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Statue of a yowie in Kilcoy, Queensland,
Region Great Dividing Range
Northern Territory
Australian Capital Territory
South Australia
Western Australia
New South Wales

Yowie is one of several names for an Australian folklore entity reputed to live in the Outback. The creature has its roots in Aboriginal oral history. In parts of Queensland, they are known as quinkin (or as a type of quinkin), and as joogabinna, [1] in parts of New South Wales they are called Ghindaring, jurrawarra, myngawin, puttikan, doolaga, gulaga and thoolagal. [1] Other names include yaroma, noocoonah, wawee, pangkarlangu, jimbra and tjangara. [1] [2] [3] Yowie-type creatures are common in Aboriginal Australian legends, particularly in the eastern Australian states. [4]

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 26 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Folklore Legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales, etc.

Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as tales, proverbs and jokes. They include material culture, ranging from traditional building styles to handmade toys common to the group. Folklore also includes customary lore, the forms and rituals of celebrations such as Christmas and weddings, folk dances and initiation rites. Each one of these, either singly or in combination, is considered a folklore artifact. Just as essential as the form, folklore also encompasses the transmission of these artifacts from one region to another or from one generation to the next. Folklore is not something one can typically gain in a formal school curriculum or study in the fine arts. Instead, these traditions are passed along informally from one individual to another either through verbal instruction or demonstration. The academic study of folklore is called folklore studies or folkloristics, and it can be explored at undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. levels.

Outback Area in Australia

The Outback is the vast, remote interior of Australia. "The Outback" is more remote than those areas named "the bush", which include any location outside the main urban areas.



The yowie is usually described as a hairy and ape-like creature standing upright at between 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in) and 3.6 m (12 ft). [5] The yowie's feet are described as much larger than a human's, [6] but alleged yowie tracks are inconsistent in shape and toe number, [7] and the descriptions of yowie foot and footprints provided by yowie witnesses are even more varied than those of bigfoot. [8] The yowie's nose is described as wide and flat. [9] [10]

Ape superfamily of mammals

Apes (Hominoidea) are a branch of Old World tailless simians native to Africa and Southeast Asia. They are the sister group of the Old World monkeys, together forming the catarrhine clade. They are distinguished from other primates by a wider degree of freedom of motion at the shoulder joint as evolved by the influence of brachiation. In traditional and non-scientific use, the term "ape" excludes humans, and is thus not equivalent to the scientific taxon Hominoidea. There are two extant branches of the superfamily Hominoidea: the gibbons, or lesser apes; and the hominids, or great apes.

Behaviourally, some report the yowie as timid or shy. [6] Others describe the yowie as sometimes violent or aggressive. [11]

Origins of the term

The origin of the name "yowie" to describe unidentified Australian hominids is unclear. The term was in use in 1875 among the Kámilarói people and documented in Rev. William Ridley's "Kámilarói and Other Australian Languages" (page 138) :

“Yō-wī” is a spirit that roams over the earth at night.

Some modern writers suggested that it arose through Aboriginal legends of the "Yahoo". Robert Holden recounts several stories that support this from the nineteenth century, including this European account from 1842:

The natives of Australia ... believe in ... [the] YAHOO ... This being they describe as resembling a man ... of nearly the same height, ... with long white hair hanging down from the head over the features ... the arms as extraordinarily long, furnished at the extremities with great talons, and the feet turned backwards, so that, on flying from man, the imprint of the foot appears as if the being had travelled in the opposite direction. Altogether, they describe it as a hideous monster of an unearthy character and ape-like appearance. [12]

Another story about the name, collected from an Aboriginal source, suggests that the creature is a part of the Dreamtime.

Dreamtime sacred era in Australian Aboriginal mythology

Dreamtime is a term devised by early anthropologists to refer to a religio-cultural worldview attributed to Australian Aboriginal beliefs. It was originally used by Francis Gillen, quickly adopted by his colleague Baldwin Spencer and thereafter popularised by A. P. Elkin, who, however, later revised his views. The Dreaming is used to represent Aboriginal concepts of "time out of time" or "everywhen", during which the land was inhabited by ancestral figures, often of heroic proportions or with supernatural abilities. These figures were often distinct from "gods" as they did not control the material world and were not worshipped, but only revered. The concept of the dreamtime has subsequently become widely adopted beyond its original Australian context and is now part of global popular culture.

Old Bungaree, a Gunedah Aboriginal ... said at one time there were tribes of them [yahoos] and they were the original inhabitants of the country — he said they were the old race of blacks ... [The yahoos] and the blacks used to fight and the blacks always beat them, but the yahoo always made away from the blacks being a faster runner mostly . [13]

On the other hand, Jonathan Swift's yahoos from Gulliver's Travels , and European traditions of hairy wild men, are also cited as a possible source. [14] . Furthermore, great public excitement was aroused in Britain in the early 1800s with the first arrivals of captive orangutan for display.

History of sightings

In a column in The Sydney Morning Herald in 1987, columnist Margaret Jones wrote that the first Australian yowie sighting was said to have taken place as early as 1795. [15]

19th century

In the 1870s, accounts of "Indigenous Apes" appeared in the Australian Town and Country Journal. The earliest account in November 1876 asked readers; "Who has not heard, from the earliest settlement of the colony, the blacks speaking of some unearthly animal or inhuman creature ... namely the Yahoo-Devil Devil, or hairy man of the wood ..." [16]

In an article entitled "Australian Apes" appearing six years later, amateur naturalist Henry James McCooey claimed to have seen an "indigenous ape" on the south coast of New South Wales, between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla: [17]

A few days ago I saw one of these strange creatures ... on the coast between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla  ... I should think that if it were standing perfectly upright it would be nearly 5 feet high. It was tailless and covered with very long black hair, which was of a dirty red or snuff-colour about the throat and breast. Its eyes, which were small and restless, were partly hidden by matted hair that covered its head ... I threw a stone at the animal, whereupon it immediately rushed off ... [18]

McCooey offered to capture an ape for the Australian Museum for £40. According to Robert Holden, a second outbreak of reported ape sightings appeared in 1912. [19] The yowie appeared in Donald Friend's Hillendiana, [20] a collection of writings about the goldfields near Hill End in New South Wales. Friend refers to the yowie as a species of bunyip. Holden also cites the appearance of the yowie in a number of Australian tall stories in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. [21]

Present day

According to "Top End Yowie investigator" Andrew McGinn, the death and mutilation of a pet dog near Darwin could have been the result of an attack by the mythological Yowie. The dog's owners believed dingoes were responsible. [22]

Australian Capital Territory

In 2010, a Canberra man said he saw an animal described as "a juvenile covered in hair, with long arms that almost touched the ground" in his garage. A friend later told him it could be a yowie. [23]

New South Wales

Accounts of yowie-sightings in New South Wales include:

  • In 1977, an article in the Sydney Morning Herald reported that residents on Oxley Island near Taree recently heard screaming noises made by an animal at night. Cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy was mentioned in the article as soon to arrive in the area in search of the mythological yowie. [24]
  • In 1994, Tim the Yowie Man claimed to have seen a yowie in the Brindabella Ranges. [10] [25] [26]
  • In 1996, while on a driving holiday, a couple from Newcastle claim to have seen a yowie between Braidwood and the coast. They said it was a shaggy creature, walking upright, standing at a height of at least 2.1 metres tall, with disproportionately long arms and no neck. [27]
  • In August 2000, a Canberra bushwalker described seeing an unknown bipedal beast in the Brindabella Mountains. The bushwalker, Steve Piper, caught the incident on videotape. That film is known as the 'Piper Film'. [10]
  • In March 2011, a witness reported to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service seeing a yowie in the Blue Mountains at Springwood, west of Sydney. The witness had filmed the creature, and taken photographs of its footprints. [25]
  • In May 2012, a United States television crew claimed it had recorded audio of a yowie in a remote region on the NSW-Queensland border. [25] [28]
  • In June 2013, a Lismore resident and music videographer claimed to have seen a yowie just north of Bexhill. [29]

In the mid-1970s, the Queanbeyan Festival Board and 2CA together offered a AU$200,000 reward to anyone who could capture and present a yowie: the reward is yet to be claimed. [30] [31]

Northern Territory

In the late 1990s, there were several reports of yowie sightings in the area around Acacia Hills. [11] One such sighting was by mango farmer Katrina Tucker who reported in 1997 having been just metres away from a hairy humanoid creature on her property. [11] Photographs of the footprint were collected at the time. [11]


The Springbrook region in south-east Queensland has had more yowie reports than anywhere else in Australia. [10] In 1977, former Queensland Senator Bill O'Chee reported to the Gold Coast Bulletin he had seen a yowie while on a school trip in Springbrook. [9] [10] O'Chee compared the creature he saw to the character Chewbacca from Star Wars. [32] He told reporters that the creature he saw had been over 3 metres tall. [33]

A persistent story is that of the Mulgowie Yowie, which was last reported as having been seen in 2001. [34]

In March 2014, two yowie searchers claimed to have filmed the yowie in South Queensland using an infrared tree camera, collected fur samples, and found large footprints. [35] Later that year, a Gympie man told media he had encountered yowies on several occasions, including conversing with, and teaching some English to, a very large male yowie in the bush north east of Gympie, [36] and several people in Port Douglas claimed to have seen yowies, near Mowbray and at the Rocky Point range. [37]

Prominent yowie hunters

Rejection of the yowie in favour of the yahoo

Australian historian Graham Joyner maintains the yowie has never existed. He points out that it was unknown before 1975 and that it originated in a misunderstanding.

Joyner's interest has been in the nineteenth century phenomenon known as the yahoo (also called the hairy man, Australian ape or Australian gorilla), a shadowy creature then seen as an undiscovered marsupial but one that was presumably extinct by the early twentieth century. There is some evidence for its former existence (Joyner 2008, p. 109). His 1977 book The Hairy Man of South Eastern Australia [2] is a collection of documents about the yahoo. It was based on research begun in 1970 and summarised in a paper dated July 1973 ('Notes on the hairy man, wild man or yahoo', National Library of Australia MS 3889), at which time the yahoo had long been forgotten and nothing had been heard of the alleged yowie. He has since explained that the book was published to promote the former and to counter, not to endorse, the then new and extraordinary claims about the latter (Joyner 2008, p. 10).

According to Joyner, the notion of the yowie arose following a review in a Sydney newspaper of John Napier's 1972 book Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality, Jonathan Cape, London. In response the cryptozoologist and ufologist Rex Gilroy, citing an Aboriginal figure from western and central Australia called the Tjangara, made the astonishing claim that Australia was home to its own Abominable Snowman. However, the image of the enormous primate that Gilroy eventually presented to the Australian public in May 1975 as the yowie, while overtly modelled on exotic forms like the yeti, was apparently inspired by muddled recollections from the newspaper's readers of much earlier stories about the yahoo (Joyner 2008, pp. 5–8). On this estimation only the yahoo has (or more accurately had) a basis in reality.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Healy & Cropper 2006.
  2. 1 2 Joyner, Graham C. (1977). The Hairy Man of South Eastern Australia. ISBN   0908127006.
  3. "Layers of significance – Reconciliation Place and the Acton Peninsula, Canberra". National Museum of Australia. 28 August 2009. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014.
  4. Healy & Cropper 2006, p. 6.
  5. Willis, Paul (13 June 2002). "Yowie". Catalyst. ABC Television. Archived from the original on 28 October 2013.
  6. 1 2 Gilroy, Rex (7 August 1980). "Why Yowies are Fair Dinkum". Australasian Post. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013.
  7. Clark 2012, p. 227.
  8. Emmer 2010, p. 83.
  9. 1 2 Healy, Samantha (2 May 2010). "New film needs beast of a man to be the next yowie". The Sunday mail. Queensland: News Ltd. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Tim the Yowie Man 2001, pp. 41-48.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Cunningham, Matt (21 April 2009). "'Dog killed by Yowie'". NT News. News Ltd. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  12. "Superstitions of the Australian Aborigines:The Yahoo", Australian and New Zealand Monthly Magazine, 1 (2), February 1842, cited in Holden 2001, p. 47
  13. Telfer, William (1980), Milliss, Roger (ed.), The Walladabah Manuscripts: Recollections of the early days, p. 55, ISBN   978-0-86840-168-3 , cited in Holden 2001, pp. 76–77
  14. Holden 2001, pp. 39-49.
  15. Jones, Margaret (31 July 1987). "It's spot the yowie time again". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 15.
  16. "Milburn Creek", Australian Town and Country Journal: 811, 18 November 1876, cited in Holden 2001 , p. 70
  17. Campbell, Ian (9 December 2014). "Batemans Bay yowie sighting an Australian first". Australian Broadcasting Commission. Archived from the original on 10 January 2015.
  18. M'Cooey, H.J. (9 December 1882), "The Naturalist: Australian Apes", Australian Town and Country Journal: 747, cited in Holden 2001, pp. 75
  19. Holden 2001, p. 76.
  20. Friend, Donald (1915-1989) (1956). A collection of Hillendiana: comprising vast numbers of facts and a considerable amount of fiction concerning the goldfield of Hillend and environs. Sydney: Ure Smith.
  21. Holden 2001, p. 77-79.
  22. "Yowie may have killed puppy". ninemsn. 21 April 2009. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2009.
  23. Crick, Ritchie (26 September 2010). "The truth is out there". Sunday Herald Sun. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  24. "Missing link sought in mystery". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 March 1977.
  25. 1 2 3 4 Lion, Patrick (4 June 2012). "Panthers, yowie men and a headless roo, the real X-files of New South Wales". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  26. Montgomery, JG (June 2014), WYRD–A Personal Journey into the Beliefs and Philosophies of the Known and Unknown, CFZ Press
  27. Corbett, Jeff (30 November 2010). "In search of yowies". Newcastle Herald. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  28. Shearer, Geoff (26 May 2012). "Animal Planet TV crew capture audio they believe proves existence of yowies". The Courier-Mail. News Ltd. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  29. Brown, Jamie (15 June 2013). "Yowie sighted at Bexhill - witness asks to stay anonymous". The Northern Star. APN Australian Regional Media. Archived from the original on 19 August 2013.
  30. Tim the Yowie Man (20 September 2013). "Respect the lore". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  31. "Home-made 'Yowie'". The Canberra Times. 26 October 1976. p. 7. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013.
  32. Clark 2012, pp. 226-227.
  33. "Bill O'Chee becomes Brisbane Times blogger". The Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. 17 February 2014. Archived from the original on 17 March 2014.
  34. Gould, Joel (1 June 2013). "Legend of elusive yowie living on in Mulgowie". The Queensland Times. Queensland: APN Australian Regional Media. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013.
  35. Donaghey, Kathleen; O'Brien, Connor (19 October 2014). "New 'sightings' in Queensland of the mythical Yowie have sparked a spat between rival hunters". The Courier Mail.
  36. "Yowies: 'they're out there I've spoken with them'". The Gympie Times. 20 September 2014. Archived from the original on 19 October 2014.
  37. Patterson, Angelique (16 October 2014). "Port Douglas on yowie watch after close encounters with strange beasts". The Cairns Post. Archived from the original on 26 December 2014.
  38. Gilroy 2001.
  39. Bowen, Jill (15 December 1976), It's huge, hairy and from Cape York to Tasmania the monster Yowie prowls, The Australian Women's Weekly
  40. Healy & Cropper 2006, p. 13.
  41. Shuker, Karl P. N. (1995). "The Alien Zoo". In search of prehistoric animals; Do giant extinct creatures still exist? (1 ed.). Blanchford. p. 189. ISBN   0-7137-2469-2. Rex Gilroy... collected over 3,000 sightings of a giant hairy creature sighted across the continent.
  42. Potts, Andrew (27 November 2012). "Yowie seeker, 68, has something to prove". GoldCoast.com.au. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  43. "The Search For Bigfoot: Is Bigfoot Real?". The Huffington Post. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  44. Rex Gilroy: Yowie Hunter, Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), 7 October 2013, retrieved 17 March 2014
  45. Lewis, Maria (13 April 2014). "'Bigfoot has Australian genes!': The myth and mystery behind Australia's bush monster the Yowie". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Archived from the original on 14 April 2014.
  46. Gould, Joel (1 June 2013). "Yowie not to blame for stock losses". The Queensland Times. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  47. "I was rugby-tackled by a Yowie, man claims". The Australian. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  48. "Tim the Yowie Man licks chocolate giant in court". The Canberra Times. Fairfax Media. 15 December 2004.
  49. "Yowie Man, chocolate maker go head-to-head". ABC Canberra. 14 September 2004. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013.
  50. Shorthouse, Janel; Gaffney, Annie (24 April 2014), Close encounter of the 'Yowie' kind, Australian Broadcasting Commission, archived from the original on 24 April 2014

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