Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Newcastle Herald journalist Damon Cronshaw.
It's not easy to fit the black panther, Tasmanian tiger, yowies and UFOs in a single column.
But sometimes you've got to aim high and give it a red hot go. Your editor may give a slight shake of the head and sigh a bit, but you've got to crack on and go for gold regardless.
I've been writing the Newcastle Herald's Topics column for more than three years now.
It's something different to the very serious and important news section.
Topics is a column for the weird and wonderful. Many a cracking yarn has come across our desk.
Tales of black panthers never get old. You've got your believers and you've got your sceptics.
Minmi bushman Bob Skelton is among the sceptics.
"They're just big feral cats," said Bob, a Hunter bush poet nicknamed Minmi Magster.
"A few yowies have been seen round these parts too, usually by blokes on the way back from the pub, but never on the way to the pub."
The Magster was responding to a story we published a fortnight ago about Chris Trees, 35, spotting "a big, black cat" drop from a red gum tree at Mount Sugarloaf.
"It was easily the size of a rottweiler. It had a big, black, bushy tail. It scared the shit out of me," Chris said.
Funnily enough, when we started writing about black panthers, punters came forward to tell us their stories about sightings of Tasmanian tigers and yowies.
Christian Kropp, for example, told us he'd seen two Tasmanian tigers in the Barrington Tops wilderness.
Cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy told us he believed the Tassie tiger still existed in the Barrington, despite scientists saying they were extinct on the Australian mainland about 2000 years ago.
And lastly, we can't forget about UFOs. We've covered a good few stories about this subject in our column.
The best yarn came from Dean "Vern" Garner, who told us he saw a massive black triangle-shaped UFO at New Lambton Heights 20 years ago.
After his story, several others came forward to say they saw the same thing.
The truth, as they say, is out there. Possibly.
Journalist, Newcastle Herald