Big black cat mystery continues as Kallista couple spot a pair near Toolangi

IT’S been years since a spotting of Victoria’s mysterious big cats, but this couple says they sighted not one, but two huge felines in Melbourne’s outer east.

Kalorama couple Tim Hurley, 25, and his girlfriend were driving on a bush track near the Maroondah Reservoir, heading to Mt Saint Leonard lookout in Melbourne’s outer east, when they saw two huge black cats on Sunday, December 4.

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“We came around the corner and it was halfway across the crossing,” Mr Hurley said.

“(But) I was looking at one and my girlfriend was looking at another.

“It turns out we were looking in two different places about 20m apart and we had seen two of them.”

Mr Hurley said he saw the back of an animal with a long shiny black tail slip into the bush.

Tim Hurley and his girlfriend spotted two big black cats while driving near Toolangi. Picture: Hamish Blair

“It was the way it moved, fluid-like, not bounding like a wallaby or fast like a fox,” he said.

“It didn’t seem to be like anything else but a huge cat, the size of a german shepherd.”

Mr Hurley said his girlfriend saw more of the second animal, from its shoulders to its tail, before it also slid into the bush.

Toolangi naturalist Bernie Mace, who has researched big cat sightings for more than 30 years, said in the past month he had heard of sightings near Yarra Junction.

“If we are dealing with an exotic species, they’re inclined to travel in pairs,” he said.

Mr Mace believes the existence of big black cats in Victoria will one day be proved.

“I think time will tell. There have been enough sightings to conclude there is an exotic species out there,” he said.

“It won’t go away but be proven with either really good footage or an accidental road kill.”

An image of a big cat taken in Western Victoria.

The legend of big black cats has been one of Victoria’s most enduring mysteries, with hundreds of sightings reported to authorities over the years.

Witness sightings have been recorded, over at least 60 years, of cougars, panthers or pumas in a wide stretch of Victoria from Gippsland to the Otways, the Grampians, central Victoria and at Beechworth in the northeast.

Some believe the creatures were the offspring of black panthers brought out as mascots by US soldiers during World War II and released into the bush.

Another theory is that a Monbulk man who owned a miniature zoo about 30 years ago released his animals into the bush when the zoo was closed.

But many discount the big cat theory, claiming the creatures could be feral cats or black wallabies. Others think they might be unidentified Australian predatory cats.

A State Government report released in 2012 said the existence of big cats in Victoria was highly unlikely, but there was still belief among some that evidence of them would be found.

A big black cat photographed near Lara, Geelong.

RECENT BIG CAT SIGHTINGS

2000: Don Valley

January, 2001: Large paw prints in mud at Glenfern Rd, Upwey

June, 2004: Large paw prints at Warburton East

2005: Cockatoo, Lorne

January 28, 2008: Mt Dandenong

March 24, 2008: Warburton

August 15, 2008: Montrose

August 28, 2009: Warburton

November 27 2009: Healesville

2010: Don Valley, Otways

February, 2012: Seville

May, 2012: Warrandyte State Park

May, 2012: Seville

March, 2015: Grampians

December, 2016: Toolangi

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