In the foothills of the magical Sugarloaf mountain, a wise group of men sit around a table to ponder the black panther and other unusual creatures.
This group's panther ponderings followed a mountain biker's eyewitness sighting of a big black cat jumping out of a tree at Mount Sugarloaf.
The place for such contemplation is known as the Table of Knowledge, which exists at the Seahampton property of Gary Lawless. Most afternoons, he and his pals sit around the table to discuss the day's events.
It's winter now, so the Table of Knowledge has been transformed into the Fire of Enlightenment. In a recent get-together, the "Sugarloaf panther" was the first order of business, after beverages were served.
As the authenticity of the panther sighting was deliberated, various comments arose about the Minmi bear, a yowie "skulking about the bush around the old Stockrington mine site dam" and a three-legged emu at Moree that could "run faster than the XPT".
As yarns were spun, Bibles and mothers' graves were sworn on.
"There was talk of a giant kangaroo that one of the guys spotted once on a hunting trip. By his account, this marsupial was so big that if the animal stood up straight on its hind legs, you'd need to climb a stepladder just to smack it in the face," Gary said.
"He swears that the creature growled at them like a tiger when he and his mates approached it. It presented such a fearsome sight, with muscles bulging like the Terminator, that they jumped in the old ute and tore off down the track, hoping like hell that the damn thing would not chase them."
We recently reported that bushman and poet Bob Skelton, aka the Minmi Magster, reckons big feral cats can account for panther sightings.
"I have to agree with Bob. I have had experience with these animals in the past. In the early '80s, I spent a lot of time hunting on my mate's property on the slopes of the Mount Royal Range [in the Barrington Tops area]," Gary said.
"At that time, feral pigs and foxes were prolific. The pigs did a lot of damage to the environment and foxes were decimating the native wildlife.
"This was before widespread baiting was used to keep them under control, so we hunted them to try and keep their numbers down. The hunting also provided a bit of spare income, as we would sell the fox skins to the local hide dealer."
During those trips, Gary often came across feral cats.
"When sighted, their fate was sealed. I have nothing against cats in general, but I have seen first-hand the damage to our native animal and bird population that feral cats are capable of inflicting. These cats elicited no sympathy from me at the time.
"After living wild for many generations, some of these cats we came across were huge. In some cases, possibly two or three times larger than their domestic cousins.
"From a distance, some of these wild cats could easily be mistaken for a panther or puma, given the right conditions of light and surroundings."
Nevertheless, Gary reckons the recent sighting of the Sugarloaf panther is sure to spark many discussions over beers at the local pub for a while at least.
"It will then fade into memory until the next sighting of some legendary creature skulking around the vast Australian bush, the existence of which stretches our imagination again."
In the meantime, Gary won't be venturing anywhere near Mount Sugarloaf after dark. Just in case.