By Parker McKenzie
Since the Dandenong Ranges was settled, there has been all manner of strange sightings. From alleged big cats to aliens, here are three of the most enduring urban legends throughout the area.
One of Victoria’s most popular legends is stories of big cats like panthers and leopards being spotted in the hard-to-reach areas of the state, including the hills.
In fact, as recently this paper reported a big cat sighting as recently as 2019 when a man told the Star Mail he had spotted a meter-tall cat.
“The thing passed right In front of my car and its body would’ve been a metre tall … it was even with the front of my car,” he said.
“It didn’t even look at me, just kept moving and went into the bushes, and the way it moved was different to a dog – its back didn’t jolt like a dog, it stayed smooth as it pushed into the bush.”
The Victorian Government even commissioned a study by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to get to the bottom of the big cat mystery, which was released in 2012 and found there is zero evidence they exist in the Victorian wilds.
This finding hasn’t stopped people from continuing to claim to spot the large felines on the prowl, or journalists from newspapers believing their claims to be newsworthy enough to print.
Another reoccurring urban myth is the sighting of aliens throughout the Dandenong Ranges.
One famous case — the abduction of Kelly Cahill — is shaky at best, however, strange lights across the Ranges have been sighted as early as 1909.
Melbourne newspaper The Argus published a hilarious story in 1914 detailing mysterious lights across the Dandenong Ranges being reported, only to be discovered to be a false alarm.
“According to two officers of the Defence department motored out to (Mt) Dandenong on successive days under instructions from the State commandant Colonel Wallace to make observations for themselves,” the Argus wrote.
“A rush was made by motor, only to find that an itinerant picture showman was endeavouring to attract a “house” by flashing the light from the projecting machine from peak to peak.”
The heritage-listed castle in Olinda, originally called Glenleven, is rumoured to be haunted. The unique bluestone building was originally owned by Miss Lydia Reid, and the heritage description describes the builder as having “many difficulties with its construction and the Castle were not lived in for a long period” during its construction in the 1920s.
The castle is on private land and not accessible to the public.