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The Saga of the Narrabeen Elephant-Monster

On far more than a few occasions I have been asked the following question: what is the strangest unknown animal lurking in the woods, jungles, or mountain-ranges of our world? Well, first and foremost, there are plenty of them! And, second, each and every one of them is undeniably odd. After all, how else would you describe Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Chupacabras other than as downright weird?

But, here’s the important thing to take note of: some of the strange critters that populate our world are far, far weirder than others. And a select few are what can only be termed really bizarre. All of this brings me to a very strange and fascinating saga that occurred close to half a century ago.

Narrabeen lagoon

Narrabeen lagoon

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the city of Sydney, Australia can claim fame to having played host to one of the most mystifying and bizarre of all creatures ever encountered. And I do not use those two words – mystifying and bizarre – lightly. After all, how else would you go about describing a diminutive beast that looked like an elephant, but that walked on its hind-legs, and which surfaced from the depths of nothing less than the heart of a dark lagoon? That was exactly what a woman named Mabel Walsh encountered in Narrabeen – a beach-side suburb of Sydney – back in the latter days of the 1960s.

While driving home late one April 1968 evening with her nephew, John, Mabel Walsh was shocked to fleetingly see the approximately four-foot-tall animal emerge from the watery depths and shuffle its way into the heart of nearby scrub-land. It was a creature that Walsh would never forget, even though it was in view for only mere seconds. When you read Walsh’s description, you’ll instantly see why the image of the creature never left her.

Gray (like an elephant) in color, and with what looked like a tough, leathery skin, it had a snout resembling that of an anteater, a slim trunk, long back legs, and a pair of very short forelimbs that dangled limply as it waddled along – sideways, no less – by the edge of the road before vanishing into the scrub.


The local newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, recognizing the publicity that the story would surely create, splashed the details across its pages. In an article titled: And now it’s the Monster of Narrabeen! – and with the subtitle of: Loch Ness was never like this – the details of Mabel Walsh’s amazing story tumbled out, something which provoked yet more reports of the fantastic creature to surface.

Some of the subsequent accounts sounded decidedly sensationalized, since they suggested the monster of the deep had taken to dragging sheep, cows and even horses to their horrific deaths in the heart of the lagoon; a most unlikely action for a creature that was barely four-feet-tall! Others spoke in near-hysterical tones of seeing a bright red-colored, clawed hand come out of a hole in the ground at the lake and try and grab a terrified youngster.

The final word on the matter went to Mabel Walsh, who started the controversy, and who told newspaper staff that people might call her crazy, but she was absolutely sure there was a bizarre creature in Narrabeen Lakes. As it transpired, not many did call her crazy, after all. The Daily Telegraph’s audience excitedly lapped it all up, and, sales-wise, its staff was very happy indeed.

As is so very often the case when it comes to sightings of truly unusual and near-unique beasts, the account of Mabel Walsh remains as unresolved today as it was way back in April 1968. Unless, that is, you know better.


Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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