The Emmaville Panther
The Emmaville Panther
By Joseph Trainor
Black panthers are not indigenous to the island continent of Australia, but people have reported seeing them - or creatures like them - since the 1780s. Rex Gilroy and other Fortean researchers in Australia have theorized that what is often described as a "black panther" Down Under is actually a large predator of the marsupial family, a distant relative of the opossum and the kangaroo. Some have dubbed this mysterious beast "the Outback Terror."
Forty-seven years ago, in February 1958, the biggest "panther" flap in Australian history broke out in the bush country around Emmaville, a small community about 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of Grafton, New South Wales. In his book Mysterious Australia, Rex Gilroy writes, "One of the largest Australian 'panthers' ever reported was claimed seen in 1949 by Mr. Harry Waters, who told me the following story in 1979:" "'I was out shooting deer in Rangers Valley (situated between Glen Innes and Emmaville--R.G.) The time was 11 a.m., when in pine-forest country, I walked onto a hilltop to get a view of the surrounding country.'" "'As I stood there, admiring the view, I saw below me, 40 yards (36 meters) down the hillside, an enormous, black panther-type animal standing looking up at me. It was a good eight feet (2.4 meters) long from head to tail, and about three foot, six inches (1.1 meters) off the ground on all fours. It had yellow eyes and its fur was a shiny black colour but not very long.'" "'It just stood there watching me for about five minutes. I had a 'Number One' shotgun with me and could have dropped the creature if it made a move in my direction, but it just remained where it was. I decided that 'discretion was the better part of valour,' so I turned and left the spot in haste. As I did so, however, I spotted the giant cat loping off into the forest in the opposite direction.'" "Graziers and other inhabitants of the Emmaville district still talk of the big outbreak of 'Emmaville Panther' sightings that occurred during 1958." The flap "can said to have started at 2 p.m. on 19th February (1958) near Coolatai, west of Emmaville. Kenneth Outzens, then 16 years old, was on horseback in bushland and was almost thrown from his horse when the animal bolted at seeing a large, black-furred, panther-like beast suddenly appear on a rock 10 feet (3 meters) away." "Outzens and a friend, Laurance Miller, then 40 years old, had a terrifying experience three nights later (February 22, 1958) in the same area. They were forced to stay locked in their caravan (trailer in the USA--J.T.) while what appeared to be the same creature prowled around the vehicle, leaving tracks which they found the next morning." "Then, on the night of 25th February (1958), a Dr. R.S. Patterson was driving on the Inverell-Emmaville road when he caught sight of a 'large black animal' in the headlights barely 100 years (90 meters) ahead of him." "'I swung at it, knowing it was not a dog, and just caught him. I saw a large black paw come up, and when I stopped the car there were heavy scratch marks on the side. I raced to the town to get a gun and tell police,' (Dr. Patterson) told a journalist later." "It was about this time that Donald Clifford, then 15 years of age and grandson of the then-Severn Shire Council President, Mr. E. Clifford, was searching for lost horses when he spotted a large cat-like beast a mere 'thirty paces ahead' in bushland outside Emmaville." "These monster cats were creating a wave of terror across a wide area of New England (a region in northern New South Wales--J.T.) at the time. Some graziers (ranchers in the USA--J.T.) lost thousands of pounds' worth of valuable stock, and many suffered some financial hardship." "For example, Mr. Clive Berry of Kingston was reported to have had two thousand pounds worth of sheep destroyed; and at Emmaville in mid-1958, seven big steers were torn to pieces by one or more of these monsters." "In another incident, a farmer discovered one of his rams dead, ripped up and wedged between the fork of a tree limb high up off the ground. Deep scratch mark on the tree trunk told him that one of the 'big cats' of Emmaville was responsible." "No one went about in the bush alone without a gun. Tracks of mystery beasts were being found all over the Emmaville district and beyond." "Finally on 25th June of that year (1958), Sir Edward Hallstrom, Director of Sydney's Taronga Park Zoo, offered rewards of 1,000 and 500 (Australian) pounds for the capture of the beast, or beasts, alive or dead, but the giant creatures eluded would-be reward hunters." But that wasn't the end of the Outback Terror. The mysterious panther-like creature continued to be seen over the years. In 1960, "further south, around Armidale (N.S.W.), locals were having their own problems." "Mr. Ted Bell of Mereworth, Black Mountain, near Armidale, was convinced that a 'panther' was responsible." "'I have seen it twice at night and heard it four times. It has a high, blood-curdling scream. I lost 100 sheep to it one winter. The animal tears the side out and eats both the kidneys and the tongue,' he said to a journalist." "Typical of these reports is the story of Steve and Judy Beaty who were driving near Emmaville one night in April 1975. As they passed a property, they saw it in the bright moonlight, 'a cow-length, shiny, black-furred panther-type animal,' jump the fence and dash across the road in front of them. They saw it illuminated by the headlights momentarily as it scrambled into thick roadside scrub, leaving them both very shaken by their experience." "On Sunday morning, 2nd February 1986, Mr. Stan Nelson was out bowhunting for rabbits around 6:30 a.m. in the Moonbi Ranges above Kootingal when, on an opposite ridge, he saw a slender Alsatian dog-sized, black-furred, panther-like animal with a round-type head and a tail about as long as its body. Mr. Nelson observed it for about one-and-a-half minutes before it walked away into scrub." "At nearby Kootingal in September 1990, a number of people saw a large, six-foot (1.8-meter) long, black doglike/catlike 'panther' dragging a sheep across a paddock into granite mountain country." In early April 1993, "a Tamworth sportsman and cross- country runner, Mr. Mathew Kalunder, claimed to have seen a panther-type creature. His sighting received local media publicity." "...while training for the national mountain-running championship, he was running up Kamilaroi walking track, not far from Oxley Lookout which overlooks Tamworth (N.S.W.) on its eastern side, when he came face to face with a large black 'cat' crouching beside the track on this rugged, scrub-covered mountainside." "'I was just as surprised as the animal,' Mathew said." "'It was just after 6 p.m. around dusk. I was running up the hill, and about 20 metres (66 feet) ahead of me there was this animal with its back to the track. It looked over its shoulder when it heard me and crouched down, but then it headed off into the bush.'" "'I wasn't seeing things. I'm a bit of a sceptic. I know what a dog looks like, but I'd never seen anything like this before. Nobody's going to believe me, but this really was fair dinkum,' he said." Rex Gilroy added, "A major contribution to the study of the 'Australian panther' migratory habits was made by researcher Michael Roberts in the late 1950s. The frequency with which these marauding catlike beasts emerged each year from the wilderness country of the Queensland/New South Wales border led Mr. Roberts to make a study of the dates on which sightings of the animal were made. He found that the creature's movements coincided with the start of the dry season hereabouts..." "The animals usually begin their 'run' in February around Coolatai, west of Ashford, then arrived in Ashford about April. They reached Emmaville in June, and Glen Innes that same month. Then they moved southward to Armidale and Uralla in July, from where they crossed the Moonbi Range into the Manilla district and travelled northward to Barraba by the end of that month. They were finally seen around Warialda, southwest of Coolatai, by September, thus completing an approximate seven-month migration." "A number of researchers believe that the creatures follow the native food chain, preying upon farm stock along the way." (See the book Mysterious Australia by Rex Gilroy, Nexus Publishing, Mapleton, Qlnd., Australia, 1995, pages 97, 98, 99, 100 and 101.) Well, that's it for this week. Join us in seven days for more UFO, Fortean and paranormal news from around the planet Earth--and occasionally, Mars and Saturn-- brought to you by "the paper that goes home--UFO Roundup." See you next time. (Extracted from the book Mysterious Australia by Rex Gilroy, Nexus Publishing, Mapleton, Queensland, 1995)
This article originally appeared in Volume 10, Number 9 of the UFO Round-Up March 2, 2005 edition written by Editor Joseph Trainor.