While most people have heard of the Bigfoot of the United States and the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, somewhat less well-known is the Australian equivalent, the Yowie. It’s a tall, hair-covered humanoid that appears to be some form of giant ape. It was in the pages of the December 9, 1882 issue of the Australian Town and Country Journal that the story of the Yowie was first told. It was a story that came from an amateur naturalist, Henry James McCooey. He said:
“A few days ago I saw one of these strange animals in an unfrequented locality on the coast between Bateman’s Bay and Ulladulla. My attention was attracted to it by the cries of a number of small birds which were pursuing and darting at it. When I first beheld the animal it was standing on its hind legs, partly upright, looking up at the birds above it in the bushes, blinking its eyes and distorting its visage and making a low chattering kind of noise. Being above the animal on a slight elevation and distant from it less than a chain, I had ample opportunity of noting its size and general appearance.”
McCooey gave a detailed description of the beast he claimed to have seen: “I should think that if it were standing perfectly upright it would be nearly 5ft high. It was tailless and covered with very long black hair, which was of a dirty red or snuff-color about the throat and breast. Its eyes, which were small and restless, were partly hidden by matted hair that covered its head. The length of the fore legs or arms seemed to be strikingly out of proportion with the rest of its body, but in all other respects its buil+d seemed to be fairly proportional. It would probably weigh about 8 stone [112 pounds].”
He added of the strange creature: “On the whole it was a most uncouth and repulsive looking creature, evidently possessed of prodigious strength, and one which I should not care to come to close quarters with. Having sufficiently satisfied my curiosity, I throw a stone at the animal, whereupon it immediately rushed off, followed by the birds, and disappeared in a ravine which was close at hand.”
As the debate concerning McCooey’s report grew, he submitted more and more communications to the Australian Town and Country Journal, all of which are well worth quoting: “The mere fact of no apes [are] found in the Sydney Museum does not justify us in rushing to the conclusion that there are none in the colony, for it is extremely improbable that any ape will be foolhardy enough to present itself at the museum to undergo the somewhat delicate operation of stuffing; and beyond the fact that there are, none to be found in the Sydney Museum there is not one scintilla of evidence to prove that they are not to be found in the colony, while there is abundance of evidence to show that they are.”
McCooey went on to reveal that he knew of other sightings of the creatures: “I do not claim to be the first who has seen this animal, for I can put my finger on half a dozen men at Bateman’s Bay who have seen the same, or at any rate an animal of a similar description; but I think I am the first to come forward in the columns of a newspaper and give publicity to the fact of having seen it. I may mention that a search party was organized at Bateman’s Bay some months ago to surround the locality [and] the supposed ape… and shoot or capture it, but the idea was abandoned in consequence of the likelihood of gun accidents; and I may further state that the skeleton of an ape, 4ft in length, may be seen at any time in a cave 14 miles from Bateman’s Bay, in the direction of Ulladulla.”
He also stated: “…there are indigenous apes in this colony…they have been frequently seen in Budawong mountains, in Jingera mountains, and in the Abercrombie mountains, at Bateman’s Bay, at Mount Macdonald, and on the Guy Fawkes-road between Armidale and Grafton…apes were known to the aborigines of this colony, and were dreaded by them, long before a museum was founded in Australia, or a white man crossed the Murray; and that one was actually captured and killed near Braidwood within the memory of persons still living.”
An Australian Bigfoot? Don’t bet against it.