Christian Kropp knows what he saw.
It was unmistakable. Not only that, it happened twice.
We’re talking about the Tasmanian tiger.
Christian, 36, has been going deep into the Barrington Tops wilderness for years.
“Being a Maitland boy and coming from a large family of six, we were always camping,” he said.
“We know this place like the back of our hands.”
We reported last week that researcher Rex Gilroy believed the Tasmanian tiger [also known as the thylacine] still existed in the Barrington Tops wilderness.
Scientists say the thylacine became extinct in Tasmania in 1936 and on the Australian mainland about 2000 years ago.
Nevertheless, there has been hundreds of suspected sightings in Tasmania and on the mainland in the decades since, including in recent years.
Christian is among those eyewitnesses.
He commented on the Newcastle Herald’s Facebook page when we posted the story about Rex.
“Well...me and my father have seen two....clear as day....,” he wrote.
We contacted him and asked him to share his story.
As Clear As Day
His first sighting happened in the Barrington Tops when he was 11.
He and his dad were collecting firewood.
“I’ve seen plenty of dingoes in my life and I’m educated quite well on animals and the bush,” he said.
What he saw was not a dingo.
“It popped out on this spot where we get wood, close to a creek,” he said.
“Dad was amazed.”
He vividly recalled his dad’s words: “You don’t see this every day, son”.
“He thought it couldn't be true,” Christian said of his dad, who he described as “your typical Australian bushy”.
Christian, who now lives at Seal Rocks, remembers the experience as “clear as day”.
He described the creature as having “black to faded stripes on its back-end and smaller than a dingo”.
“Dad always said it was [a Tasmanian tiger].”
They believed “there could be no doubt”.
One sighting in a lifetime must be considered special. Then, 20 years later, Christian experienced a second sighting.
This one happened only five years ago.
The site was about 30 kilometres from the first sighting, he said.
He was riding his motorbike at the time.
This sighting, he said, was “clear as day as well”.
An Ancient Landscape
Christian has great affection for the Barrington Tops area.
“We love this place and respect it in many ways,” he said.
He said there was “not many places I haven't been up there”.
He’d seen the place “bring many people unstuck”.
These sightings may be hard for some people to believe. But consider this. The Barrington Tops is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service describes this area as an “ancient landscape” and “the most extensive strip of diverse rainforest anywhere on earth”.
“The World Heritage Area is a direct window into the past and the future, providing a link to the ancient pre-human world and a stunning and irreplaceable record of life on our planet,” the service said on its website.
“Most of Barrington Tops National Park is declared wilderness; large, natural areas of land that, together with their native plants and animal communities, remain essentially unchanged by modern human activity.”