Cryptozoology, BioForteana, Zoological Oddities, Unusual Natural History

BioFortean Review Book Review

The Yowie: In Search of Australia's Bigfoot
Tony Healy and Paul Cropper
Anomalist Books, 2006

Reviewed by Craig Heinselman, editor CRYPTO

“These are the facts as we know them. Please make up your own minds.”

That short statement appears at the close to the introduction by Healy and Cropper within their new book, The Yowie. That little phrase lays the groundwork for what is within the pages of the book—it sets the baseline.

In the realm of mysterious bipedal creature books, often ascribed terms such as Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Alma, Orang Pendek and the like, there is a tendency for writers to explain the creatures, to hypothesize about what they are, and perhaps shape the data they utilize to support that hypothesis.  This is fine, and is an acceptable method, especially when the actual root of what these creatures are (or are not) is unknown. But, for the researcher and common reader who want to know about the historical and actual reports of events, without hard interpretation, Healy and Cropper have provided one of the best books available on the subject.

Yowie is a term some individuals may be familiar with; it is the primary describer of a bipedal mystery creature from Australia. But, until now, the Yowie has been strictly a section within a book, or a reference point. While this has worked well, and offered new aspects in a well-done method (such as Malcolm Smith’s Bunyips & Bigfoots, 1996), it has never thoroughly evaluated the phenomenon or presented the complexity of the mystery. The overshadowing of the Yowie by its North American cousin is now rectified with The Yowie. Healy and Cropper provide the reader with anecdotal, testimonial, historical, native, modern, and evidentiary connections to the Yowie. They utilize the reports gathered first hand and through the collective work of Australian researchers and worldwide researchers. They reintroduce the world to the Yowie, and to what mysteries may still reside in Australia. They also introduce researchers to the world in a personal light, including Tim the Yowie Man, Dean Harrison, Rex Gilroy and Graham Joyner.

Healy and Cropper are the previous authors of another book on Australian mysteries entitled Out of the Shadows: Mystery Animals of Australia (Ironbark/Pan Macmillan, 1994), in which they do deal with the Yowie. They are, therefore, no strangers to the subject, and have collectively spent over 50 years researching the subject.  It was not until The Yowie, however, that the entire research basis has been available, consisting of over 300 documented events, from one-person sightings to mass sightings, from up-close and personal glimpses, to distance sights.  This is accomplished through chronicling and presentation of the original sources, including journals and newspaper accounts, from the remembered histories of Aborigines, to the modern era of the Internet and how it has changed how research works.

Beyond the content, which readers must digest for themselves to appreciate, is the layout and presentation. Similar to their 1994 book, The Yowie is presented in a larger format paperback with dual column pagination. This makes the read akin to a journal entry, but also alters the pace and focuses the reader on the work, drawing you in. The flow of the work is also important; it is steady and has few distraction points. You start with the Aborigines, move towards the Colonial Era, through the Early Modern era and into the Modern Era. Then there are chapters on the Junjudee, or “Littlefoot,” an evidentiary summarization and examination of “What are They?” But, not to be outdone, a mapping system showing the generalized regions of reports, a cataloging of the accounts, full index and reference section are provided. 

The Yowie is a milestone work, and ranks in importance as such books as Sasquatch, the Apes Among Us (John Green, 1978), In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman (Dmitri Bayanov, 1996), and Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life (Ivan Sanderson, 1961).  All these works break new ground in historical, regional or overall analysis of the subject manner of mystery bipedal creatures. 

It is no small feat to create a classic and thorough reference book that is easily readable by both the everyday person and the hardcore researcher, but this is what Healy and Cropper have done, and they close the core of the book remaining open-minded and vigilant to what still remains to be discovered: “We live in hope. But meanwhile, until all the facts are in, our yowie file remains open.”

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