Jul 03, 2024 I Brent Swancer

Scary Encounters with Australia's Bigfoot

The phenomenon of wild, hairy humanoids seems to be worldwide. North America has its Bigfoot or Sasquatch, the Himalayas the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, China its Yeren, Indonesia the Orang Pendek, and many others. The sprawling continent of Australia also claims to be home to its own version of these creatures, and while as with many of the others listed they seem to be mostly shy and wary of us, this does not always seem to be the case, with the creatures occasionally exhibiting threatening, intimidating, and even downright violent behavior. 

For those who don’t necessarily know what a Yowie is, tales of ape-like humanoids in the Australian wilderness go back many, many years with the Aboriginal peoples who have long called this place home. Many Aboriginal tribes described the Yowie in one form or another and it was known by many regional names, including the Yowie, Yahoo, and others. White settlers soon found out about these creatures, and John Pinkerton would write of this in his 1804 book Modern Geography – a Description of the Empires, Kingdoms, States and Colonies: with the Oceans, Seas and Isles: In all Parts of the World, in which he describes another tribe of people said to coexist with the Aborigines, covered with hair and with flat noses, thick eyebrows, sunken eyes, and with wide, thick-lipped mouths. White settlers had also been having their own encounters with the hairy beasts, including one early report from 1789, in which a group of loggers saw standing on a hillside an enormous ape-like beast “twice the size of a normal man.” The Yowie would often be sighted by settlers, and such encounters have continued right into the modern day.

Most accounts of the Yowie are very similar in nature to their North American brethren, depicting them as gentle giants that are shy and reclusive, more afraid of us than we are of them. Yet there are numerous accounts of these creatures being intimidating, threatening, and even downright aggressive, violent and dangerous. From 1904 there is a story from cryptozoologist Paul Cropper, which revolved around a Mrs. Sarah Radcliffe and supposedly took place in the vicinity of Byron Bay. Sarah related how her father had been riding on horseback when his horse became frightened and he looked back to see a “big hairy man with no neck” standing on a pile of stones. When the father bolted out of there, the beast apparently gave chase and he was thrown from his horse. He luckily managed to make it home in one piece, although badly shaken. In that same area the following year, three brothers were riding their horses when they were pursued by a 7-foot-tall hairy beast that actually jumped onto one of the horses and injured the rider before falling off and running into the wilderness. 

During the 1950s, timber workers in the area of Maalan Scrub – near Ravenshoe, Queensland, were terrorized by what appears to have been a malevolent Yowie. In one of the first accounts of the creature, related by the site Yowie Tracks, a father and his two sons were to cut timber in the Maalan and had set up their camp near a creek. The report continues:

Just on dark, one of the sons went down to the creek to have a sponge off, and while doing this he heard a noise and called out “is that you pa? He then heard a crashing and splashing in the creek, and observed with his carbide lamp in hand, a “large dark hairy thing” step out of the creek and climb the far bank. He went back to the camp and told the others who all returned with torches. There were no further observations of the creature, but they found what was described as “huge humanoid tracks” in the mud and up the bank. The son who witnessed it said it appeared like a “huge man with a fur coat on“. These tracks were human-looking but they knew no man with feet anywhere near that large. The men were so troubled by the encounter that they packed up and left the area quickly. This was the only time they worked in the Maalan and swore never to return again.

Knowing these men well, the son-in-law described the men’s character as “not wimps” and “it would take a lot to throw them” These were “tough no-nonsense blokes who had spent their lives timber felling and weren’t scared types“. Years later in the 1980s, when discussing the incident with the father-in-law, his reaction was the same, one of trauma from what had happened. The son-in-law told how “My father-in-law and both his boys years later would go white and be obviously bothered when talking about their experience“. He mentioned how much the incident impacted him and how he was “so scared“.

So far, so spooky, but the creature would start to become violent. Also during the 1950s, there was dam construction going on in the area of the Koombooloomba dam. One of the workers was an Aboriginal ranger. The report reads:

He told a story that when they were building the Koombooloomba Dam near Ravenshoe, they had asked him as an Indigenous Elder to inspect the proposed site for the dam for any possible aboriginal cultural heritage sites. One day the Indigenous ranger was walking along a track when two Italian men came walking in the opposite direction in an agitated state. He stated they “were as white as ghosts“. He asked the men if everything was alright, and they told him that “the Malaan Monster had just attacked their two pig dogs” and that they were getting the hell out of there and advised him to do the same. He continued along the track a bit further and came across two dead pig dogs, both with their heads ripped off. He was in great shock and turned round and left the area. The Indigenous ranger had no rational explanation for what he had seen and was convinced whatever killed the two dogs, and tore their heads off must have been a big animal with two strong arms.

A strange article in The Australia’s Women’s Weekly from 1976 depicts several rather menacing Yowie encounters. In one, two men fishing at Toorooka at 3 am encountered a strange humanoid form in a quiet stretch of deep water. As they approached, it violently lunged at them while making “strange gurgling noises.” Two timber-cutters were also forced from their camp about 70km from Lismore because of repeated visits by a 240cm (8ft)  tall, hairy creature that hurled stones and sticks at their camp. In the same article, in Tasmania a 240cm (8ft) hairy creature surprised two rabbiters trapping in the Poatini foothills, roaring at them and chasing them off. The most bonkers of these reports was originally published in The McCleay Argus, and is from a Mr. George Gray, who was allegedly physically attacked while sleeping on his rural property at Kempsey, New South Wales by a hairy ape-like creature with bristling fur, which only relented after after a 10-minute struggle during which the man had wrestled with it and punched it several times. Mr Gray would say of the events that transpired:

I was getting kind of choked, like someone was pressing the wind out of me. I realized something was there on my chest. I could see the face of this. It looked like something betwen a man and an ape. That's just what it looked like. Short arms, it had, because when I woke up and started to punch it away, I grabbed this thing by its arm. It seemed to be a short arm, sort of greasy, you couldn't hold it. I was trying to put my right arm over it toi put an arm bar on it. I couldn't hold it. The skin was sort of loose, like as if it had no muscles. No spring in the flesh. My hands just sunk in. It was like trying to hold something slippery. I could feel the bones. I couldn't feel the flesh at all. I could see the hair on it, dirty grey hair... bristly sort of hair, like a pig's hair. It wasn't a pig. It was a man of some description. It seemed to have five fingers, like a man's hand. A big hand... stubby hand. I could see those hands. I saw them when it woke me, laying across my body, from the side of the bed across my upper chest. Then it was shaking me. It had a hold of my bedclothes and my pajamas around my throat and it was shaking me as if it were trying to pull me out of bed. It was a violent attack. It was trying to drag me out. It could see it was something out of the ordinary. The eyes were like human eyes... a bit round. There was a deep crease under each one. The thing was looking straight into my face. I'll never forget that night. There it was fighting me and I couldn't fight it. I couldn't hold it. It was so strong. It had me in this one position, by the blamnkets around my neck. It was trying to drag me out all the time. When we finished up the blankets and bed ticking were all on the floor. I don't know what made it take off. We were wrestling on the floor, from side to side. I was punching it and I was thinking if I don't get it it will get me, and I was pretty tired by then, I can tell you. But all of the sudden it let go, after I put up this struggle and then I noticed its toes. Webbed toes. It got up and started to go.

What in the world? An interesting detail of this particular account was that the creature was described as only being about 5 feet in height, so was this a juvenile or a different species? A similar case comes to us from 1996, and is related on the site Australian Yowie Research. In this report, a man named Nathan Moilan tells of an encounter his uncle had while staying at his remote shed in the wilderness. Apparently, during the night, a small, stout 5-foot-tall hairy humanoid entered the hut and attacked Nathan's uncle who cried out for help. When help arrived, they all worked together to overpower the vicious beast and hold it down, after which it broke free, jumped out of a window, and ran off into the night. A more remarkable report from the same article tells of a man who was driving along a dirt track when one of the creatures rushed towards the vehicle, grabbed the side of the car, and actually flipped it onto its side. 

Another frightening report from the same site concerns a witness who was pig hunting with some friends in the vicinity of the road to Pajinka Lodge, in Cape York, Queensland in April of 1999. As they were out hunting, they oddly came across a motorbike just lying by the side of the road, and the report continues:

As they approached in their car, a young Indigenous man in his early 20s climbed down from a tree and ran towards their car in a hysterical state and climbed in. As they drove off he explained that at around 9 pm the night before he was heading out to the Pajinka Lodge to visit his girlfriend when the chain came off of his motorbike. As he was trying to get the chain back on, three (3-4 foot tall) hairy men appeared and chased him up the tree. They gathered round the tree and stared at him and spoke in a language that he could not identify. He stayed in the tree until he dozed off and was awoken by the witness and his mates roll up in their car. The young man was in an hysterical state and despite them trying to calm him down he did not. They dropped him off about an hour later at his destination still in an frantic state. Witness has also spoken of strange feelings of being watched when out hunting out there. The place spooked him for years.

What was going on here? More recently, Yowie hunter and researcher Dean Harrison has claimed he was almost killed by his quarry on two occasions, in 1997 and 2009. He says of what happened:

That was a game changer. I can’t go back into the bush by myself. I just got hit with a big dose of reality. I nearly got taken down by one at Ormeau in 1997 and that was really scary. I heard all this crashing coming through the bush behind me and it sounded like a group of kids just trashing the place. I got these unexplainable chills which are what we call the nameless dread … and like a rabbit in spotlights, basically, my whole body just locked up. I didn’t know how I knew, but I knew I was in danger … and I knew that if I turned around and made direct eye contact, things would get exponentially worse. He’s yelling and he’s roaring and he’s doing some sort of almost like a talk over the top and on every footstep … his diaphragm in his chest would bounce, before I knew it, he’s right next to me. I thought, this is it, this is the end of my life. I’m about to die right now. It was only by the grace of God that I survived. I made a phone call at 11pm in a clearing before going into the bush and if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be here today. This thing really meant business. But the cruncher was in 2009 at Kilkivan and if a few guys weren’t there to rescue me I wouldn’t be here. That took a good eight months to get over. The scary thing is that yowies have a massive advantage over us because of their eyesight in the dark. The thing that knocked me over ran down a hill in pitch darkness past obstacles, tree, and logs. The angles were so steep but it sprinted down. It didn’t miss a beat. The one that chased me at Ormeau was the same.

Harrison is convinced that not only are Yowies dangerous, but that they are responsible for people who have vanished without a trace out in the bush. He says:

These things are dangerous … and I’ve nearly been a victim or have been a victim a couple of times. And I know that there are other people out there that didn’t get away as fortunately as I have. There is absolutely no doubt about it. We are taken seriously by some of the authorities, whether it be Parks and Wildlife, police, different military levels, and there’s been times in situations where we swapped some information.

In a case from 2000, a family was left in terror after a Yowie crept out of the wilderness to start violently rocking their campervan. A few years later, In 2003, Reddit user “waterandbridges” claims that he was out camping in the Australian wilderness when he claims he and his companions were stalked by a Yowie that did not seem to have good intentions. He describes what happened as follows:

We took a pretty sketchy shortcut home through the edge of a large wilderness area, to beat my friend's mum home (so she wouldn't find out we'd been roaming around at night). Something massive we couldn't yet see stalked us from a distance, then put on speed when we were nearing the only main turn in the trail. Freaking out and running we beat it to the turn but not long after my friends stopped and looked back behind us. I did then too and we could see the silhouette of a massive head and shoulders just watching us. It's eyes shined red / orange in the moonlight. The thing then just blended back into the bush on the other side of the trail and stalked us out again the rest of the way. When we got out the other end, we all couldn't breathe and stopped under a streetlight to for whatever reason make ourselves feel safe. We last saw the thing in the treeline while we were under the light. It looked at us, then just turned and went back into the bush. And that was it. We spent the rest of the early morning hours googling what it could have been and found about the Yowie.

More recently we have a scary report from 2014, when witnesses Romney and his girlfriend Katrina had stopped their campervan and set up camp for the night by the roadside in the Teebar region of Wide Bay Queensland. The trip was rather uneventful until one evening when they heard a series of loud howling noises off in the distance that lasted for around 10 minutes. This was eerie enough as it was, but it would get even spookier later that evening. Romney says of what played out:

It was about 2 am I woke as Katrina was nudging me to wake up. She said she could hear someone talking nearby and to listen.  At first, I didn’t hear a thing and just as I relaxed back into my pillow I could hear talking but I couldn’t quite make out what was being said. I became a little alarmed at this as we were a very long way from any farms on a remote road and I asked myself who would be out here at this time of night. The chatter stopped and 5 or 10 minutes passed by and we both began to relax a little. I had dozed off and woke suddenly when the van shook as if a car had bumped into it. Katrina rolled over and grabbed my arm tightly. What was that she asked and just as I began to whisper to stay quiet we heard our camp table and BBQ crashing on the ground and at this stage, we began hearing strange vocalizations. The vocalizations scared the crap out of us. The vocalizations would start with a strange monkey-like sound but end with grunting that sounded like a human. Next, we heard the very loud crashing noise and our esky being smashed. It was an incredible noise and thuds combined with more frantic vocalizations. At this point, Katrina rolled over to hug me and a bag she had left on the end of the bed fell onto the floor. The ruckus and grunting outside stopped suddenly and when this happened and my heart was thumping with fear. I began to sweat profusely and I could hear Katrina breathing swiftly.

We were so fearful of what was outside and I thought I had left the doors unlocked and we were going to be attacked. I whispered quietly that the doors were unlocked but fortunately, Katrina said she locked them. We lay in our van holding each other and racked with fear and we began to hear footsteps around the van. They were heavy steps and would stop and all would be quiet. We heard some more steps and this time they were around the back of the van where we were lying. We had the blind down on the back window but I got a sense of something close to the window and it totally blocked the dim night. I was frantic at this stage and my mind was racing thinking where I left the keys and could I get to the front of the van and start the engine without being attacked. It was at this stage we could hear a vehicle of in the distance. Whatever was outside began to move away and the big footsteps or stomps gradually disappeared. We could hear the vehicle approaching our location and I jumped up and moved swiftly to the driver's seat where I found my keys and cranked over the engine, hit the lights, and spun around onto the road to follow the passing vehicle. Katrina was beside me now and we both caught a glimpse of the destruction to our gear where we had been pulled over. We drove without a word until we finally arrived at Biggenden and pulled into the well lit and deserted main street and decided to wait till daybreak before travelling to Gayndah. We were stunned at what had just occurred and had no idea what could have scared us and it wasn’t until we shared the story a few times that someone suggested a Yowie. I was gobsmacked as I had no idea anything like this existed.

Creepy, to be sure. In 2018, we have a woman who claimed that a Yowie tried to attack her on a secluded country road in Mount Jerusalem National Park, Australia. The unnamed witness was driving along a barren dirt road in the middle of the night when she made an impromptu pit stop near a large clearing. The woman said that she had been at cricket training, and was driving back from Uki to Mullumbimby, and had taken a detour along a dirt road when she would have her terrifying encounter. After stopping the vehicle to go out and urinate she heard rustling and a strange growling noise from the bush. She describes what happened next:

I did a howl to see if it was a feral dog and what not, and I got a response. I did some more howling and I got more back. Then I got a growl and a grunting, so I got my cricket bat out. When it started doing tree knocking back at me, I thought 'Oh yeah, it's someone playing silly buggers with me', but there's no houses out there, it's just bush. I thought it must have been some smart ass out there playing a joke on me. I thought 'stuff this' and did a howl and a scream - that's when everything went pear-shaped. There was a thumping coming down the hill in front of me. Then I heard a scream, grunt and growl all in one. I jumped in my car turned my high beams on and there it was standing in front of me. It was '6 to 7ft tall and full of hair and it had breasts. It had a face with eyes about golf ball size, it had really long hair which as a guess would have been about 5inches long. The eyes glowed with or without the light bar. It smelt like five week old road kill.

It wasn't a person in a suit. It had breasts. I wish I had got a photo. I really wish I had got a photo. It had hair down its cleavage and hair around and on top of its breasts. Some parts of the breasts had hair and some parts without hair. The hair colour was a light brown, but the skin colour was blacker. The hair around the face was a light brown. The hair around the hands was black. The rest was light to darkish brown. It’s the scariest thing I've ever seen. Instead of being round like a human face, this was more of an oval size. It had big golf ball size eyes. Most reports you read tell of red eyes, but these were reddish-blue and they lit up with my light bar on. It had a nose that looked pushed-in type of thing. It had a beard, and hair over its top lip. One thing I found strange about it was the mouth. The human mouth is small, this one's mouth was 5 to 7" long. It had a big mouth on it. I didn't see any teeth because its mouth wasn't open.

Since the creature was growling and thumping and generally acting very aggressively, the woman beat a hasty retreat. From 2019 we have the harrowing story of a truck driver who claims to have been physically attacked by a Yowie while driving through a bushy part of the Gold Coast hinterland. He was driving along in broad daylight near the town of Witheren when suddenly a huge, hairy bipedal creature estimated as standing over 10 feet tall ambled out across the road in front of him, forcing him to slam on his brakes. It then looked at him with an ominous gaze and thumped on the hood of his truck and started rocking the vehicle to send shudders through it before loping off in the brush. He has said to The Gold Post Bulletin:

It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I tried to push it in the back of my head, and think that was freaky, it just can't be real. I just couldn't get it out of my mind, I was having trouble sleeping at night. The whole thing lasted for five seconds, and you are staring this monster in the face watching it to make sure it isn't going to step around at you, you are scared for your life, not grabbing for a camera. I figure it is a one in a million thing ... lightning doesn't strike twice. On the other hand, I would like to see it with a camera just to prove it.

Whether this particular Yowie had malignant thoughts towards his observer or not, it certainly made a frightening and indelible mark on this man’s life. Also from 2019 we have the story of a Gold Coast family who actually fled from their residence in fear of their lives after a series of ominous encounters with an alleged Yowie. They had had a content and peaceful life at their Currumbin Valley home until November of that year when things started to get weird. It began when the mother of the household was out on their property when she heard loud noises in the bush which she claimed were 'clear footsteps.' She says to Australia Yowie Research:

I moved to the railing to get a closer look and there I saw it. As it was walking, I bumped something on the deck, the noise stopped it dead in its tracks, it turned from the waist, looked in our direction and snorted loudly and quickly twice - it was huge. I just stood there staring out in pure terror shaking and afraid. This massive thing was so close to the house.

In the meantime, her husband and children also saw the thing, and it would only escalate from there, as they began to experience large stones and on one occasion even a dog dish flung at them and the house. They also found large footprints on their property and at one point they all saw it, saying it “turned, looked at us and snorted.” They would eventually move out after being harassed for several weeks by the beast.

In another similar report from the same year, a single mother recounted the time she saw a Yowie at her isolated farm in Tarzali, a town in the Atherton Tablelands, in Queensland. For her family, it started with rocks being thrown onto the roof of their house during the night, and this was followed by persistent feelings of being intensely watched. One evening, the mother shone a high-powered flashlight towards the direction of where she thought the intruder was and said she saw a creature “pitch black, hairy and the size of a chimpanzee” in its beam. She also says they heard thumping on their walls and “demonic noises” in the night, all of which prompted them to move out within 10 months. What in the world was going on here?

Still again from 2019, we have the spectacular story of Australian bowhunter Clint Maynard, who was purportedly attacked by a Yowie while searching for wild pigs near the town of Kilkivan, Queensland. As he pursued his quarry, he was confronted by a terrible stench that was sour and somewhat like animal excrement. As he scanned around him trying to figure out where the smell was coming from, he saw something that stopped him in his tracks, and he explained the frightening episode that followed:

I focussed on the bushes and I was getting a strong sense that something was there. As I scanned back to the right of the bushes, I instantly became alarmed and a real sense of terror set in. In the dappled sunlight, I realized I was looking at a very dark, hairy head and face of an extremely large creature in a crouching position and looking directly at me. What really got me anxious was the eyes and look on its face. Its eyes looked human and its intense stare shook me. Its face looked dark and I would say leathery and it was bearing its teeth and exposing a huge mouth. I knew it wasn’t human but the intelligence in its eyes shocked me. It blended in so well with its very dark brown, almost black, shaggy hair I didn’t realize it must have been in front me the whole time I had been looking towards where I had seen the pigs. The creature was in a crouching position and its slow rocking motion from side to side looked like it was ready to jump in my direction.

I started to hear a very low-level growl which I knew was this creature even though it was about 60 or so metres away. I became so scared at this point that I dropped my binoculars and frantically loaded up my bow. I knew I couldn’t outrun this creature which looked so massive it made me feel small and I’m 6ft3. I fumbled to quickly get my bow loaded and as I looked back at the creature to take aim it released an almighty roar and launched itself forward and at speed toward me on its two thick legs, mouth wide open and looking so incredibly frightening. I could see all its shape now, its long arms tearing and grasping at the bushes and thickset body as It stampeded towards me in huge big thumping steps. As it tore through the scrub I couldn’t believe how big this creature was, bigger than any human I had ever seen.

It got to about 30 metres from me when I got a shot away in sheer terror. With minimal aim, the arrow struck the creature deep into its right shoulder and it instantly stopped, grimacing, and clutching at the arrow and releasing an extremely loud, lion-like, growling sound that drowned out any other noise in the bush. I was almost hysterical with fear and my heart was absolutely racing. I had never heard anything so loud and terrifying and so loud that I could feel it. As I began moving as quickly backward as I could. The creature had taken its attention off me and as I stumbled backwards I watched it snap the protruding arrow with its opposite hand as it kept furiously pawing at its shoulder and making deep grunting sounds. In a second it looked back at me with such a fierce look and grimace that I thought, this was it. I knew a headshot would be the only way to save me from sure death. As I struggled to load up and aim, the creature let out another incredible growl, turned and ran furiously into the trees off to my right in big thumping steps. I aimed wildly as it moved away and got off a second shot which just missed the creature as it ran past a tree. I continued backtracking, my bow at the ready, and I could hear the creature tearing through the trees until I couldn't hear it. I knew that if the creature came back I wouldn’t make it to my vehicle and I was relieved a little when I finally made it back into some open country in the small valley I used to get into the area. I eventually made it back to my vehicle, bathed in sweat and gasping for water and without any further encounter. I didn’t wait for a second, climbed into my vehicle and sped away from the area. I was still filled with so much dread as I drove back along the dirt road half expecting the creature to reappear.

In 2021 three men were driving home from work near the Jimna Base Camp when they allegedly spotted “slouched over figure” with “very long arms” and an “apelike” face under a street light. At first, they thought it was a wild boar until it stood, snarled at them, and made threatening gestures. One of the witnesses would say “It definitely was a scary moment for me, as I said I was so confused and shook of what we were seeing, and as we got closer and closer it didn’t make sense like you’d hope.”

What are we dealing with here, and are there Yowie that are less shy and apprehensive about humans than others? In the book The Yowie of Marradong, by Mostyn Heilmannovsky, a witness known only as “Mr. Dawson” relates his own experience and his idea that there are both benevolent and malignant Yowie. He describes how he came across one of the creatures on a secluded rural road, and says:

To my bedazzlement it roared and ran towards my car. I quickly restarted my engine and drove at full speed. The Yowie dodged my car and ran off into the nearby bush. This encounter really scared the living daylights out of me and it took me a couple of days to cope with the trauma that it had inflicted upon my soul. This Yowie had red eyes, and by doing some research I later found out that there are various types of Yowies which roam our great southern land. The Yowies with the red eyes seem to be the more aggressive kind and there are several theories for that. I actually never knew that this topic is so complex and difficult.

Are there really some Yowies with red eyes that are more aggressive than others? Who knows? It seems that if these things do exists, then just as Bigfoot, they may feel threatened when we are in their territory, startled into a threatening response, or it may even be that, just like us, they have different temperments and dispositions. It is hard to know why there are reports like these from a normally shy and elusive creature, or whether any of this is even real or not. Whatever the case may be, if the Yowie is really out there, then it might not always be as benevolent and wary of us as we might like to think. 

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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