THE BEAST of Boonah lurks in the wild ranges of the Fassifern Valley.
But what exactly is it?
To answer that question and find out more about a recent sighting of a large black feline creature, The QT paid a visit to former kangaroo, wild pig and feral cat shooter Ron Horner on his property near Boonah.
A few weeks back Ron saw a large black cat near his home. This followed two other telling incidents that pointed to a large cat living in the vicinity.
"Out the front over two or three nights the plovers were going berserk," Ron recalled.
"They are the best guard dogs you will ever have. They just go ballistic.
"The first two nights I didn't worry but the third night I said 'There has got to be something out there'."
Ron went out with his underground mining torch and shone his light around.
"And there was this big black cat," he said. "It turned around and I saw its back haunches and side.
"It was bigger than any feral cat I've ever seen.
"It was big boned and its front shoulders moved the way big cats do. As it went and lay down in the grass we could see its piercing yellowy-orange eyes."
As the giant creature slinked away Ron thought back to Easter last year when he had pegged a couple of pelts on to a sheet of marine ply for tanning. He'd left the pelts on a tank stand late in the afternoon.
"But when I went back the next morning I found that the ply sheet had been dragged on to the ground and the pelts were gone. There were large scratch marks on the ply where the beast had ripped off the skins, and in the process dragged the ply sheet off the tank stand and on to the ground. A feral cat would not have the strength to pull the sheet of ply off."
Then in the middle of last year Ron's partner Susie found very large animal tracks leading from the house along a bulldust track.
She took photos of the paw prints and made plaster casts that suggested an animal with a print similar in size to a cougar or panther.
There have been numerous sightings in the area and around Pine Mountain of a black panther-like creature. NSW's Emmaville panther, thought to have escaped from a travelling circus, is the most famous such creature.
The area around Ron's place is wild, overgrown country where a large cat could easily live undisturbed.
"I spoke to a few locals and they said when the American troops were over here in the war some of them had cougar or panther mascots," he said.
"When the war finished they couldn't take them back and they had to let them go. When you isolate the sightings you often find they are where there US forces were based nearby.
"From my research on this issue I have heard from locals in the Boonah area that many years ago, there had been something large in the area which took a horse and goats. The goats were found to have saliva covering their heads as if they had been picked up and taken in the mouth of the beast."
Ron grew up in the bush of western NSW and was a professional kangaroo shooter, pig hunter and dingo eradicator.
"In the late 1970s I was on an eradication program for feral cats and foxes," he said.
"I was fortunate enough to shoot several feral cats and some of them were as big as a fox. So I know how large they grow.
"But at no stage were there any cats of the significant size of the one I saw or that had footprints of the surface area of those plaster casts."
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