David and I had always had been adventurous, even when we were children. I can clearly remember the days of our childhood when we would venture out in the rain and walk for miles with no clue about where we were even heading. We both shared a love for adventure and we were both as curious as each other. David was my next door neighbour, we lived next to each other practically all of our lives and when the time came for him to move away to University, well, we had already fallen in love. We were just kids but we used to knock on each other’s doors each and every day, whatever the weather, we always found something to do, it was such a perfect friendship and by the time we were at the age where we knew about feelings, I knew he was the one. Sure, I had experienced other relationships with different boys in my early teenage years but as I turned 17, I stopped being in denial and confessed my love for David and luckily for me, he felt the same. And here we are now, nearly 25 years old living in a lovely little house in Hobart.
It all began in 2001, I was 12 years old and there was an outrageous storm where we lived at the time and my mum basically forbid me from going out to see if David was around, I remember I was sat downstairs with her eating my dinner when a breaking news story was on the news that my parents were watching. I wasn’t usually interested in the news but this story sounded interesting. There were several people discussing with the journalist about sightings of a tiger. Not the tiger you have in mind though, this was a rare species and the news programme was referring to it as the ‘Tassie Tiger’ I stopped eating and my eyes were glued to the screen.
“Lana was picking up her mail and spotted the Thylacine near a swamp, she says it crossed the road 20 metres in front of her vehicle before racing into some thick scrub.”
“Robert describes the creature as the size of a greyhound, kangaroo like tail, grey body with light saddle, dark stripes through saddle with a hyena like face and ears. He made the sighting when driving towards Orbost and has no doubt that what he saw was Tassie Tiger.”
Hearing this on the news was making me feel like a kid at Christmas and I just had to share this with David, I too wanted to spot the Tassie Tiger! We lived in Biragolong and from what I gathered from the news; there had been a couple of sightings over the past few years where we lived. I was surprised that David and I had never spotted it. But that was soon going to change.
I remember the next day was excellent weather in comparison to the previous day but in Tasmania the weather was ever so temperamental, you would never know what it would be like until the day actually arrived. The first thing I did was knock on David’s door and I explained everything I had heard about the tiger and he too was just as excited as I was, I didn’t expect anything less though. Now because we were only 12 years old, our parents were very protective and we always had to be home before dark so we both knew that if we were going to plan an adventure to find this tiger, we would have to set off tremendously early. We spent that whole day planning our route and what we would take. It was thrilling. Exhilarating. Stimulating. And I was enormously looking forward to this adventure. We always had a good time but knowing that we could spot something with a possibility of getting on the news was a brilliant feeling! It started getting dark so I headed back home, waiting for the next day to arrive but I struggled to sleep, I literally couldn’t contain myself. I drew photos of the tiger and of David and I and what I was expecting of our adventure and I eventually drifted off into a deep sleep and I needed that because tomorrow was going to be a long, energy consuming day but it could not come quick enough!
Now that we are almost 25 years old you may think this is slightly odd but we have the drawings that I drew that night framed on our living room wall, we like to look at them on an evening and talk about what a wonderful experience it was and how close it brought us together, I will treasure those drawings forever along with the memories.
The day arrived, my alarm went off at 5:30am and I crossed my fingers that I had not awoken my parents. I remember tiptoeing downstairs with my little backpack and the route that we had planned out. It honestly felt like Christmas morning – that is the best way I can describe it. I quietly made my way out of the door and I didn’t even feel tired considering the time! David was already waiting for me at the end of the road. We both ran the first 10 minutes to get out of sight of the street in case our families suddenly woke up and spotted us. They knew we would be up to something! I mean, they knew were always going on adventures but not this early! And they were never this exciting…
We were at a walking pace now, playing daft games like ‘Eye spy’ and ‘Would you rather’ to pass the time until we made it to our destination. We were heading to the swamp where the woman on the news had spotted it because it wasn’t too far away but it wasn’t too close yet it was the furthest we had ever been.
“Let’s stop for a drink Sarah” David said with his smile that has stayed the same all these years.
We stopped for a rest and discussed what we would do if the tiger tried to eat us. We still laugh about that conversation today, we were so young and foolish! We had no idea what time it is but where we were sat was deserted, like a ghost town so we assumed it was still relatively early. After a lengthy break we continued to walk along the road to our destination. A lot of time passed but eventually we made it, I recognised the post office from the news programme and I knew that the swamp was just around the corner.
At first, neither of us really knew how to go about spotting the Tassie Tiger so for the first couple of hours we sat on a small plank of wood and stared at the road, David had binoculars and he was staring into the thick scrub at the other side of the road. I started to feel bored, this was not what I was expecting it to be and we had had so much more fun on our make believe adventures. Just as I was about to announce to David that I was ready to go home I looked at David’s face, he had turned very pale and he was slowly bringing the binoculars down from his eyes. I touched his arm. He didn’t react. I said his name. He ignored me. His mouth dropped and he stood up and began to run across the road. I had no idea what was happening but I felt a sudden rush of energy go through me and I automatically chased after him. I ran and ran but finally caught up with David, he was gasping for air. I was about to speak but he slammed the palm of his hand over my mouth and looked at me with wide eyes followed by a nod to the right. I knew this meant he wanted me to look to the right so I did so and hidden behind a tree was not one but two of what we thought was the Thylacine.
I felt my mouth drop and my eyes widen as I stared at the animals before us. They matched the witness’ on the television descriptions perfectly.
The animal wasn’t small but it wasn’t large like a Bengal tiger. I would describe it as the size of a fox. I wasn’t close enough to see whether its coat was hair or fur but from where I was standing I knew that it was a sandy colour with horizontal lines covering the surface of its back which were a darker shade of brown. It’s eyes were terrifying, very beady and I felt as though the animal was staring right through me, through my soul. David tried to convince me it was a cat after we had been looking at it for a few more minutes but I knew it was a lot bigger than a cat and in the end he realised this too. They did not move for a good 10 minutes even though they had seen David and I. I began to feel a little on edge so I slowly backed away trying to bring David with me but he started to get his camera out of his satchel.
“David are you insane?! You can’t take a photo, you’ll startle it and we know nothing about it!” I whispered but you could tell I was terrified by my tone of voice. David seemed to ignore what I had just said and I felt angry so I stormed off back to the plank of wood we were sat on earlier hoping that he would see sense and follow me. He didn’t.
I couldn’t tell you how much time passed but it was a good couple of hours before he came back. He had taken a picture of the two tigers. I shook my head at him and called him a word which I shan’t repeat. We decided to make our way home but David insisted he got his photos developed on the way and I gave in and agreed because I wanted to stop off at the library and they were just across the road from each other. I stepped into the library and headed to the non-fiction section, I found a book about extinct animals and sat down to read it, in hope that there could be something about the Thylacine in it. I turned a few pages and finally came across a whole section. I read and read but I didn’t understand. This book was saying that the animal David and I had just spotted and the animal people on the news claimed to have spotted went extinct in 1936, that was years ago! I looked up from the book and David was stood in front of me staring at his developed photos with a shocked look on his face. I asked him what was the matter and he handed me the photos. I rapidly looked through them and the scenery of the photo was exactly the same as where we were stood when we saw the animals but the Tassie Tigers were missing from the photo and in their place was various faint circles that looked a lot like orbs. I then showed David the book I had found and we were both confused.
We walked back in silence. Both blatantly thinking about what had happened and whether this animal was make believe. I started dissecting this situation and I wondered whether I was daydreaming when the news was on because it was usually so boring, maybe I had made up that story… I didn’t know what to think.
We got home and I said goodnight to David and went inside. I asked my mum about the Thlyacine and whether she had heard about it and she told me she had no idea what I was talking about and my Dad said the same when I asked him. I stared out of the window as I ate my tea but I lost my appetite, I just wanted to know where I got this idea from and what we had seen in the scrub earlier in the day.
It boggled my mind for a good few weeks but David seemed to forget about it rather easily so that helped me forget it too. We didn’t go out for quite a while but that didn’t last long and we were back to our normal selves. Years passed and we eventually got into a relationship, things were a lot different now because we were a lot older.
It was the night of our high school summer ball and we were sat in the back of a very fancy car that we had hired. To get to the venue we had to go the route that we had done so many years ago when we had spotted the so called Thylacine. David reminded me of that day and we could just laugh about it now because it just seemed so ridiculous yet we were still both staring out of the same window and I know that I was wondering if I’d see it again. We didn’t.
A couple of more years passed and David was leaving to go to University in Melbourne, it was so hard to watch him leave after growing up spending every single day together but I soon got used to it and I got a lot of work done whilst he was away.
I received a phone call from him half way through the year saying that people were speaking of the Thylacine in central Australia. I didn’t believe him at first but after doing a little research I discovered there had also been a few sightings in Australia. Whilst reading about all of this I noticed someone had submitted a post about their sighting experience and they explained what happened when they had taken a photo and it was exactly the same as what happened on David’s camera. I remembered I still had the photos so I went over to the box to have a look at the strange circles again. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The circles were no longer there but the couple of Tassie Tigers were. Staring right through my soul with their beady little eyes.
-Written for my lovely uncle who has recently moved to Tasmania! Love you lots Uncle Richard x