Acacia Hills, Northern Territory. August 1997.

Location: Acacia Hills, Northern Territory. (Approx. 70km south of Darwin).

Book Case: 220 

Time: August 1997

Witness: Katrina Tucker.

Other References: Litchfield Times (NT) August 14, 1997, ‘Who’ Magazine October 27, 1997. Both Paul Cropper and Tony Healy visited Katrina at her farm in early 1998

Katrina and her husband operated a 20-acre mango farm. They had lived in the Acacia Hills area for around 20 years. Katrina was previously unaware of the yowie legend - this fact was quite clear given the questions she asked me during and after our interview. The property is quite remote - it's around an hours drive to the nearest shop.

For about the past five years, Katrina and her husband had heard strange sounds emanating from beyond a mountain ridge around 5-10km. away. The ridge has a large number of caves. On the other side of the ridge is the Adelaide River.

The sounds were only noticeable during the dry season, from July to August. The area has abundant wildlife, and she was quite familiar with dingoes and various birds, but this animal was clearly different. Katrina described the sound as a high-pitched noise, like a howler monkey. The sound changed in pitch from low to high. At one time, Katrina heard the sound, and an ‘answer’ from another location. Whenever the sound occurred, her dogs (2 Doberman's and 2 German Shepherds) would start to ‘cry’. There were other local witnesses to the sounds.

Just prior to the sighting, it appeared that something had been upsetting local animals. Across the road from her place, a farmer’s cows had jumped a fence. Another nearby property, a horse stud, reported that their horses had been spooked.

On the night of the incident, Katrina was awoken at 3am (she checked her bedside clock) by the same sound she had heard previously, except the sound was much closer, and whatever was making it seemed distressed. All her dogs were going berserk. Katrina went out onto her veranda, as the really loud sound continued from close to their ‘shade house’.

Katrina took the 4-wheeler bike to locate the source of the sound - at this stage, she still felt that it could have been a farm animal caught in the high tensile fence line. The shade house was located up a slight incline, in an open area. The night was dark, with heavy cloud cover - the previous week had seen nights with a full moon and no cloud cover. As she travelled up the hill, her mind was focused on what she would do if there were an animal trapped in the fence.

The lights then hit a creature, and she thought “What the...” She swung the bike around, almost coming off in the process. As she swung the bike, Katrina was hit with a smell that actually made her dry retch. As she recovered, she glanced back at the animal, which was then running off along the fence line. The smell resembled a cave full of bats, or the inside of a chook house, or urine. At the closest point, she was only around 8 feet from the creature.

The creature never faced Katrina, but was right side-on to her. It was around 6.5 to 7 feet tall and covered in dull, dark reddish-brown hair more brown than red. Its arms were longer than a human. The hair was around 2cm long and appeared matted. The creature’s shoulders were sloped, not square like a human. It had no neck. It seemed more animal than human.

As it ran, its arms did not ‘pump’ as a human's would - it did not bend its elbows. It ran by bending its knees, and was stooped over. The animal also swayed from side-to-side. Katrina said it appeared to run in 'slow motion', although it took large strides. She felt the animal was scared.

In the morning, Katrina returned to the area and found footprints along the fence line. The prints had 3 big toes, with a ‘thumb’ located down on the instep. The prints were in an area that was spray irrigated, so Katrina covered one of the best prints. The high tensile fence had also been ‘crushed’.  Katrina stressed to me that it was impossible for a man to even move the fence.

Not knowing what to do, she called the Northern Territory Museum. Katrina was fairly ‘cagey’ talking to the Museum representative, only asking her to identify an animal print. Eventually she did tell the full story. The NT Museum did apparently call the Litchfield Times and also the Palmerston Police. A local naturalist also visited at the same time.

In the end, the NT Museum staff felt that Katrina had been hoaxed - they did not dispute that she had seen something. The NT staff told her that no animal had 4 toes as the prints indicated. Palmerston Police appeared equally nonplussed. The officer who visited returned again with another officer to view the prints again and talk to Katrina. The officer, who was 6 foot 4" high, could not stretch to duplicate the stride between the prints - he was too short. The police indicated that they would be checking 2 empty farmhouses to try and locate a 'hoaxer'. Katrina warned them that locals tended to shoot first and ask questions later!

Paul Cropper: The prints certainly look artificial. Nothing I am aware of in nature has such a squared-off heel. Nevertheless, Katrina was one of the most impressive witnesses I have interviewed in 30 years of research. A truly puzzling case. See Illustrations for Katrina’s detailed sketches.

Author Tony Healy & witness Katrina reenact her encounter

One of the prints from the Tucker property

An NT Museum (Darwin) staff member casts one of the prints. The stones behind her mark other visible tracks