A few months ago I received a PM via Facebook, the content, whilst fairly scant in detail, related to a big cat sporadically seen roaming around Badgingarra. ‘Intriguing’ thought I. When pressing my source for further detail, he all but up and vanished. So, curiosity piqued, I went in search of further information, and as these things are want to go, the tale unravelled with a cider in hand, a cigarette hung from my lip, and I was chatting about nothing in particular with a worldly local chap down at the Club; one who had spent fifty odd years in and around Badgy/Dandy/Moora, and everywhere in between. So without further ado, here is the conversation and resulting yarn we had.
“Honestly, I am buggered if I really know, and I have never talked about it, so I don’t want you dropping my bloody name in it, but this is what I have seen and you can make your own bloody mind up. Alright, I wouldn’t mind another handle……..”
“As anyone with half a brain knows, the claw marks of a dog are rectangular, whereas the claw marks of a cat, when seen as a footprint, are more rounded.” He said through a fug like cloud of beery breath. Apparently I have less than half a brain was my conclusion. “The claw and paw marks I saw around a dead sheep ‘quite a few years back’ were a fair bit bigger than tracks of the useless bloody red Kelpie I had, but round clawed. The sheep, within a week off shears, and dead less than a day, had had its neck broken and clawed, there were puncture wounds that looked like bite marks around the back of its neck, the chest cavity was heavily gnawed upon, ribs that were visible through the carnage looking as though, now this sounds bloody stupid, but they looked like they had been ‘licked’ down to the bone. Plus, there were about half a dozen bloody big claw marks running lengthwise down over its gut, and some of its innards were out.”
Two ciders and one rollie later, I asked if he knew of that ever happening before or anywhere else? In short, yes was the reply. “That bastard X, you know him, he’s from west of Badgy. Anyway, the bastard reckons he sent his dogs into the scrub after a boomer one evening, he was following them through the scope on his rifle, and the bugger swears he saw some big brown bloody thing take off toward his dogs. Then the mongrels took off back to the ute like a shot, hopped up, and wouldn’t get off!”
“Sorry, what do you mean ‘a big bloody brown thing’? Another boomer?” Says I, I believe my sister got the lion’s share of brains when God was handing them out; I got apparently wound up with the lion’s share of liver.
“Would I be having this conversation if I was telling you about another ‘roo? Jesus, think boy.”
“Ah.” says I, my wittiest retort.
“Another bloke, nearer to Dandy, and also a right bastard, had all of the chooks wiped out in one night; nine or ten of them so the story goes. Anyway, when he and the kids went down for a look, what ever had got in, had got in through the gap between the gate and post, the bit of wire holding the chain on had been stretched right out. It then tore the hens apart, leaving them all over the hen house, broken and chewed a bit, cat paw prints all over the joint, big bastards, and it got out some other way because the tracks only lead in toward the gate, not out.”
“Plenty of people reckon they have seen big animals up the paddock, or crossing the road, all at a distance, that were too big to be a dog, and not moving like sheep or cattle.”
“Crikey!” says I. “Where the devil did these beasties come from?” cider kicking in. (I actually said that, word for word. Who speaks like that?!)
“Well, there are a few different stories.” says the man, middy near mouth. “The first one, I reckon, is absolute bulldust. That these cats somehow escaped from a circus, but anything that is a financial asset, regardless of whether it is an animal, a truck, or a bookies safe, is always well and truly bolted down. Yes, I know that an animal could escape, but if that theory were likely, where the hell have all the elephants been hiding?”
“Hmmm……….fair enough.” says I, another mouthful of cider disappearing after my well thought out reply.
“Next, nearly as unlikely, but I suppose it could happen, is that during World War Two some yank regiment’s mascot got out. Many army regiments used to have an animal as a mascot, bulldog’s, pigs, even a stag I believe. So, in the case that a war ship bearing troops pulled into a Western Australian port around that time, there may have been the opportunity for the beast to escape. There are a couple of regiments from the US that had mountain lions and cougars as their mascot. Added to that, if a battalion was exercising, playing war games and the like inland, there may have been a chance for the mascot to do a runner. But, straight up, if that happened in WWII, all of those animals would have long died out. No one to breed with you see, boy.”
“Swig.” the sound I imagine I make when drinking from my stubby.
“Now, lastly, have you ever seen a million dollars?”
“No.” says I.
“But, whilst unlikely that you would have done, there still is a bit of a chance you would have.”
I nod in agreement, trying to light the cigarette trapped between my teeth as I do so.
“More importantly, if you haven’t seen a million dollars in cash, you obviously have not seen ten million in cash, but you know it exists. That is the same as these cats. From what I understand, there are Snow Leopard in Siberia, people knew the breed of cat existed for hundreds of year because of tracks and animals they had killed, but that was all they had to work with. Now, while one or two people out of ten thousand had laid eyes on one, no one had evidence of them, other than tracks and carnage, and, they were only photographed sometime in the last forty years. Eventually a couple were trapped and the rest is history. So, who is to say there aren’t big cats in Australia, and even though no one has managed to either trap one, or get a picture, who can definitely say they don’t exist?”
Being far to clever for my own good, and possibly with a bit of a wobbly boot kicking in, I opened my my mouth to say something witty, when Julie, the Manager of Club, walked around from behind the bar, over to us, and said to me “N, your wife is on the phone, are you here?” to that I nodded in the affirmative, sauntered over to the Clubs’ phone, and before I could say anymore than “Hello dea……….” I was firmly told that, in a possibly more colourful and colloquial manner than I am letting on, it would be best that I went directly home, immediately. And so, after buying my old mate another beer, I did exactly that, and left on shanks pony.
So, there you go. Big cat’s in the area? Australia is a pretty big country, cats exist in the Arctic, the desert, and jungles, so why not here? Click the picture above love, a brilliant version of a great song follows.
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