The Nimble Junjudee From Jiggi

Yowies are Australia’s Bigfoot, and the similarities of yowie reports to its US ‘relative’ are striking. In over 39 years of investigating Australian cases I’ve probably spoken to over 250 yowie witnesses, but I’m still no closer to understanding what these experiences represent. An undiscovered animal? Unlikely. Misidentification? Nothing in the Australian bush looks like a gorilla. Sociological phenomenon? Fine, but explain the many multiple witness sightings.

One of my favourite recent multiple witness cases came via Dean Harrison and the AYR web site. Dean’s site has been a primary channel for people interested in the phenomenon since the mid 90s. Dean has always been generous with material and in most cases simply passed reports directly to me to follow up on behalf of his group.

This particular case was submitted to the AYR site on 17 Jan 2017, and I interviewed the witness – Margaret X – the following day. The witness really impressed me. Her story involved a smaller than usual yowie, but more about that later.

Her story took place near the wonderfully named Jiggi, NSW in 2003.

Margaret’s experience is quite surreal. Read the transcript and you will understand what I mean. My question remains – what do these experiences really mean? Big thanks to my colleague and fellow crypto-enthusiast Tony Healy for the interview transcript and his final case notes below.

Interview Transcript with Margaret X. January 2017.

Paul: “How long have you lived in the Jiggi area?”

Margaret: “We moved to the Lismore area in 2000. We bought a property in Jiggi, and my daughter and I used to take the horses for rides up the hills and all sorts of places in the bush – because I’m a bushie myself. We’d ride for miles.”

On the day of the sighting, they “… came up a really steep climb to the top … went off the road, through a farmer’s gate – and were walking the horses after the steep climb, when they just stopped and put their heads up. And we looked to see what they were looking at and (her daughter) said, ‘Mum – it’s a Hairy Man!’ And it was! And he was really close – just about 20 metres away – and the horses didn’t panic.”

“Where we saw this little chap was open dairy country – it was all pasture except for a very small grove of stringy barks and the occasional shade tree – so I was surprised we saw him [there]. But not far away is dense bush at Nimbin Rocks and all around there. It’s mountainous, steep. Some people who live there don’t even walk around their properties because it’s so steep – lots of gullies: a good place for someone like him to hide.”

Nimbin Rocks, NSW: Wikipedia/Alex Clarke.

“(But) he was out in the pasture all on his own.” After a moment he broke into a run but, strangely, didn’t run directly away from them. Instead, he zig-zagged: running about thirty metres from their right to their left and then thirty metres back to the right and then left again: “… he zigzagged in front of us three to five times … drawing away … and then went into that very small grove of stringy barks. And I said to my daughter ‘Let’s ride up there to see if we can see him.’ And we got into a trot and he was never more than 40 metres away from us.”

“This little clump of stringy barks was only about five metres square, but (when they got there) he wasn’t there – nothing: just gone. We couldn’t believe it!”

Paul: “But when you say ‘gone’ … gone… where?”

Margaret: “We couldn’t see him – I don’t know. Vanished!”

Crop: “Could he have moved out of your line of sight?”

Margaret: “No – it was a cleared area on top of a hill, all pasture, and he had nowhere to go except to those stringy barks and we rode pretty boldly up there – I wasn’t afraid – I just wanted to have a look at him again – and we got there, and he’d vanished. But I felt like he wanted us to see him – because he could have just run off, down the hill and hid in some lantana. But [instead] he ran in front of us.”

“I can’t explain it – he wasn’t leaning up against a tree to hide himself. The trees – saplings – were only about 20 centimetres across – they weren’t big. He had nowhere to hide. There was no lantana or anything – there was nothing. The grove was tiny, it really was. The size of someone’s lounge room.”

“It was something I’ll never forget. I was looking at the (AYR website) and there’s a lot there about yowies but nothing about the Hairy Man. This little chap was nothing like the yowies – he was erect. I said to Sally, ‘He runs like Cathy Freeman!’ He was athletic – rhythmic strides – the way he was moving his arms – perfectly balanced. I used to long-distance run, and he moved beautifully. And he wasn’t running as fast as he could: he had a speed up, but it was rhythmic and beautiful to watch.”

Paul: “Could you give us a detailed description?”

Margaret: “He was only about four foot ten … five foot at the most … 40 to 45 kilos – very, very slight. I’d compare him to a Grade 5 student with very fine bone structure, you know: a “petite” build.”

“I couldn’t see ears, or nose, or eyes. There was no nose sticking out; he must have had quite a flat face. I couldn’t see his mouth so he must’ve been running effortlessly, breathing through his nose – I’m just guessing. He definitely had a neck. Not long-necked, or no neck: just normal. His shoulders weren’t wide – a completely lean body. His arms seemed long, maybe because he was so slim. I can’t say what his hands were like. I imagine he must have had them clenched while it was running – I didn’t see any fingers.”

“His hair was red – that deep, auburn colour, like a red setter dog. Liver Chestnut horse colour. And he could have blended well with the stringy barks, but he was a dark red. I’d say the hair was about two centimetres long (and I’m ‘into’ animals). The hair was really close [short] and his whole body was hairy.”

Witness drawing of the Jiggi Junjudee.

Paul: “Was he running as fast as, say, a human could?”

Margaret: “Yes, yes – like a balanced athlete running in a 400-metre race – about that speed. He was swinging his arms and legs in perfect rhythm. [While Zig-zagging] he ran about 40 metres, turned, then 40 metres back, turn, 40 metre, turn again. I didn’t feel like he was afraid of us – I felt he was showing himself to us, so did my daughter. It was really weird. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?”

Paul: “What was the sort of ‘vibe’ did you get – neutral? scared? shocked?”

Margaret: “I just thought, ‘They’re real!’ I’d heard about yowies but I’d never heard about Hairy Men, it wasn’t one of my interests, so it never entered my mind and we saw one, and I’m like, ‘Wow – we’re so lucky to see this!’ It was so awesome. I wasn’t afraid, the horses weren’t afraid – not at all – and horses can be easily spooked.”

Paul: “Did you hear or smell anything?”

Margaret: “No, nothing – he didn’t make a single sound. And there was no scent. We rode right up to the stringy bark grove and the horses didn’t falter.”

“I can draw it for you – I can draw the little man. I used to be quite good at sketching – I can get my daughter to scan it and email it to you.”

Paul: “Thanks – that’d be fantastic!”

Margaret: “We were new in the area. I mentioned [the incident] to a couple of people and they thought, ‘Ah – you’ve been on the weed!’ I don’t smoke.

“My daughter had a friend.. who was living about a kilometre away [from the site of the incident] and he’s a really staunch bloke, a mechanic who lived quietly and kept to himself. And he told me that he had seen the ‘Hairy Man’ and although I didn’t give him a description, he described just what we had seen. His dog had been barking at night and food had been going missing from the refrigerator out in his workshop, and he went out with a spotlight and he saw this little Hairy Man. He said an old bloke on a small acreage next to his had also seen it hanging around.”

“I spoke to (Name withheld). He’s the Aboriginal Elder of the Nimbin area – Bundjalung Aboriginals – and he said, ‘Aaah – Hairy Man – I wish I could see one of those little buggers!’ His lived here all his life and he wants to see one too. He gets quite a few reports, but some people keep it to themselves because you get called a nut.”

Paul: “Have you ever had any other strange stuff happening near your property?”

Margaret: “No, not at all – we lived about 1 ½ kilometres from where we saw the Hairy Man. But there were a few neighbours who didn’t like going to a ridge up above us, and one neighbour had a forestry plantation on the ridge and said he got ‘the spooks’ up there. It was a little bit eerie, but I think it might have been the history of the land: there’s been so much suffering. Not far from where we saw the Hairy Man a whole lot of Aboriginals were slaughtered by the first settlers – the squatters.”

Paul: “Is that a well-known location?”

Margaret: “Oh, they keep quiet about this carnage – but a lot of indigenous people were slaughtered in the Jiggi Valley.

“I moved away [for a few years] and came back to this area two years ago. I’m now living (south of Ballina NSW) and there’s a few funny things that have happened around here. We’re on flat land next to a big lagoon and we’ve been hearing this strange screaming noise. I thought one of our horses were stuck in a fence, screaming in pain. It wasn’t a kangaroo or a koala I know what they sound like, and my son… said, ‘Oh – maybe it’s a bunyip, or a yowie!’ [Laughs]

Tony Healy’s comments on the Jiggi case:

This is a particularly interesting report from a very credible witness. It’s interesting to note that the sighting occurred so close to Nimbin Rocks. According to a 1977 edition of The Richmond River Historical Society Bulletin, the town of Nimbin was named after small, hairy creatures that Aborigines said lived in the area. They were described as “sort of hobbits.” The Aboriginal term is sometimes spelt njmbin.

Many Aborigines in different parts of the country believe there are two different types of Hairy Men in Australia: the giant, hairy yowie (also known as doolagarl, gulaga, nooncoonah, etc.) and a very much smaller variety known as junjudees (also known as dinderi, waaki, net-net, njmbin and many other names.) Some Aborigines say the “little fellas” have magical powers, rather like the fairies of Europe.

It’s significant that Margaret knew nothing about the junjudee tradition at the time of her encounter with the little “hairy chap”. In our 2006 book, The Yowie, Paul and I devoted a whole chapter to the junjudee phenomenon.

Like most mystery animal reports, an incredible tale told by a credible witnesses.

8 Replies to “The Nimble Junjudee From Jiggi”

  1. Great article. l am a fellow long time researcher in the field and for me the greatest mystery is still the gap between the meagre forensic evidence and the avalanche of anecdote both contemporary and older traditional.

    What the hell is going on!?!?

  2. I wonder if the reason that it was zig zagging around like that was perhaps there was young or a female or something nearby and he was trying to take attention from them and put it on himself. Kinda like, Don’t look over there, look at me.

  3. Interesting account. A couple of questions for the author:

    Why did it take 14 years for the witness to report her encounter?

    If this one had multiple witnesses, why wasn’t her daughter also interviewed?

    1. Who can you actually report a yowie encounter to without getting ridiculed? The time issue is a question we usually don’t ask, as some eyewitnesses report their encounters the same day, others decades after their experience. It’s not just a question for cryptozoology though. There are plenty of areas where serious claims are made decades after the event. I guess human motivation to speak out varies a lot. We haven’t got around to talking to the daughter. It’s in the queue!

      1. Thank you for your reply.

        Well, in 2003 the witness could report a Yowie sighting to Harrison via his website just like she did in 2017. Rex Gilroy also had a Yowie website in 2003 and had written published articles on the Yowie as had yourself, and Gary Opit. Colin Groves also had an active interest in the subject and was at the ANU at the time.

        If you acknowledge that the time issue (i.e. the time lag between “encounter” and “report”) is a valid and confounding question for cryptozoology and similar subjects then can you explain why you are not asking it?

  4. Because the time issue adds little to the core problem – whether the experience is genuine or not. At the end of the day, these reports are almost always eyewitness testimony with little or no physical evidence. I’ve interviewed several people who claimed encounters only a few hours before we spoke but to my mind, its kind of irrelevant. As the blog makes clear, I have no particular axe to grind in terms of explanation, and my mind has changed several times over the years as to what yowie reports actually ‘mean’. I’d probably summarise my current view as: big hairy monster reports are almost universal and appear to be a fascinating part of the human experience. A Fortean view, I guess!

    1. The time lag between event and report is but one factor which can adversely affect the accuracy of eyewitness testimony which is central to the issue of whether an alleged experience is genuine or not. Memories may be commonly perceived to be accurate and unchanging but studies have repeatedly shown that is simply not the case. Memories are reconstructive in nature (i.e. not at all like video recordings) and thus subject to all sorts of subtle unconscious adjustments over time. Asking a witness about the lag will not solve the problem but it is a step towards a better understanding of what may actually be going on in such reports. Surely that is preferable to speculating about the “human motivation to speak out” that follows not asking.

      At least we agree that big hairy monster reports are a fascinating part of the human experience…

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