Braidwood's 'hairy man' mystery endures
Newspapers at the time breathlessly detailed the brute in all its glory: tan, hairy and four feet long, weighing in at seven stone with a face like a polar bear.
More than 120 years later, mystery remains as to the biology of what has been dubbed 'the hairy man'.
The mail coach about to depart from the Braidwood Telegraph Office in 1870.
The mail coach about to depart from the Braidwood Telegraph Office in 1870. Photo: Braidwood & District Historical Society
The animal was killed by cordial manufacturer Arthur Marrin at Braidwood in 1893 after it gave him and his dog a scare during a routine cordial delivery.
"It frightened him quite as much as it did the dog, as it was standing up on its two hind legs with its two fore feet stretched out like the two arms of a man," trumpeted The Goulburn Evening Penny Post, drawing on an article from The Braidwood Dispatch.
Arthur Marrin's grandson believes the animal was something similar to a tree kangaroo.
Arthur Marrin's grandson believes the animal was something similar to a tree kangaroo. Photo: Perth Zoo
"Being unarmed, having only the whip in his hand, which would have made very little impression upon such an antagonist, he dropped the whip and picked up a stone which lay close to him, which he threw at the beast, striking it on the temple, bringing it to the ground.
"He then ran up to it and finished it with the butt end of the whip."
Mr Marrin buried the animal in the grounds of his cordial factory after showing its body to journalists.
Conspiracy theories can be found in abundance linked with Mr Marrin's kill.
No one knows what the creature was, but Lawrie St Hill, grandson of Mr Marrin and keen researcher of the Braidwood mystery, is firm in what it was not.
"It is not, not, not a yowie," he said.
"I think it was something similar to a tree kangaroo.
"It wasn't anything like a human being because the articles talk about a face very much like a polar bear - I emphasise that it is not a yowie."
Braidwood Museum volunteer John Stahel said no one in the town had any unheard theories about what the animal may have been, though he did point out that Mr Marrin was not just a cordial manufacturer but a brewer, too.
"There certainly was an animal, but nobody really knows what it was," he said.
"Some people like the crop circle, UFO stories, and for me it falls into that category."
Attempts by archaeologists to unearth its bones — and there have been attempts — have been thwarted by confusion about where the beast's body lays.
The Braidwood Dispatch reported the carcass was moved some weeks after its burial.
But Mr St Hill suspects the article may not have been accurate with reporters placed under pressure by anti-evolutionists scared the 'hairy man' may give weight to Darwinian thought.
"I think the newspaper backpedalled because it was very frightened of the establishment," he said.
"My thesis is that the body wasn't dug up — that was a story — and if you dig you'll find the bones."