Hi, I'm Ranger Stacey From The 'Totally Wild' Program. Tonight's next story is about a man who spent half a century exploring the bush in a single-minded pursuit of the yowie and other legendary creatures. His methods are unorthodox. His findings have been questioned. But still Rex Gilroy searches on.
REX GILROY – CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: Heather's taken me into some pretty wild areas, and I've taken her into the scrub with me too, and she's been very patient. She'll be just nice and comfortably driving along the road and I'll get one of my psychic flashes, stop the car, there's something over there. Australia is a land of mystery. We've got thousands of square kilometres of unexplored mountains, forest country, throughout eastern Australia alone that you just can't get into.
The other night out there in the bush that's when a lot of creatures are on the move looking for food, and, you know. Heather remarked, oh, this is eerie out here, isn't it? And I said, isn't it always? And, you know what could be watching us. Yeah, they're out there. They're just too scared of humans to approach a little closer. And people say, if yowies exist why don't they come closer? Well, we're a pretty dangerous lot.
HEATHER GILROY – WIFE: Rex is a...well, I describe him as the absentminded professor, typical. He is eccentric. Some people can't cope with that eccentricity.
REX GILROY - CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: I'm a cryptozoologist. In fact, I'm the father of cryptozoology in this country, like I am the father of yowie research. Cryptozoology is the study of animals either unknown to science, or species long thought extinct that might still be with us. I don't talk the same language, I suppose, as most people, I don't know, but I've spent a lifetime trying to educate myself.
HEATHER GILROY - WIFE: He was ostracised at school. His parents were very protective of him. He didn't learn a lot from school, anything that he's learnt he's learnt himself since. Because of some of that it's left him quite bitter about the treatment he received at school.
REX GILROY – CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: I was a slow learner. It wasn't picked up. Today we've got remedial classes, but nothing was done about me. I was just left there in the corner, and if I ever asked a teacher a question about arithmetic or something, he would just pass me off, go away, I'm busy, you know. In 1953 my parents took me for my first visit to the Australian Museum in Sydney, and I saw the insect collection.
I said, gee, I'd like to have a collection like that, and make me a butterfly net, Dad. Oh, I've got something like 50,000 insects and spiders now. The insects are in glass cases. I've hundreds of beetles, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, cicadas, you name it. All pinned out, all set out with their Latin names. I am not a collector. I never was. I always wanted to learn about the specimen.
HEATHER GILROY - WIFE: When I married Rex I knew he was different - his ideas at that stage, like there was a lot of his yowie stuff - not regular mainstream ideas. I didn't exactly go into this marriage with rose-coloured glasses. I knew it would be difficult. I knew, even then, that I would be the person with the feet on the ground.
REX GILROY – CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: I wanted to take the butterfly net on our honeymoon, but she sort of objected to that. I don't know why to this day, but anyway. So I've always been dedicated, every working hour.
HEATHER GILROY - WIFE: Rex has always had this theory that there's strange animals around. Sometimes he'll go out by himself, and he'll say, oh, look, I found something, and we'll go back together. And then we'll sort of look at it, and look around more, and find perhaps a clearer print or something like that. And he'll then measure it, photograph it, measure it, take a plaster cast of that.
REX GILROY – CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: It is because of my scientific approach that I've come up with the truth. As far as I'm concerned, you've got the Tasmanian tiger. It's definitely on the mainland.
I've seen the so-called 'Australian panther'.
We also have the Blue Mountain lion, and we have the giant monitor lizard.
I have footprints, of course, cast from the south coast at Moruya. One creature about twenty-five feet walked across a farmer’s property in broad daylight.
The yowie, as far as I'm concerned, based on Aboriginal folklore, is a Homo erectus - a tool making, fire making hominid. And this is where certain plagiarists have gone wrong. They think they're looking for a big gorilla or a monkey-type animal, and it's not - he's very much like you and I. And I realise that apart from the average 5ft to 6ft tall traditional yowie, as it were, it was a larger creature that was leaving footprints.
And so I decided to do what any other scientist does when he discovers a new race or a new species. He names it. So I've just called them 'Rex Beast'. And ah well I thought, well, I think I deserve something for all the work I've done.
HEATHER GILROY - WIFE: Rex is driven, totally driven. He is actually a very intelligent person. And the fact that he is self-taught and hasn't been to university has brought him into a lot of flak. He often starts, and even in his books he says, this is my theory. This is what I think I've found to support this theory. I'm not asking you to believe what I say, I'm asking you to keep an open mind.
REX GILROY – CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: I have seen a yowie, so-called, Homo erectus. I've done a sketch of basically what I saw. He just seems to be at peace with nature. He was just going about his own business. Whether he'd seen me, I don't know. But I saw him, and he just kept on going until he was out of sight from the scrub, and I haven't forgotten that. My whole life is in this collection. And I must find somewhere for it before I die because otherwise it's going to end up God-knows-where.
I don't want to see it given to the government. This house is just, I don't want to call it a pigsty, but it's becoming that way. I’ve got boxes under the, I must be the only person in Australia who's got fossil skulls under their dining room table. My poor wife, but, anyway, I coax her out there occasionally to watch a movie with me, but I'm enthralled by cinema.
HEATHER GILROY: Rex's dream, all the way, has been to have his own cinema. He's a frustrated film producer, film maker. Rex loves nothing more than to show some of the movies that he's made. The cinema is Rex's den.
REX GILROY – CRYPTOZOOLOGIST: Even my cinema collection, my movie memorabilia, everything, it's not just collected because I'm a cinema lover. But I collect things like that because I study it. I study cinema, I study theatre, opera. Everything is education to me. I was that dunce back in 1955, and I don't want to be. It did hurt when I was a teenager. I was just ostracised because of my butterfly net.
They used to sing out all sorts of funny names at you, but after a while I thought hey you know, they're paying me a compliment calling me 'Yowie Man', or 'Butterfly Man', or 'Spider Man'. Now these people today are coming to me with their families wanting me to teach their kids about fossils or something, and the funny little bloke with the butterfly net isn't so crazy after all. Well, I don't know. Somebody said, are you a madman or a genius? I said, I like a fine line between the two.