Hmmm…. Kangaroos can grow quite large, taller than a man, and you don’t get to be an old man kangaroo without being quite fierce when necessary. That said, there is no way you could mistake a kangaroo for a gorilla, even in the dark. This creature is reported to have had four white tusks as well. Scary. The description of it being 7ft tall and like a clumsy deer sounds far more like a fire-blinded kangaroo than a mad gorilla or a grizzly bear. The hunters seem to have accepted that a gorilla or grizzly bear could be loose in the Australian bush far more readily than I would expect. Why listen to local speculation about a known creature in a perfectly plausible situation when you have the chance to terrify the masses with a creature that has very little chance of being lost in the Australian bush. Where would this mad gorilla have come from?
Nuttall sounds like a real hero. ‘Ride like mad! Some strange beast is attacking me’. Admirable presence of mind. If something I identified later as a gorilla was attacking me, my friends wouldn’t hear a carefully worded warning, all they would hear would be AAARRRGGHH!!!! It didn’t even hurt him and only managed to rip his shirt. Lucky man. His horse bolted but hung around a short distance away to bear him to safety. Lucky again. The alternative version of his story is that he panicked at a strange noise and rode off madly, tearing his shirt on a branch. No, I am sure it was a mad gorilla.
I am sure some of these people saw something strange in the bush at night but having done a lot of camping I can tell you that in the bush not a night goes by without something unidentified making a scary noise near you. Late one night a possum jumped from one tree to the next right over the top of our campfire. We were the brown trouser brigade that night, no matter how manly some of the campers were. It doesn’t take a gorilla to scare the average human in the dark.