Australia has become the gift that keeps giving for quirky news items while western civilisation is on hold. If it's not a house-proud bloke casually telling the prime minister to get off his lawn, it's a homicidal wombat brutally attacking four generations of women.
The country is widely known to be unfit for human habitation, though people continue to insist on living there. When catastrophic bushfires aren't driving folk from their homes, the local fauna will give it a go instead.
Take this innocent paraglider who was savagely beaten by a kangaroo on landing. Then there was the time cops were called to investigate a man's cries of "why won't you die?" to discover he was not murdering a toddler as neighbours feared, but was rather locked in battle with one of Australia's many oversized and/or venomous spiders.
On The Register, wombats are merely known to be the cute, cuddly critters that literally shit bricks. But it looks like this perception is in dire need of reassessment if the 4-10 June issue of Dubbo Photo News is anything to go by.
Splashing with "BERSERKER WOMBAT", page 3 tells a terrifying tale of a family under siege by the murderous marsupial. Jeanette Ambrose, 78, has lived at Daybreak Wildlife Sanctuary north of Dubbo in New South Wales for 40 years and, as you might expect, has plentiful experience with Australia's creatures great and small, including hand-rearing wombats.
Kim, who had just recently taken the cast off a broken ankle, limped out of her cabin to assist her mother – but the wombat only smelled weakness
So she thought "that's lovely" when her daughter, Kim, called her to say she had sighted one wandering the property.
She was wrong.
The beast climbed her veranda and tried to break into her house. "He looked up at me and just dived to get past me and I held him for a long time while screaming out to Nazarena, my 11-year-old great granddaughter, 'not to let him get you', and then he started biting me," Jeanette told the paper. "He'd bite pieces of my leg and so she ran to get help, meanwhile he was biting me up to my knees."
Kim, who had just recently taken the cast off a broken ankle, limped out of her cabin to assist her mother – but the wombat only smelled weakness.
"As soon as he saw me he immediately charged, he bowled me over and got the back of my legs," Kim recounted. "I shoved my hand down to protect myself, offering him my hand because I knew he was going to keep gouging. He was near my femoral artery so I had to have the guts to shove my hand down so then he got my finger and bit down until he exposed the bone."
I'd crawl along the ground and he just kept chomping again
We're two generations down now, but the bloodthirsty wombat was far from sated. Enter generation three: Kim's daughter Gemma was woken by her mother's screams, having worked into the wee hours that morning. She rushed out to meet the monster still wearing pyjamas.
"I saw Mum hobbling up and I heard Nan yelling to her to run, then I heard Mum screaming so I cut through the bush and saw Mum on the ground and the wombat on her finger. I picked up a plank of wood and hit him over the back."
Describing their assailant as "having a Terminator-type vibe," Gemma said her blows "didn't affect him."
"He just immediately turned around and bowled me over. I wasn't covered up so he started biting my thighs and I was just screaming for my life. I rolled onto my knees to try and get up and he bit me on the bum so many times, all around the backs of my legs.
"I'd crawl along the ground and he just kept chomping again."
Jeanette admitted that they believed the wombat would be the end of them. What a way to go.
But there is no power greater than a mother's love. Kim, freshly rebroken ankle and all, was enraged at the sight of Gemma being mauled so she grabbed a shovel. "I hit him with the shovel and he lunged at me and I fell backwards," she said. "After I fell, Mum came out of nowhere with the shovel and hit him to rescue Gemma."
Meanwhile, Gemma's husband was inside one of the property's houses working remotely for a "US aerospace company" with his headphones on – blissfully unaware of the carnage going on outside. Fortunately, he was roused by generation-four Nazarena, who had also called an ambulance and a neighbour. But it was the wisdom of late snake harasser Steve Irwin that ultimately saved the day.
Kim said: "All of a sudden I understood I had to grab him by the ear and head and lie on his back. It was watching Steve Irwin wrestle crocodiles that made me think of it, then I had both ears and Mum had a grip on his head. Mum was the only one with the experience so we've got the two men [husband and neighbour] and me to sit on the wombat and hold him down."
Was Jeanette about to draw on a lifetime of connecting with the fiends and calm the creature down? Was she f*$k.
She grabbed an axe.
"I... got them all to pull their hand out of the way and move their heads back while I swung it. I gave it two hits, the first one stunned him and even after the second one everyone stayed on him because we were all so terrified."
The Dubbo Photo News closed the horror story thus: "Police and ambulance arrived to tend to the wounded. The family say they're just glad everyone is alive."
The Reg, however, expects to see a surge in wombat-based slasher flicks and will leave you with this final thought: "WTF, Australia?!" ®