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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER TANIA POOLE: PLENTY TO SEE IN CENTRAL VICTORIA

Tania turned up at the Weird Weekend a few years ago having travelled all the way from Australia for the privelige. She is a jolly nice young lady with an enduring interest in things fortean and things zoological, and it is a pleasure to welcome her aboard the good ship bloggo..

While I sometimes think that I live in a boring place, where it seems there are not enough cryptid sightings to warrant an expedition, I really think I just don’t admire it properly. This landscape is so vast I don’t know where to start! Here in Central Victoria, we are declared a Temperate Zone, it does get very dry and as we have seen this past week, fires are the worst threat. Over 200 estimated dead Victorians over one weekend is a very rare thing to see, and this is the worst in white Australian history!

But since my teens I have always wanted to know what lives in MY area? What cryptids skulk through the Golden Plains of west, central and south-east Victoria? Well, the cryptid seen the most is the Big Cat, with the occasional exception of something really strange and rare. We all have some ideas that in this area, Big Cats are possibly here because of the result of circuses ending and animals being released, or the story of US air force army mascot let go after WW2. But still there has not been any real evidence of a deceased one found, and that is why the news will occasionally broadcast a segment on the mysterious out-of-place Big Cats in rural Australia, usually interviewing Mike Williams who discusses the presence of ABC’s, while loyally sporting a CFZ t-shirt. But through my own research over the years, and stories I have heard, there are some very juicy accounts of ABC’s and even thylacines in this fine state of ours. Of course there are Yowies too, but I don’t have many Victorian local stories of Yowies (even though at the Weird Weekend 2006, I hounded Paul Cropper for reported sightings of Yowies in the Otway State Forest, South-West Victoria’s rainforest region already famous for its glow-worms and unique carnivorous black snails (Victaphanta compacta).

But the reports of ABC’s are plentiful in Central Victoria, and where I live, (just outside Ballarat) you hear of many crossing roads in front of motorists, and farmers finding mutilated sheep and cows with strange claw marks on their backs. There are of course plaster casts of paw prints, scat samples, and fur. Most of the articles I collected in the 1990s indicate that it would be rare from anyone in the regions I mentioned above to have NOT seen an ABC of some sort. Shiny eyes in headlights and deep snarling sounds when someone walks on their property at night. From the book of Tony Healy and Paul Cropper, Out of the Shadows comes the tale of a woman, who, when stationed as a Land Army girl during WW2, knew that the Americans kept a mountain lion with four cubs which they had to get rid of. They were released near Hall’s Gap in the Grampians. An account I have heard from a friend since then was of a man who does horse riding tours through the Grampians. One day he took the horses out to find a new track to take tourists on. At one point the horses stopped and would not go any further. Up ahead, the tour guide saw big yellow cats sunning themselves on large boulders.

And then there are the personal accounts I have heard from people over the years with stories from all over Victoria. Often I will be with many friends and acquaintances who tell me stories of sightings. While ABC sightings are common enough, other stories I have include Thylacines and a couple of Yowies.

One is of when I was 12, back in 1989. I was on a primary school camp in Gippsland, and a bus driver took us kiddies down to Wilson’s Promontory. On the way we stopped on the side of the road to approach some kangaroos and emus. While the others busied themselves chasing rather large Eastern Greys, I stood back and heard the driver tell my principal about the time he was driving a bus down Wilson’s Prom one night and a thylacine crossed the road in front of his headlights. I remember his description – ‘dog like and sandy coloured, with the stripes on his lower back and stiff tail at the end.’ It was no mistake. That had to be a Tasmanian Tiger. Wilson’s Promontory is famous for Thylacine sightings. I have an article where a pilot in a light aircraft saw one on one of the Promontories beaches.

Another story comes from Central Vic, near Castlemaine. My very good friends (who are like second parents to me) in Guildford/Tarilta area of the Loddon River have a story to tell about a thylacine sighting sometime in the mid to late 1970’s. They had bought some property in the Box-Ironbark forest on the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, but before their house and sheds were built, their friend spent a night out there his car alone. In the night he heard a noise and turned on his headlights only to see a stripy, sandy dog, with a ‘gape larger than any dogs.’ What amazed my friends was that he was completely unaware of what he had seen, and must not have known anything about the now extinct Tasmanian Tiger. While they sat with their mouths dropped open after the tale, their friend stayed perfectly ignorant and still does today. They decided not to tell him exactly what he’d seen.

My friend Chris told me about his teenage cousin seeing a Yowie of some description in Anakie, just outside my hometown of Geelong. He was playing basketball in his driveway, and saw in the neighbouring field, a large hairy man running towards the forests of the Brisbane Ranges. The boy spent the rest of the day inside, frightened out of his wits, his mother very confused with his behaviour.

I also recall my mother telling me only a few years ago that a Yowie had been seen near the suspension bridge in the Tarra-Bulga National Park.

My housemate and friend told me today about the Talbot/Maryborough sightings. The stories got so popular he remembers in his early teens, in 1989, seeing a ‘Puma crossing’ yellow road sign complete with picture of big cat profile on it on the road between Talbot and Maryborough. It was very well done, as if the council put an official one up, ‘It only lasted 12 months then someone pulled it down.’

But the most recent unreported ABC story I have, happened only a few weeks ago to my friends, again those who live in the Guildford/Tarilta area. My friend was out on his bushland property at night without a torch, with his two fearless basenji dogs with him. He heard the padding of large footprints near him in the dark, and the ‘fearless’ basenji’s who love to chase foxes, took off back to the house very frightened. Whatever it was got closer and began to snarl at my friend and while he had no time to get a torch, he proceeded to cry out and bang on corrugated iron sheets to try to scare the thing off.

With ABC’s, I’ve no doubt that only a third of the sightings out there are being reported, I’ve no doubt that some people who live in the country here see things twice, even three times. But it certainly is not boring out here. There are always new stories to hear and hopefully, one day, something to see!

4 comments:

Richard Freeman said...

Hi Tania
That was very intresting. I love Oz cryptozoology. Can you keep an ear out for any Tazmanian Wolf sightings?

Tania Poole said...

Yeah Rich, sure. What I want to do is perhaps advertise locally to gather reports and see what is being seen out there. Its just that there are a few other people out there doing the same thing, but they may not know or be associated with the CFZ. 'Bigfoots and Bunyips' by Malcolm Smith has a lot of reports collected from as far back as when White men came. I might even get David Waldron to help me!

David Springthorpe said...

Tania Poole must SURELY know that the Tarra-Bulga yowie "sighting" was long ago exposed as a HOAX.....! Refer to http://cfzaustralia.blogspot.com/2007/12/tarra-bulga-its-hoax.html

David Springthorpe said...

Tania Poole must SURELY know that the Tarra-Bulga yowie "sighting" was long ago exposed as a HOAX.....! Refer to http://cfzaustralia.blogspot.com/2007/12/tarra-bulga-its-hoax.html