Imagine a monster living on the borders of the upper north shore. An aquatic beast which lurks in the depths of the Hawkesbury River. A creature related to the Loch Ness monster.
For cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy, the fledgling legend of the Hawkesbury River Monster is real and he’s determined to prove it.
Since 1965, he and his wife Heather have been gathering information on a creature he believed still lives in our major waterway, or once did.
After years of “patience, field trips and stake-outs’’ along the shores of the river, Mr Gilroy, who is also known for his research on the Blue Mountains Panther, hopes to finally obtain photographic evidence.
“Sooner or later, I’m hoping to get the shot of shots,’’ Mr Gilroy told the Advocate.
The Gilroys say they have compiled hundreds of sightings reports.
“They tend to be seen around (Mooney Mooney and Long Island),’’ Mr Gilroy said.
“There are stories of houseboats being lifted up at one end when something underneath tried to surface over at Jerusalem Bay.
“A lot of the inlets here have stories.’’
The most recent sighting was by fishermen near Wisemen’s Ferry, in March.
“(One of them) momentarily saw a serpentine head and about 2m of long neck rise above the water before submerging,’’ Mr Gilroy said.
He also referred to a sighting by Rosemary Turner in 1975, who reported a monster swimming upstream from a lookout at Muogamarra Nature Reserve.
Robert Jones, a palaeontologist from the Australian Museum, said that as far as science is concerned, the existence of the Hawkesbury River Monster has never been proven.
“It’s impossible for them to live in the Hawkesbury River; they just don’t exist,’’ he said.
But according to Mr Gilroy, the monster is part of Aboriginal folklore, with stories of women and children being attacked by the “moolyewonk’’ or “mirreeular’’ both indigenous names. They also feature in ancient rock art on the banks of the river.
“There’s got to be something to it,’’ Mr Gilroy said.
Descriptions of the Hawkesbury River Monster liken it to the prehistoric plesiosaur, an aquatic dinosaur 70 million years extinct.
The Loch Ness monster is also said to be related to the same extinct creature.
Mr Jones said plesiosaurs did exist in Australia, but ther was no evidence of them inhabiting the Hawkesbury River.
However both Mr Gilroy and Mr Jones describe the aquatic dinosaur as grey and mottled in colour, with a large bulky body, two sets of paddle-like flippers, a long neck and serpent-like head and thick, eel-like tail.
Sighting reports describe it as about 24m long. Mr Jones said the plesiosaur grew up to 10m long.
Mr Gilroy said he and his field assistant Greg Foster may have sighted the creature last August, from a high bank near Wiseman’s Ferry.
They described seeing a dark, bulky shape with a long neck about a metre from the surface.
Its movements caused surface disturbance which appeared to suggest a marine creature with two sets of flippers and a tail, Mr Gilroy said.
“It was encouraging,’’ he said.
“I’m hopeful that I’m going to get some sort of evidence that satisfies me … and when I’ve got that, I will be pleased to put it on the desk of some scientist and say `well there you are!’’’