In search of yowies

The yowie is a concoction of raconteurs and sensationalists, right? The idea that huge and hairy ape-like creatures are roaming the bush of Australia's east coast must be a nonsense because you've never seen one or known anyone who has. But I've just spoken to someone who did see such a creature, and I have no doubt that she is sincere. That person is Belinda Garfoot. She is 54 years old and lives in the Newcastle suburb of Elermore Vale with husband Peter, and in 1996 while on a driving holiday she and Peter watched a yowie cross the Kings Highway between Braidwood and the coast. Peter had pulled to the side of the road to rest the car's brakes when he saw the creature in the rear-vision mirror, and both turned to watch it for five to 10 seconds. It was, they say, at least 2.1 metres, or seven feet, tall, with disproportionally long arms, no neck, shaggy and with an upright walk.

I came across the Garfoots' account of their yowie experience in a book, The Yowie - In Search of Australia's Bigfoot, by Tony Healy and Paul Cropper (Mackay's Books, Epping, has copies), which is a serious look at a great many reports of yowies stretching back many years. As I detail in my column in the Herald today, the Kempsey area is a yowie hotspot, and closer to Newcastle Oxley Island near Taree, Krambach and Nowendoc have been the scene for credible reports of sightings. Common to many of these reports is that the creature has a pervasive stench, no visible neck, a brown shaggy coat, a huge stride and a height of between two and three metres. Some describe it as bear like, and it does not appear to be a friendly or even passive animal.

I don't mind admitting that since I've spoken to Belinda I've taken the latch off my closed mind, but I am far from a believer. Are you? Have you seen a yowie?