I recently had the privilege of attending the launching of a new book.
Hosted by Ballarat Books, this event featured co-authors Dr David Waldron and Simon Townsend with Snarls From the Tea Tree.
To quote the publicity:
For the past 150 years Victoria’s bushland has been haunted by the myth of large cat like predators stalking the wilderness, feeding on stock and leaving stories in local folklore and mythology.
Snarls from the Tea-Tree traces the development of the story from its origins in the colonization of Victoria to the present day and explores the themes, legends, claims and context of this deeply pervasive urban legend in rural Victoria.
Dr David Waldron is a lecturer in History and Anthropology at the University of Ballarat. Simon Townsend is a veteran big cat researcher and co-founder of Big Cats Victoria.
The surprising thing about “Snarls”, given the folk-lore about big cats that permeates South Eastern Australia is that it is the first authoritative compilation of all of the available documentation into one volume.
Snarls From the Tea Tree represents a prodigious gathering and sifting of source material. It is also presented in a very readable style. The authors demonstrate the regularity with which Big Cat scares have re-occurred since the mid 1800s, and the seriousness with which they have been explored. The reader may be surprised to learn that certain escapes and releases of zoo and circus big cats into the bush from time to time are attestable facts; that dingos, feral dogs and cats and mainland thylacines have been postulated as the true culprits of big cat attacks on livestock and wildlife; and that acceptance of the big cat phenomenom has more than once been used as a smokescreen for illegal activity.
Dr Waldron has accepted our invitation to speak at Skeptics Café in July 2013. Meanwhile, to coincide with this article, we’ve published our December CROSSWORD on CRYPTIDS featuring Cryptic Clues a week early!