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Mammal, Primate, Ape, Unknown pongid
Omnivore, Out-of-place, Filmed/recorded, Photographed, Prints casted, Featured in Native folklore
Arguably the most famous Australian cryptid, rivalled only by the bunyip, is the yowie, historically more commonly called the yahoo. The yowie is an unknown pongid reported in the Great Dividing Range in eastern Australia from the Torres Strait in Queensland to Gippsland in Victoria. They are described as being 6 to 7.5 ft tall, with long limbs, a potbelly and a head with large canine teeth, flat nose and no chin. Their skin is black and leathery and their hair is dark red.
Yowies are primarily bipedal but are said to walk or run on their knuckles while sprinting or traversing steep terrain. Yowie tracks are slightly more human-like than other unknown pongids, but are noticeably different to a human’s, for instance, they have flat, slightly curved feet and larger toes. Like known great apes, they build rudimentary nests of leaves, branches and grass. Their diet is mostly fruit, roots and small mammals. The yowie is featured in the folklore and art of many different Aboriginal mobs in eastern Australia, and go by many names, such as the hairy man, dulgar, thoolagal, pangkarlangu, yaroma, and ghindaring.
There are more than a thousand yowie reports, so I will only include more notable sightings. The first written description of a yowie was featured in a 1789 article, describing a “giant wildman” caught near Botany Bay. One detailed early sighting was in 1912 by Sydney surveyor Charles Harper and his companions in the rainforest along the Currickbilly Mountains of New South Wales. As they threw kindling in the fire, they noticed a huge man-like creature on its hind legs seen by the glow of the campfire only 20 yards away. He described the creature “growling and grimacing, and thumping his breast with his huge hand-like paws.” He described it as having a small human-like face with no chin, large canines and deeply set eyes. It was about 6 ft tall, very muscular and was covered in long brownish-red hair. Harper also pointed out its feet had short metatarsal bones but long phalanges, which indicated to him it gave the creature a strong grip. He claimed it had an extended gut that hung down like a sack, but said it may have also been the breasts of a female. It eventually ran away, “the first few yards erect, then at a faster gait on all fours through the low scrub.”
Percy Window, a wildlife ranger working in the Springbrook National Park in southeastern Queensland claimed to have encountered a yowie in March of 1978 and was later interviewed by Australian cryptozoologists Tony Healy and Paul Cropper. While he was in the rainforest, he heard something rustling around the foliage and assumed it to be an escaped pig, but when he went towards it, he saw an enormous gorilla-like creature covered in short black hair only about 15 ft away. The creature was 7 ft tall, with a flat, leathery, oily or sweaty face, large yellow eyes and a circular mouth. The creature had a short, thick neck and had very human-like hands. Before he had any time to react, he was suddenly overcome by an extremely foul smell that made him vomit. The creature then turned sideways and walked away.
In Acacia Hills, 70 km southeast of Darwin in the Northern Territory, Kate Jones and her husband operated a mango farm throughout the 1990s. On their property, they reported hearing strange vocalizations reminiscent of a howler monkey coming from a nearby mountain ridge during the dry season (May-October). Whenever they would hear these calls, their dogs, two Dobermans and two German shepherds would whine and get very uneasy.
One day, in mid-august of 1997, Kate woke up to the sound of the strange calls at 3:00 in the morning, although it sounded much closer this time, around their “shadehouse” and sounded more frantic. She went out on her ATV to find the animal, which she assumed was trapped. As she swung her ATV around, she smelled a disgusting odour that she described as a mix of a “cave full of bats, a chookhouse and urine” that made her gag. In her headlights, she spotted the creature, which was between 6.5 to 7 ft in height and was covered in dark, matted 2 cm reddish-brown hair. It was human-like, but had much longer arms, sloped shoulders and had no neck. As she saw it run away, she noted its body swaying from side to side, its stooped position and that its arms didn’t “pump” like a human when running. The next day she found prints around the fence line and illustrated what she saw.
An example of one of the more recent sightings was by a couple in August of 2018 on a road near Springbrook, Queensland. As they were driving, a large bipedal ape-like creature casually walked across the road, which they could see clearly as it was illuminated by the car’s headlights. It was covered in chestnut coloured hair, was about 6 ft tall, had long arms, a conical head and was very muscular. After a couple of seconds, it got down on all fours and walked away on its knuckles. Yowie researcher Dean Harrison has catalogued more than a thousand sightings and footprints on his website yowiehunters.com.
Although there is less evidence of the yowie than the North American sasquatch, presumably due to a more remote area and fewer resources to show it to, there is some video, photo, audio and track-related evidence. In 1986, Canadian microbiologist and chemist Prof. Burris Ormsby found and photographed a series of wide, barefoot tracks in the dried mud at Barrington Tops, New South Wales. In 2014, amateur yowie researcher Jason Heal set up a stand of apples in front of a trail camera in the wilderness of Springbrook National Park, and allegedly have captured the head profile of what he claims to be a yowie, showing its reflective eyes, conical head and wide shoulders. At the last second of the clip, it seems to show the animal reaching its hand out. In 2016, a surveyor photographed various large, flat-footed tracks near Ulladulla, Queensland. Various audio clips allegedly capturing yowie vocalizations have been recorded, most recently in the Tallebudgera Valley in 2019.