A supplied video screen-grab obtained on Thursday, January 24, 2019 of a sketch of a 10-foot tall ‘yowie' drawn by a truck driver who claims to have spotted it inland from the Gold Coast in November last year. (AAP Image/Supplied by Dean Harrison, Australian Yowie Research)
A supplied video screen-grab obtained on Thursday, January 24, 2019 of a sketch of a 10-foot tall ‘yowie' drawn by a truck driver who claims to have spotted it inland from the Gold Coast in November last year. (AAP Image/Supplied by Dean Harrison, Australian Yowie Research)

The truth behind Coast’s hinterland terror

SINCE the early 1930s, tales of a hinterland yowie with nightmarish eyes, large hairy figure and harrowing screams have terrified Gold Coasters.

But despite the lack of a body, a pelt or conclusive recordings, the stories of the creature have permeated local mythology to this day, drawing yowie hunters.

For Yugambeh man Shaun Davies, language researcher at the Yugambeh Museum, the modern day yowie sightings serve as a link to the indigenous lore of the past.

A passionate cultural researcher, Mr Davies has devoted half a decade to collecting indigenous stories of the Gold Coast region.

Yugambeh man Shaun Davies, language researcher at the Yugambeh Museum has been studying traditional stories from the Gold Coast region. Shaun pictured at the Eagleby Wetlands. Picture: Jerad Williams
Yugambeh man Shaun Davies, language researcher at the Yugambeh Museum has been studying traditional stories from the Gold Coast region. Shaun pictured at the Eagleby Wetlands. Picture: Jerad Williams

He has found a number of similarities between the stories passed down by traditional owners and the figures purported to have been seen in recent decades.

"It (the yowie) has an indigenous history," Mr Davies said.

"The figures described don't always line up, but there are two types of creatures which are similar."

The creatures are known as the Janjarri and the Bunyun.

Janjarri, often translated as "the hairy people'', are said to inhabit thick scrub and rainforest below the hinterland in areas like Ormeau, Coomera and Oxenford. Generally described as 90-150cm tall (3-5ft), the creatures were also called fairies by the first white settlers.

"(They were) also called Gujarang, which literally means cousin," Mr Davies said.

Bunyun, a more terrifying creature, were said to inhabit the rocky areas of the Great Dividing Range, including Springbrook and Mount Tamborine.

They were said to be tall, muscular, rock-shaped creatures and the source of landslides.

"To me the descriptions of the Gold Coast yowies seem to be a mix of the two," Mr Davies said.

TRUCKIE STILL HAS NIGHTMARES ABOUT YOWIE

A sketch of a Janjarri supplied by the Yugambeh museum.
A sketch of a Janjarri supplied by the Yugambeh museum.

"There are many different stories told about the Bunyun. Usually the creature isn't very happy - it comes across as aggressive and angry.

"It is also regarded as a southern protector."

According to Mr Davies, the traditional tribal routes in the Coomera area crisscross the landscape specifically to avoid the Bunyun or the "fairy fellas''.

"When I hear these stories, I do get pleasantly pleased white fellas get to experience these things, that it isn't just something we have in our stories," Mr Davies said.

"It is something shared."

MORE COAST YOWIE SPOTTERS COME FORWARD

Witness drawing of a 'Hairy man' at Jiggi, just south of Nimbin. Supplied by the Yugambeh Museum.
Witness drawing of a 'Hairy man' at Jiggi, just south of Nimbin. Supplied by the Yugambeh Museum.

Mr Davies said research had kept his mind open to the possibilities of what might be out there.

"When the platypus was first found it was dismissed as a fake or mythology," Mr Davies said.

"So who knows about a legendary creatures like the Bunyip and the Yowie. These stories can sometimes go back 7000 years."

A Department of Environment and Science spokeswoman said they had no reports of Yowie sightings on the Gold Coast.

HINTERLAND YOWIE COULD BE BEHIND ANIMAL KILLINGS

Dean Harrison who has seen and hunts the QLD Yowie
Dean Harrison who has seen and hunts the QLD Yowie

THE HUNTER

To the founder of Australian Yowie Research, Dean Harrison, the creatures are not a hypothetical matter - they are his life's calling.

The cryptozoologist began recording every available sighting of the animal after what he claims was a near-death encounter with a Yowie on his Ormeau property in 1998.

The AYR data base was now one of the most extensive in the country, Mr Harrison said.

He saw his work as a community service.

"I had no choice but to do this," Mr Harrison said.

"Before research specialists, there was nowhere for people to turn to.

"These encounters do change some people and they need to be able to speak with someone who believes them.

"They try counsellors to come to terms with what they have seen, but for many being able to look into their experience is what helps them find closure."

Mr Harrison is deep into his investigation into the latest sighting made by a truck driver outside of Witheren, near Canungra in the Gold Coast Hinterland, which the Bulletin reported last month.

He believes the region has one of the highest concentrations of sightings in Australia.

A work in progress sketch by artist Buck Buckingham based on witness descriptions of the Yowie.
A work in progress sketch by artist Buck Buckingham based on witness descriptions of the Yowie.

MODERN SIGHTINGS

In November 1977 a group of TSS boys, camping in Springbrook National Park, claimed to have seen a three-metre tall hairy creature in the scrub.

The boys said they had watched the animal crush saplings "like matchsticks" through binoculars.

One of the boys, Bill O'Chee, who went on to become a Queensland National Party senator, confirmed his original account in the early 2000s, describing it as the most "amazing experience".

A year later another sighting was made by 13-year-old Shaun Cooper at his Yakkayne St home in Nerang.

The boy claimed he saw a creature with black fur clawing at a tree one winter afternoon.

"My dad wasn't home and my mum didn't want to go back and look for it," he told then-Bulletin journalist Des Houghton in 1978.

A sketch drawn by 12-year-old Shaun Cooper in 1978 who claims he saw a Yowie in Nerang. The story was published in the Gold Coast Bulletin 25/08/1978.
A sketch drawn by 12-year-old Shaun Cooper in 1978 who claims he saw a Yowie in Nerang. The story was published in the Gold Coast Bulletin 25/08/1978.

Sightings have continued intermittently to this day.

In 1998 a plaster cast of a large footprint found in Springbrook was sent to the US for testing, but the results were inconclusive.

In 2005 a Gold Coast man, Sean Pask, who had claimed to have seen what was called the "Hollywell Horror'' when he was a teen, admitted he made up his 1979 sighting.

"It was just four boys mucking around in the bush," he told the Weekend Bulletin in 2005.



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