There are many stories about alien big cats roaming Australia, especially in the Kanangra-Boyd, Blue Mountains and Wollemi national parks west and north of Sydney, Australia. Now Goulburn, a city in New South Wales southwest of Sydney and northeast of Canberra has a cat tale of its own. A couple eating lunch spotted and photographed what looks like large black cat, possibly a panther, roaming the bushland near their home.
Jeff and Ruth Gulson saw the creature from a kitchen window last week and were able to watch it for 15 minutes using binoculars while standing on an outdoor balcony. The closest the cat came was about 100 meters. Jeff waited too long to get his camera, so the photograph, with the zoom lens extended to the max, was taken when it was 300 meters away. Even at that distance, he knew what it was and wasn’t.
Let’s be clear, this was certainly no dog. It was cat-like in its movement but it was a bigger than a sheep.
Stories about big cats in Australia go back to the 1860s but many in this area started at the end of the Second World War. It was rumored that Americans stationed at the HMAS Albatross Naval Base near Nowra kept panthers or pumas as mascots and released them before leaving in the gully in the Shoalhaven state forest where it’s believed they bred and spread.
Sightings were frequent enough over the years that the NSW Department of Agriculture sent a warning letter to the National Parks and Wildlife Service and hired wildlife ecologist, Johannes Bauer, who issued this opinion:
Difficult as it seems to accept, the most likely explanation of the evidence is the presence of a large, feline predator. In this area, [it is] most likely a leopard, less likely a jaguar.
More recently, New Zealand invasive species expert John Parkes disagreed, saying the 500 eyewitness accounts were not of alien big cats but …
… large dogs, large feral cats or swamp wallabies.
It’s a blurry picture and many are skeptical but Jeff and Ruth Gulson are believers, as are others in Goulburn who have also reported seeing the big cat. Keep those cameras handy, people!