The Melbourne Zoological Gardens mounted a “monster hunt” for this 30-foot long, bulldog-faced, ostensibly amphibious beast in 1890, after hysterical eyewitnesses demanded that this creature’s reign of terror be halted.
The first accounts of this bizarre event were published in The Brisbane Courier, then in the Melbourne Argus on February 28th and again on March 1st, 1890. The almost unbelievable story begins in an area known as Wylonemby — located near the township Euroa, Australia — where a cadre of credible witnesses testified that the swamp had been infested by an unidentifiable, 300-foot long monstrosity since 1884.
“Considerable excitement has been caused in Euroa by reports as to an extra- ordinary animal having been seen in a swamp at Wylonemby, about fourteen miles distant. The swamp is about 150 yards across, and a creek flows through it. For six years or more the swamp is reputed to have been the haunt of something abnormal, tales being told of dogs flying out of the place, and never again being induced to enter.”
The article goes on to chronicle what was the best sighting of the monster known as the Euroa Beast:
“Last week a couple of young men went into the swamp for the purpose of cutting reeds, which are 6ft. high and very thick, when they were alarmed by a sudden splashing and snorting near at hand, and the rushes waved as if allowing passage to some large animal. They quickly retired, but next day one ventured back to carry out the reeds he had cut, when he was again alarmed by strange sounds, he leaped upon a log, and at some thirty paces away saw a large head upreared, which he likens to that of a bulldog. It kept this position for about ten minutes, when it disappeared, the motion of the rushes giving the idea of an animal some 30ft. long. The young man was greatly scared.”
“On a report of the occurrence appearing in the local journal a party of Euroa sportsmen went out to the swamp, where they were joined by local residents on horseback. After beating about for more than an hour they were about to give up the quest, when a sudden rustling was heard, and two of the party saw an enormous tail as thick as a man’s thigh disappearing into the large trunk of a fallen tree.”
At this point the creature in question aroused the taste for blood in the hunters, who attempted (in vain) to drag the animal’s carcass out of the swamp as a trophy:
“A shot was fired at the animal, but, its effect is a matter of conjecture. Attempts were made to dislodge the bunyip, but without avail, the only result being a small black snake, which was quickly dispatched. Night coming on the party retired, but will again visit the scene on Saturday. Those who saw the animal describe it as being of a yellow color underneath and a dark brown above, ‘as thick as Mr. Barr’s bell-topper.’ It is supposed to be an immense serpent, such as is found in Queensland.”
Assuming that the “bell topper” in question is referring to a top hat — and taking into consideration the fact that this creature was apparently able to scamper inside the “trunk of a fallen tree” — it must be assumed that this is a relatively narrow beast, perhaps not unlike an otter or, as the article suggests, a “snake.” These conflicting reports only add to the confusion regarding designation of this anomalous animal.
Of course, there is no reason to assume that this hunting party actually saw the same 30-foot, canine-like creature that the young reed cutters claimed to have encountered just days before. Perhaps more than one monster lurked in Wylonemby swamp.
While it is tempting to lump these reports in with accounts of Australia’s most notorious AQUATIC ENIGMA, the BUNYIP, some investigators have speculated that this pug-faced beast may actually be an ancestral amphibian known as “Pederpes finneyae.”
These short, squat, presumed extinct crocodile-like tetrapods hailed from the early Carboniferous and represent what many scientists believe to be the missing link between fish and land animals.
Whatever this creature was or was not, it sent waves of panic rippling throughout the small community of Euroa and the surrounding regions, forcing the towns people to solicit the help of the executives at the Melbourne Zoological Gardens. The Garden officials — who were understandably skeptical about the whole ordeal — felt that the accounts deserved further scrutiny and swiftly dispatched an emissary to Euroa.
Armed only with what the reports referred to as a “big net,” this brave — or foolhardy — scientifically sanctioned dragon slayer (whose name never seems to enter the record) entered into the midst of this terror stricken town and wasted no time in organizing a party of forty men all of whom where no doubt hell-bent on pursuing and capturing this UNCLASSIFIED beast.
The posse hunted throughout the day and into the night, but the only thing they had to show for their efforts were the discovery of a set of gigantic tracks, which, unfortunately, terminated before the monster could be found. One can only assume that either casts were not made of these prints or that they have been lost to the ravages of time.
Sadly, this is the last known account of this mysterious monster, but this case has often been mentioned in company with the equally inexplicable creature known as the MASTERTON MONSTER of New Zealand.
© Copyright Rob Morphy — 2011