Cave monster legend still alive for Gympie family
GIANT hairy legs, flashing eyes, towering height and grotesque growl: it might be old news but the story of the famous Kingaroy Cave Monster is still clear in Tony Perrett's mind.
Word of the unexplained cave-dwelling monster who chased three youths up a tree was well-established years before Mr Perrett was born.
Mr Perrett is the grandson of the late grazier John Perrett, whose 3000 ha cattle property Mt Hope, in the district of Booie near Kingaroy was home to the 'Thing of Booie'.
It was there in a rock cave buried in rugged bushland that a creature "as tall as a man, with two hairy legs and a tail reaching to the ground and wearing an apron" caused panic amongst locals in 1954.
On a winter's day when three youngsters were searching for animals when 'The Thing' emerged from the dark, growling deeply and gave chase splitting up the terrified trio before they eventually made it to John Perrett's house, more than five miles away, one reportedly in a near state of collapse.
They breathlessly told their story and swore they would not return to the cave without guns.
And so the word got out.
Headlines such as "Armed hunt for monster" and "The thing gave chase at Booie" splashed national front pages as metropolitan dailies recounted the sighting with awe from a comfortable distance.
Back in the South Burnett, in the days that followed, armed hunting parties searched the dense and rocky country for the wild thing and the Booie Town Hall Committee, after discovering large footprints near the town hall, offered a reward for 'The Thing', but stressed it must be undamaged by shotgun pellets.
Fuelling the reports was the recent events of an upturned travelling circus carriage at Wondai that was responsible for the escape of a number of large, exotic animals into bushland.
Varied and ever-developing sightings rang out and within a week there was talk of an animal sighted nearby so big it had to drink out of a windmill tank.
"Frightening tales have been told of pursuing dogs torn to pieces, huge footmarks at a waterhole and search parties glimpsing 'something through the trees," the Kingaroy Herald reported.
"Mythical rewards have been offered for its capture."
It was phenomenal, Gympie politician Tony Perrett said of the inexplicable events that occurred on his grandfather's property, where he grew two generations later just as familiar with the legend.
"They treated it really seriously - they came up from Taronga Zoo in the prospect of catching it," Tony Perrett said
"It was the reaction after it was reported that was incredible; there was a monster living in the back of Booie."
"I remember my grandfather taking me to the cave when I was only a young fella," Mr Perrett said.
"It was in some rugged, rough timber country where this monster was living," he said.
"We had to walk a long way and the cave went into the rock - it took some finding."
But while the conditions were right around the dense bushland and dark rock cave, the Booie monster was not enticed to surface that day just like the weeks following the first sighting.
'It' had gone quiet, wrote the local paper in July 1954.
"Theories have bubbled forth so colourful and imaginative as to pale Frankenstein's aptness at conjuring up monsters," The Kingaroy Herald reported.
"The 'Thing' has been a gorilla , a swagman, a nameless horror sporting two heads with ghoulish delight, a mule and a prehistoric animal."
"But 'It' has remained silent."
John Perrett, whose backyard was in the national spotlight, was quoted suggesting the 'The Thing' may have come about after someone trapped an old man roo and put a coat on him.
Was this a clue?
Tony Perrett admits the head of the family was not only a great bushmen with a love of the land, but also a man with a sense of humour who made his own fun.
"My grandfather always had a bit of a chuckle."
But whether that chuckle was weighted with the knowledge that somewhere on his property there was a loose kangaroo skin buried, Tony said no one would ever know.
'The Thing of Booie' has remained shrouded in mystery, taking its place in Australian folklore alongside the bunyip and the yowie.
"Who am I to say that there isn't something there that people believes exists?," Tony Perrett said, with what may have been a little bushmen's twinkle in his eye.