Not only do we have listener stories, we have the tale of Tim the Yowie Man! This episode features big cat stories, Mirror Boys, and elementary school blood magic. Then we switch to an interview with Tim, chatting about how he became a cryptonaturalist, his first encounter with the Yowie, and his love for finding mystery in the world.
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Amanda: Welcomes to Spirits Podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends, and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.
Julia And, I'm Julia.
Amanda: This is episode 90 your urban legends part 12 featuring, wait for it, Tim the Yowie Man.
Julia We got him. We got Tim the Yowie Man.
Amanda: We found him.
Julia Unlike illusive yowie, we were able to get Tim the Yowie Man.
Amanda: We're going to tell you even more about how we managed to land this incredible interview. God, I'm so excited. It was a really great conversation.
Julia It's amazing.
Amanda: But, first, we do want to welcome the rarest of sightings our newest patrons Karl, Natalie, Mary, Alexander and Tyler. Welcome to the party from the forest as well as our supporting producer level patrons, Philip, Julie, Christina, Josh, Eeyore, Amara, Ella, Ashley Marie, Neil, Jessica, Maria, Ryan, Phil Fresh, and Deborah.
Julia Unlike the story that Tim the Yowie Man tells that made us laugh hysterically, you are not a dressed up greyhound. None of you are dressed up greyhounds.
Amanda: So good. Thank you as well to Casey, Sandra, Audra, Mercedes, Jack, Marie and Leanne.
Julia You all are actual mythical creatures that we love and appreciate. We hope that someday we'll get some cool blurry photos of you.
Amanda: Yeah, we see them frequently. It's great. Oh man's, such a good interview. Julia, what were we drinking when we were amazed that we could finally get a man in Australia on Skype to talk to us?
Julia Well, Amanda, you know that I love to do local beers-
Julia … go and do hometown urban legends. Week one of the bigger name breweries put out a new beer which is called Delayed Pilsner. Amanda, as someone who just got off a very delayed Long Island train, how do you feel about that?
Amanda: That's a little to on the nose Jules. I think that my-
Julia I'm sorry.
Amanda: … three hour journey from Long Island home to Queens which is spoiler alert on the same island that would've been a lot better with one of these in hand.
Julia I'm sorry. At least we got a cool, cool interview with cryptonaturalist Tim the Yowie Man.
Amanda: Hell yeah and we also want to thank our sponsor this week Skillshare which is an online learning community where you too could make a course about cryptonaturalism or just about anything else. You can teach, you can learn. It's really great. At skillsahre.com/spirits you can get two months of Skillshare premium for just $0.99.
Julia That is like only a quarter of a beer.
Amanda: Yeah, you're lucky if you can get a beer for four bucks. Anyway, I'm crotchety. Before we get into the episode, I just wanted to ask you guys for a five-minute favor. So, if you want to tell us a little bit more about you, about what you like about Spirits, about how we can be better, what you like about multitude of the podcast collective we are a part of, we would love your feedback. Spiritspodcast.com/survey takes you to in my opinion a very beautiful survey that I wrote and designed.
Julia You did amazing.
Amanda: Thank you. With photos. There's emojis. There's like cute little tidbits. I try to make it fun. It takes literally four to five minutes and this is something that we are really excited to do as a collective for the very first time. You might be like, "Yeah, listener survey, whatever." but this is the only time that we have to collect actual data about who listens to us and to get your opinions, to hear your thoughts, to make sure that we are going to give you better stuff than ever in the next two and a half years just like we have been trying to do for the past two and a half. So, we would really, really appreciate your help. Spiritspodcast.com/survey.
Julia Yeah, like Amanda said, it takes only a couple of minutes. It's adorable. Amanda asks some really cute questions. There's a really cute picture of us at the end that you can see and be like, "Oh, they're adorable." That's all you need honestly. Do it for the picture. If not to help us, do it for the cute picture.
Amanda: Do it for the gram y'all. Well, without further ado, thank you if you are taking that survey and helping us out and everybody enjoys Spirits Podcast episode 90 your urban legends part 12 featuring Tim the Yowie Man.
Eric This is going to be a solid episode. I have a good feeling about it. Here's why.
Eric I haven't had anything to drink yet.
Eric I haven't eaten anything spicy.
Julia I remember that was a problem last time.
Eric We are only doing one story each, because of our very special interview at the second half of this episode so we won't get into that weird state we usually get around like the second to last episode where we all slowly lose our mind. So, I feel like it's going to be a very positive, very fulfilling energy where we won't like royally fuck up everything that we're trying to do in an episode.
Julia Okay, but then you guys tell me, "Oh, the Toyota plant was the best story." You like when we go off the rails and lose our minds.
Amanda: Listen, Julia, we get tweets to this day about people loving the Toyota plant, drying images of the Toyota plant, sending us Google image results that remind them of the Toyota plant. So-
Julia I'm still mad about it.
Amanda: … I stand by it. We're also all wearing tank tops today and we look fresh as hell. So, it sounds like-
Julia Mine says Donkey Kong.
Eric Does your says Donkey Kong?
Julia Donkey Kong.
Eric Oh, it does. It looks like a … I thought it was a basketball jersey-
Julia Yeah, that's the point.
Eric … but it says Donkey Kong.
Julia It's the basketball jersey it says Donkey Kong on it.
Amanda: The MVP of super Smash Bros.
Eric Inaccurate. Inaccurate to say about Smash Bros. please don't tweet us.
Amanda: Julia, it sounds like you are dressed and ready to go. So, why don’t you start us off.
Julia Always. Hold on. I'm going to expand my windows so I can read this email better. So, this email is from Lorelei. The title of the email was giant kitty cryptids. So, obviously, I had to choose it.
Amanda: Good idea.
Julia So, Lorelei writes, I've been trying to think of how to succinctly tell you guys all of the things I need to tell you but I'm struggling. So, this might be a ramble fest. Sorry. Always a good start. For starters, I'm from the middle of hecking nowhere Georgia, USA. So, there's a lot of first nations and appellation granny magic/tales to influence literally everything that goes on down here. When we were kids, my maternal grandpa used to tease us about a Wampus cat, a giant black panther like cat with saber teeth and big red eyes. If you heard it scream, it meant certain death. It would live in the wood and that it would come to eat us or steal us away if we stayed past curfew. Again, we're falling into that bloody bones category of don't stay out later or else the giant monster will destroy you.
Amanda: Heck yeah Wampus, we know about this. We know what to do.
Julia So, a few of the other old folks in my town have said or talked about similar things. A lot of people have stories to tell about this giant cat thing. My favorite story and probably the most terrifying came from my dad and my paternal grandpa. When I was just a baby, we lived with my grandparents in their trailer on about six acres of land. They had chickens, cows, pigs and several dogs. They capitalize dogs which makes me concerned. Anyway, their neighbors several miles down the road had goats. There had been a lot of deforestation and clearing of trees between us and the closest town. My pop think that's why the cat found us. It was forced out of its territory and into ours.
My grandparents noted one morning that they were missing several chickens and one of our dogs had a pretty nasty cut on her face. They wondered if maybe Brownie the dog, adorable name, had attacked the chickens but they found nothing in her pen. They decided that it could've been a fox or something and Brownie had tussled with it and left it be. Chickens kept disappearing though and my uncle set traps, but they always came up empty. After weeks of chickens thieving and empty traps, my uncle borrowed a trail camera from his hunting club and set it outside the chicken coop. That morning all the chickens were perfectly safe, the camera untouched, and nothing seemed odd except for that on the opposite side of the property, my pop's prized male bore was gone.
Cage pretty wrecked, signs of a struggle and other hogs were in a panic. They rode down to the neighbors thinking that A someone stole their pig, B maybe a black bear and hoping to see if the neighbors had seen or heard anything, but nope, neighbors were missing almost an entire flock of geese and just that morning they'd found one of their goats decapitated and left out in the field. The area of tall grass looked as though something had been laid flat and maybe rolled around in it. This is the part where my grandpa started to pull out the superstitions to blame this on, because have you ever seen a cat hunt or play with a toy or prey? They'll catch it in their front paws, gnaw on it, wallow around in the ground, kick it with their back feet, maybe, I don't know, a giant cat attacked your goat?
Amanda: Yes. The answer is yes. Every time I see a cat attack anything, I'm like, "Oh, primal instinct predator. I'm going to run. You are the king or queen of this house. Thank you. Sorry. Goodbye."
Julia How was your weekend with your brother and his cat Amanda?
Amanda: She's amazing. My niece Maxine, she had a little like teabag, like kitty teabag with a mellow catnip in it. Like one had a catnip, one had like mellow me out cat stuff.
Julia The chill strain of catnip as opposed to-
Amanda: Cat weed.
Julia … the really fucking shit.
Amanda: Yeah. She had the chilliest of cat weed. So, I used my toe to like move the teabag around because I can't pet her because I'm a bubble boy, but instead I just played with her with my toe. Then she pounced on my toe immediately. I was like, "Oh God, I'm sorry. If you want my toe as a tribute, you deserve it. You perfect creature regal animal, I bow down to thee."
Eric Which toe was it? Big toe?
Amanda: My right big toe. Yes.
Julia Oh, you need that one.
Eric That's the number one toe. You can't lose that one.
Amanda: I know. I know. Well, I only … I mean she was very sweet about it but she was just like clearly … this is a moving creature and I'm going to eat it. I was like, "Yeah, sorry. Goodbye."
Julia Correct. They decided to go out and set up traps in the trail camera further into the woods between both properties. They figure odds are its a pack of coyotes or maybe a really courageous black bear. Well, out in the woods, my dad described what he felt really unsettled like something was watching him. It's kind of dark so when he looks up into the tree line, all he can make out are these huge pair of red eyes and a somewhat bulky creature perched on a branch. My grandpa sees it too and naturally they skedaddled the heck out of there. Correct, good choice. So, they cast this off as being late and my Nanna's story is getting to them, whatever is getting the livestock, it's probably a bear. A night or so later, they wake up to a huge commotion outside. My dad and grandpa go outside to see that Brownie and the other dogs, Pudge and Scooby.
Amanda: Oh my gosh so good.
Julia So good. All pitbull mixes, an unnecessary addition but I know how much you guys love doggo so there's that. Thank you Lorelei.
Julia They all have pinned something under the porch and it's taking turns lunging under the porch at it. They weren't certain what to do because if it was a bear, they could get hurt crawling down after it. If they shot at it, they could hit the dogs in the commotion. So, they waited and agreed to just take them all to the vet first thing in the morning. The commotion outside continued for a little while but they figured the thing managed to escape the porch and the dogs chased it off.
In the morning, there were claw marks and muddy/bloody cat like paw prints in the dirt and tufts of black hair. Because of this, these are the questions I asked. Yep, all the dogs were okay. Just very grumpy. In fact, Brownie went to have a litter of puppies and I have her son Black Jack with me today.
Julia Adorable. No, we don't think it was fatally injured because my brothers have reported seeing big red eyes on hunting trips. Others have still had issues with missing livestock and sometimes we and other people talk about hearing a weird screech that isn’t quite a bird but is bigger than a stray cat. I'm relieved to hear these tales because I've adopted this large cat as my best pal, and I only want good things for him. After that, it's just a big hungry cat who may or may not be a mountain spirit. Wampus cats are just a southern appellation style cryptid and many places have different variants. Some are called the Galleywampus. Sometimes they have yellow eyes instead of red. Sometimes they're described as a hyena and sometimes it's just an extra large panther. The root of the legend is from an evil Cherokee spirit known as the Ew’ah. It is dope and I 10 out of 10 recommend. I guess props to JK Rowling and her weird Pottermore cannon about the American schools because the Wampus is the house mascot and cool as hell, but the whole thing is weird. They said that's all we got. Love from the deep south, from Lorelei and Black Jack.
Amanda: Knocked it out of the park Lorelei. Excellent email.
Julia Killed it.
Amanda: Excellent story. Got some good, good mythological roots. Got some good, good creepiness. Got some good doggos. Love it.
Eric Yeah. I mean all around just a quality story.
Amanda: My Patronus as told me by Pottermore in a lynx so I feel particularly seen by the story.
Eric Oh fancy.
Julia Oh! Eric, what's your Patronus according to Pottermore?
Eric A freight train.
Eric I don't remember because I did it like-
Eric … a long time ago.
Julia Shame! Get the shame bell.
Eric No, whatever. I'm not going to sit here and take any shame for not remembering what that site told me was anything about anything.
Amanda: All right. So, what do you think you Patronus would be?
Eric Probably a deer.
Eric A stag.
Julia That's cute. I'm into it. You're going full Harry Potter. I get it.
Julia Mine was a buzzard.
Amanda: Julia is the best.
Julia It's a buzzard.
Amanda: I think about the fact that your Patronus is a buzzard like once a month.
Julia Thank you.
Eric That's what they gave you?
Eric Wow! That's intense.
Eric That's a lot for a website to put out. So, we'll see.
Julia I am a double snake with a buzzard Patronus.
Eric A double snake? What's a double snake?
Julia Because the like flying serpent or jeweled serpent or whatever the fuck for the American house and then Slytherin and then buzzard.
Eric Yeah, I didn’t do that one. I didn't get the other house.
Julia You shouldn't have. It's dumb. Anyway-
Amanda: Hot take.
Eric Welcome to Potter list. I'm a 25-year-old boy reading a book for the first time.
Julia 25-year-old boy that's what he says every episode.
Amanda: I'm sorry to tell you, I put you on 25.
Julia Oh fuck, called out.
Amanda: All right, listen-
Eric Sometimes I like to imagine … I've got a somewhat creepy story and I don't want us to … I'm not it.
Amanda: Yes. I would just-
Julia Go ahead.
Eric So, I'm going to do my story about-
Amanda: I'll give you a second.
Eric … because I've learned my story.
Julia Is it Eric safe of is the real question?
Amanda: Yeah, everyone emailing us with Eric safety in their emails and their pronouns get my double Goldstar of approval.
Eric My story is … it's like creepy and like I don't know how to describe it. It's like dark but also hilarious.
Julia Tell us the story.
Eric I'm telling you the story. It's from Jeffrey and they write, when I was in the first grade, I wasn't used to having friends let alone having a girl have a crush on me. Being a little gay boy with an overactive imagination, my first reaction was to tell her the story of the curse that kept our love from happening.
Julia What Jeffery?
Eric I told her the tale of the blood red door.
Julia I love everything about this already.
Eric The story is great because it is straight from the imagination of a first grader.
Julia So, like a seven year old? A six or seven year old?
Eric Yes, six or seven. Yeah.
Amanda: Also, what little gay child has not been like, "Romantic intention, here's a scary story." I mean, I sure have.
Eric They say that this isn’t much of story because it was 15 years ago but it's quality as far as I'm concerned. It's exactly what I'm always looking for-
Eric … in one of these emails. What they remember is that long ago, someone evil used blood magic on a door to the gym supply room that was-
Julia It was a guy's … that's why I can't attend PE. I can't go inside the blood magic.
Eric … that was facing the edge of the black top/recess area, the ultimate place to use blood magic. The red paint on the door was cracking and flaking off revealing the old blue paint. This was horrific to my five-year-old mind. Anyways, my weird way of letting her down easy was to say that I just couldn't reciprocate her love for me because of this ancient blood cure.
Julia Oh my God!
Eric Until the red was cleared, nothing could be done. So, she was like, "Oh, okay." and readily checked it on the stats of the blood red door for the next year or two. I told her, "Sorry, still cursed."
Julia I can only imagine that this little girl like wanting to go after her crush starts like chipping away at the red door so it's finall yblue.
Amanda: I know. I thought you were going to say like two weeks later in the dead of night she stole paint thinner like I definitely would have done that.
Eric So, yeah, they finished up by saying that's what first grade was like for me-
Amanda: Correct Jeffrey.
Eric … and mean what an intense crazy story.
Julia Honestly, more small child curse creation. Please just in the world in general.
Amanda: So smart, so good. Like so empathetic to you're confused. Instead of being like, "Duh, you're dumb." Like you just come up with a lovely curse that's no one's fault except for the blood magic. I love it.
Julia Just can't believe-
Julia … Why did this first grader know about blood magic? I didn’t find out about blood magic until I'm like at least fourth grade.
Amanda: Maybe Hocus Pocus?
Eric My favorite part is that it is assumed that the red paint on the door was blood the whole time.
Julia Of course, at a school but no one questioned that at all.
Eric Like another first grader was like, "Yeah, that checks out."
Julia Fuck yeah, you're right. That's definitely blood.
Eric That makes sense. Amanda, what do you have for us?
Amanda: I have some hometown urban legends from Finland.
Amanda: So, Nina writes in to say that they really enjoyed the episode on Kalevala with Elena which we did as well, and as a divination focused witch. We wanted to share some hometown urban legends from their mother's hometown in Finland. There were none unfortunately, but in the neighboring and even smaller town, Julie's mom remembered a story of Tyrnava’s mirror boy.
Julia I'm concerned already. Mirrors are creepy on their own when there's not boys involved.
Eric What mirror boy?
Amanda: Yes, mirror boy.
Amanda: So, Tyrnava’s mirror boy, his real name was Arnos Pasanin born 1894 died 1937. So, pretty short after.
Julia Oh no, not real dates. Not real dates.
Amanda: Oh yeah, we're bringing some motherfucking real dates into the hometown urban legends. So, he-
Eric Too specific.
Amanda: So, he was a Finnish psychic/clairvoyant. He found out about his abilities during his childhood around 12 years old during New Year's when family and some neighbors had gathered to celebrate. They had tried to foresee the future using mirrors as tools. It gets more buck wild Julia, wait. In a calm room, they put a black linen, apparently better if it's a winding sheet for some reason, on the table. Then they put two mirrors facing each other to create an endless mirror hall. On both sides of the mirrors, candles were lit. In a version of this ritual, a water glass and a wineglass are put on the other sides and depending on which side your partner would appear, it could be figured out if your future spouse would be a drunkard. So, I guess drink responsibly.
Eric Wait, wait. When they say candles were put on either side of the mirror, does that mean on the front and the back side of the mirror?
Amanda: I assumed on both ends of the table in front of the mirrors.
Amanda: Either way-
Eric I'm just trying to get a-
Amanda: Like can we just pause to say this is fucking crazy.
Amanda: It sounds so creepy.
Eric It's a big set up.
Amanda: Like black magic, V bad.
Julia Not good. Not good.
Amanda: So, anyway, our friend the mirror boy, Pasanin looked into the mirrors during one of these New year rituals and saw a girl about his age, his future wife, Ani who he later married when he was 21, but his scrying didn't stop there. A retelling from a neighboring relative goes that her father had hidden his watch during haymaking and asked the mirror boy for help to find it, because apparently seeing a girl in a mirror equals finding a watch, okay. Julia, editorializes.
Julia That was dumb.
Amanda: Don’t know. So, they went to the field together and asked the man to put his hand in a haystack at a specific point. When his hand hit the watch, the man was astonished. So, as the knowledge of mirror boy spread, people relied on him for help. He helped people find misplaced things and cattle, to find robbers and apparently even point out drowning places and murderers with his mirrors. One of the more memorable instances of his skills was when he asked to help solve the murder of one of the Marta Sacs in 1934. She was a co-op store retail worker in Kempele who was murdered during a robbery of the store.
There aren’t many details of the murder but Pasanin did give the police characteristics of the murderer. Someone was later convicted though there has since been suspicion that the wrong man was put to jail. There are a lot of conspiracies around this murder including the mirror boy Pasanin receiving some threatening letters after consulting with the police and was demanded in those letters to stay quiet. Pasanin died of cancer in 1937. He never taught anyone his skills and he considered them to be a gift from God. He also never asked for money, only to be credited if anything was right. Mostly the townspeople reacted positively to his actions though some had though that he had gotten his skills from the devil while he was lost in the forest as a child.
Julia That's quite a jump. People were like, "Oh he got it from God." He got it from the devil while in the woods. What?
Amanda: So, that is the very localized story of the mirror boy of Tyrnava.
Julia I was concerned. I thought it was going to be more like a boy appeared in a mirror then murdered a bunch of people.
Amanda: I just couldn’t get over that image of the future seeing ritual. Like it is to me way less creepy to do the Swedish year walk and just like walk through a churchyard at midnight and encounter some animals and maybe some monsters. Like that to me seems way less risky than setting up like a black linen with two mirrors and candles and maybe some glasses. It's like wild.
Eric When I was growing up, my grandmother had a hallway behind her bedroom that was just like massive closets like-
Amanda: No hallway. No hallways ever.
Eric A hallways that was a clo- both sides were closets essentially and all the doors were mirrors. So, we have an entire hallway of mirrors. This was just a thing that we had access to as children. It was awesome.
Amanda: How are you not dead?
Julia How was they like we are mimic not stolen your life?
Amanda: Is this like the Ohio version of the palace of Versailles or something? Like I can't think of no reason why this curse that the 70s inflicted upon us of mirrored walls needs to stay.
Eric I feel like I've come to with like a very select amount of stories about Ohio and you guys think like Ohio is like the booziest place. It's like yeah my grandmother had liked … they were well off. My grandfather owned his own company, but like it was at a pretty slightly upscale suburb. Then my parents lived on a golf course but it's like the city golf course. It's not that impressive. I feel like you're like, "Whoa Ohio." It's like, no it's pretty … mostly like middle class stuff going on.
Amanda: I'm not implying … I don’t have class implications. I'm just saying that I think it's hilarious to have a mirrored hallway. I don't want to like at myself ever.
Eric You said it's like the palace at Versailles.
Amanda: Well, Versailles famously had a hall of mirrors.
Eric Oh, right. I thought you would be like, "Oh, how fancy just like Versailles."
Julia Oh boozy house with two full mirrors.
Amanda: No Eric. People can afford fucking mirrors. Come on.
Julia It's the 70s or whatever. I don’t know. Not saying you were born in the 70s Eric. It's not my implication.
Eric I'm not that far off though.
Amanda: Well, I think a hall of mirrors would actually be helpful to our guest, someone who spends his life looking for things, things that don't want to be found, but first guys, let's get a refill.
Julia Amanda, I love learning.
Amanda: Yeah, we do. Yo! Play with me in a learning.
Julia I love the learning space. In this age of the internet, we can learn anything and that's the beauty of Skillshare Amanda, an online learning community with over 20,000 classes in design, business, technology, the arts and more.
Amanda: Yeah, they have so many amazing classes and the premium membership is the way that they make money as a site and can keep serving you amazing classes and doing great customer support, the team there is also so lovely to work with, and it's always great when a great sponsor is like staffed by amazing people. The premium gives you unlimited access to high-quality classes. Their topic like Julia said whether it's like design, business, actual stuff you want to learn for your skills or like me a hobby. So, I participate in a community supported agriculture share. I know you know about this Julia but I don’t know if everybody else does. It’s a thing. Basically like a timeshare with a farm. So, you at the beginning of the season and the spring or over the winter in the springtime, you pay some money to get a weekly delivery of produce from a local farm.
So, here in Astoria, I belong to a CSA. Every week I pick up a bagel tote bag filled with vegetables, and last week I got so many tomatoes, I did not know what to do with myself until I thought, "Wait, I can make a sauce. I pull a Julia. I can make something." I'm allergic to garlic so it is hard for me to eat Italian food, but I went to skillshare.com, this is true, and looked up the home canning 101 class where a lovely lady named Janet taught me how to make pickled vegetables and relishes and how to can them properly. So, that is what I am doing with the rest of my Sunday evening. I am so excited. I love the class. It was really easy to follow. They've great notes. Other people in the comments are like giving you their tips and showing photos of their cans. It was great. So, that is one of the many things that you can learn on Skillshare. At skillshare.com/spirits in fact, you can get two months of Skillshare premium for just $0.99.
Julia I am so jealous of your canning abilities now and I can't believe you've learned it through Skillshare. That's amazing.
Amanda: I did. Otherwise, what are you going to do? You going to go to YouTube like look it up, hope that it's real and not like a content marketing blog post, blah, blah, blah like genuinely every class I've ever tried on Skillshare is like pretty short, to the point, fun, like well done. It's got music. I really, really enjoy it.
Julia Well, that is amazing. Our listeners can have a very similar experience if they go to skillshare.com/spirits. They get two months of Skillshare for just $0.99 about the cost of probably one tomato which is really impressive.
Amanda: And supermarket. Instead of my CSA which is mad cheap and mad lovely.
Julia So, again you can go to skillshare.com/spirits to get two months of unlimited access to over 20,000 classes for only $0.99. If you act now on this special offer, you can start learning how to can today or whatever you want to do.
Amanda: Thanks Skillshare. Now, back to the episode.
So, this is kind of a super special edition of our hometown urban legends because we are joined by an expert which usually does not happen. So, we are lucky enough to be joined by Tim the Yowie Man. Tim, I actually don’t know your last name. I apologize.
Tim: Well, for you guys, it's the Mr. the Yowie Man. That is my name. Tim is my first name the Yowie man.
Amanda: I appreciate that. So, I guess what I want to start with is Tim, how did you get into the yowie? How did you get into cryptids? What engaged you first? What got you into it all?
Tim: I had absolutely no interest in cryptids until one particular moment in my life. Back in the mid-1990s when I actually saw something which I can't really explain. This chance encounter with a creature which I can only suggest was a yowie, a big hairy bipedal hominid like creature romping through the Australian bush. That sighting literally changed my life. I set off on this long journey to get to the bottom of as many cryptids in Australia as possible.
Amanda: That's awesome. Can you walk us through that day, What led up to the counter and then how you felt after?
Tim: Yeah, sure. So, I was actually studying at university a degree in economics and I was trying to value the national park, put a dollar value on the national park, near the Brindabella mountains which is the south of Canberra which is the capital of Australia which is a few hours south of Sydney on the east coast of the country. It's a fairly remote area. I was looking for the bushwalkers to interview to ask them about how they value the place. It was late afternoon, almost dusk. I hadn't seen anyone for hours, and out of the corner of my eye, on these remote track, I see these movement in the bush.
I glanced up there and it's a big creature in there. My immediate reaction is well this is a big kangaroo, a big roo. What else can it be? I look back a bit closer and yeah, definitely wasn’t a roo. What I could see about 100 yards away was this massive bulky short dark haired like a gorilla marching through the bush. My immediate reaction, I was scared. I thought, "What the heck is this?" My immediate reaction was to turn and run, but then I thought I need to keep my eyes on this creature for as long as I can because it might come at me. It might attack. I walked backwards step by step taking my eye on the creature for what seemed like minutes but on reflection was probably only 10 20 seconds or so. Got back to a fire trail, turned and ran back to my car. That siting, yeah it changed my life.
Amanda: Yeah, that would be my reaction too. I feel like I would not be happy. I would not be excited. I would be very scared.
Tim: I was very scared. If something like that happened now, now that I'm Tim the Yowie Man and I go looking for yowies and bunyips and Tasmanian tigers and cats or strange cryptids, I'd love it, but back then, I didn’t even know that Australia had a yowie which is the of course the Australia version I guess of bigfoot or Sasquatch or yeti. I actually didn’t realized we had that history in Australia at that point.
Amanda: Yeah, that's awesome. Oh gosh, that … I can't even imagine going through that kind of experience. It's obviously extremely life changing in your situation at the very least. I'm curious, like how did you get started like seriously starting to look. Did you do research on it after that or did you just kind of like start telling people the story and then someone was like, "Oh yeah, that's a yowie." or how did that go afterwards?
Tim: Yeah, well, I actually kept the story to myself for a little while because I was afraid of ridicule when I told my friends. It was sometime later, a few weeks or month or so that i told some friends and I thought they'd laugh me out of town and think I was sort of fool. One of them had read a book about cryptids in Australia a few years earlier and said, "Hey mate, what you have seen, how you describe it, you've seen the yowie, the Australian version of bigfoot." I was fascinated. So, I started immediately researching into the yowie phenomenon. As a result of my siting, I thought I'd go public with it. I think I did a radio interview on a local radio station in Canberra Australia. From that, someone gave me some information on a report on a siting they'd had. I guess it took off from there. Then I was obsessed I guess to get to the bottom of these yowie mystery. I spent years trying to find some tangible evidence.
Julia Oh that's so cool.
Amanda: I'm really curious about the term cryptonaturalist that you use. What does that mean to you?
Tim: Well, I guess, after several years of trying to get to the bottom of the yowie mystery I guess what it might or might be, in researching the yowie, I came across many other cryptids. Whether it be the famous Loch Ness or similar creatures in Australia and the Chupacabra, all these cryptids. I became fascinated with all cryptids. I wanted to explore not just the yowies but all these amazing creatures that would take me all around Australia and many places in the world sounded like fun sort of job. Then I thought, I've read about cryptozoologist who focused purely on these cryptids, but I was more interested as well in expanding that to anything which is sort of a bit unusual, a bit … that can't be explained in the natural world. So, I thought cryptozoology was too specific to … so I thought call myself a cryptonaturalist to sort of expand the world of unusual happenings which I could delve into.
Amanda: I love that.
Tim: So, I don’t know if anyone else has also used the term cryptonaturalist. Yeah, there's obviously many cryptozoologists out there and many of them probably also are cryptonaturalist in their own right. I don’t know if anyone else actually uses the term.
Amanda: I really love it though because you know I studied literature and naturalism and kind of like people who just walk around exploring things like Theodore Roosevelt style. Just going out into the world and encountering stuff and becoming like a self-taught expert. I really love that idea. Zoology is obviously an academic discipline. So, I think it makes complete sense that like lots of us can aspire to be naturalists, even those who don't go to zoology school. So, I saw and it sort of pricked my mind like, "Yeah, that's pretty cool."
Tim: Yeah, that's spot on. Yeah. I did end up finishing that economics degree. I don’t have a degree in zoology or anything like that. It's exactly how you put it there. It's a term to describe a self-taught naturalist who also loves to delve into the unknown whether it be yowies or even other strange creatures. Have you heard of the?
Julia No, please tell us more.
Tim: Come on, you must have heard of the Ompax spatuloides. Of course, you probably haven't but it was one of the most fascinating first cryptids I came across in my research. It was dating back to the 1800s in Australia, the early 1800s. First European settlers didn't really arrive here until the late 1700s so Australia is the country we know it now was relatively new in that respect. Of course, we've got an indigenous culture, one of the oldest in the world, but one morning there was these at in an outback station, these naturalists were served up something very unusual for breakfast. It was about a 12-inch-long creature that had a spatula like head. It was a dirty reddish color and had armor like scales and a fringe like tail.
This naturalist, I think he was a naturalist from France, quite an academic zoologist in fact, he was, also a museum director, he was so intrigued at its peculiar appearance. He sketched it and sent it to someone in the French consul in Sydney. They described it so much so that they think that they were the first Europeans to see this creature that they actually named it the Ompax spatuloides as its scientific name. However, and this is the bid I love, several years later the stockman who served it up to the naturalist for breakfast revealed that he'd actually served up the head of a platypus which is an Australia creature, the body of a mullet, a fish, and a tail of an eel which he'd strung all together to make it look like a weird creature but with bits and pieces of three. I love that because that so sums up Australia. Many people think particularly in that era, we had all these unusual creatures that don't exist anywhere else on the planet. So, let's go one step further and make up even more unusual creatures.
Amanda: Very self-aware. Very enterprising. I got to respect game recognize game. I see that there.
Tim: Very, very funny. Yeah. So, what I like to do is I don’t even … I'm not disappointed if I don’t get to the bottom of the mystery, because there needs to be the mystery out there for me to continue doing what I do. So, if all the mysteries are solved and all the cryptids are either proved to be some sort of other creature or a new creature to science or a hoax or whatever, then I've got no job. So, I love the fact that there's mystery up here. I'm not encouraging people to make up cryptids like in that case but yeah, the fact is still that mystery out there in a world which scientists claim they can explain almost everything, I think we need mystery to give us that bit of enthusiasm and zest in life.
Amanda: I like that. I like that a lot. On that same vein, you've mentioned the yowie. Obviously you've mentioned bunyips. What's an Australian cryptid that you think doesn't get enough attention that it deserves more?
Tim: On a global scale, the creature that probably needs more attention is our big cat phenomena. I'm not sure if you've covered that in any other episode. Australia doesn’t have any large cats. We don't have any lemurs, panthers, whatever you want to call them. However, the most common siting of a cryptid in Australia is of a big cat, a black panther roaming the east coast of Australia. There's report of this regularly. It outnumbers yowies, bunyips, sea serpents, Tasmanian tigers about 50 to 1. There's various theories as to what this big cat could be whether it's something new to science. One of the theories is actually that the Americans, you guys, you came to visit our country in the Second World War, you had pumice as mascots on your ships. When-
Amanda: That's like something we do.
Julia Sounds very American.
Tim: Yeah, it does. When you adopt various ports around the country, there's speculation that some of the sailors lick one of these or several of these loose and that's what we see today, but of course that can't explain the fact that there's literally these big cats site of right up and down the east coast of Australia. So, it really does capture the imagination of Australians. It's often front page news. Another big cat sited near the Blue Mountains on the outskirts of Sydney. What is it? Many people believe they're just really massive feral cats, pets that have been let loose in the bush, but no one's got to the bottom of it. So, on a global scale, I think that's probably the biggest cryptozoological phenomena here in Australia.
Amanda: That's fascinating. We often talk on the show as we discuss like older gods and urban legends. I love when I make just like unexpected connections like when an ancient Sumerian goddess reminds me of like a thing in Harry Potter and that's something that we really love about what we do. I also love that about people who have conspiracy theories or other kind of alternative ideas or timelines or explanations of things that they see in the world. It's so cool that something like a real documented historical phenomenon like that could have all of the pieces to add up to explain something that is unexplained right now. I just think it's like human brains love pattern and narrative and getting to see people together trying to put together like these puzzle pieces. It's just so fun.
Tim: It is. As you said, those puzzle pieces, that's a really neat way of explaining these alien big cat phenomenon where aliens means unknown of course. Of course, not many people believe they come from outer space. Alien in it's-
Amanda: That will be cool too.
Tim: So, they're called ABCs over here, alien big cats, but probably be on a global scale, the Tasmanian tiger or thylacine … Have you come across that?
Julia I know-
Julia … a little bit about it. Not enough to hold a good conversation though.
Tim: Let me give you a little bit about it because this is one of my pet subjects because the Tasmanian tiger, cryptozoologist we're dealing with cryptonaturalist. We're dealing with creatures that mainstream science believes don't exist. The Tasmanian tiger is a hopeful one out there because we know it once did exist. So, the Tasmanian tiger used to roam all over Australia right up until about 5,000 years go then the dingo which is a wild dog was introduced into Australia. It outcompeted the Tazi tiger on the mainland of Australia. Just south of Australia and still part of the country is a state called Tasmania.
The dingo couldn't swim so these Tazi tigers, they lived on there in Tasmania for many years right up until the 1930s, but they were blamed for killing all the sheep on farms. So, there was a bounty put on them. Farmers went out and shot them and basically shot them to extinction or is it extinction, because since 1936, there's been a long list of people that claim to still see these Tazi tiger out there roaming the bush. Although there's no conclusive evidence that it's still out there, there's various organizations and business people in Australia that have put a million dollars to anyone that can find conclusive evidence of the Tazi tiger. It's a creature with a long tail. It's about the size of a dog and have stripes on it.
Julia Yeah, it's a really gorgeous animal.
Tim: It is. It is absolutely beautiful. Look it up on the web. The Tasmanian tiger, it's … yeah, I'd love to encounter one of those. In fact, one day I almost did. Did you want to hear about that?
Julia Oh yeah absolutely.
Amanda: Oh yeah.
Tim: So, this is about … I can't remember how long ago. Now probably 15 years ago, I was down in Tasmania looking for the Tazi tiger because I wanted this million bucks to tell you the truth. You've got like-
Amanda: Of course, can't blame you for that.
Tim: So, I had this … They're nocturnal so I had this four-wheel drive and a camera mounted on the front driving around some of the remote tracks in northern Tasmania where last sort of sightings of the creature were. It was around midnight or so when driving along these road and there in my headlights is a creature. It looks like a Tasmanian tiger. It's got stripes. It's got the long tail. It's about the size of a dog. My heart is beating. I can't believe it. Here, finally, I'm going to find something. So, I stop the car and got out and have my the camera with me and crept up towards the creature. I was really surprised it didn’t dart away. The reason it didn’t dart off is it seemed to have a bit of a limp. It seemed to be injured in some way. I thought, "Oh, even better chance to capture some sort of footage of it." As I got closer to it, the most exciting moment in my life turned to the most disappointing. There in my torch light wasn't a Tasmanian tiger at all rather a greyhound with stripes painted on it.
Amanda: Oh no!
Tim: No, it happened to a man who drew it. This guy from a local pub in Tasmania, he heard I was out on this expedition. He thought, "I'm going to get this young yowie man and I'm going to prove-
Amanda: Oh my goodness!
Julia That's hilarious.
Tim: He painted his greyhound and he was hiding around the corner and he'd let it loose. So, I got done. That's just part of it. You had those fun moments.
Julia It's very good. I got to give that guy credit. As exciting as it would've been for you to actually see a Tasmanian tiger, that is a really funny story.
Tim: I was absolutely livid at the time. Let me assure you, I was-
Julia Oh yeah.
Tim: Time has healed that and now I guess I do see the humor side of it.
Julia Well comedy is just tragedy with time added.
Tim: In that case, this is very much so.
Amanda: What sort of people do you run across in your daily life these days? I know that you do run tours and events. So, what kind of people tend to attend and what sorts of friends and colleagues have you made along the way?
Tim: Well, I guess when you're dealing with this subject matter and you talk to someone who isn’t sort of across the subject matter or not really into it, they assume or often will say, "So, you just deal with crackpots." You're familiar with the term crackpot? So, like just crazy people.
Tim: My experience over the last 20 plus years, sure I've met the odd crackpot, but probably not much more than the average person in the street. The vast majority of people I encounter whether they come on my tours and events or whether they report a sighting of a cryptid or whatever to me, they're just your average person, we call them Joe Blows in Australia. Just your average Joe walking down the street same as anyone else, not making up a story, not crazy in any way, just got something a bit unusual they want to talk to you about.
They're not sure what might be the reason they … or the origins of whatever it is that they've seen and its more often than not, it's those people they just wanted … similar to when I had my yowie sighting, I kept it to myself and then spoke to some friends, but there's a lot of people out there that had these stories and then they … I see people like myself and others that are in this industry as someone as they can almost confide in. A lot of them don’t want you to tell … just expand the stories to others and distribute it. They just wanted to tell you about their story because they know that I'll listen.
Amanda: Yeah, I'm sure there's almost the therapeutic aspect to it where people that probably feel quite vulnerable or uncertain can come to someone that they know will at least hear them out.
Tim: Indeed. Sometimes you've got to spend hours, sometimes days listening to people because they've got this story they've had built in them and they haven't shared it for 20 years or something and you're there. They want to outpour all this encounter, the emotion associated with it. It's almost like someone for like a priest or a reverend from a church. You have to sit there and listen and try and provide some guidance. Often of course you can't because the world of cryptonaturalism, cryptozoology is an uncertain one.
Julia Tim, do you want to plug anything? A website? Your social media stuff, anything like that?
Tim: Yeah. So, I've written several books on Australia's strange phenomena. One is called the Haunted and Mysterious Australia. I find there's been quite a lot of interest from the US and people looking at these mysteries whether they're cryptids or haunted locations or cursed places, UFOs, the like. It covers all of that. So, I've made that available in my website to anyone in the US. You can go to yowie man that's Y-O-W-I-E-M-A-N.com.au and it'll have the information there how you can find out about that book. I've just started an online series on YouTube where I'm delving into and investigating various unusual and strange happenings in Australia. So, if you go to YouTube and look up Tim the Yowie Man the series, you'll start seeing some of those episodes pop up there.
Amanda: I am subscribing right now. I can't wait.
Julia That is very much up our listeners alley so I'm sure everyone will want to go check that out.
Tim: Excellent. Excellent. I'm also on Facebook. Just look up Tim the Yowie Man. Love to hear stories from all around the world and have been to North America on numerous occasions in search of the bigfoot or Sasquatch. Actually before we go, one of the questions I'm often asked is, "How does the bigfoot or Sasquatch compare to the Australia yowie?"
Julia Yes, please.
Tim: Some fellow researchers in Australia Tony Healy and Paul Cropper who focused purely on the … mostly on the yowie, they did some research into the similarities and differences. One of the differences was a difference in height. So, the bigfoot or Sasquatch is actually on average about six inches taller than the Australia yowie. So, I guess if we had a game of basketball, the Americans would still beat us even if it was the yowies versus the Sasquatch or bigfoot.
Julia That's fair. Oh I love that.
Tim: Can you imagine that? Can you imagine them playing basketball? It'd be great. I'm not going to breath.
Julia I'm thinking of Space Jam but better.
Tim: The market is dream. I can see people flocking to see that. Can't you?
Julia Oh for sure. That would like Jurassic Park but a singular event.
Amanda: I'm still trying to get over the ABCs, the alien big cats. That's just the most amazing initials that I've ever heard in my life.
Tim: In fact, you guys got some clout. You got a big following. Maybe you could organize it. Maybe that's your aim for 2019 to organize these match between bigfoot and yowie. There's the challenge.
Julia If we found some bigfoot and yowies.
Amanda: If we can commercialize it. It's a big potential market. Maybe that would draw them out of hiding. You'll never know.
Julia Do yowies and Bigfoots subscribe to capitalism Amanda?
Amanda: I think-
Tim: Probably not, unfortunately. They're very elusive. Yeah, it's very hard to find those. Very few encounters where people have actually had a physical interaction with a yowie. With this thing, usually the yowies slip away into the bush. Though I'm not sure they'd be coming forward.
Amanda: I respect that.
Tim: Even if you wave in a checkbook.
Julia I'm with the yowie on that.
Amanda: Well, Tim thank you again for taking a few minutes out of your morning to chat with us and for being so friendly on Twitter and Facebook when two random Americans were like, "Oh my God, this person …" So, thanks again. If we're ever in Australia, we know who we're going to call. Same here for New York, you're absolutely welcome to hit us up next time you tore through bigfoot territory.
Tim: Yeah, I can't wait. Yes, I'm sure you guys will come on tour one day and I'll take you out there. We'll find an ABC, a bunyip, a Tazi tiger and an Australian [inaudible 00:52:33] all on the same.
Amanda: I love it.
Julia Best week ever.
Tim: Thanks Julia. Thanks Amanda.
Julia Thank you.
Amanda: All right, see you soon.
Amanda: Spirits was created by Amanda McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, and Eric Schneider, with music by Kevin MacLeod and visual design by Allyson Wakeman.
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Julia: Thank you so much for listening. Til next time.