Pilliga Scrub, NSW Australia
The Pilliga Scrub is a massive expanse of thick bushland in the central upper half of New South Wales and covers an area of about 80 x 120 kilometres. Much has been lost in there, never to be found again, from sheep and cattle, to people and vehicles. Even today, it is dense and forbidding, although what used to be a dirt track that ran through the middle is now a major road called the Newell Highway.
There are a lot of stories that have emerged from the forest, and one in particular that sticks in my mind is that of a bag-lady who lived in the Pilliga Scrub. She was often seen with her old battered shopping trolley loaded with her belongings along the road, and truckers would see her at night walking in complete darkness.
She was a recluse, old, grey haired and crazy, and they dubbed her the Pilliga Princess. For many years, she was a familiar sight to regular travellers, particularly truck drivers along that stretch of road. Because the Pilliga Scrub had (and still has) unexplained stories of terror associated with it, the locals will tell you you’d have to be completely crazy to be in the scrub after dark. Anyone passing through for the first time saw the Princess as an almost terrifying ghostly figure, even if they hadn’t heard the scary stories beforehand.
One night in 1993 the Pilliga Princess was hit and killed by a truck. The trucker who hit her said she had been wandering across the road and he hadn’t seen her until it was too late. He told how as she was lit by the headlights, she turned to look directly at him and ran toward him, arms outstretched. The last thing he saw of her alive was the white hair flaring out around her wild-eyed face and the expression was one of manic glee.
Since then other truckers swear they have seen her walking her trolley at night, just as she had done for years before she was killed. One truck driver even claimed to have hit her trolley, but with no Princess in sight.
If you are from that region, or have driven through there and have seen anything unusual, I would love to hear from you. Thanks to the person who emailed me the following image from the Australian Cemeteries Index, we now know the name of the Princess.
There are many more Pilliga stories from truckers, and there are a couple in particular that I’d like to include here later.
*update [July 8th, 2010]: This story has been featured on Local Legends, one of Australia’s best myth and legend story sites. Recommended reading.