One of the common themes in Yowie reports – and many Bigfoot reports – is that they like to throw stones. A lot.
Two historical accounts that Tony Healy and I uncovered while working on our new Yowie book seem to reinforce that idea. What really struck me was that these stories reflected both Indigenous and European traditions. Two different cultures describing similar strange creatures doing similar things.
The Indigenous account appeared in the Sydney Mail of 14 March 1928.
In that article, European author C.W. Peck described an Indigenous story from the Georges River region, south west of Sydney:
“Two young aborigines – brothers – were journeying up George’s River in order to inspect a piece of country in which the Persoonia (PC: a common type of Australian shrub) grew plentifully… Sometimes they heard people not far away and they hid, and even when a wallaby or a bandicoot made a noise by scampering through the undergrowth they stopped and remained still until all noise had ceased.
But when a large stone fell just in front of them they were completely nonplussed, and they peered up amongst the branches of the great eucalypt and looked carefully along the top of the high bank and amongst the boulders and the undergrowth of myrtles and ferns. They saw no sign of anything that could have caused the stone to fall, so they went on. They had not gone far when they were again startled by the crashing down of another big stone. This one they examined, and their keen eyes detected hair on it that they knew came from no animal they had ever seen. They had no sooner touched this hair than there appeared before them a “wullundigong.”
He was a little man completely covered with hair, and immensely strong. He barred their way, and the two men were so afraid that they fainted. When they came to their senses again the “wullundigong” had gone. They new then that they should not continue their journey to the place of the Persoonias; but, thinking that the “wullundigong” had gone for good, and that no one would again disturb them, they did go on.
They reached the place, and found that the berries were quite ripe; but when they went to shake the tree in order to make those quite fit to eat drop to the ground they were horrified to find that the “wullundigong” sat in the branches. He looked very fierce, and grinned at them and made a horrid barking noise. In this fright they each seized a stone and hurled it at the hairy animal. The stones both found their mark, and with a cracked skull the “wullundigong” dropped to the ground.
The men were overjoyed and seized him by the arms, intending to drag him from under the trees to a clear place so that they might better examine him, and perhaps get his kidney fat, for they believed that if they ate this fat they would be possessed of the strength of the animal. But the moment they touched it its spirit entered into each of them, and they became stone-throwers. Their arms grew long and of great strength, and hair grew all over them and over their bodies. They became human “wullundigongs.”
They ate all they wanted of the Persoonia berries, and then went back to their people. But they felt that they could not mix with them as they did before; so they climbed up amongst the boulders, and could not forbear the inclination to hurl stones down amongst the tribe. They were seen and with cries of “Wullundigong! Wullundigong!” the people ran away. They followed, and being human they could sometimes shed their “wullundigong” persons and become men.
In this form they married, and their children were natural stone-throwers. They have never died. As “wullundigongs” they go away and live for periods in rocky places, and as men they join a tribe and are received in silence, and they choose wives; but if they can be caught just before the change takes place or while it is in progress they are killed.”
The next tale of stone-throwing Yowies, this time by Europeans, appeared in the Armidale Express of 9 February 1892. The report was in the form of a letter written to the Express:
A Strange Adventure
GENTLEMEN, – Please publish the enclosed account of an adventure which happened to four men while out mustering cattle on the lower end of the Kangaroo Hills run, and I may mention the account is perfectly true, and can be verified on application to the manager of the Kangaroo Hills station.
A. W. G. C. B.
On January 29th a party of four stockmen went down to the lower end of the run to muster cattle, and fixed their camp on the Day’s River, about half a mile above the Bar. Just as it was getting dark they were fishing opposite a big, steep spur of the mountain, which ran right to the edge of the water in a very precipitous manner. They had been fishing about half an hour when they were startled by a heavy splash in the water, right in front of them, like a large stone being thrown in. After a few minutes, two more splashes came, when one, who was sitting a little apart from the others, called out to his companions not to throw any more stones, as it would frighten the fish. They all declared none of them had thrown any stones, and each one thought it was the other who had done it. Presently three more splashes came in quick succession.
The men began to get alarmed, and thought someone was having a lark with them. One called out “Who’s throwing stones over there?” There was no answer, but they heard something moving on the rocks, but could see nothing, as it was now quite dark. Presently another stone fell right at the feet of one of them, splashing the water all over him. They all jumped up and made back to the fire as fast as they could, and then began to talk matters over, and wonder who had thrown the stones, when they distinctly heard the steps of some heavy two-legged creature crossing over the gravelly bed of the river, and coming towards them. They were so startled that they began to prepare for a hasty flight, if necessary, and were busily engaged in strapping their swags on to their saddles, when a heavy stone, evidently thrown from a, short distance, came with terrific force and struck the fire, scattering it in all directions. The men instantly seized their bridles, and ran to where their horses were feeding, about 200 yards away, and found them snorting and in a terrified state. They caught and mounted them bareback; then, after holding a consultation, decided to go back to the camp and get their saddles if possible.
They found no one at the camp, and were in the act of saddling their horses when some more stones were thrown at them; they mounted their horses and galloped off into the bush. After they had gone about a mile to the river they stopped, and were speculating what it was that had startled them so, when, in about ten minutes, another stone fell about six yards from them. This one was evidently thrown from a long distance. They galloped off again up the river, and did not stop till they had gone several miles.
The country through which they were riding was very mountainous, being about the roughest of the Day’s River gulfs, and they ran great risk of breaking their necks riding over it at such a pace on a dark night. On arriving at the junction of Kangaroo Hills Creek and the Day’s River they stopped again, and thought that at all events, by this time, they had given the animal – whatever it was – the slip; and indeed he troubled them no more for about an hour, when the horses began to snort, and tried to break away. At this instant a stone was thrown with great force, and struck the ground in front of them, passing quite close to the head of one man. They galloped off again, and crossing the river rode up past Thunderbolt’s Cave, and made up a steep spur of the mountain. When they had nearly reached the top their horses began to get exhausted, and they were compelled to stop.
They remained there for some hours, and, just as daylight was approaching, thought they were at last in safety and were preparing for three to sleep, while one kept watch, when presently one of the men distinctly saw the form of a large creature, resembling a man, being about the same height, but much larger in the body, standing about 50 yards above them, on the spur they bad been going up, and was directly in front of them, preventing them from going any farther. He stood for a moment in a clear place between the trees, and could be distinctly seen against the sky, in the pale light of coming day. He stood only for an instant, and then moved slowly and silently down the hill. All this time the horses were very fidgety, and snorting as if they smelt something they were afraid of.
Presently they could see the animal sneaking quietly up the hill towards them, and this time on one side. They galloped off again down the spur. There were no stones thrown till they were in motion, when several flew swiftly past them, and they narrowly escaped being hit by some. The animal followed them for a short distance, and then, after throwing one more stone, made off up a very steep spur, a place no horse could possibly climb, and they saw no more of him.
It is reported a gorilla was seen about three years ago, on Guy Fawkes River, by a man, who fired three shots at him without effect. The four unhappy men who were chased about all night, in this singular manner, are all quiet, reliable men, not given to romancing, and no-one here doubts their story, as they all assert it is positively true, and are prepared to swear this account is true in every particular, and not exaggerated in any detail.”
Two cultures with legends of strange man-like bipeds throwing stones. I have this vision in my mind of the Kangaroo Hills story: terrified stockmen scrambling in the dark while a hairy Wullundigong stalked them through the Australian bush.