Big Cats

Keith July 2nd, 2009

I have never had much time for stories of UFO sightings and such, particularly all the inconclusive, blurry photos. So it came as something of a surprise to find myself apparently in this position! It happened on the way out of the “Prom” on 10 July 1997. My wife Marilyn sighted a very large, black cat, which we were convinced was a panther. (The Prom is Wilson’s Promontory, a large wilderness National Park in Victoria, Australia, and the southernmost tip of Australia’s mainland – see more at the Parks Victoria site, parkweb.)

Cat photo

We had stopped the car at about five o’clock to let our two girls have a closer look at some kangaroos. Marilyn stayed in the car, and spotted an odd black shape up on the hill. After first thinking it was a wombat, she eventually realised it was the head of a large cat, looking out from the scrub. When I came back and had a look, I managed to get one photo, and walked a bit closer to get a second. With Marilyn and the girls asking me not to get too close, I just got a second photo of head and shoulders as the cat sat up, and started running.

Just in case it was me it was running at, I started running back to the car as well, accompanied by screaming from the girls. I saw enough to see a very sleek, black shape speeding into the undergrowth, and a very frightened rabbit running out the other side. The rest of the family saw the cat running just like a panther in a wildlife movie, then disappearing into the scrub.

Two days later, we took more photos of the spot with the National Parks staff, so some more accurate estimates of the size of our cat could be worked out. I can’t be sure if it is as big as we thought. (The man in the photo below would have been about 190 cm tall.) We were quite convinced that this was the panther that the photo appears to show, but I may well have been running from an over-grown house cat!

Scaled cat photo 

The aftermath

The text above was mostly quoted in an article about the event (Black Panther Sighting at the Prom) by Carole Williams in the local paper, The Foster Mirror, on 16 Jul 1997. We still can’t be sure of what we saw. The Rangers at the National Park, after scaling the photo, believe it was just a big feral cat. We still think that is was too big for a cat, but we are not taking the line that there is some sort of conspiracy to hide evidence of strange animals in Victoria’s National Parks.

There are no native big cats in Australia. The only native animal in that niche in recent years is the thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger), a marsupial that has been officially extinct for some years, and had only been found in Tasmania since European settlement. However, there are also many reported sightings of thylacines both in Tasmania and on the mainland in recent times. Talking to some of the experts (the ones that don’t make a lot of fuss about this sort of thing), it appears that we have good reason to believe that what we saw was a small leopard or panther, based on the frequency of sightings in the area. Draw your own conclusion!

On 24 October 1999, The Foster Mirror ran a related article on Mystery kangaroo deaths at Prom. Apparently, “…about 15 dead kangaroos were found near the airstrip in the northern part of the National Park. Some had been torn apart and gutted while other bodies were not touched at all, just as if they had died of fright.” The “researcher” reporting this story believed that an “…unidentified predator is living in the park. Whether it is a panther or a Tasmanian tiger that is doing the killing is unknown.”

The Melbourne Herald Sun was keen to run our story, but the photo did not come out clearly enough for newsprint. The movie Alien Big Cats by Paw Productions was screened on SBS in Australia in April 1999. Our photo was included, with appropriate credits. The movie was nominated for “Best Music for a Documentary” at the 1998 Australian Guild of Screen Composers Screen Music Awards Nominations. It was shown at the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Sydney Film Festival in 1998. The movie was available at the time from the international agents: Ray Atkinson Multi Media Marketing Ltd.

On 21 April 2010, I was advised by Rebecca Lang (in a comment below) that a book on Australian Big Cats has been published. I am not endorsing this book, but feel free to check it out at Australian Big Cats.

Who ya gonna call?

My personal recommendation for the best place to report any sightings of unusual animals in Australia is via the Australian Rare Fauna Research Association (ARFRA) web site. To report a sighting, just fill in their form. From my experience, ARFRA seems to be a reputable and well-balanced organisation. Their founder Peter Chapple sadly passed away a few years ago, but when I last checked the organisation is still in operation (*updated 6 July 2009). Another suggestion is to contact your local zoo or National Parks office, or the animal control people at your local council.

Comments on this page

I receive a number of reports of sightings via comments on this page.  Please note that I am generally unable to confirm or deny any of these reports.  Due to the number of these comments, and the difficulty and time required to assess them, please note that I am now no longer posting reports of sightings on this page.

If you wish to report a sighting, please use the form on the ARFRA site as mentioned above.

Please bear in mind that I reserve the following rights regarding any comments submitted to this page:

  • All comments must include a valid email address.  I may send you a message in order to confirm this address. If I do not receive a reply, I may refuse to publish your comment. (I will not publish your email address unless requested to do so.)
  • I may refuse to publish your comment if you are using an obviously faked identity.
  • Your comment may be edited for grammatical or other reasons.
  • I may remove material from your comment, or refuse to publish it, if it refers to conspiracy theories, or matters unrelated to big cat sightings.
  • I may refuse to publish your comment if it appears to be deliberately misleading, or defamatory in any way.
  • I may ask you to provide further information to support your comment.  If such information is not provided, I may refuse to publish your comment.

(Page first published 1998. Comments on this page dated prior to 2009 have been imported from earlier version.)

Shortcut to this page: http://delarue.net/bigcats.htm

46 Responses to “Big Cats”

  1. Margareton 02 Aug 1998 at 9:31 pm

    Verification of puma sighting – Saw puma in Otways 1982 (2 adults 1 child witness) – reported sighting to the [Australian Rare Fauna Research Association]… Pumas regularly sighted in Plenty Gorge.

  2. Cameron Lewison 15 Dec 1998 at 9:31 pm

    Cool. About three years ago, myself and a friend saw what looked like a panther while climbing at Mount Arapiles (Western Victoria). We were about 30m up a cliff when the cat walked through the scrub at the base. We watched it for about five minutes until it disappeared into the scrub again. It was quite obviously a cat of some form. Large and black. No camera unfortunately but when we got down we scaled it against a log and estimated that its body was about a metre long. Looks like it gets around if it made it to the Prom…

  3. Ben Geschon 21 Apr 2000 at 9:32 pm

    About nine months ago, I had an encounter with a large panther while bowhunting near St George, Queensland. I didn’t report the incident for a number of reasons but after seeing the Alien Big Cats documentary I don’t feel so stupid. I was wondering how I should go about reporting the sighting and if there are any organisations I can contact or even Web sites I can visit about Big Cats in Australia.

  4. Terry Trimmeron 20 May 2000 at 9:32 pm

    This moring big cat prints were found next to the Cockatoo creek. Some people came and took casts of them and then left. Do you have any idea who these people would have been? I had a look at the prints as well as the local store owner and they are very big. Too big for a pussy cat of the home moggy kind.

  5. Keithon 22 May 2000 at 9:33 pm

    Terry - 

    Enquiries have determined that the people that took the casts were from ARFRA. I am unable at this stage to provide any further information on this sighting. 

  6. Rosalie and Brad Lemonon 15 Aug 2003 at 9:33 pm

    Rose: I lived in the Kyneton area from 1993 to 1996, in the small township of Taradale. While living there, I saw with my own eyes a living, breathing, puma or mountain lion. …it was no more than 25 feet from me at the time and scared the daylights out of me. This same Puma proceeded, over a period of time, to kill a great deal of livestock in the area, including sheep, lambs and calves born on the adjoining property to my own. My husband spent many a cold night hunting this animal. We have heard its “scream” – there is no other word to describe it.

    Brad: The worst period of stock slaughter began with 27 sheep and one calf killed on the first night. Some other sheep were injured – about 14, and of those, I think 7 had to be destroyed. On the second night, another 4 were killed, and none injured. All the sheep were killed in exactly the same manner. Each sheep was killed by being bitten on the top of the neck, near the head, and on more than one of the sheep we found good impressions of what looked like an incisor tooth, and a matching wound on the jaw right below the top one. It looked like a very large jaw had inflicted the damage…

    On one of the nights shortly after all the slaughter, my wife and I were sitting at our table in our kitchen… We heard what can only be described as a woman shrieking in fear or pain, and the sound kept repeating. It was very, very loud, and echoed around the valley we lived in…

    I saw a puma at another time, a couple of years prior to the attacks. Two friends and I were driving down a dirt road when one ran across the road about 50 meters in front of us, maybe a little further. It was a black flash, but it left an imprint in all our minds, and the most distinguishing feature that I can describe about this huge cat is that it had the longest tail of any cat I’ve ever seen – completely out of proportion to its body.

  7. billon 27 Jul 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I was the friend of Brad and Rose Lemon who saw a panther while driving thru the bush near Glenlyon in victoria. Don’t walk the bush alone is all I will recomend to one and all.

  8. spudon 08 Dec 2008 at 10:09 pm

    We saw the black panther on mount moriac.

  9. Johnon 03 Jul 2009 at 2:08 pm

    On Wednesday 1st June 09 I was driving from the Gold Coast to Proston and at about 03:30 AM I spotted a large black cat. The area was thick with bush, it might have been the Pidna State Forest Area. I should be able to tell where it was next time I drive there.
    It looked exactly like a Black Panther. It crossed the road infront of me and was big. I say it was 1M tall and 2.5M long with a long tail that went horizontal then straight up at the end. It really amazed me and I decided to google it to see what the go is.
    It’s frustrating because there had been fog a few Km before and I put my video camera on the dash to film it. I’m keen to support anyone who would put out a search to see what the go is.
    How did it get there? How many are there? Can they survive there? How many people have sighted these animals? And where have they been sighted?
    I’m keen to learn more because I’m simply amazed at this and can’t just drop it because of what it is.

  10. Dave Whiteon 27 Sep 2008 at 11:00 am

    Back in the late ’80’s, I had an encounter with a large animal about the size of bobcat or puma in Central Victoria near Heathcote on the Southern McIvor Range. All i saw was its large eyes shining in my torch beam. I could tell by the size of the eyes & the distance off the ground it was bigger than a domestic cat, & the loud noise (growl) it made sent shivers up my spine. It was big & i sensed dangerous, so i went back inside the house.

    The only other encounter I’ve had was while driving on a back road deep in the Otway Ranges of Victoria. A large black cat ran across the road up ahead in front of me. It was either a large feral cat or a young Panther. It disappeared into a pine plantation.

    Best wishes, Dave

  11. Keithon 03 Jul 2009 at 3:03 pm

    This page has now been edited and reloaded on this site, with all comments up to date. Since original publication in 1998, there have been a fairly diverse range of sightings reported here. I am still uncertain about all this. It seems beyond doubt that there are some sort of big cats out there, but their precise nature still seems to be somewhat elusive!

    While I still recommend that sightings are reported to the ARFRA site, I am still happy to keep track of sightings with comments on this page.

    There is probably a range of answers to John’s questions about how the cats got here: left-over military mascots and escapees from wildlife parks being the most common I have heard. If in fact these are more than overgrown feral cats, there are several species of big cats that may be represented, too. However, until one is actually caught and positively identified, most of these questions will go unanswered!

  12. Keithon 07 Jul 2009 at 12:04 am

    I can confirm today that I have been in contact with ARFRA. They are still in operation, and their site is up and running (after a brief outage the other day). They are planning some updates to the web site. As advised above, please continue to report any sightings of strange animals via the ARFRA site.

  13. Kylieon 03 Aug 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I saw a huge black cat (?) about 16 years ago (1991) but have never reported it, as most people in the area have seen it also. It was on the edge of a tree plantation in Bambra cemetery Rd, Deans Marsh, Victoria. A friend & I were looking across paddock when something caught our eye. We got the rifle to look through the scope and there it was plain as day. Should’ve shot the thing, but we were just too shocked.

  14. Keithon 03 Aug 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Kylie –

    Thanks. Have you reported this to ARFRA?

    – Keith.

  15. Keithon 10 Sep 2009 at 10:22 am

    (Some comments previously posted here deleted at request of the poster.)

  16. Carlon 26 Oct 2009 at 10:44 am

    Hi, my brother and i were driving just on the outskirts of Kingaroy (about 3mins from my parents place) when we spotted this large black cat standing on the centre of the road looking into a headlights about 40m in front of us before quickly running off the road and pouncing at least 2m over the tall grass egde of the road. it would have been about 1m tall and 2m long. my brother and i were shocked at seeing this huge cat and started telling friends and family about it the next day. As it turns out my mum had said that early one morning she noticed a large, wierd looking ‘dog’ underneath the carport. she described it as large, push in flat face but it had a blackish coat but kind of ‘brindle’ as well? After telling her of our description she is almost certain that the thing she saw was not a dog but she couldnt place it as anyting else at the time. Another mate had said that about 4years ago about 2kms from my sighting that he almost crashed his ute as he swerved from this massive black cat on the road. Im very keen to get some video footage (if possible) to confirm it. It makes u feel a bit uncomfortabe knowing how many times we have walked around that area at night.

  17. Danielon 08 Dec 2009 at 2:27 pm

    hi about 4 years ago, my family were staying in a house in Halls Gap, literally 100m from the Grampians. I went for a walk to a little stream that dips into a gulley behind the house…I found a small cave in some granite rocks that had some animal bones scattered in it. I walked away slightly scared, and as i was up the hill I saw a huge black panther about 20m from me, it looked at me as it drank from the stream…and it was about 1m tall and had a very long tail…i knew what it was immediately. I ran back home and my Dad and brother came to see it…and as they came we all saw it slowly walk into the bush…very eery

  18. Dawn Luscombeon 14 Dec 2009 at 9:48 pm

    As a child growing up in Gippsland I heard many tales about a black panther. I thought it was an interesting urban myth and wrote a children’s picture book called “The Gippsland Panther” and have sold many copies to children mesmerized by the tale. Every classroom I visit has a student who knows someone who has made a sighting and I have also met many teachers and principals who claim they have seen it. It is amazing to hear the vast number of places he has been sighted including N.Z.!

    If you would like a copy, ring Sale Secondary College, Guthridge Parade, Sale, Vic, and ask for author of Gippsland Panther.

  19. Keithon 14 Dec 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Dawn -

    Sounds interesting! You should send a copy to ARFRA!

    – Keith

  20. John Findlayon 22 Dec 2009 at 6:03 am

    Keith We live in the Anakie area near Geelong. I have two separate photos of what I believe are big cat footprints that I found on our property. One was 100 mm between the outside claws and the other was 155 mm between the outside claws. Both photos have a tape measure across the outside claw marks. The latest photo (bigger print) was taken on Sunday 13.12.09. A friend on mine who lives a couple of kilometres from us has a photo of a big print about 150 mm across. I have seen one very large cat (about as big as a panther and brown in colour) at Cessnock NSW many years ago – no more than 10 feet from me and a smaller one in our area a few years ago.

    Regards. John

  21. Keithon 22 Dec 2009 at 6:29 am

    John –

    Thanks for posting that – I suggest that you report it to ARFRA.

    – Keith.

  22. sal greyon 03 Jan 2010 at 10:15 am

    re John’s sighting at Anakie

    did the beastie leave long claw marks or just holes above the toe print?

  23. sharonon 06 Jan 2010 at 11:31 pm

    At about 9.30 Sunday night [03/01/10] somewhere between Nanango and Yarraman I spotted what I believed to be either a black panther or puma. With thunderstorms and heavy rain it was scary but what I thought at first to be a dog running alongside the road caught my attention but was shocked when it was in my full view with its eyes glistening as the high beam light came in contact with it. My husband was driving but unfortunatly he didn’t see it. I thought I’d search the web to see if there was any other sightings in queensland and I am convinced it is the same one that carl and his brother saw on the outskirts of kingaroy as it is in that same region. I was 100% certain of what I saw and I am so glad of the confirmation, thank-you.

  24. shayneon 08 Jan 2010 at 9:58 pm

    hi, on the 20th feb 09 a close friend and i were walking around mt.cole near arrarat and were shocked when we walked over a ridge to find a puma or bigcat drinking from a damn. in my estimation the puma would hav been about a metre tall and almost 2 metres long and waying aroung 60-80kgs. we sat and watched it drink from the damn and then slowy dissapear into the bush, we then walked down and found footprints the size of my hand.

  25. Allion 09 Jan 2010 at 11:45 am

    My Partner and I have just returned from a 4WD holiday in the Victorian High Country. Whilst travelling back from the “Top Crossing Hut”, Buckland Spur Track, Razorback a large black panther ran out in front of us, it came from the left and ran in such an unusual way that we both stopped in amazement. The tail was long and black and the same width all the way along (approx 1 meter) and sat high. The back flanks were large and you could see the muscles and it ran and jumped across the track with its front paws held up. There was no way this animal was a kangaroo, feral cat etc. It was black and moved unlike any other Native animal we have seen on our travels before. We had never heard about the “Myth /stories etc” as we come from SA. We shared our story with the some locals who told us about other sightings. We are 100% certain of what we saw and I have never blogged or reported anything like this before but felt we had to.
    A & M

  26. Rickon 28 Jan 2010 at 2:21 pm

    We have had encounters with these big black cats on three occassions at Easter 2009 on a property Between Millmerran and Leyburn. Queensland.

    The larger cat was not scared of motocross bikes or the cars we use to get around the property, we got within 10 metres of it before it tried to lure us away from the smaller cat, I wondered if they had cubs that they were trying to protect ?
    The larger cat at back height was over knee high but not quite hip high, it was very long and it’s tail was as long as it’s body. It’s eye’s were bright yellow.
    The smaller cat seemed to be the female and was jet black as well with the same features just a bit smaller in size.
    These cats are not your standard feral cat.

    Prior to this we have seen very large footprints in the sandy soil and I got a quick look at one as it ran across the track in 2007.
    Since Easter 2009 I set a large cage trap using fresh chickens as bait for a 10 day period but got nothing.

    I haven’t been too worried until now and thus the reason I am posting this message on the this web page.

    January 15 2010 We were at the property again and at night heard what seemed to be a cat crying, soon after the crying intensified to sound like a girl screaming. Very spooky.
    I revisited some Big cat web sites and saw a Today Tonight program shown on TV 22/1/10 that also said about the woman screaming sound that these cats make…!

    We were at the property again Australia day weekend 22-26 / 1 /2010.
    Nothing happened all weekend until some of the teenage kids car broke down on a track, they had to walk back to the shed just on dark Sunday the 24th, they heard a cat sort of meowing, then a normal sized cat ran across the track in front of them leaving normal sized paw print in the sand. The kids kept walking the the calling got quite loud, they discribed it as a girl screaming in the bush.

    I am getting more concerned now than I have ever been before. If anyone knows of similar sighting out this way can you please email me.

  27. Joyon 02 Feb 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I know that there’s not suppose to be any black panthers in Australia, but contrary it has often been reported by bush walkers who spotted it at the distance, they’ve even published the photos on TV news and still nobody believes them, as it has never been one captured.

    I am actually quite sure that I have seen a young one myself sometimes in 2000. I have no idea how to report my experience, until I come across this webpage. I was driving my new car from Melbourne to Mildura behind my husband’s car, one late night (6 hours drive). Between Sea Lake and Ouyen all of the sudden a large black cat-look-alike jumped from the bush right under my husband’s car on front of me, it somersaulted few times between the wheels and jumped right back into the bush at great speed. It was silky black colour, twice as big as an ordinary cat, but big enough for a young panther. As the low beam headlights of my car were shining under my husband’s car, I really had a good view. I was very surprised of the strength, speed and resilience of this animal, which I had never seen before.

    I have thought of the possibilty that the Black Panther cubs were imported by early Slavic Wends (Sorbs), so-called “German immigrants” from Silesia and Saxony over 150 years ago to Australia as their “totem” animal (Central European Slavic Wendish pagan symbol) and a small number has survived in the Australian wild?

  28. Sherrie Van-Steenon 12 Feb 2010 at 6:44 pm

    On Thursday the 11th of Feb 2010, I was at home, and at about 3.30pm my 1yr old Kelpie was going NUTS!! I went down the back and saw a big black thing. From first glance I thought it was the dog up the road, so I picked up a stick to throw at it and kept walking towards my dog. As I got closer, I realised it wasn’t a dog like I’d thought, it was a big black fat cat, the size of a German Shepherd. Its tail was long and had a flick at the end of it. I grabbed my dog – who was still barking and trying to jump the fence – and it slinked away and then ran for it. I didn’t dare go down the back alone to check for prints, but I did tell my boyfriend’s dad who believed me straight away and said he’s seen the same thing before.

    This is in the middle of Glenbrook NSW, just down from Glenbrook Lagoon in Olivet St.

    I wasn’t sure about the black panther myth, but after what I’ve seen there is NO doubt in my mind that they are around; this thing was not a over grown cat, it was fat, big, black and had a long tail, not touching the ground because of the flick at the end of it but very close to the ground.

  29. chrisoon 17 Feb 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Hey just found this site thought I might just share this.

    In August last year we were camping on Moreton Island, Qld. I live on the Sunshine Coast, and we go fishing for a week every year on Moreton. We were driving over to the surf side to fish for Taylor, and got over half way on the inland track when a huge black cat leapt across the track. It was as big as a Labrador. We pulled up, and could see a bit of a footprint about the size of the palm of a hand where it touched the track.

    We told the lady at the shop on the way home later, and she just laughed at us and said you get a few feral cats on the island, but this was no feral cat.

    I have heard that quite a few American troops were stationed on Moreton Island during the war, and it was a trend to have big cats as mascots. Either way, what we saw was no feral cat. I know feral cats get big, but not that big. We definitely saw something huge running around Moreton Island.

    Thanks,
    Chriso

  30. jameson 19 Mar 2010 at 9:36 am

    I would’ve been about 10 years old when Ii saw a big black cat/panther on our property near Wentworth on the Murray River. This dates back to 1979, but I remember it as clear as day seeing a large black cat prowling around at the foot of a deep gully. We watched it for a while and then bolted back to the house.

  31. Mandyon 27 Mar 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Staying in Yanakie, Vic. On our way to the Prom this morning, we saw an unusual animal sneaking into the bush. Long black uniform tail is all we saw, too high and long for a regular cat, and nothing that would match anything else but some breed of cat. Thinking it was a puma or panther and these previous sightings confirm it may be true.

  32. Rebeccaon 21 Apr 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I thought you and your many readers might like to know our book on Australian Big Cat sightings/reports/history is due out shortly.
    Stories of big cats in the bush have enthralled Australians for decades.
    These large cats – predominantly black – have only afforded their witnesses fleeting glimpses, and left behind tantalising clues: scraps of fur, a paw print or three, unusually large scats, and livestock carcasses surgically dismembered and picked clean of flesh.
    In their wake, they leave carnage and bewilderment: What are they? How did they get here?
    We explore these questions and more.
    Further information about the book can be found on http://www.australianbigcats.com.au
    Thank you :-)

  33. Paulon 24 Apr 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Driving home on Thursday the 22 April at 11.45pm, 500m west of the Coolum Yandina Exit, just out of Coolum Beach Qld, I saw a Black Panther. I was totally amazed at the beauty of this creature. I grew up in the bush and have seen wild and feral cats, this was neither of those. The animal was waist height, muscular and healthy looking. It had a shiny black coat which had a slight purple tinge from the reflecting light, its tail was long, quite thick and horizontal at the end to keep it from dragging on the ground.

    I am now so intrigued and have started researching it on the net. It is clear there have been many sightings. The interesting thing for me was that it looked so healthy and knew how to deal with me driving past, as if it was a local or native animal. It didn’t run in front of the car or run off, instead kept calm and watched the situation closely. Had I realised the magnitude I would have stopped, but I was stunned, you hear the stories but to see it for yourself is awesome.

    Hope this info helps in some way.

  34. scotton 23 May 2010 at 8:31 pm

    About 2006 a mate and I were at a property near Benalla. The property we were at backs onto a state forest, we were sitting around the camp fire when we decided to do some spot lighting. We walked 10m from where we were sitting and shined the powerful torch into the clear paddock to our amazement we saw a very large black cat walking across the paddock approximately 70 metres from us. The cat was as large as a German Sheppard with a long tail and moved slowly across the paddock, we watched this cat for nearly 5 minutes before it leapt over a barbed wire fence and into the darkness. I believe this is either a panther or puma as the elderly lady that lives next door to this particular property has seen the very large cat on numerous occasions whilst walking her dogs on an adjacent property. She no longer walks her dogs in that area for fear of being attacked.

  35. Markon 29 May 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I found your website and thought I’d share my sightings of big cats. I am a trail-bike rider. Over the last 20 years I have seen a number of big cats or pumas in the Victorian bush.

    My first sighting was in 1996 in the Gembrook state forest at Egg Rock fire tower. A mate and myself saw this large black animal leap off into the bush on out right hand side as we road up towards the fire tower. As we got to where we saw this animal we saw fresh paw prints in the moist soil near a puddle. The puddle was clear but the prints left the edge stirred up. We looked around to see if we could find more prints but were amazed that the next four prints were over ten feet away; then they disappeared into the scrub. The paw prints were the size of our hands with a claw print.

    The second sighting was around 1998 when I was at the Grampians with friends. I went out for a ride on a trail bike around Lake Bellfield. The lake was very low, as they were repairing the wall. I was heading back towards a creek crossing when out of nowhere a big dark brown cat leaped up from a creek and ran from left to right across the track about 50 feet in front of me into the low grass lands. I stopped at the creek crossing to see what it was, but it was gone. My mate and I went back with the 4×4 to look for paw prints. We found a few in the soft soil in the creek bed and took video with a 50 cent coin besides one of the prints. We also notice around 40-60 deer grazing in the grass lands and filmed them as well.

    The third sighting was in 2006 down in Gippsland in the bushland near Woodside North. I had been taking photos of us all riding, but when I got home and looked at the photos on the computer I noticed something dark brown to black to the left of the photo. It was quite broad across the shoulders with a long, sleek tail. Unfortunately, I can not find the photo now.

    I live down Gippsland these days and have come across a lot of deer hunters that have seen pumas in the Tanjil area. The most recent sighting was four weeks ago up in the Mt Tanjil area. This cat was the same as the ones I have seen before, but slightly smaller – very broad and sleek dark, and a dark brown or almost black in colour. We had stopped for a bite to eat and I heard a strange noise in the bush which sent shivers up my spine. I looked in the direction of the noise, which was near a creek. As I looked, I saw a puma 60 to 70 feet to the south west of where we were (38° 1′13.44″S 146°19′42.04″E). At first I thought it was a wallaby or a dog, but it leapt across an area about 4 to 5 metres from our side of the creek to the other in one leap and continued into the bushland on all four legs.

  36. Velion 30 May 2010 at 10:26 pm

    During the mid 90’s I was driving up to Townsville, QLD to visit a friend. It was 8.00 pm and dark and I was just outside of a place called Miles. The vegetation was thick scrub with small gum trees approximately 10 metres apart, really thick bush. I was travelling around 80 kilometers an hour when I noticed a large animal crossing so I slowed down a tad. I thought it was a large dog but it wasn’t. It was slowly crossing the road but as I got closer it broke into a kind of lope.

    Two weeks previously I had visited the Melbourne Zoo and noticed how some of the big cats walked and what I was seeing on that road was a big cat, definitely not a feral cat. It was a beigy light brown in colour with some darker dots on its belly. Its tail was about a metre long with four or five dark bands on it. Its head would have been about thigh high but its back legs would have been about waist high ( I am about 173 cm tall) and this was very apparent when it broke into a lope. Its head was about the size of large cantaloupe but it looked small compared to its body which was around 1.8 metres long.

    It looked more like a cheetah cross than,say, a jaguar, puma. All I could think as I drove on is they do exist and no one will believe me!

  37. Timon 24 Aug 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Years ago I used to farm in the Otways outside of Colac. Our farm backed onto thousands of acres of forest. As a kid I used to trap rabbits. Often I would come across a feral cat trapped in my traps.

    These cats were usually huge, much much bigger than a domestic moggie, and well fed, shiny and full of muscle. Many of them were so strong they could pull the trap up. They were incredibly difficult to release because of their wild nature and bulk. For some reason may of them were black. But I also saw HUGE ginger ones.

    I could easily understand how people who haven’t seen some of these healthy feral cats up close could mistake them for a panther.

  38. Keithon 24 Aug 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Tim –

    I totally understand this – I also used to trap rabbits in the Colac area once, and saw feral cats. I can well believe that some people are confused by them, and that is certainly the line that Parks Victoria take as a first response to these sightings. However, the cat that we saw certainly seemed large even taking this into account.

  39. Allion 26 Aug 2010 at 11:03 pm

    On 13th August, 2010 we were travelling from Roma to Tambo and in the afternoon (near Augathella) we saw an animal crossing the road in front of our car. It was a large black cat, very long with a long tail straight out and flicked up at the end. It walked but hurried across the road and disappeared into the grass and bushes. We were shocked and it took a while to work out what it was because you don’t expect to see any large cats around here, but it definitely wasn’t a dog and it moved exactly like a cat.

  40. Alanon 19 Sep 2010 at 5:56 pm

    In 1989 I was shooting with a mate on my father property near the small town of Maude NSW. As we approached a channel, we noticed something black on the other side, thinking maybe a pig; we approached to get ourselves in a good position to shoot. As we looked over the bank, to our surprise, there was a very large black cat looking straight at us from about 15 meters away. There was no doubt in our mind that we were looking at a Panther. We made no attempt to shoot this animal as we were in a state of disbelief. After about 20sec the cat walked out of site into the lignum scrub, we did not follow as we did not know what it was capable of. When we arrived home we informed members of our family what we had seen, unfortunately nobody believed our story and that is where we left it. Whenever my mate and I get together we will bring it up and chat about it. It’s not something you will forget and you always know in yourself what you sure, especially when you have somebody with you who knows you were not seeing things.

  41. Mike Hodgenson 16 Dec 2010 at 7:55 pm

    My name is Mike Hodgens, and I am interested in speaking to people who have concrete information on big cats in Australia. The reason is that I am inviting the world’s top big cat catcher/researcher who catches big cats in North and South America, especially jaguars and cougars, to come to Australia.

    The purpose will be to get proper evidence in the way of film, castings and perhaps a live animal. People in the Gippsland area in Victoria who can help with this research are invited to contact me by phone on 07 4774 1355 or 0420 869 814.

    In particular, I am interested in hearing from Elizabeth Balderstone and Neville Smart who have reported these animals some time ago. The plan is to get the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment and a magazine interested in this project. It should make a great Australian story and settle once and for all the question of whether these animals still exist today in the Gippsland area. Anyone with credible experiences is asked to contact me so that an effective search for these cats with a world expert can be mounted.

    I am only interested in hearing from people who have genuine recent information which will help locate one of these cats and can assist in this research project. The intention is not to kill or injure, only to tranquilise, and carry out an inspection with photographs and release uninjured.

  42. Keithon 24 Dec 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Mike –

    This sounds interesting. Please note that I have edited your comment down a little due to length – I trust that I have preserved sufficient detail.

    I would suggest that you make contact with ARFRA, as per details in the post above, to further discuss your plans.

    As you will see from the comments above, sightings of big cats seem to have come from a number of places outside Gippsland, as well.

    – Keith.

  43. Paul Czarnockion 25 Jan 2011 at 10:43 am

    Hi,

    Two days ago (Sunday 23/01/2011) at 9.05 -9.10 in the morning when I was running along the trail in the Olinda National Park close to the Arboretum and below the Olinda Golf Course in the Yarra Ranges National Park Victoria, I came across a big black animal like a Black Panther.

    The size of this animal was about 1.5m long with a long tail – altogether close to 2m – exactly the picture of Black Panther. The animal jumped across the road which is at this place about 2.5 – 3m wide in one jump and disappeared in the bushes towards the golf course. When it jumped I had it in full view from the distance no more than 30-40m.

    I reported this already to the Rhododendron Gardens’ ranger and to the Knox Police.

  44. Col Mundeyon 20 Feb 2011 at 2:29 pm

    After having a chat to my partner on my experience sighting the Black Panther some years ago, we decided to look up on the website to see if there been other’s people reporting in this experience.
    I, too have seen this Cat, the year 1968, the place was South of Killarney, Qld called Mount Lesley, I was shooting after school one hot summer day, I was just walking along close to the Queensland/NSW border fenceline which is 6 ft high netted fencing. I was walking along when this black cat got up from resting under a shady tree, I was no more than 20 ft away from him, he stood up and looks at me, 2-3 seconds and then he did couple bounces then clear over the Border fence with ease … and disappears into bush. I got a real good look at him, he would have been at least 6 ft long, 2.6 ft high with a long tail that poke up at end, large rounded face and jet black as anything with pointed ears.
    My thoughts that I feel they are not escaped panthers from America, I believe there are Australian Native Cats that very few people get to see. And yes I’ve spent nearly all my life in the Bush, and yes there have been some weird sounds from time to time but most of them can be explained.

  45. Rockyon 31 May 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Hi People

    It was 14-05-2011, 4.30pm near Mossgill, NSW.

    I too have seen a big cat, Panther I think. I wasn’t close enough to see the eyes and face.

    The boys and I were just driving back to camp on a track on a property we were hunting feral pigs and foxes on when about 100 meters away I saw something black swiftly move behind some lignum, I stopped the car pointing “what’s that” thinking it was a pig. All I saw on first glance was something black moving behind some lignum. Then when it came out into the clearing between lignum scrubs, my jaw dropped. All I could feel was my heart thumping and my brain for those few seconds went into photography mode while trying to analyse what it was. It was about 2.5 to 3 foot high and wider than my land cruiser including the tail. The tail looked about 50mm thick and as long as the body.

    The cat moved straight and slick with the tail also dead straight out with no flick. When I told the rest of the boys at camp I expected to here “yeah right and what have you been smoking” instead they said, “well funny you say that because we found very big paw prints near the mud pools (about the size of our hand)”. At first they thought it was a very big dog but when they looked closer the toes go too far around to be a dog. And we have the photo of the paw prints. When we told the farmer he said something has been taking the hunters’ dogs, but he thought it was a big pig with no ears.

    I think now its best to hunt in pairs. I love this site, and I never thought there were so many sightings.

  46. Keithon 20 Jan 2012 at 1:42 pm

    *Note*

    I am now no longer posting comments reporting on sightings on this page. Refer text above.

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