Who would have thought that whale watching would be a genuine tourist draw in the Blue Mountains, two hours west of Sydney? Unlike coastal whales the species, known as hedgeritum greenius magnum is very slow moving and easy to spot. At certain times of year a prime specimen can be viewed at a property called Glenhaven, in Craigend Street, Leura.
Now Leura is one of the most beautiful of the Blue Mountain villages, even though as a loyal Blackheathen I hate to admit it.
You may notice that the creature has adapted perfectly to its mountain home and become herbaceous. Oh no, sorry – herbaceous refers to a garden border. I mean it has become herbivorous. The great beast in the picture is about to munch into a hedge of the Australian native shrub, lilly-pilly, or is it boring old photinia?
Sadly, the shrub will almost certainly prove to be the whale’s last meal. On close inspection you may notice the sinister shadow of a harpooner on the whale’s side, weapon raised ready to strike. The wretched offender should be prosecuted , but is he human? The bulky shape of the shadow matches reports of a mythical creature known as Hairy Man, last sighted near a lower Blue Mountains village. Hmmm; ‘Curiouser and curiouser’ as Alice famously said.
Some of the earliest recorded sightings of a giant, ape-like creature date back the era when Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson first crossed the Mountains. One account is of soldier in Governor Macqurie’s regiment who claimed he was hunting near what is now Springwood when he was threatened by a huge ‘ape-like’ animal.
At around the same time, a pioneering family at Newnes reported that a ‘hairy man’ approached their bark hut. They said it peered in through a window before taking fright and charging back into the bush.
In 1902 a short story called The Hairy Man was published by Henry Lawson. It began;
As far back as I can remember, the yarn of the Hairy Man was told in the Blue Mountain district of New South Wales. It scared children coming home by bush tracks from school and boys out late after lost cows; and even grown bushman would holler and whistle a tune when they suddenly heard the thud thud of a kangaroo leaping off through the scrub….
The only reason I can come up with to explain why Hairy Man would attack an inoffensive green whale is jealousy. How sad, as there is room for many more tourist attractions in the Blue Mountains, especially since the loss of our unique Zig-zag railway.
A final word. We must never allow Hairy Man to get anywhere near the glow-worm tunnel at Newnes, near Lithgow. Having dispatched the Leura whale he would scrape the sweet little things off the walls and sprinkle them on his breakfast blubber.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE EXISTENCE OF HAIRY MAN? IF NOT, HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT STRANGE AND THREATENING SHADOW? ALL SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!
UPDATE – Well, well, well….I had a very strange encounter the other day. Nothing scary, quite friendly in fact.