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Northam Monster

Northam Monster

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Published by draculavanhelsing
West Australian 1935 (June 22)
West Australian 1935 (June 22)

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Published by: draculavanhelsing on Feb 18, 2012
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The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), Saturday 22 June 1935, page 7National Library of Australiahttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32877696
THE
NORTHAM
A
Mystery
oftheAvon.
Bv
N.LO.
J*ONSTERShavestalkedthepagesof
?'?*?
historyandtraditionfromtheearliesttimes,
and
itis
notnecessarytoH.G.Wells's'LostWorld'tofindtheminsavagery
unadorned.
There
was
Medusa,the
serpent-haired
offspringof
Phorcys,
whoturnedevery
one
gazing
on
herintostone,andin
ourown
time
theDusseldorf
Monsterwhose
career
was
brought
to
an
end
by
theGermanpoliceafterhehadeffectedquite
a
considerable
reductioninthefemale
population,
there
were
Bluebeardhisprototype.
Chimera,
thefire-breathingmonster
whose
talents,
however,
donotcomparevery
favourably
withthoseofthemodernIndianfire-eaters;
there
were
theLochNessMonster,
Argus
thehun
dred-eyed,
the
s.ea
monsterdiscovered
in
April
ofthisyear
near
Narooma
(New
South
Wales),
Minotaur,thehalfbulland
half
man
who
was
slain
by
Theseus,
andtheRottnestMonsterwhichdespitethe
highhopes
at
first
entertained
re
garding
it,
was
finally
pronounced
to
he
;he
fleshandblubberof
a
whale.
But
inrelationto
all
ofthesetheNorthernMonsterstands
ona
plane
of
itsown.
Mostofthe
ancient
monsters
came
toviolentends
or
were
turnedintoharmlesscreatures
by
theheroes
or
magicians
whoacted
as
policemen
inthosefar-offtimes,andthemodernmonstershavefailedtosurvivethe
on
slaughts
of
publicopinion
as
expressedthrough
thelawcourts,
or
the
investiga
tionsofinterferingscientistsanxioustofind
commonplaceexplanations
for
themostromanticthings.
But,
as
Ihavesaid,theNorthamMonster
was
different.It
came
withthebestofcredentials,theattestationof
a
police
officer,it
remaind
longenough
toexcitethewildestexpectations,
andit
departedbefore
itwas
found
outandbeforethe
prying
handsofinquisitive
experts
couldbe
placed
upon
it,
and
a
plausible
explanation
of
its
existencecouldbeformulated.If
evera
monster
deservedwellof
a
disillusioned
public
it
did.Itdidnotexcite
greatexpectations
andthenruthlesslywreckthem.
Itdid
not
display
its
partly
decomposed
carcass
inblatantvulgarity,invitingthe
scrutiny
ofinquisitive
scientists,
as
didtheRottnestMonster.Indeed
if
anything
its
actions
indicated
a
retiring
disposi
tion.
A
Mysterious
Swimmer.On
Saturday,
January
iz,
1929,
a
Mrs.
Whitworth
saw
what
shestated
appeared
tobe
an
alligator
reposing
ona
sandbanktobe
an
alligator
reposing
ona
sandbank
near
a
bridgespanning
theAvonRiverat
Northam,
butwhgnshe
reported
thematter
to
herhusbandheridiculedtheidea.Onthe
followingday,however,
thecreature
was
againnoticedby
some
youths
andthat
night
attheconclusionof
a
bandconcertwhich
was
heldin
a
parkby
thesideoftheAvonRivertheMonster
was
seen
swimming
around
a
bridge.Theyoung
men
who
saw
it
waited
inthevicinityuntilafter
midnight
andthencommunicatedwiththepolice.In
spector
G.
Johnston,accompaniedby
a
policeconstable,
proceeded
tothe
bridge
toinvestigate.Theelectriclightsofthetown
had
by
thenbeenturnedoff,
but
they
were
switched
on
by
the
night
ope
rator,and
by
thelightof
an
incandescentglobe,
Inspector
Johnstonstated,heclearly
saw
the
Monster,
whichotherswho
were
present
declaredtobe
a
shark.The
discovery
causedgreatexcitementandbathers
were
warned,although
thefactthat
many
continued
during
succeed
ingdays
tobathehitheriverwithout
apparent
fear,
wasa
rathersignificant
commentary.Early
on
Mondaymorning
a
constable,
accompaniedby
thepoliceblacktracker
Norman,
patrolledtheriver
when,however,
no
sign
wasseen
oftheMonster.Crowds
thronged
bothshoresofthe
river,
andthe
bridgesspanning
it
were
packed
on
Mondaynight
withsightseers.
Many
claimedthat
they
saw
thecreature,and
were
prepared
to
de
scribe
it,
butthe
general
attitudedidnotencouragethem.
A
largenumberofpeople,
however,
waitedinthevicinityof
one
bridge
until
one
o'clock
on
Tues
daymorning
when
Norman,
theblacktracker,
saw
whatat
first
hestated
wasan
alligatorandlater
a
'big
lizard.'In
spector
Johnstonatthattime
was
armedwith
arifle,
buthedeemed
it
inadvisableto
discharge
it.
On
Tuesday-morning,
however,
the
police
were
informedthatthecreature
was
tobe
seen
partly
outofthewater
ona
bank.
A
constable
was
dispatched
tothe
scene,
andfiredtwoshotsattheallegedalligator,thesecond
finding
its
mark.It
was
thendiscoveredtobe
a
log!
The
Last
Glimpse.
On
Tuesdayevening
theMonsterputin
an
appearanceat
a
spot
about50
yards
fromthecentralbridge,where
it
caused
a
great
sensation.Alight
was
flashed
on
theriveratthe
spot
where
whereupon
it
dived
belowthe
sur
face.That
was
thelastthat
was
everseen
oftheNortham
Monster.
On
Wednesday
ConstableDavistook
a
canoe
andvisitedthevarious
sandbanks
andislandsinthe
river,
without
finding
anytraceoftheintruder.
When
thematter
was
again
referredto
Inspector
Johnstonhedeniedthat
the
creature
wasan
alligator.Itsback
 
the
creature
wasan
alligator.Itsbackhad
guttered
inthelightlike
a
silversurface,heinsisted,and
it
was
obviously
some
sortof
fish.
Mr.G.C.Jessup,
an
authority
on
thefishoftheAvonRiver,
suggested
thattheMonster
might
be
a
large
Murray
Cod.Anumberofthesehadbeen
placed
intheriver
?
15years
previously,muchtothe
chagrin
ofthethen
president
oftheFishAcclimatisation
Society
whostatedthat
they
wouldfeeduponeveryother
type
offishinthe
river.
Others
suggested
thatthe
crea
ture
might
be
an
alligatorwhichhadbeen
brought
fromtheNorth-Westwhen
it
wasa
baby,
and
a
reporter
ofthestaffof
a
Bunbury
newspaperallegedthatthe
'craftytownsmen'
of
Northam,
likethelandlordin
Andreyev's
play,had
'manu-
factured'theMonstertoincreasethetourist
traffic.
Hecalled
upon
thecitizensofhis
own
towntoexhibitsimilarenter
prise.
APublicanin
Pyjamas.
Several
attempts
were
made
to
capture
theMonster,themostserious
being
thatof
a
portly
publicanwho,
clad
inpy
jamas
andarmedwith
arifle,
secretedhimself
near
thebankoftheAvonwhenmostofthe
townspeople
hadretiredforthenight.Hehadnotbeenthere
long
beforedoubts
as
to
thewisdomofhisaction
began
toassail
him,
andthese
were
increased
byyouths
whoin
passing
didnothesitatetocallhim
an
old
fool.
'You'reright,son.'saidthe
publican
mildly,andretiredtohisbed.TheMonster
is
only
a
memory
atNortham
today.Possibly
thecreature
wasa
shark,
which
by
somemeans
hadfound
its
wayuptheriver
during
a
floodperiod,
oran
alligator
as
some
insisted,butwhatever
it
was
it
preserved
its
secret

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