THYLACINE SIGHTINGS 1953 – 1990
Note: first of a ‘double sighting’
Viewer: a middle-aged man of 47, a resident of the area, publicity officer for the College of Technical and Further Education (TAFE), Launceston.
I was with my wife in Launceston to see a movie one spring night. I think it was 1982 … it could have been 1981. We left the movie about 10 o’clock and drove home on the Lilydale Road. We were living at Lalla at the time and were in the process of selling our restaurant. The night was very clear but dark. It had rained and the lights of the car shone off the road and bush very brightly.
As we came down the hill just below the Mt. Arthur School, I noticed two animals of medium to largish size standing on the road about 100 metres ahead. I slowed because they looked different for some reason. At first I thought they were two Alsatians but knew almost immediately they were not. One of the animals was standing fully on the left side of the road and the other (a bit smaller) stood on the edge of the road about 10 metres on. They were standing so that we had them both side on in full beam. Both animals were looking into the light but did not seem to be blinded.
First I noted the erect ears and rather large head. Their colour was light brown, just like the dog we had at the time … sort of a light mutt brown. I thought, Oh, my goodness, it’s a tiger! By this time I was within about ten metres of the two. Still they had not moved. It was almost as if they were disdainful of the car. If I had not applied the brakes I would have struck the larger of the two. Still they did not move.
It was now I noticed the strange tail which seemed to be too big to be swung. I also noticed the stripes which ran down from the top of the back to the flanks. The tail struck me because of the large hump on the rear. It reminded me of our farm dog which had recently been hit by an auto and the accident resulted in a protruding hip and made our dog a bit crippled. The tiger (that’s what I believe they were) moved in much the same way, as if it had something wrong with its back.
By now the smaller animal had disappeared. I swung out to miss the larger animal and stopped about 30 metres along the road. I said to my wife, “Don’t say a thing. Think of what you have just seen. Put it in your mind and let it burn there.” I paused for about one minute, neither of us saying anything, drove to the Mt. Arthur Road and turned around. The animals were gone when we returned. I drove to the nearest place to turn around again and stopped. “Now,” I said to my wife, “what did you see?”
In a very quiet voice (I remember that well) she said, “I just saw a tiger.” Then, more loudly and excitedly, she said, “We just saw a tiger!”
I concurred immediately by shouting something like, “Holy smokes, that is just what we saw! We saw a Tasmanian Tiger! We saw TWO Tasmanian Tigers!” I blew the horn and yelled excitedly. I don’t know what my wife did.
We did not stop to get out to look. It seemed pointless. Instead, we drove home very quickly and began calling our friends: Dr. Stan Gottschalk, Tony and Sue Walker, Penny and George Richardson and a few I can’t remember. We were very excited.
However, our friends, all very sophisticated and well educated, tended to accuse us of ‘seeing things’ or having been to a party. Our excitement faded quickly to a bit of embarrassment. However, we knew what we had seen.
The following day I called the Parks and Wildlife people. After a bit of umming and ahing, I was able to speak to someone who showed a little interest. I remember him asking a few questions, not particularly scientific, and then he said, “Yes, it looks like you saw what you saw. Now, will you do us a favur and shut up about it? Don’t tell anyone.” I don’t believe he asked me my name and there were no follow up calls by the Parks and Wildlife people.
Since that time we have been reticent about telling others about our sighting.
Total Points: 49/50