You’ve heard of the Tasmanian tiger and the black panther, but have you heard of the Tantanoola tiger?
Lake Macquarie’s Doug Saxon has a story about this strange beast. In his book, titled Michael Scott - An Artistic Life, Doug reveals a close encounter with the wild animal.
Michael Scott’s father, Dr Arthur Scott, of Dapto, was on a house call when he was attacked by a strange creature.
Dr Scott told the The Sydney Morning Herald in July 1909 that he went to see a patient at night at the foot of Mount Kembla.
“I heard a roar of an animal similar to what one hears at the zoo, when animals of the cat tribe are being fed,” Dr Scott said.
His wife, who was waiting for him in the car, also heard the roar.
Dr Scott ran towards the car “when I perceived something approaching on my right side”.
“Almost instantaneously, I was struck violently on the head and felled,” he said.
“The blow was so violent that it deprived me temporarily of consciousness.”
Dr Scott wandered about in a daze for over an hour, before finding his wife.
He conceded it was “a curious thing that a wild animal should attack a man and then leave him”.
“I would not run the risk of public ridicule as a medical man, if I was not absolutely confident that the attack upon me was made by an animal and not by a human being.”
The beast was thought to have its “lair in caves at the foot of Mount Kembla”, the Herald reported.
Doug wrote in the book that Dr Scott “suffered a degree of ridicule and humiliation” because of his story.
“This caused him to leave Dapto. It was about this time that Arthur Scott developed a type of chronic fatigue syndrome or neurosis and was unable to sleep for extended periods.
“It could be argued that the trauma of the Tantanoola tiger had an adverse impact on his mental health and this was to affect him for the rest of his life.”
In 1913, the family moved to Morisset in Lake Macquarie.
The Tiger Myth
Despite the attack on Dr Scott occurring at Mount Kembla in NSW, the Herald referred to the beast as the “Tantanoola tiger”.
Tantanoola is a town in South Australia, where “tiger” sightings were recorded back in the 1880s.
Mysterious creatures encountered in many places, including those in NSW, took on the moniker of “Tantanoola tiger”.
Doug quoted the State Library of South Australia as recording that the Tantanoola tiger myth dated back to 1884.
It began with reports that a Bengal tiger had escaped from a travelling circus near Tantanoola. A search was mounted, but a tiger was never found.
“Over the next few years, there were many reports of missing sheep in the area and some suggested that the sheep had become the prey of the missing tiger,” the report said.
“Eleven years after the tiger went missing, local man Tom Donovan, saw what he thought was the Bengal tiger in a paddock with a sheep in its jaws.
“He took a shot at it with his gun and shot the animal in the side. As it turns out, it was not a Bengal tiger, but a Eurasian wolf – equally out of place in the Australian environment.
“It is thought that the wolf was a stowaway on a boat that was shipwrecked off the coast, but managed to make it to the shore. The wolf was stuffed and is now on display at the Tantanoola Hotel.”
Topics is not quite sure how a Bengal tiger gets confused with a wolf. Guess that’s how myths are made.
The Pied Piper
Our attention was caught on Friday by a press release from Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord.
“NSW Labor has expressed its concern about a possible mouse infestation in southern NSW,” the statement said.
Authorities fear the problem could match “the mouse plague of 2010-11”.
“During the plague a number of years ago, I saw so many it was like looking at a moveable carpet,” Walt said.
Walt also raised concern about the appearance of “a large number of rats in the Sydney CBD and in Sydney’s eastern suburbs”.
Could this be a case for the Pied Piper?