Early Settlers Tales of Southern New South Wales
While Aboriginal knowledge of the Yowie dates back countless thousands of years, when exactly our early European settlers first heard of, or came into contact with the creatures is something of a mystery, and appears to involve surprisingly, voyages to Australia centuries before Captain James Cook .
Irish scholar, Jonathan Swift [1667-1745]. in "A Voyage To the Country of the Houyhnhnms", part of his "Gulliver's Travels"  appears to conceal in his book information about Australia that could only have come from ancient Chinese writings, in his time not generally known in Europe; for he describes a hairy ape-like race known in that land as the Yahoos. As the Dutch, beginning with Willem Jansz [or Janzoon] in 1606, had visited Australia throughout the 17th century their geographic descriptions of the continent - excluding the east coast, which they did not explore - would have been available to Swift.
Yet the Dutch knew nothing of the Yowie; this word, like Yahoo, was almost exclusively an eastern Australian name for the "hairy man" [the name 'Yowie' has also been recorded from Tasmania]. Both names do, however, appear in ancient Chinese literature describing a race of primitive man-ape like beasts that inhabited the mysterious "Great South Land of Chui Hiao". There seems no other way in which Swift could have obtained his information other than from merchants who traded with China in his day. And Chinese merchant junks are also known to have visited England in the 17th century.
In the course of his adventures Gulliver takes command of a merchant ship, 'the Adventure', of 350 tones. Sailing from Portsmouth on the 7th of September, 1710 he intended trading with the 'Indians' in the South Sea. However, his crew mutinied and confined him to his cabin. After sailing for many weeks, and not knowing what course the mutineers had taken, on the 9th May, 1711 Gulliver was at last marooned on a strange shore. Here he soon discovered human-like footprints made by several 'animals' that he spotted in a nearby field.
Hiding among the bushes, Gulliver observed their physical appearance. They had heads and breasts covered with thick brown hair. They had beards like goats, and a long ridge of hair down their backs, and the foreparts of the their legs and feet. The rest of their bodies were bare so that he was able to see their skins, which were of a brown buff colour. They did not have tails nor hair on their buttocks. They walked upon two legs with a stooped appearance. The females were not as large as the males, with long hair on their heads and only a sort of down on the rest of their bodies.
"I never beheld in all my Travels so disagreeable an Animal". he says. Gulliver is soon confronted by no less than 40 of these ape-like beasts. He escapes them and meets two horses who are able to converse in a strange language. He soon learns that his companions are Houyhnhnms, two of a race of talking horses that rule the land. Gulliver hears them frequently use the word 'Yahoo', which he quickly discovers is the name of the ape-like creatures. My readers can pursue the full story for themselves in "Gulliver's Travels". What is important about this story is that the word 'Yahoo' and a description of Australia's "hairy man" somehow came to the attention of Jonathan swift in far off Ireland at least 50 years before Cook's arrival in Botany Bay.
The suggestion is that, in the course of their voyages into south-east Asia and beyond, ancient Chinese traders and explorers ventured into Australian waters, eventually to find and explore our east coast. They must have spent considerable time hereabouts; time in which they established friendly relations with our Aboriginal people, from whom they presumably learnt of the mysterious "hairy man" or 'Yahoo', also known as the Yowie.
A 1st century AD Chinese scholar, Pan Ku, recorded the extent of Chinese voyages. Most of his writings are now lost. The southern region of the world, he claimed, was the location of a great land, inhabited by sub-humans call Ya hu's, a race of hairy man-like monsters. He also described pouched animals, such as the kangaroo.
Surviving fragments of a book, "Classic of animals of mountains and air", written some time around 600 BC, besides describing various animal and bird species of China and south-east Asia, includes also the "southern land of Chui Hiao", where besides the kangaroo, there is the description of a hairy man-ape like creature called the Ya hoo. It is also called the Ku ei, or "fearful manlike creature". The words 'You ee' and 'Yow ee' are also used to describe these manbeasts in another natural science fragment of the same period.
"Atlas of Foreign Countries", a book written between 265 and 316 AD describes the far north coast of the mysterious great south land as being inhabited by a race of one-metre tall pygmies - an obvious reference to the pygmy-sized Aboriginals of the far north Queensland jungles.
Another Chinese book, "The Classics of Shan Hai King", written some time before 338 BC, describes our Aborigines and their use of the boomerang, while other writings speak of their ability in hurling spears long distances with the aid of the woomera. Besides kangaroos other chronicles suggest Chinese mariners were familiar with the koala and 'giant birds' [the Emu?]. These writings also warn mariners who sail to the "southern land of Chui Hiao" to beware: gigantic man-like monsters roamed the land, and would eat any Chinamen who were unfortunate enough to meet up with one of these cannibal giants.
The above revelations make it quite clear that the ancient Chinese were familiar with Australia and its animal, as well as human [Aboriginal] inhabitants who they showed, were quite distinct from the hairy manbeast creatures. The mystery remains as to how Jonathan Swift obtained his information on the Yahoo. Perhaps Swift's book might have been known to some of the 'First Fleeters', and it appears that the Yowie or Yahoo began attracting attention shortly after the establishment of the settlement in Sydney Cove in 1788..