A sad day today to hear of the passing of possibly my biggest and earliest inspiration, influence and childhood hero when it comes to my love of Cryptozoology; the ”Grandfather of Yowie and cryptid research in Australia”, Rex Gilroy.
I received a message from Heather, his wife today to let me know.
I ﬁrst heard about Rex Gilroy as a child. Perhaps about 1980, or thereabouts. I was a budding young cryptozoologist / paranormal researcher that would spend my time reading up every book or article I could ﬁnd on the subjects. I also collected newspaper clippings. In my collection, I have many clippings that mention Rex Gilroy. His explorations around Australia, and more importantly to me, his trips to New Zealand in search of lake monsters, the elusive hairy Moehau and following up on sightings of a group of moa reported to be living in New Zealand’s densest forest ranges.
To me, he was a real-life Indiana Jones.
I wanted to be like him. I made it a goal to meet this guy one day. Meet, talk and, if the planets were in alignment, explore with him.
Fast forward to Paracon Australia 2014. I was asked to do a talk about NZ cryptids. I was excited, nervous and honoured. Then I read that Rex was on the bill. The goal I made as a child was actually going to happen!
I remember Rex and his wife Heather, sitting in the front row to see me speak. Rex was like an excited and fixated child, hanging on to my every word. To see him nodding and smiling at what I was saying was the best feeling ever. Like being acknowledged and accepted into the coolest of fraternities. It was amazing.
After I had spoken, he excitedly leapt up from his chair to come and talk and have his photo taken with me. Again, incredible! It was like a famous movie star coming up to you as a fan and wanting to get to know you. Surreal and life-changing.
….and again, at Paracon Australia, 2015. Rex and myself are both on the bill again.
The next day, he, Heather and I piled into their little car with ham sandwiches, fruit, and a thermos of coffee and headed out exploring in the Blue Mountains. We didn’t get back till it was dark and below zero at night.
2016; Paracon again. I wasn’t a speaker this time, but I was asked to introduce Rex for his talk on his research and findings with the legendary and elusive Thylacine. An honour and a thrill.
This time we headed out into the dense and beautiful Kanangra Ranges to do some more exploration.
His hip was giving him hassles and he yelped out in pain, for a couple of moments whilst struggling through the rugged terrain, but he soldiered on.
His body might have gotten older, but his mind was sharp and focused and his enthusiasm was like that of a 12-year-old kid.
We even discovered a possibly as yet unknown very old foot/claw gouge mark in a rock while deviating a bit off the main track. We took measurements and photographed the area to document our findings.
We also found a couple of interesting footprints in the dirt, which Rex, always the prepared one, got out his plaster and water bottle and made a casting of.
I have hundreds of photos and Rex, Heather and myself out and about in the wild together, at Paracons and at their home in Katoomba, plus quite bit of video footage, so I’ll put together something in tribute to Rex when I get back home.
I’m going to miss this passionate, dedicated and sometimes misunderstood man, but I’ll always have my memories of how I got to met and go on adventures with my own Indiana Jones.
Rest in Peace my friend. – Mark