Pursuit - It’s what brought the Nord to the flowing green plains of Gippsland. A land rich with life, produce, and unexplored terrain. Topographically, the mountains are mere hills compared to the towering fjords his homeland, isolated deep within the mountains of Sogn Og Fjordane - Norway, with his family’s reign spreading as far west as the mountainous county of Oppland. Although our terrain is dwarfed by our Northern sisterland, what we lack in steepness, we gain in ferocity. There are few places on earth where death can stare you square in the face. Be it from poisonous plant, spider, snake, or now - panther.
Sacrifice - It takes an element of courage to relocate your life to somewhere unknown. To abandon your heritage, your past, your family. To step foot in a new world and chase a story told by folk whom have barely identified the creature beyond a paw print or a blur. Yet, the story exists, and has been told for decades across the entire footprint of our region. How could a story with such valid merit and continuity be farce or that of a mere campfire tale told to children at night to keep them inside their tents at camp? The answer is simple - a panther exists somewhere in our forests, and Arnald will not rest until he finds it.
For slightly over a year Arnald has conducted his search across our lands, listening to stories of those with first or (most commonly), second hand encounters of the fabled black cat. To date, his hunt has taken him from the flooded forests of the Tanjil river, north east to the rolling mountains of Tamboritha, and back south to the dry, arid terrain of the Avon Wilderness. Every instance of his exploration has had him so close, yet so far. Sure fire signs of life and activity staring him square in the face, almost mocking his tardiness for narrowly missing the encounter.
Feeling beaten, defeated after a year of zero success, Arnald has ventured home, back to the archipelago of western Norway for a spiritual reset. Like any well used tool, knife, or weapon, a hunters mind needs cleaning and maintenance for successful operation. A chance to rebirth the techniques and practices his family has taught for hundreds of years, to hone his skills before returning to Australia where, this time, his efforts won’t be met with the demise of a simple ‘near miss’, or the subtle mockery that is the Panther’s wild goose chase it leaves before it.
Arnald’s return will see a new wave of techniques. Tracking methods that are more in line with the enigmatic nature of a wild animal that’s evaded hard evidence of its discovery for as long as it has existed on our shores. With a new year brings a new thirst for success, and in turn, a higher level of difficulty for our panther to evade. Arnald may currently be 16,000km away, but he’s now closer than he’s ever been to trapping the elusive black cat.
As seen in Gippslandia Issue 06.
Help Arnald find the panther, and email your sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org