In Kalkajaka National Park 16 miles southwest of Cooktown (Queensland, Australia), black granite boulders create a maze that lead inside Black Mountain. Throughout the years it has developed a reputation for strange sightings and the disappearance of people without a trace.
Two hundred and fifty million years ago, magma solidified and created giant boulders that measure as much as 20 feet across and tower 900 feet in height. A primeval forest surrounds it.
Sunlight heat the surfaces of the black boulders, and cool rain fractures them sometimes in a sudden explosion. Hot air moves through passages from the mountains and fill the space around the rocks. Strange noises accompany the heated air, as well as a nauseous stink.
The Kuku Nyungkal indigenous people knew it was a place to avoid, and folklore surrounding it has always been ominous. They called it Kalkajaka which translated as the "Mountain of Death" or the "place of the spear".
They believed demons and evil spirits inhabited this place. These beings hungered for human souls. One of them was known as the Eater of Flesh, a medicine man who was seduced by darkness.
This is the story according to an interview with a local named Peter:
Back in the age when the human race was young, there dwelt among the tribe in the vicinity of the mountain range a terrible medicine man whose name meant Eater of Flesh. So great was his craving for human flesh and so great was the dread the superstitious tribesmen felt before his powerful magic known to spirit away even a strong man that they sometimes allowed him to eat an old woman or a diseased tribesman. One day, however, being very hungry, he overstepped his boundaries and partook of a young chief, whom he found asleep. Caught in the act, the tribe rose up against him, but an evil spell helped him change into a monstrous snake. Hissing away, he made his home in the very heart of the barren and desolate Black Mountain. Only hunger could drive him out. Ever since then, people as well as animals have been disappearing there.
Aboriginal people until this day steer clear of it, as do animals and birds.
But it is not only the native people who tell of strange encounters, but in modern times there are stories describing disruption of navigational equipment like those described by some who traverse the Bermuda Triangle.
Pilots take steps to avoid the area.
There are also reports of strange lights and UFO activity. Many wonder if deep under the Black Mountain are alien bases and lost civilizations. The extraterrestrials who live here are said to be reptilian humanoids who claim human beings as slaves.
Stories circulate of a giant python that attacks humans as well as something called the "Queensland tiger" that is blamed for cattle deaths and mutilations.
However the strangest phenomena is the disappearance of people and animals. Herds of cattle appear to be swallowed by the mountain, and no trace is found of hikers and others who have vanished into air. Tales are told of an entire Aboriginal tribe trying to take shelter from enemies who made the same fatal mistake of seeking refuge there.
The first account of this appeared in 1877. A man named Grayner set out on horseback to find a stray calf. Neither the man or the animals were seen again, despite a thorough search of the area. Many feared he fell into one of the crevices between the boulders.
The second disappearance involved Sugarfoot Jack, a criminal who fled into the Black Mountain with his gang. The authorities followed them but the three men seemed to have disappeared into thin air, and no trace was found of any of them.
The Black Mountain appeared to be the favorite destination of fugitive criminals and 13 years after Sugarfoot Jack's disappearance a constable from Cooktown tracked one to the mouth of a cave. Constable Ryan accompanied by other trackers could not find any more clues of the man they sought, but not willing to let the man slip away Ryan went into the cave after him. Neither man was ever seen again.
These were not the last to disappear when entering the Black Mountain.
Renn a gold prospector went missing. Afterwards, like Grayner in 1877, Harry Owens a local man went in search of stray cattle and vanished. His business partner George Hawkins reported this to the police and set out to find Owens. Neither man returned and two policemen were sent out to find them. They entered one of the caves, but only one emerged. Reports of the time described that he was crazed by what he experienced while in the cave.
Not put off by this history of strangeness, in the 1920s,. two European cave explorers took up the challenge of Black Mountain. They wanted to solve the enigma of the caves, and became part of it, as well as two native trackers sent to look for them. None could account as to the fate of any of the men.
In 1932, Harry Page who went hiking was later found dead from unknown reasons. This was the only time a corpse was produced, and despite intensive police investigations no explanation could be produced as to what happened to all these people. None returned to tell what they saw.
In 2009, a cave explorer described an experience he had while camping at Black Mountain:
Around ten o'clock a strong wind picked up and down from the tree tops came a cracking sound. We crawled inside the tent, lay down on our mats and stared at the dark fabric, straining to hear every possible sound. The nighttime cries of the primeval forest were frightening at first, full of odd wails mingled with horrific laughter and the occasional crunch of a branch broken off by the wind. It was enough to make your soul shiver. But little by little we got used to it and began to fall asleep when a sudden hush fell over everything. Not only did the wind cease but the voices of animals and night birds were gone. The silence was deafening. Danny and I looked at each other in surprise. We began joking, saying it must be the boogyman, when we heard stone crumbling from the rock above us. As if something was slowly crawling out of the mountain. It sounded quite close and we thought it might be an animal. Maybe a rock wallaby. But once it climbed all the way down, what we heard from the bushes and dried up leaves was the sound of human steps. A crawling animal would not sound like this. This was clearly a human walking.
Is it just folklore about a foreboding place accented by its harsh surrounding, or is there something truly paranormal, and undoubtedly menacing that has existed in Black Mountain for hundreds of years?
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer