The Elephant Men of Narrabeen Lake

The paranormal is a field of strange creatures, unexplained occurrences, and objects and beings that simply defy all known conventions instead spreading out into the fantastic.  For every one part National Geographic, they are ten parts “Amazing Stories.”  And few creatures hold up to this analysis quite as well as the Elephant Men rumored to live in the dense foliage around Narrabeen Lake of Australia.

If we want to know how humans might go about chronicling an alien planet, a good starting point is the exploration of Australia.  The first footfalls there were the indigenous people who grew acclimated to it over time.  But then there were the expeditions of explorers such as James Cook.  These explorers were faced with a far wilder and alien world than anything they had previously encountered.  And as a result, Cook and his crew came back with legends – some of which were hardly believed but others which turned out to be quite true.  The Kangaroo, when first described, was thought to be nothing but a fanciful fairy tale until it found itself among the established members of the animal kingdom.

And in some ways Australia is still an alien world complete with rumors of an advanced remote society of creatures – the Elephant Creatures of Narrabeen Lake.  But unlike the first wave of strange creatures, which were carefully documented in the early days of Australian exploration, the Elephant Creatures started appearing quite a bit later – 1968 to be precise.  Mabel Walsh, while driving on the Wakehurst Parkway road spotted the creature through her window and reported the creature to the public later.  According to her account, the creature stood a mere four feet tall and was covered in a strange grey tough skin that she compared to an elephant’s.  With a leaning unnatural posture it had stumped front legs, but was bipedal – walking very much like a human on elephant-like truncated feet.  Its eyes were quite small and suggested a telescopic vision, but it was the face of the creature that perplexed her most of all.  On its face there was a rounded long nose or trunk very similar to an anteater’s or an elephant’s.  The nose hung from the front of its face.

Shortly after the incident, more reports of the strange creature were reported in the area, and the public found themselves unable to explain or categorize the strange creature.  Among the explanations skeptics offered were suggestions that it may have been a deformed or mutated kangaroo, the possibility of a hoax (as always), and a simple trick of light making a normal conventional animal look like something quite a bit more fantastic.  As more accounts came out, soon journalists, folklorists, and investigators – among them the UFOlogist Bill Chalker, descended on the scene.

So what are these creatures?  A simple hoax or trick of the light?  A series of misidentifications ultimately leading to the creation of a new type of creature in the public eye?  Or was it something more?  Could there have somehow been an unidentified type of creature existing near the lake with an uncanny ability to evade detection under any but the most random encounters?