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The Gospers Mountain ‘mega fire’ started from a single ignition point in late November, but has now destroyed an area seven times the size of Singapore and is still burning to this day.
With reports that close to one billion animals have perished throughout the 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season, residents from the western side of the Blue Mountains are keeping positive by peddling claims that their arguably fictional panther survived the megablaze.
Lithgow is just one of over 16 separate towns and localities who genuinely claim to have a panther lurking in their shire, leaving the researchers to estimate that there must be nearly 20 big cats stalking the countryside – according to old blokes at the pub.
Each country town panther myth somehow relates to a wild yarn about the big cat escaping from the traveling circus.
The towns of Lancefield and Bealiba in Victoria, Toodyay in WA, and Cessnock, Illawarra and Walcha in NSW were just some of the areas that claim to have a Lithgow Panther prowling through their backyards.
While the existence of the famous Lithgow/Blue Mountains/ Dapto Panther was confirmed a long time ago, the other towns are still fighting to have their own panthers recognised.
However, Lithgow is taking their panther mythology to a new level by claiming the beast survived the Gospers Mountain Megablaze that has been burning for two months and incinerated close to a million acres of bushland, in what has been described as Australia’s biggest forest fire.
“Nah.” says Laurie, who drinks at one of the 25 pubs in the main street of the iconic prison town.
“One of the RFS boys reckons he seen it”
“Forgot his name but”