April 24th 2012
Magnetic Island's big cat mystery continues
Magnetic Island has a dark mystery. It is feline and large. Last October we reported that, Italian tourist, Sabrina Tessari, witnessed something very strange from her cabin at Bungalow Bay. While bizarre and most unlikely, we reported Sabrina’s story in detail as she seemed genuinely bewildered as to what the creature she witnessed was - after learning that black panthers are not supposed to live on tropical Magnetic Island. Now a second sighting of a soot-black cat as tall as a labrador with paws the size of the witnesses' fists, has occurred. And this time, from a long-time Nelly Bay resident who, for those many locals who know her, would be a very reliable witness.
78 year old, Anne Sustrunck is a paragon of the Island’s Ambulance Committee. In 2010 we reported on Anne winning, with local accountant, Kevin McLennan, the Ambulance Commissioner’s Certificate of Appreciation for her long-time fundraising activities for the Local Ambulance Committee. Anne still delivers meals on wheels to less-able Islanders and since the passing of her much-adored husband, Herman, in 2010, has maintained her independence and stoic Dutch spirit at her spotlessly well-maintained home on Barton Street in Nelly Bay.
Anne receiving her Ambulance Commissioner's Certificate
of Appreciation with Kevin McLennan in 2010
But on a night in October or November (Anne isn’t quite certain) in 2011, Anne arrived home in her car, driving into the carport beside the house. As she drew to a halt she saw, just four metres away, under the full glare of the headlights, “a soot black cat as big as a labrador but fatter and broader across the chest.”
“The carport light was on and I saw it move into position” which she described as approximately three quarters view towards her with the creature’s face looking in her direction.
“It opened it’s mouth slightly but made no sound”
“To me it was like a monster” she said.
“It had paws as big as my fist,” she said clenching her left hand to illustrate the observation.
“It had big eyes reflecting in the headlights. I swear on the Bible. I just couldn’t believe the size of it! I put on the high beam but it didn’t move. It couldn’t care less”.
As a widow who’d cared for Herman, her sick husband, for a long time, Anne had it in her mind not to use the horn, lest it wake him. Anne believes she had developed a kind of quietness habit, with Herman still very much in her mind when the big cat appeared - even though Herman had passed away the previous year.
“It was frightening. I didn’t want to come out of the car. It just stood there and it seemed like hours,” said Anne who agreed that the total time was probably about seven minutes.
“I thought, I gotta do something. I opened the door then really banged it and it slowly, slowly moved off into the back garden.”
“It’s just a stick and wire fence so it could easily escape,” said Anne who took her opportunity to slip inside.
It wasn’t until Anne, who doesn’t use the Internet, was talking to her friend Vicki Barralet when the subject arose. Vicki had seen our article reporting Sabrina’s strange sighting. She showed Anne the article (read here) and Anne told Magnetic Times, “I saw the story. I just couldn’t believe it. My God that lady (Sabrina) is right. Everything she said!”
Anne admits however that she really didn’t see or notice the big cat’s tail, a feature which Sabrina described as “unmistakable long tail with a rounded tip” (read here)
What she did notice were the cat’s “funny ears” which she described as “sharp and very hairy, while rest (of the body) was smooth. Anne attempted a sketch of the ears.
Anne told her neighbours about her sighting but nobody else saw anything.
While terrifying, Anne agreed that the animal made no attempt to threaten her or was aggressive in any way.
But Anne was certain, “It was definitely not a wild (feral) cat. It was something different.”
Anne is now more apprehensive about sitting out in the cool of the evening. “I’m very cautious sitting outside at night” she said.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Officer, Nathan Winn, told Magnetic Times, “We discussed the original sightings but there have been no other reports since then. We’ve had feral cats on Horseshoe Bay Hill but nothing like this,” he said.
People who wish to report unusual animal sightings on Magnetic Island can call the QPWS Office on 47785378.
Story & photos: George Hirst
NB. The top photo shows Anne's view from the car but now with Anne pointing to where the big cat stood.
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