When I travel I always like to investigate the local legends. When I was visiting my mother in Queensland, Australia, I heard about the “Beast of Buderim” or “Buderim Beast” that allegedly hides in the hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast. There have been dozens of sightings of this creature that is believed by some to be the Thylacine, also called the Tasmanian Tiger, that is thought to have been extinct since 1935. Others claim this is the Queensland Tiger, also known as a yarri, believed to be a descendant of the Thylacoleo, the Australian marsupial lion that became extinct during the Pleistocene era. Some believe the urban legend that it’s a feral hybrid cat created when American soldiers allegedly brought pumas into Queensland during World War II.
The word is that the Beast of Buderim has been spotted in the Buderim Forest Park which is located about fifteen minutes drive from the coast. Witnesses tell of a creature described variously as a large dog-like or cat-like animal that is between 3-6 feet long. It has glowing yellow or green eyes, massive teeth, and a long tail, while some say the creature has a tail similar to that of a kangaroo. The creature is often reported to be extremely aggressive and there are stories of people finding it has disemboweled their family pet. The descriptions vary in the details although the creature invariably has dark stripes on its back that are characteristic of the Thylacine.
On a sunny afternoon I visited the Buderim Forest for a hike with my family. Perhaps we would spot the infamous Beast, and maybe even a Yowie, the Aussie Bigfoot! The Park is a beautiful subtropical rainforest of birdlife, bush trails, strangler figs, vines, palm trees, rock pools, creeks and waterfalls. Walking through the forest my stepfather noticed something strange. Many of the information plaques had text scratched off, but only numbers over 6,000! One of these redacted plaques now read:
“Below the basalt is sandstone, carved and shaped by the creek into cliffs and overhangs. This suggests that around 200 million years ago, the mountain as a swamp or lake, trapping sand and gravel washed from the western mountains.” This vandalism is clearly the work of creationists. After all, Queensland is a kind of “Bible Belt” for Australia.
We also discovered something that may contribute to the sightings in the area. The forest is rich in palm trees and their fronds closely resemble the distinctive stripes of the Thylacine. In the dense forest the palm fronds, especially the dried ones and their shadows, could create pareidolia that looks like a Thylacine, especially if there were forest animals or pet dogs in the distance. Visitors to the Buderim Forest are asked to leave their dogs at home, although this doesn’t prevent people from bringing them along. People could be seeing dogs and confusing them for the cryptid, while other theories include dingoes, foxes, or tree-kangaroos. Queensland Museum mammal expert Steve Van Dyke favors the fox theory. The Sunshine Coast Daily interviewed Van Dyke about the sightings of the Buderim Beast.
Mr. Van Dyke said reported sightings over the years of the “Buderim Beast” were more than likely of a fox - but probably a furless one. “I think (the Buderim Beast) is fantastic,” Mr Van Dyke said. “People always need a story to take them away from the drudgery of the day and we all love and read fairy stories. It adds a bit of spice to our lives.”
Mr Van Dyke said the idea of a fantasy creature wandering around Buderim was interesting, but it was not necessary to “take that quantum leap into mythology” to find the truth of the situation. “In most cases where we get something that is described as a beast, it usually has something wrong with it – it’s mangy or deformed, he said. “There is usually a logical answer.”
Dr. Karen Stollznow is a linguist, author, skeptical paranormal investigator and a research fellow for the James Randi Foundation. You can follow Karen on Twitter here
Sunshine Coast Daily. http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/fox-could-be-cat-trap-escapee/290219/ Accessed 09/08/2013