Apochyphal Animal

The Sydney Morning Herald

16 June 1847

The apochyphal animal. To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald. Gentlemen, -

On the 9th of February last you did me the favour to publish a letter I sent you, on the subject of the skull of the Kinepratia.

I now send you the copy of a letter I received by the last mail, not on the subject of the skull only, but on a living animal of that name, which you are at liberty to publish.

I will merely observe that this beast, with many names, viz:- Kinepratia, Katimpia, Tanatbah, Dengas, and Bunyip, agrees with the description given me by a shepherd, who states that while he was standing on the bank of the Murrumbidgee, he saw something (similar in appearance to the one mentioned in the accompanied letter) rise suddenly out of the middle of the stream, that it shewed, as he supposes, about half its figure, and that while in the act of shaking itself, it caught sight of him, and instantly disappeared, but although the time could not have exceeded a few moments, he saw sufficient to enable him to describe it to me, and which nearly agrees with what I have been told by the aborigines.

I remain, Gentlemen,

Your most obedient servant, William H. Hovell.

Goulburn, 11th June, 1847.

Nap Nap, Murrumbidgee, 6th May, 1847.


My Dear Sir,

The interest you have shewn in the Kinepratia, induces me, in return for your kindness in sending me all the information you could gather, when in this part of the country, to furnish you with such as we have since acquired, and I shall not be much surprised if you one of these days receive an invitation to repeat your visit to this part, and have a look at one dead or alive. You know that the Lachlan when flooded spreads its waters over an immense extent of lowland, covered with reeds, through which the water finds its way to the junction with the Murrumbidgee.

There is on the edge of this large reed bed, about twelve miles from the junction, a cattle station, recently settled by a Mr. Tyson, the river has been overflowing these reed beds for some months past.

Well, some few weeks ago, an intelligent lad in Tyson's employ, who was in search of the milking cows on the edge, and just inside this reed bed, where there are occasionally patches of good grass, came suddenly, in one of these openings, upon an animal grazing, which he thus describes: it was about as big as a six months' old calf, of a dark brown colour, a long neck and long pointed head; it had large ears, which it pricked up when it perceived him; had a thick mane of hair from the head down the neck, and two large tusks; he turned to run away, and this creature equally alarmed ran off too, and from the glance he took at it, he describes it as having an awkward shambling gallop; the fore-quarters of the animal were very large in proportion to the hindquarters, and it had a large tail, but whether he compared it to that of a horse or a bullock I do not recollect; he took two men to the place next morning to look for its track, which they describe as broad and square, somewhat like what the spread hand of a man would make in soft muddy ground.

The lad had never heard of the kinepratia, and yet his description in some respects tally with that of the aborigines, who pretend to have seen them, so that I am inclined to think there is one of these extraordinary animals still living within a few miles of me, and I cannot but entertain a hope of being someday fortunate enough to come in contact with one, and if so, I shall do my best to bring him home with me.

 If you should again risk the perils and dangers by flood and field necessarily to enable us to meet again at Nap Nap, I hope you will escape the scourge of blight, and be able to see more clearly the barrenness of most of this part of the country which makes it necessary to devote so large a space to the maintenance of a flock compared with more favoured lands.

Yours, truly, George Hobler.

W. H Hovell, Esq., J.P., Goulburn.