Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Is Our Saltie a Myth? Researcher Turned Up Little Evidence

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Is Our Saltie a Myth? Researcher Turned Up Little Evidence

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Mortimer luke.mortimer@dailymercury.com.au

AT the risk of "destroying a good story", a historian has cast doubt on the long-standing legend of Mackay's monster crocodile.

During his decades as a writer for this paper, Terry Hayes worked hard in the hope of verifying the tale of a 9.7m (32 foot) saltwater croc shot in River St.

While he has found and heard many references to the beast over the years, Mr Hayes, now 90, said he had never been able to unearth concrete evidence the crocodile ever existed. However, he reckons he can explain where the legend came from.

"Anybody who grew up in Mackay would have heard of that crocodile. It was supposed to be the largest ever shot in the world," he said. "There's definitely been a crocodile shot that was 13.2 foot long. (But) I think somewhere along the line someone has mistaken the two crocodiles."

Despite his skepticism, which he admits has grown over the years, Mr Hayes said he would love to have the 'monster croc' confirmed. He believes it's a point of pride for Mackay, which has clung onto the story for generations.

Mr Hayes said "as the story goes" the crocodile was shot from the verandah of the Leichhardt Hotel (then the Riverview Hotel) with a high-powered rifle in the 1880s.

But the story differs, depending who you ask.

"I found a paragraph in what I think was a 1957 paper, roughly, about a man visiting Mackay and his father was a manager at Marian Mill," Mr Hayes said. "This man said in an interview that when he was a boy a ranger or someone similar shot a crocodile 32 foot long at the rocks at Dumbleton.

"He said it was brought into town on a wagon and he remembered it because the kids were given a day off school to go see this huge crocodile.

"But I've never been able to find, in any previous Mercury, any real record of the event at all. …

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