Yowies on the escarpment

•April 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This story is dedicated to Alex G. Thank you for following the blog and inspiring me to rediscover my passion.

I am a firm believer in unexplainable creatures. I admit, I believe that the Thylacine is alive and well in Tasmania. I believe in ghosts, And honestly, I believe in yowies.

A yowie is described as the equivalent of an Australian Bigfoot. There are said to be two different types of yowies: one that stands 6-10ft high, and the second stands at 4-5ft. Both species are described as resembling a fully grown man covered in coarse, brown fur.

When white settlers arrived in Australia and first began interaction with Indigenous people, they were told of a ‘hairy ape man’ who lived in the forest. In 1790 the first official sighting by a white man was recorded.

In a time with few means of communication, these sightings still spread like wildfire. Soon, every door was bolted, with people terrified that the yowie could come to their home and eat their children. Strange sounds and smells drifted through the windows at night, and people snuggled deeper into their beds, hoping that they would not be taken.

This is easy to imagine in the 1700s and 1800s. Superstition was rife.

So why is it that today, in the age of technology, science and scepticism, that there are still so many yowie sightings? And from upstanding members of the community too. I don’t know about you, but when a scientist tells me they believe something is out there, I take it a little more seriously than I would from Rob down at the pub.

So what do we “know” about yowies? Apparently they are omnivorous, happily scavenging road kill or rifling through garbage if need be. But they will also eat fruits and vegetables; as well as make off with a plump chicken or rabbit if they can catch it. Most yowie sightings occur near water, which makes sense as it is an obvious place to obtain food and water. According to experts, they differ in personality, just like humans do: some are placid and others violent.

If I wanted to, I could write for a year about yowie sightings in Australia. There have been so many. But as we are Forgotten Illawarra, I thought we could concentrate on those in our own backyard. Our yowie sightings take place in beautiful Helensburgh.

Yowie

Matt and his friend were hiking in the Royal National Park, when they took a wrong turn and ended up at a dead end. While discussing what to do next, they suddenly heard a huge commotion from the bush next to them. Matt said it sounded as though they had awoken something. As they watched in disbelief,  a huge creature approximately 8ft tall came galloping out of the bush and ran down the path. Despite the creature’s huge build, easily weighing over 300 kg, and its covering of coarse brown fur “like a grizzly bear”, the two decided to follow it. They tracked it to a large patch of lantana, which had a tunnel leading into it. Wisely, the boys decided not to follow the creature in. Astonishingly, they decided to return the next day.

For the first couple of days, the pair chased the creature, trying to get a better look. The creature thrashed about, always running from them, apparently afraid.

On the third day, they tried to sneak up on the creature, but felt it was trying to warn them away, emitting loud thumps whenever they came near. So they tried a different tactic.

A few days later they left it an assortment of food – fruit, vegetables, raw meat. When they returned, everything was eaten expect for the lettuce and snow peas. Next they took a live chicken, which ended violently for the chicken.

This was where the account ends, except to add that “I’m surprised how close to civilisation this thing is living.”

 

There are also several accounts of yowie sightings at both Mount Keira and Mount Kembla.

One Mt. Kembla account tells of a young man and his wife who witnessed a creature 4-5ft in height with glowing red eyes. Another states that the creature who appeared behind him gave off a “horrible smell… like when your dog rolls in something.” Yet another describes seeing a creature “easily over 2 metres tall”. These are incredible stories,  and I do encourage you to Yowie Hunters and read a few accounts for yourself.

As an avid bush walker, I must admit that this particular topic has rattled me a bit. I will be sticking to broad daylight walks for a while.

 

UPDATE

Believe it or not, the day after I wrote this I got talking to a woman who swore up and down she had seen a yowie in Mount Kembla in 2001.

Brenda states that she often used to go bush walking in Mount Kembla to escape her highly stressful job. On the morning in question, she was walking her kelpie, Sam, when Sam suddenly slunk low to the ground and started whimpering. As it was about 6pm and starting to get dark, Brenda became a little nervous. She decided it was time for her and Sam to make a quick dash for home. Brenda coaxed Sam back to his feet, tightened his lead and turned around, walking briskly. She was about 25 minutes away from home.

About 5 minutes into the walk, she noticed Sam was shaking. And once she paid attention, she realised she could hear branches cracking behind her. Like something was following them at a distance. Brenda turned around and screamed “I know you’re there! Stop following me!” The cracking stopped, and she saw a large shadow dart quickly into the bushes. At this point, Sam howled and pulled the lead out of Brenda’s hand, racing into the bush. Brenda chased him, but quickly lost the frightened dog. Crying and screaming for Sam, Brenda turned back to the path and that was when she finally saw what had been following her.

“He was about 6ft tall I think.. About the same height as a guy from work. But BIG. I have never seen shoulders like that.. and such a small head too. It was hairy, and it smelled so bad.. like eggs and urine. I’ve never been so scared, I just froze, you know?”

Brenda and the creature stared at each other for a moment. The creature started to take a step forward, at which point Brenda raised her hands and begged “No!” The creature stopped, and rumbled deep in it’s throat, before lowering its head and lumbering back into the bush.

As soon as it disappeared, Brenda ran back onto the path and headed for home as quickly as she could. As she ran, she kept calling out for Sam, but there was no sign of him.

She arrived home, terrified, shaking and crying. But also curious. What had she seen? Why hadn’t it attacked? It was certainly close enough to catch her.

Brenda still goes bushwalking in that area, but never close to dusk. I asked her whether she had ever seen anything like that again, to which she replied “No. But I do sometimes smell it. I would never mistake that for anything else.”

And what of Sam, Brenda’s beloved kelpie?

He turned up at the Unanderra RSPCA two weeks later. He was dirty, his collar was missing, he was extremely fat, and he absolutely stank of rotten eggs and urine…

Breaking – Arrest made in Cheryl Grimmer Case

•March 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Followers – as you know, the disappearance of Cheryl Grimmer was a story that shook me to my core. Of all of the posts I have ever done, I found this particularly tragic. I am so relieved that the family has closure, and that justice for Cheryl will finally come to pass.

The below story is taken from the Illawarra Mercury. I can not write anything further, so forgive the copy and paste.

Rest in Peace Cheryl.

 

A man will be extradited to NSW and charged with abduction and murder almost 50 years after a three-year-old girl disappeared from a beach in Wollongong, in one of the state’s most notorious cold cases.

Cheryl Grimmer (original story found here https://forgottenillawarra.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/the-disappearance-of-cheryl-grimmer/) disappeared from Fairy Meadow Beach on January 12, 1970, when she went to the surf club change rooms with her brothers after a swim.

A coronial inquest into her disappearance in May 2011 found she died some time after she disappeared, from an unknown cause.

Her body has never been found, despite a $100,000 reward on offer for information leading to the person responsible.

On Thursday, police announced a 63-year-old man had been arrested over her abduction, in a “major breakthrough”.

NSW Police detectives arrested the man in the Melbourne suburb of Frankston at 1pm on Wednesday, and successfully applied in Frankston Magistrates Court to have him extradited to NSW.

Police said the man will be taken to Wollongong Police Station on Thursday, where he will be charged with Murder and Detain for Advantage (abduction).

Police and volunteers search for Cheryl Grimmer. Picture taken January 13, 1970. Picture: JOHN ELLIOTT

Police and volunteers search for Cheryl Grimmer. Picture taken January 13, 1970. Picture: JOHN ELLIOTT

He is expected to face Wollongong Local Court on Friday.

The initial investigation in 1970 sparked a manhunt, with detectives speaking to more than 300 people. However, the trail eventually ran cold.

Cheryl’s parents died without knowing what happened to their daughter.

In 2016, police announced they had a new lead, after three other children who were on Fairy Meadow Beach that day said they saw a teenager “loitering” near the surf club pavilion.

Announcing the breakthrough, Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth said the person of interest would now be in his early 60s.

The military join police in the search for Cheryl Grimmer on January 15, 1970. Picture: JOHN ELLIOTT

The military join police in the search for Cheryl Grimmer on January 15, 1970. Picture: JOHN ELLIOTT

He was described as being 16 or 17 at the time, 180cm tall, with fair skin, a medium build, brown hair and blue eyes.

“He was seen here in the morning and the afternoon,” Detective Inspector Ainsworth said.

“This male person has been described and included in these witness versions. We’re appealing for anyone with information about the identity of this person [to come forward].”

Local detectives and officers from the State Crime Command’s Unsolved Homicide Team formed Strike Force Wessel to re-investigate the case.

In January, police asked the public for help to locate former staff and residents of Mount Penang Training School, on the NSW Central Coast.

They believed someone “associated with the Mount Penang boys’ home in that era might have valuable details about the case”.

The last dance

•January 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment

On June 11 1966, vivacious 20 year old Carolyn Orphin of Gipps Street, Wollongong, went out for a night of dancing.

It was during this fateful night that Carolyn met 21 year old Alan Bassett, a fitter and turner from Graham Street, Unanderra.

alan-bassett

Alan Bassett

 

The pair enjoyed a night of dancing, and hit it off immediately. It was for this reason that Carolyn saw no reason to reject Bassett’s offer of a lift back to her Wollongong home. She happily bounced into his car, and settled in for the drive home. But sadly, she never made it that far.

Instead of taking her home, Bassett instead drove the pair to Mt. Ousley and attacked Carolyn. He tied her hands behind her back with a pair of nylon stockings, and brutally raped her. At some point during the attack, perhaps to silence her, he tightly wound a second pair of stockings and a sanitary belt around the frightened girls throat.

When he had finished, Bassett dragged Carolyn out of the car, dumping her bruised and battered body on the ground at Mt. Ousley Bypass Road. It was here that Bassett found a large rock, and proceeded to crush Carolyn’s head with it.

At 6.45am the next morning, a couple passing by saw what they thought was a dressmaker’s dummy on the side of the road. Upon stopping to investigate, they discovered Carolyn Orphin – naked, still bound with the stockings and bleeding from a horrific head wound. It would later be revealed that it was the fractured skull and brain injury that finally took her life.

Bassett was quickly arrested, largely due to the sheer number of witnesses who saw the pair leaving together, but during the trial Bassett pleaded not guilty claiming “I don’t think it’s outright murder… something came over me and I can’t really describe things.” He instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Justice Collins stated that the jury would have little difficulty in deciding whether Bassett was responsible for the girl’s death as the definition of murder “reckless indifference to human life” clearly applied in this situation. Bassett was sentenced to life in prison, of which he served 29 years mostly served in the Morriset Psychiactric Hospital.

In 1975, Bassett was treated as a suspect for the infamous Wanda Beach murders (1965) after depicting the scene in a painting, including blood trails and a knife, but was ultimately never convicted. As well as this murder, Detective Cec Johnson was convinced that Bassett was responsible for the murder of Wilhelmina Kruger in Wollongong, 1966, but was unable to prove the connection. (For more information, please see ‘The Piccadilly Murder’ https://forgottenillawarra.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/the-piccadilly-murder/).

In 1995, Bassett was released. He has since offered DNA samples to clear his name, but whether this lead to him being cleared or not has never been publicised.

 

 

 

An inhumane ending

•December 28, 2016 • 1 Comment

A word of warning – this story contains a graphic description of the death of a newborn baby girl. Please read at your own discretion.

Before the invention of contraceptives in a time rampant with religious and social stigma, a baby was found abandoned in a Wollongong paddock the discovery of which caused shock waves of anger and public outrage throughout the community. But after reading Sarah’s story, you may find yourself torn with who to blame. A desperate and terrified woman or the community that would have in all likelihood ostracised her, her family and the new baby they tried so hard to save?

In 1849 Sarah Ann Taylor was married to 25 year old Richard Saddler in Adelaide, South Australia when she was just 15 years old. Less then a year later, a son they named William was born on the 10th of September, 1850. But the couple’s first child would sadly remain their only surviving one as over the next ten years, five Saddler children were born but all died. The grief and pain of losing just one child would have it’s effects on a relationship but the loss of five presumably all but destroyed it.

By the year 1960, Richard had been living and working away from his family in Port Curtis for over 2 years whilst Sarah and her 10 year old son lived with her mother and stepfather at their Wollongong home. Rumours had been circulating around the small community for sometime regarding Sarah’s growing figure and most locals suspected that the woman who was estranged from her husband was pregnant.

On the 17th of January, only moments before she left the home in the early stages of labor, Sarah denied accusations from her step-father that she was pregnant and reluctantly agreed to see a doctor at a later date upon his urging. One has to wonder what panicked thoughts ran through the 24 year old mother’s head as she tried to slip out of the house unnoticed most likely realising she needed to find somewhere secret to give birth. She chose the scrub of a nearby paddock, one of two owned by a Mr. Wiltshire, which was only a short distance from the road and tramway.

There, in a clump of small trees, Sarah gave birth to a healthy little girl. After already losing five children to death, it must not have been an easy decision for Sarah to leave her helpless baby to die. But before she did, she stuffed pieces of a torn handkerchief into her daughter’s mouth presumably so that the baby would remain undiscovered and that it might lead to a quicker and thus kinder death. Whilst some may consider this act cruel and cold others may see it a skewed act of mercy in the eyes of a woman who was terrified of the shame and consequences of the child’s birth.

But in a community where everyone is on the watch for something to talk about, nothing goes unnoticed. Unbeknownst to Sarah, two of her neighbours- Mrs. Brough and Mrs. Baxter, saw her enter the scrub near the paddock. On her return sometime later, they watched as she stumbled weak, distressed and covered in blood towards her parent’s home where she was quickly assisted inside by her mother, Rosanna Eason.

The neighbourhood women were joined by a third, Mrs. Burril, and together the trio investigated the paddock where their suspicions were confirmed when they found part of an umbilical chord in a large pool of blood. But instead of engaging in the next logical step which might be to look for a newborn, the women left the scene and reported the incident. A search for the infant did not take place until the next day, almost 24 hours later during which time the defenceless child was left exposed to a series of severe thunderstorms and shockingly, suffered agonising and tortuous pain as she was slowly eaten alive by ants. The mercy of death may have taken place sooner if not for the rain washing the handkerchief from the babe’s mouth therefore prolonging it’s life.

The newborn girl was found nestled beneath some leaves, 150 yards away from the bloodied patch of grass the local women had first stumbled across. She had suffered horrific mutilation with not an inch of skin left uncovered by ants which were coming in and out of the her eyes, nose, mouth and ears. If this punishment was not severe enough, there were maggots were crawling out of the left ear. Found with part of the umbilical chord attached, the newborn still showed faint signs of life but was in an insurmountable amount of pain.

When police visited Sarah to charge her they allowed her to remain at home in the custody of her parents and during this time, after learning her daughter was alive, she repeatedly begged that she be allowed to care for the baby and was quoted as saying she would ‘own it and bring it up’. Her pleas and requests were ignored and instead her daughter was taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Burril where she was cared for by Mrs. Burril and other local women until her death three hours later. The poor infant was reported to have been inconsolable, never stopped crying and died in terrible agony.

During this time Police interviewed Sarah’s parents and it soon came to light that Sarah’s mother had attempted to deceive her husband, Thomas, after a suspicious substance was found near the kitchen door shortly after Sarah returned from the paddock to which he buried at her mother’s suggestion. The spot was dug up and what was found was confirmed to be placenta/after birth matter. Based on this fact, Rosanna Eason was detained and charged alongside her daughter as an accessory to the murder.

An inquiry into the death was commenced two days later on the 20th of January with Sarah and Rosanna present in custody of suspicion of the charges against them. The body of the deceased child was presented to the court the sight of which was so horrifying and disturbing that the matter was adjourned til the following day.

On the 21st evidence was taken from Thomas Eason who reported that after finding the afterbirth outside the home, his wife explained the substance by saying it was the result of false conception- an abnormal conception in which a mole, or misshapen fleshy mass, is produced instead of a properly organised foetus and encouraged him to bury it which he did. The evidence of Dr. Lambert, Mrs. Borough, Mrs. Baxter. Mrs. Burrell and the investigating officer were also taken. Sarah was described as delicate almost lady-like in appearance but her step-father stated she had been of flighty disposition since girlhood. Other witnesses described a girl subject to fits of ‘mental aberrations’ or that she was ‘mentally weak’.

A jury took only half an hour to declare the cause of the death of Sarah’s unnamed baby was exposure and neglect and that Rosanna Eason was an accessory after the fact. Although Rosanna passionately protested the charge and knowledge of her daughter’s pregnancy, Sarah accepted her fate quietly.

Sarah and Rosanna were found committed under the Coroner’s warrant and detained at Darlinghurst Gaol to await trial and sentencing at a later date. However, In February the mother and daughter were cleared of all charges and released from custody.

Sarah died in Newcastle at the age of 65 in 1895. Her son William died only three years later at the age of 47 but through him and his children, there are many Saddler descendants.

Sources: Empire. Ancestry.com. Examiner. The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser.

Thank you to Amy Rose of Secrets of the Illawarra for this heartbreaking story

https://www.facebook.com/groups/secretsillawarrasurrounds/

The Hippy Babysitter

•December 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This story takes place in Wollongong. Sharon and Dave have a beautiful baby girl named Angie. Sharon was an exceptionally protective mother, and refused to leave Angie with any family, friends or babysitter. However, when Angie was about 5 months old, Dave convinced Sharon that they desperately needed a night out together – without the baby.

Sharon agreed and rang her mother, who was at an IPAC performance that night. They rang Dave’s sister, but she was on holidays in Brisbane. Finally, Sharon agreed that Angie would be fine with a babysitter, and rang an agency.

At 6pm there was a knock at the door, and a young woman stood there. She had blonde dreadlocks, facial piercings and bare feet. “G’day” she said, “I’m here to babysit Angie!”

Sharon, understandably, freaked out. And gave Dave a very obvious ‘this isn’t happening’ look. But as Dave pointed out, reservations were made. And they were only gone for a few hours. Angie would be fine.

Sharon relented, and handed Angie over to the babysitter.

Well, Sharon and Dave went out to dinner, and had a lovely evening. But as they were headed out for ice cream, Sharon decided to check her phone. There was a very odd sounding voicemail from the babysitter, saying that she had smoked a different kind of weed and felt really funny. Plus, was there any food in the house? She was starving.

At this, Sharon put her foot down, and Dave agreed it was time to go home.

When they arrived home, the babysitter greeted them at the door “Oh hey.. I’m real sorry about that weird message. I didn’t mean to freak you out. Everything’s okay now! I was just really hungry, but I found that turkey in the freezer and put it in the oven. It should be ready any minute.”

Sharon gasped and ran into the house. Dave collapsed to his knees as he heard Sharon scream.

They never had a turkey in the freezer.

 

The Gorilla in Dapto

•December 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Sorry for the huge delay in my stories. I am trying very hard to get back into the swing of writing, and am struggling a bit to find stories that interest me.

I have decided to start looking into creature sightings in the Illawarra. We have plenty to choose from. Crocodiles in sewers, bunyips, yowies and of course – the Illawarra panther.

I know this particular story is a bit tongue in cheek, but I couldn’t not include it. It originally appeared in the Australian Town and Country Journal in April 1871. It involves an old sailor recounting his experience of meeting a Gorilla in Dapto – and enjoying a civilised conversation with it.

Enjoy.

 

“I have kept my secret for many years, and I doubt if it would have ever been divulged, for reasons I will give before I finish this paper, had it not been for the confirmation of my experience contained in several paragraphs in the Evening News during the last week or two about the Curl Curl monster and the Illawara gorilla. The paragraph respecting the latter said “A supposed Gorilla,” and that “supposed” has set me in motion… There is generally too strong a disposition to ridicule anything unusual, and frightened people are only too ready to believe what they will call supernatural. Now, I do not believe in the supernatural, and if I had been at Curl Curl the other day, I have the impudence to believe that I could have turned that nondescript monster to account, and with sufficient help I would have had the fellow in a caravan by this time, and knocked out something decent. But I have to tell you about the Illawarra gorilla, and I might as well drop into it first as last.

It was about twenty years ago, when Sydney was a very different place to what it is now, and there was fun to be had before the town became busy and bustling, that I was on board the little surveying craft called the Alligator. That wasn’t her name, you see, but I don’t want to be identified, although my name is well-known to Mr. Editor, who has given place to not a few of my old colonial yarns. Well, let’s call her the Alligator–that name will do as well as anyother for my purpose–and, as I was saying, surveying was our game, and a rare game it was–like a pleasure trip, and very few questions asked.

One night, after a pretty long spell in Farm Cove, we dropped out of the harbour, going south, and next morning, for some purpose or other unknown to us, we went into Wollongong, and a few of us got liberty for a run ashore to explore the beauties of the country round about. You may well suppose that we had a freshener in the town before we strayed into the bush away beyond Dapto, and there we came across a fellow doing nothing, so far as I could judge ; but he seemed a decontish chap in his way, and we soon discovered that he had some strongish stuff upon which the Customs gaugers had never set their mark ; and we wont in pretty deep for it, until at length we proceeded on our way, singing “Rule Britannia,” “Hearts of Oak,” and such like, getting well away into the bush. I began to feel independent of the Admiralty and all its works ; the trees began to waltz, and the crisp pure air had such an effect upon me that I tried to join in the fun, until I caught my foot in the stump of a grass tree, and down I went. Luckily, the bottle in which I had taken a pint, or thereabouts, of the real dew of the valley, was not broken, and although I was prostrated by circumstances beyond control, I took another wet and soon forgot my troubles. “O’er all the ills of life victorious.”

How long I slept I don’t well know, but when I woke up the trees were all as quiet and orderly as possible, and the shades of evening were commencing to close in. I was comfortably ensconced among some long soft grass, and above me, through the chinks of the trees that arched and met overhead, I could see that the sun was pretty well down, and left only a red reflection on the now rather dusky thicket about me. I am not naturally disposed to fear, but that evening I felt rather strange-like, and by no means clear in the think. The preoious stumps, some charred and others split into queer fantastic shapes, took forms in my imagination, and here I saw two desperate ruffians holding an unfortunate down ; and there seemed to see a beautiful young girl kneeling before a tomb. Of course it was all a delusion, but some of the delusions were pleasant, and others rather uncomfortable. I have often pictured the same kind of thing in the Australian bush, but I never saw those illusions so complete as upon the occasion I am referring to, and never in any other country, do what I would to conjure them up. I tried to calculate how far I could be away from the beach, and was rather uneasy about my leave. I was so fogged that I couldn’t even make out the lay of the place, and there I was lost as certainly as though I had been 500 miles away in the country. I shouted, coooyed and made myself hoarse, and the only reply I got was the soft twitters from a few disturbed birds, followed by that peculiar crackling of the trees only noticed by fellows who are out in the bush at night alone for the first time. Left alone in the quiet, I thought of many matters I had up to that time forgotten ; and I verily believe I was disposed to say my prayers that night– honestly, humbly and heartily–as I did when a child at my mother’s knee ; and I fell to thinking about my mother and my boyish days, and the loneliness seemed to do me good. I did not care much about the stuff in the bottle, but took a good pull from a little stream near at hand, using my old wide-awake as a goblet. It was getting rightdown dark now, and all I could see above me was the glorious stars shining out as they only do shine in an Australian sky. I had no weapon of any kind about me, but this did not trouble me, because I had heard that no animals of a ferocious nature were to be dreaded in Australia.

I trudged on without purpose, every footfall proclaiming to me that I was alone, and every step I took seemed to din the fact into my ears. The bush was getting thicker ; the giant trees were now more crowded, and the festoons of lovely vines draping the trunks of these forest monsters added to the frowning look they seemed to fasten upon me for my rashness in invading their solitude. In nautical language, I brought to–what use could there be in going on. I was in for it for that night, and all I could do was to wait for morning ; but sleep was quite out of the question, the snooze I had in the afternoon had settled that. The only solace I could master was a chew of tobacco, so I took a bite and began to think again of all the things I didn’t want to think about, when all at once I saw two distinct lights, near to each other approaching towards me. The lights were so close to each other, that they could hardly be anything so common as a lantern, and besides, although they were always close to each other, they appeared to sway irregularly from side to side. On came the lights, and I began to congratulate myself that at last deliverance was at hand, and I gave a loud cooey which brought what ever it was to a dead stand. I gave another, and away they went into the thickest of the bush. I followed, and they receded, and so I went on double quick time, and I gave another shout, answered this time by a most unearthly noise, something between a groan of pain and a yell of defiance, and away went the lights up a big tree.

 

gorilla.jpg

Looking up, I saw–and, oh Lord ! there was the most extraordinary animal in the world surely :–About five feet high, long arms, legs something like mine, but not so handsome, feet about eighteen inches long, long toes covered with long hair, and as much like a gigantic monkey as possible. The begger mouthed at me in a very savage fashion, but so long as he was up the tree I didn’t care much about him, so I thought I’d keep him there. I put my back against the tree, and remembering that savage animals are afraid of the human voice I struck up “Rule Britannia,” much to the disgust of the beast, for he joined chorus in dismal yells and muttering growls. I had just got to the third verse, and was beginning to fancy how I should got on–because I couldn’t well sing all night–I had just got to the chorus of the third verse, in that part where we all agree to “Never, never, never,” when I found myself seized by the hair of my head, of which I always had a good share – of course its hair I mean. Well, as I was saying, just as the last “never” was coming out from my mouth up I went, with no more ceremony than you would show in pulling up a cat by the tail. Up he went and across a branch in no time, sticking me in front of him. I never did like having my hair pulled, so I let drive at him just between the eyes ; but it made no impression on the beast ; he merely passed his paw over the place, and sneezed as coolly as though I had handed him a pinch of Macaboy, and he turned to and pulled my hair again. I was wild, and fisted him until I was nearly off my porch. “Let me alone, you ugly thief,” says I. “No I shan’t,” says he, in tones that terrified me more than anything he had yet done. “No I shan’t.”

“I want to go down,” says I.

“Very well, go down,” says he.

” How can I go down ?” I said.

” The same way as you came up !” he says.

“What,” I says, “by the hair of my head ?” He nodded. “If I do,” says I, “may I be,—–”

” Wait a bit,” says he, “drop it !”

“What,” I says, “eighteen feet?–that’s a drop too much.”

“Oh, all right,” he says, “come on;” and grasping me by the middle, he had me down in no time, and I was on terra firma, wondering what was to follow.

“What are you,” he says, after looking at me very closely, and feeling me all over and examining my clothes with a look of the deepest disgust. “I’m a stranger,” says I.

“Are you what they call a man ?” says he. “I am” said I, “and an Englishman, and I’m proud of it.”

“Are you ?” says he, “then it’s a bad job for you. Whenever I meet a man I always finish him. You’re one of those cunning trap-laying, gun-shooting villains, who are best rooted out and got rid of. Our tribe always kill a man whenever we meet one. You don’t take much killing for all your banging and flashing. Just give their heads a spin or two like this,–so and so–and they’re as dead as door nails.” And the hideous wretch gave my head a half screw round that made my neck creak and made me look over my loft shoulder for a month or two.

“I should have screwed you so as soon as I caught you,” said he, “only you are such a queer looking wretch, that I wanted to get some fun out of you. Is there any fun to be got out of you, eh? If not, you’d better tell me and there’ll be an end of you.”

“Well, sir,” I said, (for I thought it best to butter him up a bit), “the fact is, sir,”–
“Fact !” says he, “fact ! What’s a fact ?”

“Well, sir,” I says, “a fact is something that’s not something else.” He got into a horrible passion, and made a move towards my neck ; but I ducked and he missed me.

“What,” he said, “do you mean to say you would tell me something that is something else. You miserable wretch, is that what you men do !”

“I was only going to ask you what and who you are,” I said, “since this is the first time I have had the pleasure of meeting you.”

“I,” said he, “am a gorilla, and owner of the forest upon which you are now trespassing. This is my garden, I laid it out and I have held it throughout its length and breadth over since it was first planted.”
“Well, sir,” I says, “if I may be so bold as to ask a question. I would like to know one thing.”
“Speak,” said he, with a gracious wave of his paw.

“I hope you won’t be offended.” I said, feeling my sore neck rather tenderly; “but I’ve heard of monkeys, apes, and gentlemen of your sort, but I never heard or read of one talking before.”

“And pray,” said he, in a sneering tone, “did you never hear any rumour as to the reason for that same?”

“Well, sir,” I said, “I can’t deny that I have heard a reason given, and without offence to you, I have heard that monkeys can speak and won’t for fear they might be set to work, but that of course, I know is a mistake, because I have had the honour of hearing you talk.”

“It’s perfectly true,” he said, winking one of his great green eyes in a very cunning manner ; “perfectly true. That’s our great secret, and we always keep it under all circumstances.”

At this I laughed outright. “Well,” I said, “that’s a rum start, you never let out your secret, and yet you’ve blabbed it to me straight away, and we haven’t been together half an hour.”

“And where’s the danger of telling you? ” he said, with a horrible chuckle that went to my marrow. “The secret is as safe with you as with this dead bough.” As he spoke he seized me by the hair of my head with one paw, and putting out the other broke off a limb from a tree, grasping it with as much ease as a school-master would a cane. “You don’t suppose,” said he, “that I should have been fool enough to let out the secret if there was the least chance in the world of it going any further.” And the bare idea tickled him so prodigiously that he fell into a horrible gutteral laugh of such long duration that I began to hope he would have a fit, but he presently recovered.

“It’s many a long day since I had such a laugh as that,” he said, “you are much funnier than the two legged black sort we generally fall in with about here : but there’s more mischief in you, and that’s why we never let you escape. Blabbed my secret did I ? Ho ! ho !” and off he went again as bad as before, roaring over the pleasant joke. All at once he screwed up his ugly mug and let out a yell denoting great pain.

I ventured to ask if he felt at all poorly. “Oh, no,” he said, “it was only those infernal rheumatics.” I ventured to say that I wondered that a gentleman of his experience had not discovered some means of relief, and told him that I was subject to the same disorder and always carried with me a specific, which I would willingly administer if he would give me some information as to the habits and life of his people.

His impatience was very great to have my remedy and his manner became decidedly unpleasant, so much so that I feared he would take effectual means to put me out of the way in order to keep his secret, as he called it. At length he said, “Well if you want to know why I came down upon you I will tell you, not that it will do you any good, because your game’s about played. The truth is, that I took you for a census collector. Those fellows are awfully inquisitive, and we are rather afraid of them, because if they found us they would at once take means to leave their precious papers with us, so whenever we see one we frighten his life out, and you white wretches are afraid to come into the bush, and that makes us pretty safe ; but,” said he, “what about the rheumatics?”

Upon this I produced the bottle, and informed him that it must be taken in very small quantities. He insisted upon my taking some, and he then followed my example. At the first sup he smacked his ugly lips, and water streamed from his eyes, and he had another drop, and another ; he first got regular jolly, and at length grew spitefully inclined. He danced about until he became frantic, and at last fell off the branch on which he had been sitting, drunk as blazes. I was afraid to venture on flight, and waited patiently for some time. At length I felt rather sleepy, and soon dropped off into a sound sleep, from which I awoke when the sun was well up. I looked round for my friend and found that he had decamped, leaving the empty bottle. My head was one large ache, and my neck was stiff and sore. I limped on as well as I was able and at length fell in with a cart track and following it had the satisfaction of once more facing the ocean and seeing the Alligator.

Well, of course, no one believed me, and my leave was stopped. They tried to make out that I had partaken too freely of unexcised spirit, that I had slept in the bush and got a stiff neck. As a proof, they called my attention to the fact that I had finished the bottle I took with me, and then tried to throw the blame on the gorilla. I knew better then, and I know still better now. The gorilla has been again seen at Illawarra, and it’s not quite certain that the Curl-curl monster is not a gentleman of the same kidney. I have no doubt at all that the census collector was the cause of my Illawarra friends re-appearance there. The spot where he was seen, confirmed me in my opinion, and after the report published the other day, I hope my veracity may be henceforth regarded as established.

It is said that Mr. Rixon saw a gorilla at the Cordeaux River some years ago, and the query suggested is, “Where did it come from?” My answer is simply :–At that time the census was being collected. I am the more confirmed in my supposition that there is great fear on the part of the gorillas of being degraded to the level of humanity by the census collectors, from having met with the following paragraph in a Californian paper I received by the last mail, from a friend in San Francisco. I need hardly remind the intelligent readers of this journal that the census was being collected in California in December last, when the following singular confirmation of my story was published there. It is due to the ladies of the gorilla race to say that I was not introduced to them, and saw nothing of them, or of their domestic manners and customs ; probably they are very particular and exclusive, as regards etiquette and social life. I should not, if I were a census collector, like to ask a lady gorilla in the tenets of what religious sect she intended her youngest infant to be trained, or whether any of her family were suffering from an incurable infirmity of temper, or what not. Here is what the Californian paper says about the Californian gorillas :

“It has been rumoured for some time in California that in the mountains at Orestimba Creek are to be seen occasionally either gorillas, or wild men, so devoid of personal attractions that they may fairly be classed as gorillas. A correspondent of the Ledger, writing on the 16th ultimo, gives a description of one of these animals or persons, as the case may be :- ‘It was in the image of a man, but it could not have been human. The creature, whatever it was, stood full five feet high, and disproportionately broad and square, with arms of great length. The legs were very short and the body long. The head was small, and appeared to be set on the shoulders without any neck. The whole body was covered with dark brown and cinnamon coloured hair, that on the head standing in a shock and growing close down the eyes like a Digger Indian’s. As I looked he threw his head back and whistled again, and stooped and grasped a stick from the fire, this he swung round until the fire on the end had gone out, when he repeated the manouvre. Fifteen minutes I watched him as he whistled and scattered my fire about. I could easily have put a bullet through his head, but why should I kill him ? Having amused himself, apparently all he desired with my fire, he started to go, but naving gone a short distance he returned, and was joined by another–a female unmistakably–when they both turned and walked past me, within twenty yards of where I sat, and disappeared in the bush.’

 

Story supplied by Trove.

 

Reaching loved ones from beyond the grave

•July 4, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This is simply a collection of stories people have told me, as well as my own personal experiences, about loved ones reaching out to us after they have gone.

Moira tells the story of her family’s grandfather clock:

“The clock was in the family for years, and stood at the end of the hall – my father’s pride and joy. It never malfunctioned and was in beautiful condition. The day my father died, the clock struck thirteen for the first time ever. Every night we would all cuddle up in bed, just hoping that this time the clock would strike twelve like usual, and every night we were wrong. Eventually my mother decided to have someone come and bless the house. When they did so, they informed my mother “he just wanted to let you know he was alright. He was saying goodbye”. That night the clock struck twelve, as usual. And never again struck thirteen. I know it was just my dad saying goodbye.. but I can’t stand grandfather clocks. I will never have one again.”

 

Lily’s story is quite disturbing and heartbreaking, as ghost stories tend to be.

“I was staying with a friend in the country – a small town in NSW, with my husband and our two children. It was her childhood home that she had inherited when her parents died. It was quite small and isolated, but it was so homey and comfortable. One night we sat up late, talking about old times, and we did have quite a bit to drink. My husband and children went to bed early, but my friend and I stayed up until about 3 in the morning, before we finally stumbled to bed. I got into bed next to my husband, and pulled the blankets up really high and tight – I remember it was a really freezing night. I was just starting to drift off to sleep when I heard little footsteps enter the room, and the blanket pulled back slightly. Assuming it was one of my kids, I lifted up the blankets and said something like “quickly buddy, it’s cold!” I felt them get into bed beside me, and I rolled over to wrap my arms around them to keep them warm – and they were gone. I rolled my eyes, thinking they must have gone back to bed, and frankly a little annoyed that they had woken me up, and I went to sleep.

The next morning, my friend and I were a little worse for wear, and we all sat down to a big cup of coffee, and bacon and eggs. I joked to my kids “hey thanks a lot for the wake up call last night. Not like I was trying to sleep or anything”. They both looked confused and said they had no idea what I was talking about. “You do!” I said “You got into bed and woke me up, then took off!” “Nope, not me” said one. We argued back and forth for a while, before I noticed my friend had gone very still and pale. “Spew time?” I asked, but she just shookm her head and sat down. “Boys, are you sure you didn’t get into your mum’s bed?” she asked. When they promised they hadn’t she turned to me and said “When I was 12, I had a little brother, Toby. He was always a pretty sick child, and when he was 4 years old he got the most terrible flu. When he was so sick, he would climb into bed with me and I would hold him close and try to warm him.. but eventually he went into hospital and never came out again.” I asked her which room had been hers, even though I already knew the answer.

“The one you were sleeping in.”

 

Cassie also has a story about a Grandfather clock.

“Something that happened when I was younger. I was in bed, when I woke up seeing a grandfather clock and an older grey haired lady. I told mum and she said her mum had a big grandfather clock. I never met her – she’d already passed. Mum believed it was my grandmother. My brother saw it too, when he was around the same age. We always believed it was her talking to us. I thought I was dreaming until my brother told me the same story.” Cassie also had the added tragedy of losing her beloved brother at a young age, who both her and her mother often see standing beside them, out of the corner of their eye. Truly a close knit family, who look out for each other for all time.

 

I have my own story to add to this, although it was not my experience but my fathers. My brother was suddenly killed as a young man, understandably breaking my father’s heart. My brother’s name was Colin. Although we do have a few stories of Colin visiting us from the other side (he was an incredibly mischievous man, and everyone in our family often feels visited by a poltergeist – I have no doubt it is Colin keeping us on our toes). On this particular instance, my parents and I went to the giant bird aviary at Canberra (if you haven’t been, make sure you do. It’s wonderful). Essentially, you get to wander around, surrounded by birds, carrying mealworms and the tamer birds come down and take food from you. Pretty much as soon as we entered the aviary, a gorgeous huge Alexandrine parrot flew down onto my father’s shoulder. We walked around for the better part of an hour, with this huge bird perched on Dad’s shoulder, affectionately nibbling his ear and chattering away. Eventually we had to leave, so my dad tried to shoo the bird away. The parrot snuggled in deeper to his neck. Both my Mum and I tried to distract him with food, but he wouldn’t leave. Eventually, laughing, I went to find someone who worked there and asked them to come out and help. The owner came, chuckling, and when he saw the bird he said “Huh. That’s odd”. He tried to call it over with food, and it just softly chewed my dad’s ear. When he tried to grab it, it screeched and started frantically moving around my dad’s shoulders, trying to evade the owner’s fingers. Eventually the owner did manage to shake him off, and the parrot flew into a nearby tree, chattering and squawking. My dad commented “That bird has serious attachment issues!” to which the owner replied “Oh not usually. He’s usually so suspicious and unfriendly – no one can get anywhere near Colin!”

We left, a little shaken, assuring ourselves that it was just a very strange coincidence. But when we got onto the highway to head home, we found ourselves behind the same car the whole way – and the numberplate had my brother’s initials: CJB.