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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Saturday, December 05, 2009


Many of you who are reading this will have met Marjorie at the 2006-8 Weird Weekends. She was always to be found in the front row, often engaging in discussions of a seriously esoteric nature with the likes of Peter Robins.

She has been very ill with multiple cancers for a year now, and she finally died at 6:30 this morning. Corinna and I have visited her daily for several weeks as she struggled bravely through what was to be her final illness.

Since I first arrived in this village in July 1971 she has been like a second mother to me. During my bitter conflicts with my own parents she loved and supported me. When my father died she was there for me, and when I married Corinna I asked her and Corinna's mother to sign the register as witnesses.

When people die the obituary writers invariably say what a dear, kind person the deceased was even if they were actually a nasty piece of work. However, (and this is not obituary writer hyperbole) Marjorie was the sweetest, kindest and most loving person I have ever met. I never saw her angry. I never heard a cross word. I have always loved her dearly, and you don't stop loving someone just because they are dead.

I usually conclude obituaries by saying that my heart goes out to her family. However, in this case, though we have no biological connection, I truly feel that she is part of my real family, as are her daughters Kaye and Lorraine, her son-in-law Roy and her three grandchildren David, Ross and Greg. I love you all, my dears, and share in your immeasurable loss.


Apologies to anyone who was supposed to see me this weekend, most notably the launch bash for The Bideford Post (a new monthly newspaper for which Corinna and I are writing a column) but not only have we been overtaken by events, and I really don't feel like going out in public, but I have managed to hurt myself again.

I really am the most accident-prone klutz in the history of cryptozoology, but early yesterday morning I was answering a call of nature when I trod (all 23 stone of me) on the plug of the vacuum cleaner, which had become detached from its customary place.

I was barefoot.

I am now hobbling around the place like a character from some dreadful pre-war horror movie, and everyone is being very nice to me, and (though I deserve it) no-one has told me that I really should look where I am going. But bloody hell, it hurts whenever I walk....


On November 30th I took some friends out to Topaz for a bit of a look around. It was sad to see how much forest has been wiped away as well as how many public roads have locked gates. The Labor Party was founded in opposition to the squatters (as in Waltzing Matilda) but in the 1980s they got the bright idea of devolving state power to local councils usually dominated by conservative farmers. As a result many of the finest scenic and prospecting areas in the state are now inaccessible and many public roads have been closed, making it impossible for the public to use them.

Oh, well; all the better for the survival of crypo-critters.

We went to check out Wairambar Creek. From a distance Topaz shows only as a sliver of pale green - it is mostly dairy farms. The google view shows Topaz along with the Russel River and some of the most difficult terrain on the planet. Topaz is the tongue of
land in the mid-ground and Millaa Millaa is at the top left. Topaz is 12km away but its a full 30-km drive to get there.

Topaz - a long range view

Topaz and Bartle Frere

This is a well-known Yowie area and I shall collect some witness accounts in the fullness of time.

I'd promised some friends I would show them some gold so we went across some private land (with permission) and into the rainforest. About 2km in, the track ended and then we went about 200m down a steep slope, all of it through a dense maze of saplings and vines under the mature canopy.

The last part was truly precipitous but with so much stuff to grab or get tangled in if we fell it was not so much deadly as merely risky and difficult.

Karen in the creek

We got to the creek and the first thing I noticed was that all the rocks were loose. In other words, some time in the past 15 years it has all been put through a gold dredge. No harm in that although it is illegal. We delved to a bank next to a big pool and got a couple of dishes to 'wash.' The first had a speck of gold in it and the second a fleck. The worthwhile gold would be in a horizontal stratum all around us up the slopes.

This goldfield never got cleaned up because of the dense scrub, the "wild blacks", the basalt overburden and above all, because of the deadly depressive effects that set in once the rain starts and the scenery becomes dark monochrome, even during daytime.

I'd done my bit so I resorted to the pool. What with spending so much time writing I've started to put on weight so to fight da flab I stayed in the cool ( 17 C approx) water for half an hour. Wonderful.

At one stage while swimming underwater across the pool I was cruising between big boulders and ahead of me I saw a big dark cloud of mud. It put the wind up me because it could only mean I was sharing the pool with something fairly large. I hastily retreated. Years ago in nearby 5-mile creek a water snake fixed his teeth around my calf making a huge circle of small holes and I did not feel like a repeat of that experience. Another time I met a very big eel in the Russel River - we simultaneously turned tail and fled!

There was no chance of meeting a yowie that day. I'd taken my dog Chelsie along and could not navigate the slope with her on the chain as it kept getting impossibly tangled in the vines. So she was set free. She is trained not to go off chasing things and one of the strange characteristics of North Queensland scrub is that it is very rare to see any animal life. So she just showed off her all-terrain abilities literally running up and down the impossible slope while we hauled our way up inch by difficult inch.

I am sure dogs are the reason humans are not extinct. No large predator could possibly catch a human by surprise because of the way dogs constantly circle their people in dense forest. Naturally when I go deeper into the scrub I leave Chelsie at home.

I believe the tropical rainforests of Queensland are the closest thing left on this planet to the original natural habitat of Homo sap and related species. The temperature is stable, there is constant food if you know what to look for, there is always water and there is the security that comes of being invisible just 20m away from unwanted prying eyes. Despite the horrid climb with clutching at thorny vines and scrabbling in the dirt none of us suffered any injury worse than some very tired muscles in our arms. (I did pause on the way up to wonder what I'd do if I blundered into a colony of jumping ants!)

Today I feel weary but very much alive. My appetite has reduced in response to that long spell in cold water. More long cool swims coming up this summer!


The latest edition of a monthly webTV show from the CFZ and CFZtv, bringing you the latest cryptozoological, and monster hunting news from around the world. This episode brings you:

Cornish werewolf?
Other westcountry werewolves
Oll does the rounds
Interesting fish experiment
CFZ in wintertime
New and Rediscovered: New spidercrabs
New and Rediscovered: Rare monkey genetics
New and Rediscovered: New chamaeleon

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1952 the miasma of filth known as the Great Smog descended upon London causing the deaths of 12,000 people.
And now the news:

A wee mistake for sea bird
Feeding birds 'changes evolution'
Big freeze plunged Europe into ice age in months
Veggie Macca urged to beat swift meat retreat
Burleson Couple Says Egg Is A Message From God
Plan to breed lab monkeys splits Guayama residents
Scientists uncover new king crab species

In celebration of that; more from the Credit Crunch Crabs.

Q: Why did the crab blush?
A: Because the sea weed.