You are walking alone through the bush. Suddenly you hear a supernatural cry, find a footprint no normal hiker could make or, just maybe, you see an oversized figure, hairy and tall, staring straight at you.
The yowie is an enduring legend that lives on in the minds, if not in the hidden enclaves of our country’s mountains and forests, of people today.
Yowies stem from the culture of First Nations people, and for years bushwalkers believe they have spotted them. Sometimes they tell the world of what they’ve seen or sometimes, fearing what others will think, they keep those tales to themselves.
But one researcher is writing an anthology on the myths and legends of the Sapphire Coast, particularly focusing around Eden, and she has been overwhelmed by the sheer number of locals willing to share their stories of yowie sightings. She said there was a “goldmine” of anecdotes that are yet to be brought into the public eye.
“What has shocked me is that there are a lot of people out there who want to talk about it,” Antonia Lea Becerra said.
Originally from the NSW South Coast town of Milton, Ms Becerra has a long connection to the Eden area.
She said there was a pattern in the tales of people from the region who tell her they have seen yowies, as they are always described as very tall, covered in fur, with an abnormal foot size, and shared a couple of stories she was told by locals.
One was from a young fisherman who was camping in a national park. Night had just fallen and he and his friends were out walking when he told her he heard a roar, not like a bear or a lion or any other noise he’d heard before.
He then heard what sounded like another animal in distress, so they ran away.
There was another tale from an older man. He had been hiking down Mount Imlay when he claimed to actually see a yowie standing on his trail “as clear as day”.
He told her they stood there for a while, looking at each other, before the yowie walked off and he ran down the mountain.
“A lot of these people have been keeping this to themselves for a very long time because they know it sounds insane,” Ms Becerra said.
But she said as soon as she began to call for people’s stories, she was flooded with responses, showing people are still captivated by the yowie.
“We still want to believe that there’s magic in the world, we still want to believe there’s something out there that hasn’t been discovered,” she said.
“Man is a discoverer at heart and we still want to believe there’s something out there that we haven’t got our hands on.
“And at the end of the day, we all love a good mystery.”
While Ms Becerra will publish her anthology as a book, and is also writing a screenplay based in Eden, she said that is a “long way off at this point”.
She is still inviting people to share their yowie stories with her. They can email [email protected].
“I want to thank the people of Eden for being so generous in the narratives they’ve given me,” she said.