Yowie! It’s Oz’s Big­foot

Scottish Daily Mail - - It's Friday - Kevin French, low­est­oft, Suf­folk.

QUES­TION Is the Yowie Aus­tralia’s equiv­a­lent of Big­foot?

The ear­li­est ac­counts of mys­te­ri­ous ape‑like men in Aus­tralia date from the mid‑19th cen­tury. Many sight­ings of Yowies oc­cur in and around the spec­tac­u­lar Blue Moun­tains that dom­i­nate the skyline of Syd­ney and the Syd­ney basin.

A first‑hand re­port, from Fe­bru­ary 1842, in the Aus­tralian and New Zealand Monthly mag­a­zine, reads: ‘The na­tives of Aus­tralia be­lieve in the Ya­hoo .

‘This be­ing they de­scribe as re­sem­bling a man of nearly the same height, with long white hair hang­ing down from the head over the fea­tures, the arms are ex­traordi‑ nar­ily long, fur­nished at the ex­trem­i­ties with great talons, and the feet turned back‑ wards so that, on fly­ing from man, the im­print of the foot ap­pears as if the be­ing had trav­elled in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

‘Al­to­gether, they de­scribe it as a hideous mon­ster of an un­earthly char­ac­ter and ape‑like ap­pear­ance.’

Yowie ap­pears to be a cor­rup­tion of ‘ ya­hoo’, i tself prob­a­bly taken f rom Jonathan Swift’s Gul­liver’s Trav­els (1726) in which the Ya­hoos are a race of brutish hu­man‑like crea­tures.

A De­cem­ber 9, 1882, first‑hand ac­count sur­faced from Mr h. J. Mchooey, who told an Aus­tralian pa­per: ‘A few days ago I saw one of these strange crea­tures . . . on the coast be­tween Bate­man’s Bay and Ul­ladul‑ la . . . if it were stand­ing per­fectly up­right it would be nearly five feet high.

‘It was tail­less and cov­ered with very long black hair, which was of a dirty red or snuff‑ colour about the throat and breast. Its eyes, which were small and rest­less, were partly hid­den by mat­ted hair that cov­ered its head. I threw a stone at the an­i­mal, where­upon it im­me­di­ately rushed off.’

There were many sight­ings in 1912. Charles harper, a surveyor, dis­cussed his en­counter with the Syd­ney Sun: ‘ A huge man‑like an­i­mal stood erect not 20 yards from the fire, growl­ing, gri­mac­ing, and thump­ing his breast with his huge hand‑ like paws. The crea­ture stood in one posi‑ tion for some time, suf­fi­ciently long to ena‑ ble me to pho­to­graph him on my brain.’

harper de­scribed the Yowie’s long arms and its thigh, which was out of pro­por­tion with the rest of the leg. he said the head and face were very small, but very hu­man. Its eyes were large, dark and pierc­ing, deeply set, and that it ran off on all fours.’

Sight­ings of the Yowie con­tinue to this day. Cryp­to­zo­ol­o­gists have noted with in­ter­est that many of these sight­ings coin‑ cide with elec­tri­cal storms. This is of­ten the case with North Amer­ica’s Big­foot.

Some have gone as far as to add that these storms are open­ings into another di­men‑ sion. oth­ers see the ya­hoo or yowie as part of Abo­rig­i­nal dream cul­ture, brought to life by su­per­sti­tious western­ers.

Yowie folk­lore fol­lows a pat­tern fa­mil­iar to most uniden­ti­fied ho­minids around the world: vari­able eye­wit­ness ac­counts, mys­te­ri­ous foot­prints and a l ack of con­clu­sive proof.

allan Davies, Welsh­pool, Mont­gomery.

QUES­TION Where is the old­est public con­ve­nience

still in use?

The Public health Act of 1848 called for ‘Public Nec­es­saries to be pro­vided to im­prove san­i­ta­tion’, and at the 1851 Crys­tal Palace ex­hi­bi­tion, Brighton engi‑ neer Ge­orge Jen­nings i nstalled his ‘Mon­key Clos­ets’ in the re­tir­ing rooms .

These were Bri­tain’s first public toi­lets, and dur­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion, 827,280 visi­tors paid a penny each to use them. For ‘spend‑ ing a penny’, they were pro­vided with a clean seat, a towel, a comb and a shoe shine.

The toi­lets gave Jen­nings a net profit of £1,790 in only 23 weeks.

The suc­cess of the ex­hi­bi­tion con­ve­niences per­suaded Sir Sa­muel Peto (the build­ing con­trac­tor who raised Nel­son’s Col­umn) and henry Cole (in­ven­tor of the first com‑ mer­cial Christ­mas card) that there was a wide­spread public de­mand.

The So­ci­ety of Arts spon­sored their build­ing and Bri­tain’s first men’s public toi­let opened at 95 Fleet Street, in Lon­don, on Fe­bru­ary 2, 1852. The first Ladies opened a few days later at Bed­ford Street, in the Strand. Both were el­e­gantly fit­ted with brass and ma­hogany fur­nish­ings and each was run by a su­pervi‑ sor and two at­ten­dants. The price was 2d for ba­sic use, 3d for the same plus wash and brush‑up.

But de­spite an advertising cam­paign, the Gents had only 58 cus­tomers in its first month and the Ladies a mere 24. So they were shut down.

The sug­ges­tion that Wil­liam hay­wood in­au­gu­rated the first mu­nic­i­pal un­der‑ ground public toi­lets in 1855, out­side the royal ex­change, and that Jen­nings was the con­trac­tor, can be traced to The Good Loo Guide — a comic pub­li­ca­tion from the Six‑ ties by Jonathan routh — and is wrong.

hay­wood’s own de­scrip­tion of ‘The un­der­ground Uri­nals and Wa­ter Clos­ets on the Western front of the royal ex­change, erected by the Com­mis­sion­ers of Sew­ers of the City of Lon­don, 1884‑5’ states that the toi­lets opened on Jan­uary 23, 1885, built by ‘Mark Gen­try, Con­trac­tor’.

There are many ex­am­ples of cast‑iron Vic­to­rian uri­nals around the coun­try and the old­est that is still func­tion­ing is in Bristol, at the top of Black­boy hill. It was made in Glas­gow by Wal­ter Macfar­lane, and erected in about 1880.

The or­nate rec­tan­gu­lar build­ing is con‑ structed from cast iron with a Moor­ish‑ style theme and glass roof, and each por‑ celain uri­nal unit has a curved me­tal mod­esty screen at chest level. It was re­cently awarded Grade II‑listed sta­tus.

Two smaller domed uri­nals also re­main in Bristol — on hor­field Com­mon and at Mina road Park — built by Macfar­lane’s Glas­gow ri­vals, Ge­orge Smith & Co.

god­frey Tweed, Bath, Som­er­set.

QUES­TION

When the Bri­tish Gov­ern­ment sent the Aux­il­iaries and the Black and Tans to Ire­land to as­sist the se­cu­rity forces in the Ir­ish War of In­de­pen­dence, they were not re­garded as a mil­i­tary unit. So who com­manded them day to day? FUr­Ther to the ear­lier an­swer, I vis­ited Ire­land in the Six­ties with my par­ents. At that time a pop­u­lar drink was half a light ale mixed with half a Guin­ness, known in eng­land as a ‘black and tan’.

I had just turned 18 and dad sent me to the bar to or­der a drink. I asked for a Guin­ness and a ‘black and tan’. I had no idea of the con­no­ta­tions. You could have heard a pin drop.

For­tu­nately the bar­man de­fused the sit‑ ua­tion, ask­ing my dad if I ‘was look­ing for a job in the diplo­matic ser­vice’.

Dad was fu­ri­ous. I still blush when I think of it to­day.

Mys­tery: An artist’s im­pres­sion of a strange crea­ture claimed to have been sighted in 1912

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