Snarls from the Tea Tree: Big Cat FolkloreBy David Waldron and Simon Townsend
'Oh this tiger was seen all right, grinning,
yellow and gleaming with satin stripes:
Its body arched and undulated through the tea-tree...'
Max Harris, 'The Tantanoola Tiger'
Fantasy or fact, truly believed or doubted or manufactured, big cat scares have for generations haunted south-eastern Australia. The notion that a big cat has escaped and is at loose, or that the thylacine survives, is exciting and we may wish it to be true; it seems just possible. An ancient landscape of crags and lava cones and endless forbidding bush plays with the mind and is a dramatic backdrop for folklore. Stories of stock kills and claims of paw-prints have some kind of foundation; rumours of 'beast' attacks feed a persistent mythology ...