Over the years Claire and I have watched programs and read articles on Bigfoot and other cryptids, but never thought we would one day have a close encounter of our own. Australia has its own version of Bigfoot, known as the 'Yowie', or 'hairy man'. It is shorter and stockier than Bigfoot and witnesses say that its head sits bang right on its shoulders, giving the impression that it doesn’t have any neck at all. It also has a flattened nose and a reputation for being quite aggressive.Our first encounter was brief. In early 2010 we stayed at the Clear Mountain Lodge on Clear Mountain, about 25 miles North West of Brisbane. The hotel is located right on top of the mountain, which is sparsely populated and covered in thick bushland. A bit further to the west is the massive D'aguilar State Forest, which stretches further inland and both to the north and to the south. Claire and I both loved getting out of the city together, especially away into the country, to the peace and tranquility of nature. It was not so far from the city where we lived, but far enough away to enjoy being alone for some much needed 'us time'.During the night it rained heavily and the next morning after breakfast in the restaurant, we went out for a stroll around the decking. There was no one else in sight and we considered ourselves fortunate to be the only ones outside enjoying the morning sunshine together. We gazed in wonder at the panoramic views, bathed in the glorious soft golden light of the fresh, clear morning. The wide brown decking was elevated high off the ground and it wrapped around the front and side of the hotel. It was framed by a clear glass barrier, and around the side of the building the decking ran past the kitchens and then ramped downwards to ground level. At the bottom was the car park to the right, and dense bushland to the left.When we ambled around to the side of the building, I noticed strange muddy marks along one side of the ramp that ran from the bottom, right up to where the kitchens were at the top, and then they just stopped. 'Thats odd', I thought to myself as I dropped Claire's hand to have a closer look at them. Then I realised they looked like giant footprints. I stared in disbelief. I motioned Claire over and asked what she thought they were, she just gave me that perplexed look of 'What the … '? We both started to shake our heads in disbelief for each mark clearly had the shape of a huge footprint, with one large big toe next to a row of smaller toes. Someone, or something, had walked along there with bare muddy feet early in the morning.I'm 6 feet tall and solidly built, and I put my foot next to one and it was nearly double the size of my foot. Claire and I stared at each other in amazement, we were both clearly wondering who or what would walk around in bare feet in the rain and mud, and someone so big? Suddenly it dawned on me. 'It must be a Yowie', we both took a sharp breath inward, and uttered an expletive. We followed the muddy marks down to the bottom of the ramp and everyone looked like the same, one giant footprint after another, it confirmed we aren't imagining the first one. Clearly something bipedal had walked from out of the dense bushland, up the ramp, to the windows at the kitchens at the top. It looked like it had been standing outside of the window and shuffling around for a while, as there were lots of footprints close together and overlapping. It was eerie to note that the footprints didn't go anywhere though, they just seemed to stop. When we got home we researched yowie sightings and discovered that there had been a lot of them in and around that area, which just added to its credibility.Claire and I also loved the hinterland area of the Gold Coast, and the national parks in that area. The Springbrook National Park is the first of a string of huge national parks that stretch over 100 miles inland and over 800 miles to the south. Around Springbrook, and far to the west into the Lamington National Park, the terrain is often steep and rugged, with deep gorges and dense bushland, much of it is more like rainforest with thick tropical undergrowth. We loved to go and have overnight stays in different places, and one weekend we stayed at a place called the 'Lyrebird Retreat'. It was set on private land with four cabins scattered amongst the thick bracken and lush ferny rainforest. The cabins were all erected along a single track that wound its way deep into the undergrowth, yet they were spaced out far enough apart that you couldn’t see the next cabin along at all. It was so remote, that there wasn't even a mobile phone signal there, and the only other dwelling was the owner's house which was much back at the main entrance from the access road. The cabins were at ground level at the front, where there was also a space to park, and at the back was wooden decking with a table and chairs and a barbeque. As the land sloped the deck at the back was about 3-4 foot off the ground and the vegetation came right up to the back and sides of the buildings. We've included a few photos so you can get a feel for the location and area.Later in the year we decided to get married, inviting just our grown up children, their partners and a few close friends, we thought it would be a great idea to hire all four cabins for the weekend and to actually get married right there in the rainforest. So that's what we did. Our biggest worry was the many venomous snakes the owners had warned us about, but it turned out it was the leaches which gave us the most grief. Everyone had one on them at some point, which gives you an indication of how dense the vegetation was. Everyone came and stayed a couple of nights and we were married on the back decking. With the weekend over everyone eventually left except for Claire’s best friend Kerry and her partner Joe, who stayed on an extra night with us.After our first trip there, we had discovered it was actually a hotspot for yowie's, and in fact, to our surprise, it was actually the number one hotspot in Australia. There were so many stories of yowie encounters in the area. Many people who lived in the local town of Springbrook, or had visited, seemed to have yowie stories, with warnings to visitors to be wary of going into the dense undergrowth, especially at night. Builders working on houses there had heard loud blood curdling roars eminating from the surrounding bushland, and had hurriedly finished their work so they didn’t have to go back into the area again.It was just the four of us left there now, and Joe and Kerry came around to our cabin for a barbeque and drinks. Joe is Aboriginal, and a very intelligent guy. He worked as a lecturer in aboriginal studies for a university, and had travelled the world extensively to places like Machu Picchu, and had even been inside the Giza Pyramids. He was also an elder for his tribe and deeply involved with the aboriginal culture, so I thought he would be a great person to ask about yowie's. I tentatively asked him if he thought yowie's really existed, and he just calmly said, 'yes, they do', 'without any doubt'. He told me how his grandad had seen them many times, and how when he was young he used to tell him stories about the 'hairy men'. He told me how he had seen them himself when he was young so he knew they really existed. He said that all aborigines know they are real, and it's just western culture who find it hard to believe. He explained that they live in the higher parts of the mountains where it is inhospitable and they are left alone. He told me it was ironic how many aboriginals were accusing the white people of stealing their lands from them, because originally it hadn't been their land at all. He said it is written in their folklore of how when aboriginals first arrived in Australia 10,000s of years ago, it was already occupied by the 'hairy men'. The aboriginals had fought with them, and because the aboriginals were smarter, the 'hairy men' eventually were forced to retreat to the hills, leaving the nice coastal areas to the new arrivals. I asked how the aborigines can claim they had their land taken from them by the white man, if they themselves had originally taken it off the 'hairy men'? He just laughed, and said they know very well, but were just taking advantage of white people not having the courage to believe something like the yowie could actually be real.We talked about it for a while and he mentioned that where we were staying is just the sort of area they live in. Kerry said tell them about last night, and he told us how late the night before he had sensed there was something outside their cabin in the undergrowth. He had that indigenous sixth sense so many us don't pay attention to, and was in tune with the land. He had stood in their cabin, silently in the dark for ages, watching out of the window knowing there was something out there, watching back. At one point he had actually seen something bipedal moving through the undergrowth, and also saw the silhouette of it in a small clearing. He said there was definitely a yowie around there.Joe and Kerry left the next day, and we had a couple more days there on our own. On our final night we thought we might as well the barbeque one last time for dinner. It was dark and lightly raining outside so we decided to cook outside, but eat inside. I turned the lights on and went out onto the decking at the back and fired the barbeque up to cook on. I had that distinct feeling of being watched. Claire and I are very sensitive and have had many unusual experiences, so we listen to those senses, they are usually right. I have a degree in science and so also very analytical, it’s my profession, and I don’t easily jump to wild conclusions. The rainforest had been alive with sounds all weekend, but I noticed it was now eerily silent.When the barbeque had heated up, I went back out to put the food on it. As I was placing the sausages on the grill, I heard a big 'CRACK' as a twig snapped not far away. It wasn’t a lightweight twig, it was a distinct piercing snap from a reasonably thick twig. I stood there motionless and silently for a while, peering into the darkness and listening. I couldn't hear anything moving at all, as you would expect if it was an animal there. I reasoned to make a crack like that would require a reasonable amount of weight, so I was surprised I didn't hear whatever it was moving around, or the rustling of leaves, that say maybe a python might make slithering around in the scrub. A few minutes later there was another distinct 'CRACK' a few yards further over. Again I looked and listened into the undergrowth, but it was silent. I went inside.I later came back out to check how things were cooking. The smell of meat cooking was now wafting into the surrounding undergrowth and again I felt like something was watching me, this time even stronger than before. Other than the lightly falling rain it was silent. Then 'CRACK', 'CRACK', followed by 2-3 more cracks close together, each slowly getting closer, and then silence. There was something moving around. I didn’t feel good being out there anymore. I went back in and told Claire I was hearing strange noises outside and thought there was something out there, but also that it was probably just me, as I didn’t want to scare her, so understandably she didn’t really pay much attention to it.I went back out for the final time. Straight away I heard something moving in the bushes, this time it was really close, not more than 20-25 yards away. I froze and stared intently and listened. I could actually hear it stepping through the undergrowth. I could hear each individual step, the sound of one leg slowly pushing through the undergrowth and then the crack of a twig, followed by the same again with the other, and then a pause. I hadn't been drinking and I know I wasn't imagining it. It was definitely bipedal. It wasn’t any sort of four legged animal, or python. It had to be either a human, or a yowie. Either way, creeping around in the dark undergrowth, on private property, at night, in the middle of nowhere, and stalking our cabin, wasn't good.More twigs were cracking and I could hear the rustle of it pushing through the vegetation. I was terrified. I was ready, expecting it to appear at any second. The deck was only 3-4 foot off the ground and by the time I would be able to see it, it could be stepping over the railing onto the deck. It was now taking 4-5 steps then stopping completely for about a minute. Then it would start moving again. Each time it seemed to be slowly inching its way closer. I grabbed the food from the barbeque as quickly as I could.It started moving again and seemed to have stopped caring if it was being heard now, and was taking about 6-8 quick steps at a time. I turned around peering into the darkness trying to see it, but couldn't. I knew exactly where it was, I just couldn’t see it because it was pitch black and the vegetation was too thick to see through. It was moving more across now, rather than towards me. I could hear it moving to the right, as if it was circling around our cabin, and didn’t want to come any closer.I turned the barbeque off and went inside and quickly locked the door, pretending it would make me feel safer. As I turned around to tell Claire what had happened, the sensor light suddenly went off out the front of the cabin and lit up the entire front area where the car was parked. Claire jumped up and said that there was someone out there and that they had set the sensor off. Remember, I hadn't told her yet what I had just heard out the back. We couldn't see what it was, and we weren't game to go out and look. We turned the inside lights off and peered out. As I started to tell her what had happened out the back, the sensor light tripped and clicked back on a number of times, so it was still around out the front setting off the sensor, but just keeping out of the light. Eventually it stayed off, and we finally sat down to eat uneasily.I told Claire about what I had heard the final time I had gone out the back, and the earlier times, and how there was definitely something on two feet moving through the undergrowth. We spent a nervy night, wondering if whatever it was, was still around or would return. Our bed was right by the main sliding door which had floor to ceiling glass, and the bathroom had a floor to ceiling glass wall looking right into the undergrowth with no blind or curtain to shut any stalking eyes out. Every time we looked up from the bed, or went to the toilet, we half expected to see something standing outside looking in. A couple of nights earlier Claire had said she thought she had seen 2 red eyes outside the bathroom in the middle of night, but we dismissed it at the time. The owners had told us that the other three cabins were unoccupied that night, so we knew we were there on our own. It gave us both the creeps just thinking that there was something lurking around outside, in the undergrowth, in the dark. The next morning in the daylight we around to the back of the cabin and down to roughly where the noises had been coming from to see if we could see anything. One strange thing we found were branches, which had clearly been snapped off trees, laid out in uniform patterns on the ground, in a way that could not happen naturally.We knew about yowie's, and that Springbrook is the number one hotspot for them, but we never imagined that we might encounter one there too, yet we both came to accept that we must have. We know that feeling now, and whenever we hear of others having strange encounters, or that feeling of being stalked, those cold prickly goose bumps come crawling back all over our bodies again, just like an old friend telling us to trust that gut feeling and… RUN.