Hawkesbury River 'monster' researcher calling for testimony ahead of second mission

Investigator of the unexplained Tony Healy is appealing to locals to come forward with information ahead of a second expedition to the Hawkesbury to search for the infamous 'river monster'.

Since the early 1970s, Mr Healy has roamed the world in search of semi-legendary creatures, and with his collaborator, Paul Cropper, he has written two books on Australian zoological mysteries: Out of the Shadows (Pan Macmillan, 1994) and The Yowie (Anomalist Books, 2006).

Likeness: A sketch by David Rowe for Tony Healy and Paul Cropper's first book, 'Out of the Shadows' (Pan Macmillan/Ironbark, 1994), illustrating an encounter by a naturalist named Stocqueler, on either the Murray or the Goulburn River, in Victoria, in 1857. Picture: Supplied

Likeness: A sketch by David Rowe for Tony Healy and Paul Cropper's first book, 'Out of the Shadows' (Pan Macmillan/Ironbark, 1994), illustrating an encounter by a naturalist named Stocqueler, on either the Murray or the Goulburn River, in Victoria, in 1857. Picture: Supplied

Having visited many other reputedly monster-haunted lakes and rivers, he is now focussing on the Hawkesbury, which has produced reports of large reptilian or eel-like animals since at least as far back as 1912. Interestingly, according to the Hawkesbury's indigenous people, the river was actually created by a giant eel-serpent called Gurangatch or Gurangatty.

His upcoming expedition - to be undertaken in the coming months - will see him journey to several locations upriver from Brooklyn including Wisemans Ferry, Sackville and Windsor.

Mr Healy said when he visited Brooklyn from Canberra on an initial fact-finding journey in March last year, many locals had been "skeptical" of his mission.

Some shared interesting accounts though, and later in the year, Mr Healy and a colleague interviewed via phone a punt operator at Wisemans Ferry who witnessed something unusual in 2009. He had operated the ferry for five years prior to the incident without seeing anything out of the ordinary, and had, in fact, never heard of the river monster phenomenon.

"It would have been September or October, during the prawning season. I was on the Gosford side of the crossing at about 2 o'clock in the morning, and was cleaning the ramp while we were over there. [Then] I stood up and looked around and stepped up onto a grassy knoll a bit higher up," said "S", who had not given Mr Healy permission to identify him before this article went to press.

"The water was silvery - shimmering. It was the turn of the tide. Beautiful - a beautiful night, and as I stepped out onto the knoll, there, to the right, was this silhouette - a perfect silhouette of a picture of the Loch Ness Monster I'd seen as a kid."

He said he suffered ridicule from colleagues after relaying the sighting, but said he thought some of his co-workers had seen the phenomenon themselves but didn't want to let on.

Local expedition: Tony Healy on the Hawkesbury River during his March 2020 trip to the Hawkesbury and Brooklyn areas to find out whether there is truth to 'river monster' sightings. Picture: Tony Healy

Local expedition: Tony Healy on the Hawkesbury River during his March 2020 trip to the Hawkesbury and Brooklyn areas to find out whether there is truth to 'river monster' sightings. Picture: Tony Healy

The object disappeared before he could get closer but he looked at it for "a good couple of minutes".

"It stood one-and-a-half metres out of the water - this tapering [neck] silhouette, rounded at the top [with] a rounded protrusion to the right," he said.

Mr Healy will be guided on his next trip by Brooklyn local Jack Singleton, whose family has been on the Hawkesbury for several generations and is "very interested in the possibility of large, unclassified creatures either living in the river or coming in, occasionally, from the sea", according to Mr Healy.

Mr Singleton's ancestors built Singleton's Mill, a water mill on the Hawkesbury River that was erected around 1834 and operational until the early 1900s.

Mr Healy will be staying at various locations on the river, hoping to gather additional eye-witness testimony.

Anyone who'd like to share relevant information can contact him via phone or email at 0410 039 689 or tonyhealy05@gmail.com.