PANTHER SPOTTED: Maryborough's Gerald Harvey with photos from his younger days when he remembers having an encounter with a big cat.
PANTHER SPOTTED: Maryborough's Gerald Harvey with photos from his younger days when he remembers having an encounter with a big cat. Alistair Brightman

Memories of 'panther' clear as day

GERALD Harvey was a teenager when he first laid eyes on what he now believes was the same breed of feline as Glenwood's legendary panther.

The memory, which told the Chronicle was still "clear as day" was refreshed after a series of reports the big black cat was spotted on rural properties earlier this week.

It was the 1960s and he was on a Kangaroo drive with friends at Glen Alice in the Capertree Valley, NSW.

The area was covered by untouched bushland, the perfect spot for kangaroos to congregate and supposedly panthers too.

"I was in a line of about six people, about 100m or so apart, and we were driving the kangaroos toward about 10 shooters waiting on a fence line," Mr Harvey said.

"I came over the second last ridge and in the tree hollow I spotted these two creatures.

"They were cat like but way too big, black or nearly black, with an extremely long tail which was the most notable feature."

The creatures took off silently in the direction of other shooters but they proved their stealthiness by disappearing without the detection of Mr Harvey's friends.

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Looking back Mr Harvey, who owns the Country Caravan Stopover Park in Tinana, said at the time he was not sure what animal he had spotted but remembered his mother wrote to a government department to report the sighting.

The department suggested Mr Harvey saw a native cat but he was not convinced.

"I don't suppose I knew what a panther looked like back then," he said.

"I've seen panthers now and it reminds me of exactly what it was like."

My Harvey isn't the only Fraser Coast resident who says to have seen a mysteriously large cat in rural Australia.

Former Tiaro mayor John Horrex claims to have shot a "tiger cat" in NSW in 1954 and firmly believes there are similar species here.

More recently, a sign was even erected at the entrance of Woolooga which warns "Panthers cross here".

It is unknown who was responsible for the sign with Gympie Regional Council and the Department of Traffic and Main Roads unaware of its existence.

Mr Harvey said since his sighting, he had not come across another animal like it but doesn't doubt over the years they'd bred and made their way north.

"I can understand not seeing them when you're walking around because they're very quiet," he said.

"They'd see you before you see them and you wouldn't be looking out for them anyway.

"I think there's a lot more out there - not necessarily in big numbers but there definitely would be considering how many have been sighted."

As for safety, Mr Harvey said residents needn't worry about being attacked as the "panthers" were more likely to "avoid you if they can".