Big cat on the prowl

by Michael Di Petta
6th June 2016

Warrandyte citizens keep your wits about you, for the resident “big cat” has once again been seen in the community’s leafy surroundings. Fresh sightings of the freakishly sized feline have been reported all throughout early 2016, with multiple sources claiming to have seen the big black cat in different areas of Warrandyte.

Melissa Van Bergen and Ross Henderson recalled two incidents in which they came across the cat at their home in North Warrandyte.

“It was about three o’clock in the morning in the summer, and I looked out and I saw this black thing. It was big, I thought it was as big as a Shetland pony,” Ross said. “But it moved, it moved very quickly off into the bush, it was a cat-like movement.”

“About a week later at a similar time, I saw it in another part of the bush. I hadn’t heard any stories about it (the big cat), but my first impressions were that it was definitely black. I could see it in the moonlight because it was summer. It was sort of a panther type thing, something like that anyway. It had a fair size to it.”

Animals are often the first to notice a disturbance, and Melissa believes the family dog may also have noticed the presence of the black cat.

“Normally the dog barks and growls at everything. But this one time I found him at the door, growling, with his tail completely between his legs, and he’s never like that,” Melissa said.

Melissa, who has worked as vet nurse, also said she found large drop- pings in the area that didn’t belong to a kangaroo, dog or wombat.

Local woman Kassie Jones further alerted the Diary to the existence of the big cat on the community Facebook page last week, purporting to have seen the creature not far from the Shell service station in South Warrandyte.

“I saw it last Thursday (26/5) just before Gold Memorial Road intersected with Husseys Lane. It was around 1pm,” Kassie said.

“It was around the size of a Labrador but a bit bigger, was fully black and I didn’t see the head because when it saw the car it jumped off the road into the bush.

“I think it may have been a house cat or a domestic cat that got loose and started feeding off wildlife and grew, or a phantom cat from the Gippsland areas or from the Grampians area.”

The flurry of black cat sightings has thrust the creature back into the community spotlight, almost three and a half years after Diary contributor Jan Tindale took the original photo printed in the paper in December 2013.

“I’ll never forget when it was looking at me with those big illuminous eyes and slits. I won’t forget its tail, either; it was long and very brushy at the end,” Mrs Tindale told the Diary back then.

According to Cliff Green’s article in December 2013, eyewitness accounts going back decades have recorded sightings of “big cats” in the Warrandyte region as far back as 1979.

Furthermore, according to the Leader (August 27, 2003), Warrandyte residents should have no reason to feel a little crazy for sighting the cat, considering there have been about 20 documented sightings at Warrandyte State Park in the past 25 years.

Only time will tell if the creature, or indeed creatures, are still lurking in our midst, but if you see any big cats please contact the Diary at info@warrandytediary. com.au or phone 9844 0555.