The ominous Black Mountain sits in the Australian national park of the same name in the state of Queensland. At just a 1000ft high it is certainly not massive but what it lacks in height it certainly gains in infamy.
The mountain called Kalkajaka by the aboriginal people is made up of many large black granite rocks and boulders, some it is said being the size of a house. These rocks and boulders were formed 250 million years ago by solidified magma and the absence of soil to fill in the gaps and cracks between the rocks means there are many tunnels and caves with in the mountain. The black granite also serves to give it a very dark and eery appearance.
As you would expect from such a foreboding place it is rich in legend and folklore. The Aboriginal name has the wonderfully spooky English translation of mountain of death. The legends of the mountain are taken very seriously by the local aboriginal people and they are said to avoid the place like the plague. The Aborigines believe that, in what they call the dream time, a local tribe had amongst its ranks an extremely powerful witch doctor, whose name meant ‘eater of flesh‘. The tale goes that this man had a rather gruesome habit of consuming as much human flesh as he could get his hands on.
Unsurprisingly the local tribe lived in fear of this unsavory individual and to help appease his cannibalistic cravings, they occasionally allowed him to dine on an old woman or a weak and sick member of the tribe. But it seems that one day his hankering to chow down on humans got the better of him and he killed and ate a tribal chief who he had caught napping.
For the rest of the tribe, as you can imagine this was the last straw. So they banded together and off they went to have a word with the Eater of Flesh. Of course, being well versed in the ways of magic it wasn’t much of a problem for him to transform himself into a giant snake and he made his escape into the heart of the Black Mountain. It was there that he spent his days, only venturing out to satisfy his hunger for the meat of fellow humans. Ever since that time both people and animals who ventured too close to the mountain have disappeared, never to be seen again.
In slightly more modern times Black mountain is still a place of mystery. In fact some of the first white settlers in the area recorded some very odd incidences indeed. In 1877 a courier named Grayner was out on horse back in search of a missing calf in the vicinity of the mountain. When Grayner failed to return a search was undertaken but no trace of Grayner, his horse or the calf was ever found.
A few years later an outlaw named Sugerfoot Jack and some members of his gang were on the run from the authorities. They had decided to hide out in the black mountain, but after an intense search by police nothing more was seen or heard from them.
Then in around 1890 another strange disappearance took place. This time a police constable Ryan and some trackers from near by Cooktown had tracked a fugitive to the mountain of death only for the trail to go cold at the entrance to one of the many caves. Ryan decided he would enter the cave and try and corner his man, but Ryan and the fugitive never came back out of the mountain.
Now we come to a station owner who went by the name of Harry Owens. One day he had made his way to the mountain in search of some lost cattle, and I’m sure you have guessed it, Owens to did not return. His absence was soon noticed by his partner George Hawkings who went to the police to report him missing, before setting out to search for him. It seems misfortune also befell Hawkings, as it has been recorded that he also did not return from the mysterious mount. So the local police force were brought in and conducted a search of black mountain for the two missing men. Bravely two officers of the law entered one of the caves but only one returned. Apparently the one that came out was so shaken by what he had witnessed in there that he could not give a coherent account of what had occurred.
There is also a report of two professional caver who went into the mountain in the 1920s they went in to try and find answers to the many disappearances, but they to became part of the legend as did the team of trackers who went in to look for them.
Whilst I was looking into the legends of the mountain I came across an article in fortean times (FT150) written by Ivan Mackerle. In the article Mackerle tells of his relatively recent (around 2001) experiences around the mountain. In brief Mackerle and his friend Danny had decided to camp for the night at the bottom of the mountain and as night descended they lit some small gas lanterns and sat chatting for a few hours whilst also listening to the night time sounds of the Australian bush. At around 10pm a strong wind got up and they decided to retire to their tent where they lay listening to the sounds of the night. Then all of a sudden the wind died and all other sounds ceased, Mackerle said that the silence was defining.
Then out of the silence they heard the sounds of stones “crumbling from the rock” above them “as if something was slowly crawling out of the mountain”. They thought it might be some sort of animal but as it got closer and made it way on to the dried up leaves around their camp site they realized it sounded much more like human foot steps, and whats more they sounded like they were heading straight for the tent.
Danny being the braver or more foolhardy of the two decided they should see who or what was making the sounds and made a hasty exit from the tent with Mackerle following right behind him with a torch in one hand and a knife in the other. Out in the open air the beam of their torches found “a formless dark mass, undulating by the grim wall of black bushes and trees which quickly dissipated”. After this the two men returned to their tent as the sounds of bush life returned to the night air.
What did the men see that night? And what are the reasons for all the disappearances, admittedly I have only presented you with a select handful of them. Well I suppose the most obvious explanation would be that the caves inside the mountain are like a labyrinth and in the dark it is easy to get lost and seriously or even fatally injured. There is also talk or an entity called the Quinkin which is said to be some sort of spectral nocturnal giant that is said to dwell with in the cave of the mountain. Another resident of the caves is the Queensland tiger which has been sighted in and around the mountains on a number of occasions. Another cryptid on the list is a large black panther type creature which again has been sighted on numerous occasions, and add to this mix reports of yowies , giant pythons and UFOs and you have the formula for the perfect fortean day trip.