The Australian Hairy Man, Australian Gorilla, Australian Bigfoot, Yahoo or Yowie

This cryptozoological animal is an unknown species of hominin using both quadrupedal and bipedal perambulation to access its habitat. It is known in English as the Australian hairy man, Australian gorilla and yowie. Occasional descriptions and illustrations of it had appeared in newspapers, books and memoires from the early day of European settlement. Because specimens were not obtained, to be examined and classified by zoologists, and because so few reports were received of it, this remarkable species has been almost forgotten.

Consequently, it was almost completely unknown until Graham Joyner, interested in the history of science and employed as an archivist in Canberra, unearthed several references to yowies and yahoos in old documents and 19th century newspapers. He published a book The Hairy Man of South Eastern Australia in 1977, which contained 29 early references to the animal, dating from 1842 to 1935, listed some of the names that Aboriginal people used for it and succeeded in bringing it to the awareness of some members of the scientific community.

However, it remained unknown to the general-public until naturalist Rex Gilroy of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains behind Sydney began writing articles for newspapers and magazines in the 1970s, describing his research and requesting reports of observations into the animal. The name yowie was recorded by P. J. Gresser in his 1964 article entitled Manuscripts Relating Principally to the Aborigines of the Bathurst District in which he wrote that the Aborigines of south-eastern Australia, particularly the mountain tribes, feared “the Yahoo or Yowie … an animal of large proportions whose body was covered with masses of long hair…” (Gresser, 1964).

Hair samples, excellent footprints with detailed dermal ridges, photographs and video footage have been obtained. However, no bodies or skeletal remains, essential for identification, have been found.

Homo erectus and Homo palaeojavanicus have been found in Indonesia as million year old fossils, though Homo floresiensis fossils from Flores, on the Australian side of the Wallace Line, are only 13,000 years old.  Homo neanderthalensis is known from fossil evidence to have existed throughout Eurasia until about 28,000 years ago. The Australian, New Guinean and Solomon Island bigfoot and the much smaller njimbin / junjadee are most likely related to these species and may have reached these shores as survivors washed out to sea by tsunamis.

In May 1975 at the base of the Cougals, to the east of Springbrook, on the Queensland / New South Wales border, I heard the roaring voice of an unknown animal, which greatly surprised me. I knew the calls of every species and was amazed that I was hearing something completely unknown. It was a short series of loud distinctive roars that emanated from the rocky, steeply sloping cliff a hundred metres away. I attempted but was unable to climb the cliff from where the call came and then the call was repeated. It was most likely the warning roar of a yowie telling me that I was approaching its core territory, though at the time I was quite unable to imagine what kind of animal could produce such a powerful call and remain completely unknown to science.

A close encounter at 2 pm on 5 March 1978 at Best of all Lookouts on Springbrook by national park head ranger, Percy Window, was very interesting because he was a government employee and in charge of a large and popular national park. The witness was a work colleague of a friend of mine, John Duncan, who was able to relate to me a detailed description. A bipedal, gorilla-like primate standing 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) high was clearly observed in Antarctic Beech rainforest in good light from a distance of 4 metres (13 feet). It had a distinctive odor, a grunting voice, a body covered in long black hair, a flat, shiny-black face, large yellow eyes, a sagittal crest, and huge hands. Several other previous sightings on the same mountain and in surrounding districts were reported in local newspapers.

Then in June 1978 at 3 a.m., on a very quiet night with a full moon, I was awakened by a very powerful, continuously repeated roaring-bellowing call. The voice came from lowland subtropical rainforest in Joalah National Park on Tamborine Mountain 300 metres (984 feet) from our house at an altitude of 500 metres (1,640 feet).

The call was a deep-throated, booming “Yee-yee-yee-yee-yee” that continued without a break for 5 minutes. I could clearly hear the sounds being pumped out of a massive chest and the vocalization sounded more like a big primate call. After approximately 2 minutes, three dingos (Australian wild dogs) broke into their characteristic howling. Two of the dingos were approximately 80 metres (260 feet) to one side of the mysterious animal and the third was howling at a similar distance on the opposite side. The sound of these 4 animals in full cry was the most remarkable natural sound that I have ever heard. I was able to accurately judge the call of the unknown animal with the calls of the dingos that I regularly heard.

The yowie’s call was at least twice as loud as and much more powerful than the dingos and after their howling finished the yowie continued its repetitive bellowing for perhaps another minute. Then only the sound of Curtis Falls, Cedar Creek and the chirping of the crickets remained.

The next time I heard the calls of the yowie was at 3-30 a.m. on 1 June 1996 on the slopes of the Koonyum Range at an elevation of 200 metres (656 feet) at Main Arm in north-eastern NSW. I had walked outside for a view of the full moon illuminating a crystal clear night and heard 100 metres (328 feet) away, near a dry creek bed in eucalypt forest, a series of some 90 loud bark-like calls. The calls were always in a series of three, the middle call was always the loudest and it was followed each time by softer call “arroo-ARROO-arroo.”

The beginning of each of the three barks “ARR” was sudden and intense while the final “oo” portion was cut short as it fell off in volume. Between the sets of three barks, a time of about 5 or 6 seconds, a disturbingly strange soft gurgling call, “gu-gu-gu-gu,” could be heard. It continued with very little variation for about 5 minutes with the last couple of series of calls appearing less loud as if it had begun to move off. It was quite unlike the calls of foxes or barking deer that I had heard in Southeast Asia and once again had more of a primate feel to it. The next day I found 3 toe prints in the earth of a creek bank where it had climbed up the slope and each toe was about the same size as a human big toe, slightly reducing in size as if it were a right foot.

At dusk on 3 November 2008 in the Billinudgel Nature Reserve, Wooyung, I had a yowie, approach me to within 10 metres, as I was walking along a track in coastal bushland with a dense tea tree & sedge grass understorey. I was with my dog Banjo near my home when I heard something moving towards me through thick vegetation.

We could hear the gentle sound of a large body quietly pushing through the dense lower stratum of vegetation, 1 to 2 metre high and once every 30 to 40 seconds we could hear a loud crack sound as if two sticks had been hit together. As it drew closer, after 4 or 5 minutes, my dog suddenly gave a double warning bark. I hissed at him to be quiet.

I was surprised that it continued to approach us with the same sound of sticks being hit together. Then after another 4 or 5 minutes my dog suddenly barked a second time, and again I hissed at him to be quiet. This second bark also failed to deter the approaching animal & it continued to get closer with the same cracking of sticks for another 3 or 4 minutes. I had been carefully viewing through binoculars & saw a brown upright animal 1.5 m tall moving carefully parallel to the track I was on and about 6 metres away and then it moved quietly off.


Figure 14. Yowie researcher Pixie Byrnes is sitting in the position where she first obtained clear views of the yowie that she named ‘Humpty’, at 11.30 am on 10 March 2008. The male yowie squatted on the grass in the small clearing towards the top of the photograph before moving off. With Pixie sitting in the same position the next day at 12.30 pm ‘Humpty’ walked out of the trees towards her, and then turned away.

Pixie’s first encounter with a yowie was even more exciting. She states “I was in a paperbark tree lined creek bed, cooking potatoes and steak on a fire that I had made in the river sand, along a lovely shady bank. I never realized that I was not alone until a mob of dogs came rushing in on the other side of the creek only 15m or so away. Up popped a massive yowie from the long grass above the creek, I had no idea it was there at all. I climbed up into a paperbark tree with a pot lid in my hand. By the time I got up the tree I saw three dogs racing around and around this yowie and another dog was already in the yowie’s hand. It was holding it by the muzzle and head and it looked very dead in a very short time.

The yowie, holding on to the dead dog, flung it around at the other dogs and struck them over and over again until they were yelping. The next thing I saw was that those big ugly, horrible dogs ran away from the struggle with their hair all mattered and with the bristles on their backs standing upright. One of them seemed to have part of his face missing. Then the big dark-haired yowie turned and holding the dog in its hand, walked across the flat ground to a big tree. Then it flung the body up into a fork of a tree. The torso of the large golden dog or dingo seemed to be empty or crushed flat.”

Figure 15. A drawing of ‘Humpty,’ watching wild bush turkeys while holding three sticks in his right hand, by Yowie researcher Pixie Byrnes. This was drawn immediately after the encounter at 11.30 am on 10 March 2008.

Figure 16. A drawing of ‘Humpty’ sitting beside a water hole after having washed himself in the early morning during rainy weather, by yowie researcher Pixie Byrnes. This was drawn immediately after an encounter in March 2008.

Figure 17. Cryptozoological researcher and artist John Opit, 14 May 2012 at Limpinwood, examining a small rainforest tree which a yowie had torn open with its fingers to obtain the wood boring grubs. Two yowies had been heard giving their distinctive howling calls from this exact position within heavily vegetated undisturbed rainforest the night before. Yowies use their fingernails to rip the wood away and the result is more efficient and less destructive than the beak ripping employed by black cockatoos in more open forest.

John encountered a yowie nearby on his property at night in the forest and it ran off. His son Simeon saw a 6 foot tall black-furred yowie early one morning near the house.