I’ve seen the Penrith Panther

IF you grew up in the outer fringes of Sydney or in the Blue Mountains, at some point you’ve likely heard the story of the Western Sydney Panther, or ‘the Lithgow Panther’, ‘the Richmond Panther’ or, well, you get the gist.

Like Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman, the creature is largely viewed as legend, mainly because, well, what would a big cat be doing completely removed from its native habitat, stalking around the Australian bush and remaining pretty much unseen?

There are a number of possible explanations;

Some suggest the fact that a big cat has been seen infrequently and over such a large area is indicative of aliens. It’s not hard to understand why people scoff and mock alleged witnesses when a theory like that comes to head.

Some suggest the Panther (or its predecessor) was released by visiting military, who had brought the animal to the country as their mascot and then couldn’t be bothered taking it home.

One of the more popular theories is that it was an escapee from the now defunct ‘Bullen’s Animal World’ and ‘African Lions Safari’ that used to exist in Wallacia – right in the heart of the area in which the animal has most commonly been seen. The parks closed in 1986 and 1991 respectively but still housed the large animals afterwards, and a herd of lionesses even escaped in 1995.

Then there’s the belief that the alleged ‘Panther’ is just a HUGE feral cat – the byproduct of decades of breeding and aggression, perfectly evolved to live in such a vast and densely overgrown setting.

Last but not least are the large majority of people who simply think the whole thing is bullshit. All the theories are out there and easily finable on Google, but ultimately, despite dismissal and speculation, there have been over 600 sightings of the cat over the past two decades.

Actually, make that 601 – because it might surprise you to know that I HAVE SEEN THE PANTHER. Continue reading

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Auf Wiede-rauchen (Goodbye Smoking)

Today celebrates the one-week anniversary of my decision to quit smoking.

‘Big whoop’, you might think, ‘One week? Like that’s anything to celebrate! You’re not even out of the woods yet’.

I thought that too for a little while, which is why I was reluctant to mention the quitting anytime before I’d reached the 1-month milestone.

But, fuck it. I don’t feel the urge to smoke anymore, and I’m rather confident that I won’t anytime soon, if ever again. With that in mind I thought I should share some thoughts with you.

I smoked my first cigarette at the age of 16 at a party. I can still remember the moment very distinctly. While I wouldn’t say I was a ‘smoker’ from that moment on, it was the first step in a path of gradually increasing smoking, that ended up having a peak that stretched far longer than I ever wanted it to.

13 years later and I was still doing the exact same thing. That’s tens of thousands of cigarettes, tens of thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of minutes wasted doing little more than imbibing toxic substances, all while being asthmatic and constantly hounded by family to quit – but I didn’t. Continue reading