Abominable Snowmen of Southern NSW
For the best part of the last 100 years there have been some mysterious happenings recurring over the vast area covering the NSW Alps, Southern Highlands and south Coast, particularly during the winter months, that need investigating. Tall hairy figures sighted by mountaineers, skiers and isolated farmers, mystery giant footprints found in snow, and strange eerie cries heard at night from the forest depths. Aborigines will put it all down to the Doolagarl or Yowie, but to the settlers of this vast region they are the notorious "Abominable Snowmen" of the Southern Alps.
European interest in the mysterious creatures could be said to date from 1860, when a small group of explorers sighted a tall, hairy gorilla-like beast moving though snow on a steep mountainside near Mt Kosciusko. Modern interest in these hairy manbeasts was reawakened in July 1975, when a skier near Mt Kosciusko spotted a tall, hairy ape-like beast walking across a snow-covered hillside. Thereafter it was the press which came up with the name "Abominable Snowman" and "Kosciusko Snowman" for the creatures, attempting to link them with their more notorious Himalayan 'cousin'.
For example, the "Tumbarumba Times" of September 15th, 1976 wrote:
'Kosciusko "Abominable Snowman" Seen Again.
Reports in recent weeks of mysterious large ape-like footprints found in the snow and sightings of a huge man-like hairy beast in the Kosciusko district have intensified interest in a theory that a relative of the Himalayan "Abominable Snowman" inhabits the Snowy Mountains. The "Kosciusko Snowman" has been the subject of a nation-wide search by a well known naturalist who maintains the creature's existence.
The Naturalist is Mr Rex Gilroy, Director of the Mt York Natural History Museum, Mt. Victoria NSW. Mr Gilroy said this week on Sunday, August 15th, a man had discovered an extensive set of large man-like tracks in the snow near Kiandra, which he followed for half a mile until they entered a forest. He said there had been a number of reports of large footprints having been found in recent months. One set was found crossing the backyard of a farm near Cooma.
Mr Gilroy said early Aborigines had a name for the beast - the "Yowie" [for "Great Hairy Man"], a large 7-8 ft tall hairy man-like creature what walked on two legs with a stooped gait. Mr Gilroy, who has studied reports of the creatures over a wide area of Australia, many dating back to early last century, believes the Yowie to be a relative of the Himalayan 'Abominable Snowman' and North American 'Bigfoot', creatures which evolved from a pre-ice age man-like ape fauna which spread out over a land-shelf which formerly linked Australia and America to mainland Asia many thousands of years ago.
Similar beasts are known to inhabit the jungles of Malaysia and New Guinea, Mr Gilroy said. Mr Gilroy said that reports of large footprints in the snow in the Mt. Kosciusko district had been as frequent as sightings of the "Kosciusko Snowman" themselves. In July 1975 a skier spotted a large 7-8 ft tall hairy man-like beast moving up a snow covered hillside near Mt Kosciusko and a month later what may have been the same creature was sighted again by a group of skiers in the same area following a snowfall.
The press reports of large ape-like footprints found in the snow and sightings of "Abominable Snowmen" around Mt Kosciusko, and elsewhere in the snowfields were greeted by scientific scepticism.
To quote the "Canberra Times" of 4th September, 1976: 'Nonsense' tales of hairy beast.
"Reports of sightings and prints of a "huge, man-like hairy beast' during recent weeks in the Kiandra, Tidbinbilla, Cooma and Kosciusko district were nonsense," the chief of the CSIRO division of wildlife research, Dr. H.J.Frith, said yesterday. "There is no such animal", he said. "Some responsible person would have seen it by now. The whole thing is far-fetched."
The Director of the Mt York Natural History Museum, at Mt Victoria, NSW Mr Rex Gilroy, said in a statement issued recently that he had been searching for the creature, known as the Yowie, for several years.
There had been sightings dating back to1795 at scattered areas of inland eastern Australia. Sightings had been reported near Cooma and Kiandra this winter. He described the Yowie as being about two metres tall, covered in long hair, stooped and walking on two legs with a loping gait.
Mr Gilroy has established an Australian Yowie Research Centre at his museum. Mr Gilroy said the Yowie had existed in eastern Aboriginal folklore for thousands of years but, as an anthropologist pointed out yesterday, so had the mythical bunyip. Despite scientific scepticism over the years, many people are still prepared to come forward with personal experiences. Dr Frith's remark is typical of the attitude pervading throughout the scientific community, which is based solely upon the premise that, if some animal species is not already found in the text books, then it does not exist, and is a waste of valuable time investigating it.
And yet, despite this scientific scepticism, I would point out that the Yowie traditions of our Aborigines are of immense antiquity, and deserve a more realistic attitude by our scientists; who should cease treating the subject as a myth devoid of any physical foundation, and begin a thorough investigation of the entire phenomena. Despite a lack of interest among Australian scientists, quite believable sightings of Yowies continue to be made.
For example: one night in March 1968 a motorist, Mr John Noyce, was driving on the Mt Kosciusko road, when what he thought was a large 'bear' standing upright, appeared on the roadside ahead of him, illuminated by the car headlights. The creature, much taller than a man, was covered in long hair. However, before Mr Noyce could get a good look at the mystery beast, it walked off into roadside scrub.
During 1976 Mr Tony Martineer was apple-picking on the property of a Mr Speers about 10 km out of Batlow.
One day around sunset he was walking through a state pine forest when, in a partly dried patch of mud he found three large footprints. They were spaced man-size and about 23cm in length. They displayed splayed-out toes and a narrow heel which went deeper into the ground [about 4 cm] than the rest of the foot. The arch was narrow and showed a big toe almost as deep as the heel. Hearing a crashing sound in nearby bush Tony left the area in haste. Was the maker of these giant-size footprints still lurking nearby?
The Snowy Mountains region has produced a great many hairy manbeast encounters. Observations reported to me by property owners of the Providence Portal area near Cabramurra have confirmed my own research findings, which show that many of these reports occur about June, following the first winter snowfall, when the animal life of the high country migrates into the lower regions to escape the excessive cold conditions of the mountain tops. It is at this time that sightings of man-beasts, or discoveries of their footprints, often on snow-covered ground, are most prevalent.