Yowie reports are strange, but sometimes they can get weird. Really weird.
In September 2006, Tony Healy and I were placing the finishing touches to ‘The Yowie’, our second book on Australian cryptozoology. We’d selected the cover, a brilliant piece by Indigenous artist Dick Roughsey, and we were busy organising the U.S and local editions.
While we were hard at work, so were the Yowies.
The Megalong Valley is a small rural community in the Blue Mountains of NSW. In late September, 2006, Catherine Bolton and her friend Sarah Baikie experienced repeated close encounters with a juvenile yowie – or perhaps what Aboriginal people refer to as a junjudee – while on ride at the Werriberri Trail Rides (now closed). I interviewed both Catherine and Sarah a few days after their experience.
“I’m a pretty experienced rider. There was me, my husband Brendan, Sarah, another girl we didn’t know, and the trail guide (from Werriberri Trail Rides). We started about 1:15 PM.
“We were about 5 to 10 minutes into the ride; the others were 20 to 30 metres ahead when my horse stopped and refused to move. He was sniffing the air and turning around trying to bite me [so] I knew something was wrong. Then I smelt, like, salty blood – a real foul stench – and I looked around to my left and it was right there!
“It looked sort of like a monkey, but more human – a lot smaller than a person – about four foot. It was solid – square shoulders … pretty much like a square block. Very hairy: dark brown, all tangled, like a shaggy dog that hadn’t been washed for a while, and mud all over it … long hair everywhere. I had no idea what I was looking at – I pretty much crapped my pants!
“It had a pushed-in nose. I distinctly remember two canine teeth out the front, outside the lip. I couldn’t see ears because the long hair covered them. I saw eyes, but not distinctly.
“I seen arms, and I only seen three fingers, but there could have been more, because it had something in its hand – something like a dead kangaroo, but smaller. There was [raw] flesh, like whatever it was holding was skinned – like it was inside out.
“The bush was quite open [at that point]. He was 10, 15 metres away, if that. I was looking down at it and could see right down to its feet – I could see everything. The legs were long, but he only had three claws on his feet. It just stood there and looked at me, that’s why I didn’t want to move. It seemed like for ever that I was watching him, but it was only two or three minutes, if that.
“I kept kicking the horse and held on tight, and it took the track pretty quick.”
As her horse began to overtake the others, Catherine could still smell the strange creature, and, although she could no longer see it, “I felt like it was watching me. I held on for dear life and caught up with the others, then all of a sudden we heard the sound of a branch breaking behind us.”
As her horse attempted to pass the others, Catherine fell off, still holding the reins, and pulled the horse down. The trail guide asked her if she’d like to go back to the stables, “But I said no – I didn’t want to wreck their day. Then, about another half hour further along … I was freaked the whole time – I kept smelling the foul smell. Brendan also smelt it then.”
As they proceeded, her friend Sarah was just ahead of Catherine, and Brendan ahead of Sarah. “Then it [the creature] moved past us and Sarah said ‘What the f*** was that?’ And I caught a glimpse of the back of it [as it ran beside the trial] and my horse took off, flew past the other two horses and I hit a tree with my shoulder, came off and hit the ground really bad.
This time Catherine was seriously injured: she had abrasions on her right forearm and hip, fractured right collarbone, two fractured ribs, bruised legs and swollen ankles. “I was in pain, bad. My horse ran off and I was taken back to the stables on Brendan’s horse and he drove me to Katoomba Hospital.”
My interviews with Catherine are below:
Catherine’s friend Sarah Baikie fully corroborated her story.
“Before I saw it, I smelt something like dried blood … sweat, sort of … then something moved … I heard a little scuffling in the bush and then I seen it [to her right]. It looked like a monkey … an ape sort of thing … hairy.
“There were trees and rocks and little bushes here and there [so she saw only the head, shoulders and upper chest]. It just popped out, and just stared at me and then it just ran. And I went, ‘Whoa!’ And Cate said, ‘Did you see that?’ And I said, ‘Yeah – what the f*** is it?’”
“It wasn’t big or small [about four feet tall]. A browny, blackey colour … all long, scruffy hair. Half human, I reckon, by the looks of it – all hairy, but human -looking. I focused on the eyes and the mouth. Mouth sort of half open. You couldn’t miss the teeth – they were about an inch long, over the lip.
“It’s like it was trying to target us. I was kicking my horse – I just wanted to get out of there! It’s like, ‘Is this thing is gonna eat me? I better get out of here! My adrenaline went … I could have run faster than the horse!”
On her release from hospital Catherine phoned Werriberri camp to ask after her horse:
“It had come back all shaken up and had to be rested. The owner said this had only happened once before – about seven or eight years ago [c.1998/99] when a group of very experienced riders had come back, all as white as ghosts. They’d seen the same thing and smelt the same thing.”
All well and good – a multiple witness report in an area with a long history of sightings.
Now here’s where things get…weird.
As I mentioned earlier, just before the Bolton sighting, Tony and I had settled on artwork for the cover of the Yowie; Dick Roughsey’s painting of Turramulli, the giant Quinkin of aboriginal legend, from his book with Percy Trezise ‘Turramulli the Giant Quinkin’ (1988 Gareth Stevens Publications). It’s reproduced below.
Now, please note that Dick’s painting from our cover – and the Bolton/Baikie sighting – both featured:
– a hairy creature with fangs that overlap its lips
– holding a dead kangaroo in its hand
– the hands have three fingers or claws
– the feet have three toes or claws
At the time of the sighting, there were no copies of our book in circulation and only a handful of people knew about our upcoming publication. No-one had seen the cover idea. It seems a mighty strange coincidence that weeks before we launched ‘The Yowie’, we received a report that appeared to mirror the cover of our new book. A report with elements that we haven’t seen in many other Yowie cases.
Makes you wonder…