Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Paws for Concern in Bush
Geelong Advertiser
Wednesday, March 23

PAW PRINT: Glenys White holds the plaster
casts she says provides proof giant cats exist.
The plaster cast was taken several years ago
from a footprint on her Barwon Downs farm.

MYSTERY surrounding the Otway big cat has intensified after two Colac policeman claimed they spotted the beast near Birregurra.

Graham Honey and Greg Bakker were driving on the western outskirts of Birregurra when the beast crossed the road in front of them.

Mr Honey said the animal was about the size of a border collie or labrador.

"The driver said `what was that?"

"I was thinking (the same thing)," Mr Honey said.

"(It was) too big to be a feral cat, but was getting up towards the size of those pumas.

"You would probably like to see one right up in front of you in broad daylight, but I can't explain what this thing was."

Mr Honey said he came forward with his story after seeing an article in the Geelong Advertiser about a cyclist who came across the beast.

That cyclist, Nicholas Pearce, 24, of Winchelsea pedalled for his life after he came face to face with the animal he believed to be a black panther or puma in Bambra State Forest.

Mr Pearce said had got off his mountain bike to have a drink when he heard a rustling in the bushes.

"Then suddenly this big cat, black as the ace of spades, came into the clearing, jumping over a couple of logs and was coming straight at me," Mr Pearce said last month.

"I got a really good view and it wasn't a feral cat. It was bigger than a labrador, it was very scary," he said.

Hundreds of people claim to have seen the beast. Among them is Glenys White.

From her laundry cupboard, Mrs White pulls out a cake tin that she believes provides vital evidence the beast exists.

The evidence is a plaster cast as big as a hand taken several years ago of a footprint on her Barwon Downs farm.

Her husband, Graham, made the cast from the large footprint etched into a hard clay surface.

The cast shows front paw and back paws of the creature.

But big cat expert and former Melbourne zoo keeper Simon Townsend believes the cast is not of a big cat print.

Mr Townsend believes one of the casts is from a dog and the other a wallaby.

But the family have good reason to believe the cast is of a big cat footprint.

Mrs White and her daughter were walking at the top of a hill on their farm about 10 years ago when they noticed the beast in a gully below.

"He was quite big," Mrs White said.

"Jet black - not quite a metre high with a thick tail."

"He was just in a gully probably hunting rabbits, he was hunting like a cat."

Mrs White said her husband would often see what he believes are the creatures eyes when he is out hunting at night.

"(He said they were) like reflectors on a sign," she said.

At night sometimes the family will hear a deep growl that they believe is the big cat.

The beast is well known in Barwon Downs and surrounding Otway townships.

Mrs White tells the story of a person driving nearby who lost their side mirror after the creature jumped up next to their car.

At the local store the proprietor counts herself among those to have seen the creature.

It ran in front of her car when she was driving home from Lorne late at night.