According to the mainstream view, the yowie is supposed to be a fictitious creature. Therefore, it could come as a surprise that in some rural parts of Australia a stream of sightings involving hairy and tall Bigfoot-like bipeds continues to reach the local media, and similar reports are regularly received by cryptozoology organisations. With the spread of smartphones, these are increasingly accompanied by YouTube film footage of the purported hominids. Hotspots appear to be the Gold Coast hinterland, the area west of Ipswich, Kilcoy, and the Blue Mountains.
Certainly the yowie was known to Aboriginals, who had a number of names for it, varying according to the tribal language, and who referred to it as the ‘hairy man.’
In July 1977, a 52-year-old male approached the Northern Star, prompted by an earlier report from Woodenbong where a woman named Mrs Thelma Crewe claimed to have seen a pair of yowies in her yard in November 1976. He was living in Ballina, and requested to remain anonymous in print, although he did provide his name to the paper. His story was published on July 7th.
The incident took place in winter 1935, on a moonlit night, when he was ten years old. He was on his late grandfather’s dairy farm, on Three Chain Road, South Lismore, which judging from adverts around that era was probably Hillside Dairy. At the time, the country behind South Lismore had been a lot wilder and the hills were covered in thick bush.
At 9pm, he was standing on the verandah, when he thought he saw a figure walking across the paddock towards the house from the direction of the hills. His grandfather’s horse ‘started to kick up a hell of a fuss in its yard.’ He went inside, and told his grandfather that someone was coming.
His grandfather went out, and saw what it was, and bundled the boy inside. After grabbing a rifle, the grandfather blew out the living room lamp. Then both grandparents took him inside the kitchen, from where they all watched through a small window as the creature went past the house.
It was about 25 metres away, and clearly visible in moonlight. As it lacked a neck, the head was sitting directly on the shoulders. Its posture made it look as though it had a hunched back. It was bulkier around the chest and shoulders than a human.
The figure hesitated near a shed, as if it were thinking about entering, but then kept on going. It had a walking posture that looked as though it was dragging its feet. He watched it for about five minutes before it went out of view. His grandfather then stated that was gone and would not be coming back. At the time, it was the most frightening thing that the young witness had seen.
His grandfather recognised it as the same creature that had been seen a few years earlier when riding up into a gully behind the property to pick guavas. As with this incident, at the time his horse had become very agitated. The grandfather asked the boy not to talk about this incident because people would not believe it. No doubt, he was also concerned at getting some strange looks and attracting an eccentric reputation.
The part of Three Chain Road in South Lismore that people are generally aware of is the stretch of industrial estate running at a right angle to the Bruxner Highway, not far from Bunnings. After about a kilometre, the commercial development disappears, and the road runs flat and straight. Rising up a hill, it passes the Animal Rights and Rescue Group headquarters.
From here, road passes the South Lismore sewerage works, a council quarry entrance, and a large electrical substation. The last dirt section, which virtually nobody has cause to explore, has a pleasant rural aspect, and is far too short. You pass an old fig tree and a rustic-looking cottage. Soon afterwards the entry to a large property marks the end of the road, just three kilometres from the Bruxner Highway roundabout, but a world away in terms of its feel.
Research indicates that the name of the grandfather was William Ruane, who sadly died in 1937 at the relatively young age of 59, just two years after this event took place. The property ahead used to be the former Hillside Dairy, and records show that his family owned a wide swathe of land that ran from far left to right in a north-south axis.
Behind the land rises up to the slopes of the Canaiba Plateau, where the wild bush and the yowies have long since vanished.