Reporter Paul Willis goes into the Blue Mountains near Sydney to meet Neil, a high school teacher who claims to have had several hundred encounters with a large bipedal ape like creature in the bush, and he’s not alone; many of his neighbours have seen it too. So far there is a distinct lack of scientific evidence that such a creature exists, Paul wants to find out just what’s going on?
Big Hairy Men have been seen all around the world. They go by the name of Sasquatch, Yeti and Bigfoot. In Australia, it’s the Yowie that terrorises people in the bush. ‘Catalyst’ looks at what’s behind these mysterious sightings. Does the yowie really exist or is it a hoax? Are people imagining things or is it a case of mistaken identity?
We canvas all the options, assess the evidence and get to the bottom of the Mystery of the Yowie. Could it be there really is a large creature, as yet unknown to science roaming through the bush? Is it a case of mistaken identity, or a hoax? Or is there something going on in our minds that creates a monster from bits and pieces of unexplained information? We explore the Mystery of the Yowie.
Narration: Just outside Sydney there have been reports of encounters with human-like creatures otherwise unknown to science.
Neil: It’s around 2.1 metres. It has a long thick coat, very dark and the face is largely hairless, very deep skin folds.
Narration: So far there is no hard evidence, no specimens, no bones, but plenty of sightings. Yeti, Yowie, Bigfoot, all over the world there are stories of large hairy human like creatures roaming through the wilderness. But what’s behind these mysterious sightings? In Australia, Big Hairy Men are known as yowies. Here in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Neil, claims to have had over 300 encounters with Yowies over the last decade. Many of his neighbours have had encounters too.
Neil: The closest I’ve been is probably about 6 feet. At the time I wasn’t even aware it was there
Narration: Neil and a friend having heard the sound of footsteps in the bush decided to follow it
Neil: When I got close to where I thought it was last standing, I turned to Robert and said, I think it’s somewhere around here, just be careful I'm going to turn the light on and see what happens. So I walked down into the swamp, turned on the light and without knowing it the thing had been so close to me, and it stood up directly to the front of me and slightly to the side, leant towards me and just roared in my face. The only thing I really remember was the basic outline, it’s height, the red eyes, because I had the torch shining at it, or above it’s head and it was black skinned.
Narration: Neil and his neighbours have had hundreds of encounters with Yowies and gone looking for evidence of their movements. He claims these deep gouges are made by yowies biting into trees in search of grubs. (short discussion re tree bites). And it’s not just Australians who are reporting encounters with Wild Men and Women. Dr Hemut Loofs-Wissowa is an anthropologist who’s catalogued similar reports from around the world, particularly Vietnam and Laos.
Dr Hemut Loofs-Wissowa: I came across this wild man phenomena there and I eventually found out it was really a worldwide phenomena.
Narration: This is a drawing of a wild man supposedly found in Vietnam. When Helmut showed it to villagers in Laos, they identified the drawing as a creature they’d seen in their forests. Helmut believes these creatures are Neanderthal men living in remote areas and thinks they’re being dismissed too readily.
Dr Hemut Loofs-Wissowa: You say you’ve seen one you’re lying, you must be lying because they don’t exist
Narration: Not everyone is so sceptical. Anthropologist Alan Thorne thinks mavericks like Helmut are crucial to the progress of science.
Alan Thorne: It’s the person who goes outside the envelope who produces the goods. Lots of people do and fail and as we look back in science we see these magical people who at the time were mavericks, looney tunes, but when they come up with the goods and prove the theory we say fantastic.
Narration: But maverick or not neither Helmut or Neil or anyone else for that matter has come up with incontrovertible physical evidence that Yowies exist. Here’s Neil’s evidence, does it constitute hard data.
Neil: This is an original footprint from the one we call Fatfoot….
Narration: But he admits the evidence he has collected so far is ambiguous, so why is there nothing more concrete?
Neil: It’s difficult for me to explain cos I have a problem with that too I find it disappointing that we don’t find more of it….
What about the bite marks? Don’t they constitute evidence?
Narration: We took Richard Turner, specialist in the damage various animals do to trees, to have a look at the bite marks with Neil.
Paul Willis (Reporter): What do you think about it
Richard Turner: This to me is quite clearly a track from a bulls Eye borer that’s been ripped open by a yellow tailed black cockatoo.
Neil: I find it hard to believe that a yellow tailed black cockatoo could do this….
Narration: One problem for Neil with the black cockatoo theory is he’s convinced that some of these marks were made at night.
Neil: Unless the black cockatoo is nocturnal, I would suggest another predator is going after these grubs.
Richard Turner: In my experience they are diurnal, they go to roost at night. Well the midnight theory is interesting.
Narration: Perhaps there’s another explanation for experiences with mysterious monsters, perhaps it’s a case of mistaken identity. If these people come to you and tell you we have seen these creatures why should you not believe them.
Bill Von Hippel: Eye witnesses in general are very fallible; they are doing their best to tell us what they really saw but we know that people’s memories and their perceptions are quite fallible.
Narration: Psychologist believe that when we get fleeting glimpses of something, our mind fills in the gaps, what we interpret it to be is moulded by our expectations.
Bill Von Hippel: If people have an expectation that it’s out there be it ambiguous, blurry, seen at night or very fast moving, but that tiny little bit of something people can latch onto and they can end up seeing things in very different ways then it was.
Narration: But Neil is not convinced by this explanation.
Neil: Well for the vast number of encounters we’ve had … … we’re not imagining this thing.
Narration: So whether these creatures are really roaming through the bush remains to be seen, but science will continue to demand proof before accepting the claims. But Alan Thorne warns against being too sceptical.
Alan Thorne: There in the totally searched out Blue Mountains west of Sydney there suddenly pops up the Wollombi Pine, a totally new family of trees I think. So it’s a warning we don’t know everything and maybe there’s still quite a lot of surprises out there and if those turn out to be hairy men then so be it.
- Reporter: Paul Willis
- Producer: Louise Heywood
- Researcher: Owen Craig
Comments for this story are closed. No new comments can be added.
04 Jan 2012 6:06:00pm-
The one thing that puzzles me is that although plaster-casts have been made of these creatures, no bones, or remains have been found to my knowledge. However, so many stories exist down the years as well as the legends told by the aborigines that one really cannot totally dismiss their existence. Remember...the Wollomi Pine, believed to be extinct, was only recently discovered.
15 Oct 2010 7:58:23pm-
I have been researching the Yowie for 9 years and have aproached my study with scientific application. There are consistances that constantly arise when you look at seasonal, characteristics and placing of sightings. Also behaivoural and mannerisms. You would not see these consistances if it was one massive fabrication.
04 Apr 2010 2:31:02pm-
edited by ABC moderator
There is and always has been a large fictional/story-telling element to many alleged yowie encounters. Six yowie sightings were reported by the media in 2009 - all of them turned out to be bogus. It is simply good fun to make stuff up and scare your mates while out in the bush - especially at night.
However, there are a couple of reports that are hard to dismiss and it would be interesting to know more about those.
J.Moore - I have heard of similar accounts coming out of North Queensland and would like to compare notes with you.
Feel free to contact me:
***Edited by ABC moderator***
Moderator: Please don't post any personal information about yourself or anyone else on this message board (for example telephone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, MSN or ICQ details).
28 Apr 2010 12:49:00pm-
I saw a yowie at about 12:15am in Brick Hill, South America. Some friends and I went out camping and we heard some noise. We we so scared to really do anything so we didnt really move we just sat there waiting. It was approximatly 12:45 when we seen the first yowie, a couple of minutes after the first one left there were a hole heap of them! Photos are on my facebook page.
22 Oct 2010 1:17:57am-
Just trying to look up your Yowie encounter.
27 Mar 2010 10:52:02am-
This knowledge of hairymen has always been spoken about by Aboriginal people I have encountered down the eastcoast of Australia. I did not realise that the hairymen were this far down as the Blue Mountains. I grew up in North Queensland where these hairy men occupy most of the bushland and rainforest areas. We grew hearing lots of stories about the hairymen and my family called them in their traditional language of the area, "chickabinna". My Grandmother would tell us stories about them, what noises they made, what they ate, etc. We were told what certain areas of the local country they occuppied and where to not camp. Soooo many stories that have really interested me in further exploration of this supernatural being. I wasn't sure if non-indigenous people ever had encountered these beings and thought it would be something that they would quite easily dismiss as they were not at all believing of these stories. It really is quite a huge relief to hear non indigenous people believe.
17 Jul 2010 12:10:54am-
Thanks for your contribution Evidently they are not all the same. Some a brown, reddish, black or gray and some have big teeth and some not. There are also pygmy types. Do you know what they sound like by any chance? I would very much appreciate your take on it.
I have heard something two legged walking in the bush, smelled something especially nasty simultaneoulsy and heard the loudest, longest, (impossibly strong and long) scream at the same time more than once. Once at Wahroohgah state forest, once at the bushland just south of Newcastle (Karingai) and once in the Blue Mountains. It was not a bird, the screaming owl or a person as it went on too long and was too strong. Is this what they sound like, by any chance?
06 Dec 2011 11:50:53am-
Hi Tsomo, thanks for your interesting info. Yes, the sound that you heard is one of the screams that they are known to make. The smell is not always present during encounters, but sometimes is present. I have had a quick visual of one in the Brindabella Mountians in the ACT and also found footprints and stick structures in the same area. The more information that we can all share, the more we will know about these creatures.
21 Jul 2010 7:58:20pm-
Gâ€™day J Moore,
It is good to see that Reconciliation is more than simply saying â€œsorryâ€�. It is extremely pleasing to find that indigenous knowledge, learnt over 50 thousand or more years, is now becoming equally appreciated by all Australians. Thanks.
23 Oct 2011 9:06:00pm-
The Hairy giants are a world wide phenomenon,they were"the first people"
Indigenous people world- wide know this, in their legends and ancestral stories the hairy giants developed a mighty civilisation,that rose and eventualy declined into savagery,around the world there are groups of these people that can be very spiritual,and those that are total savages and cannibals,they live in the cave systems world wide.