wide, a “bit larger than a man’s fist”.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Driver spots Yowie near Grafton, NSW

Jeez, we put up a post about what Yowies look like and, bugger me, a Yowie sighting surfaces!

And now to the sighting...courtesy of the Daily Examiner. The above picture is a blurry track found near the scene - is it a Yowie or perhaps just a big foot?


WHAT'S more than two metres (six foot) tall, solidly built and covered in shaggy hair?

If your answer was “that guy down at the local,” you're probably right but it's also a common description of a mythical Australian creature known as a yowie, a specimen of which has been reportedly spotted near Centenary Dr, north of Grafton.

A Hunter Valley man named Dean, who did not wish to be identified further, thinks he may have caught a glimpse of one of the creatures, a kind of an Australian version of Bigfoot, as he was driving along the section of road in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Dean, whose work sees him driving more than 5000km a week around NSW, was travelling south along the Pacific Hwy, north of Grafton just before 2.30am when he took the Centenary Dr bypass. Shortly after turning into the road he saw something that shook him to the core.

“I reached the top of the hill and I was coming around the sweeping corner to the right when I noticed something a lot larger than a kangaroo in the middle of the road – my headlights weren't on it yet but it was a bright night and I saw what looked like a large person stooped over, with a big overcoat on,” Dean said.

“At the time I thought ‘you silly old thing, what are you doing in the middle of the road at this time of the morning', but next thing I knew my headlights started to light it up and it took one giant step off the road, it went from standing up like a person to going down on all fours and then it disappeared into the scrub in about three bounds.”

Dean, who is used to night-driving and fatigue management, slowed down and was looking into the scrub for the creature and said he saw it silhouetted against the sky.

“It had an almost sort of a square, shaggy block head sitting straight on its shoulders – I'm a pretty big guy but it made me absolutely awe-struck how huge its body was – it had its arm up against a tree and it had about a foot of hair hanging from under its biceps.”

He estimated the creature to be at least two metres tall and covered in what looked like jet-black hair.

Dean said he had no idea what to think until he described the incident to colleagues later who said it was similar to yowie-sighting stories they'd heard in their travels.

Since then Dean said he had been researching ... to rationally explain what he saw but has yet to find a satisfactory answer.

“Anybody who knows me knows I'm the ultimate realist but this was an awe-inspiring moment, it's definitely made me a believer,” Dean said.

During his search for answers however, Dean came across the website of Australian yowie researcher, Paul Cropper who was very interested in his story.

Mr Cropper, who has also co-written a book on yowies, said Dean's story wasn't unusual.

“In our book we recorded around 350 reports going back to the late 1700s, early 1800s, but I imagine there's a lot more than that which don't ever reach the media – people have these experiences and then just keep it to themselves,” Mr Cropper said.

Theories abound as to what yowies could be, including an unknown species of ape or even an undiscovered close relative to homo sapiens, he said.

“One thing you can say with absolute certainty is that Aborigines and Europeans have been recording these things for a long time – the Aboriginal stories go back to the Dreamtime and the European stories go back to basically the first settlement ... there's just this consistent thread of stories up until Tuesday morning,” he said.

Anyone in the Clarence Valley who has had a similar experience can contact Mr Cropper, in confidence, via email on

What does the Yowie really look like?

Just what does a Yowie look like? It is commonly described as 'ape-like', but sports many other attributes according to witnesses.

Some report the creature has "glowing red eyes" like the picture above, created by Australian artist Sharaya Brooks, and that it moves with supernatural speed. 

Some people believe tales of the Yowie paint the creature as more faerie-like than fierce physical beast.

Aboriginal lore does support the existence of 'little people’ (of a small, hairy variety) in Australia – the yuuri (pronounced 'yawri’, not unlike Yowie) or 'brown jack’, which fulfil a similar role to that of European elves and leprechauns, guarding certain places, granting favours and playing tricks on people.

Early colonial encounters describe the creature as "gorilla-like"with black hair, or "half baboon half man". The animal regularly startled white settlers, spooked indigenous people and frightened horses and livestock.

Other descriptions refer to the Yowie as a monster - a "big hairy thing", "man like" and hulking - ranging in size from 4ft-10ft in height - with shaggy, woolly hair.

"Like a huge man with hair all over it" with an "ugly and hairy" face, according to one witness whose horse was frightened by the creature.

One thing many witnesses agree on is the smell the creature exudes - like "something dead", rancid, stinking, a "burnt bakelite smell", and like "something electrical".

"It was like an elephant on two legs wearing size 20 boots," Blue Mountains resident Neil Frost would later describe the ape-like creature he encountered in thick bush near his backyard to local police.

His neighbour Ian described the monster as "7ft [2m] tall, two of me in build. I weigh 100kg [16st], so we’re looking at a creature at least three times my body mass. It was big. It ran sort of like a person, but not quite. There was something odd in its gait... It was a big hairy beastie."

An article from 1842 reads: "The natives of Australia...believe in...[the]Yahoo...This being they describe as resembling a man...of nearly the same height,...with long white hair hanging down from the head over the features...the arms as extraordinarily long, furnished at the extremities with great talons, and the feet turned backwards, so that, on flying from man, the imprint of the foot appears as if the being had travelled in the opposite direction. Altogether, they describe it as a hideous monster of an unearthy character and ape-like appearance."

In an article entitled “Australian Apes” appearing in the 1880s, a Mr. H. J. McCooey, claimed to have seen an "indigenous ape" on the south coast of New South Wales: "A few days ago I saw one of these strange creatures…on the coast between Bateman’s Bay and Ulladulla… I should think that if it were standing perfectly upright it would be nearly 5 feet high. 

"It was tailless and covered with very long black hair, which was of a dirty red or snuff-colour about the throat and breast. Its eyes, which were small and restless, were partly hidden by matted hair that covered its head… I threw a stone at the animal, whereupon it immediately rushed off…”

Kilcoy claims to be the home of the mythical Yowie, Australia's equivalent of Bigfoot or the Yeti, which is said to live in the hills around Kilcoy. There is a large wooden statue of the creature in town (above and below) that looks more man than ape.

Some local boys saw the creature, which they said was three metres tall and "smelled of sulphur".

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Spider bites on the rise

There has been a spike in the number of cases of people being bitten by redback spiders in the Hunter region this year.

Toxicologist at Newcastle's Mater Hospital, Geoff Isbister says funnelweb spider bites are fairly stable with only a handful of reported bites across Sydney and Newcastle this year.

But Doctor Isbister says this year is the worst he has seen for redback spider bites in a long time.

"We're running a trial and we've recruited more patients at the Mater than we have ever," he said.

"So we would have seen 10 cases that required antivenom and treatment here, and you can multiply that by, twice as many that didn't need treatment and we know some people get bitten and don't turn up to hospital.

"We would have seen over 100 (people bitten) in the Hunter region."

Monday, 16 May 2011

Meet the Cryptozoologist: David Hatcher Childress

How did you first get involved in researching strange and mysterious creatures?
I became interested in this stuff in High School, back in the early 70s. I read books about bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster and even had my local bookstore in Missoula, Montana specially order from me a copy of Bernard Heuvelmanns' classic book ON THE TRACK OF UNKNOWN ANIMALS.
What were some of the early influences in your life?
I was influenced by Hevelmanns and Ivan T. Sanderson, as well as by Erich von Daniken, Charles Berlitz, Andrew Tomas, Robert Charroux and other authors. I have a huge collection of books on cryptozoology and strange archeology, including lots of pulp paperbacks from the era.
Have you personally seen one of these creatures?
While I have participated in various Yeti and Bigfoot expeditions, and been to Loch Ness several times, I have not had any personal encounters as of yet.
What creatures particularly interest you?
I am fascinated by the giant snakes and stories of living dinosaurs... plus tales of living pterosaurs, the chupacabras, as well as bigfoot and skunk apes.
What cryptids are most likely to exist in your opinion?
I think that giant snakes, bigfoot and skunk apes are all genuine cryptids. Stories of Thunderbirds and living pterosaurs seem genuine, as well as the lake monsters and sea serpents... all very real.
What’s your favourite?
I suppose the stories of Thunderbirds and other flying cryptids are my favorite.
What’s your favourite Australian cryptid?
I would have to say the tales of the bunyip.
Have you developed any theories around where the more unusual...
I tend to think that these are real flesh and blood animals that live in remote places and are keep well away from humans for the most part. The world is really barely explored and there are lots of remote areas where shy animals can hide... not to mention the vast seas in which to live.
Check out David’s magazine, World Explorer at:


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