Gatton, Queensland is a town of about 7,000 people in the fertile Lockyer Valley, situated at 27½° S, 152° E. It is also within striking distance of my home in Brisbane, so I arranged to drive to his place and interview the witnesses on Saturday 21 February. As confirmation of their credentials was the fact that they wished to remain completely anonymous. It is a familiar story. People who (think they) have seen a big cat or Tasmanian tiger on the mainland are quite happy to have their names published, but those who report a sea serpent or yowie desire nothing more than anonymity. And these people were particularly scared of publicity, for their position in the community left them extremely vulnerable to public ridicule.
The two witnesses were father and son. The wife and mother had been sitting in the back seat of the car, and thus saw nothing at the time except a "shadow". I interviewed the witnesses separately, although it is almost certain they had discussed the matter between them previously.
The Father. Aged 54, pensioner. According to his testimony, the event took place on a Monday two weeks before. That would have made it the 9th February, but since his friend had phoned me that date, I presume it was the previous Monday, 2 February. The sighting took place at 11.30 pm. He was in the driver's seat as they were heading home from Toowoomba in a Toyota. He had turned left into a road which had farmland with a wire fence on the left, and suburbia on the right. His lights were on high beam. Suddenly, he saw an animal on the left of the road, on the road side of the fence. It ran across the road from left to right, about 20 metres away, right in his headlights, and passed behind a blue van on the other side of the road.
At first she said nothing, because he thought his eyes had deceived him, when his wife cried out, "You're going to hit someone!", and his son said, "[Expletive]! What was that?"
The Son. Aged 21, employed in computer graphics. According to him, the event took place about 11.30 pm about two weeks before. He believed it was a Thursday, but his mother corrected him and said Monday. He confirmed the location. The moon was present, but not very bright, and there were no streetlights in the areas. However, the car's headlights were on high beam.
Here is his sketch. He first saw it on the left hand side (which is the passenger side in Australia), on the road side of the fence. It was "travelling" at the time, but in the shadows, and he could not work out what it might be. Cows were often present in the farm, but this was neither cow nor kangaroo. When the car was about 15 or 20 metres away, it broke and ran across the road into the beam of the headlights. It ran like a man, but much faster, with its arms moving slightly, but not pumping like a man's would. The house to which it ran to had three pine trees, and a white van parked there as well. (His mother then corrected him; the van is always there and it is very pale blue, almost white.)
The animal was very tall- easily 6 feet, maybe 7 or 8 - and was covered with brown fur, not very thick, and fairly short. He recognized it as fur because it had the same effect in the lights as has the fur of a kangaroo. The head hair was not long like a woman's, but there was a lot of hair around the head. He didn't see any neck. The body was slim but, because it was taller than me, it may have been more heavily built. He could not tell the sex. The arms appeared longer than normal, but that may have been because its body was stooped. The legs appeared long, but that may have been because it was running at the time.
The Site was actually only a couple of hundred yards around the corner from their own home - one of the reasons they were so scared. It was on the outskirts of town, where suburbia meets farmland. The road is bitumenised, and the normal width for a suburban street. It was obvious that the sighting must have lasted only a couple of seconds, but the son reckoned it was burned into his brain.
|Site of the crossing|
The father halted the car at the point where he thought he saw the animal, and I paced it off at 30 paces, or approximately 25 yards. His son, however, thought it was much closer: 15 paces. It must be remembered, of course, that the car was moving, and even if the brakes had been applied - and it doesn't seem they were - it would have taken less than a second to cover that distance. The sighting, although brief, would have been very close, in very bright light.
Conclusion. A hoax on the part of the witnesses can be ruled out. Unless we assume that a very tall man (who would be very well known in such a small town) was prowling around in a very strange costume, we must conclude that this was a slim version of the yowie. It almost certainly lived in the state forest, and had followed the belt of riverine trees to the farm area. I wobder what the people would think if they knew a great hairy ape was roaming around their front yards!