Of all the unusual sights to have graced Newtown's King Street, the vision of two runaway buffalo competing with cars for right of way is surely unique.
Having escaped from a film set for a commercial at Sydney Park, the pair of buffalo ran two kilometres down King Street, before taking a turn up Missenden Road and ending up in front of the University of Sydney.
There, students of Moore College were granted the sight of a fully dressed cowboy, complete with lasso, out in their front yard capturing the beasts, who weren't going without a fight.
“There were cops and firemen everywhere and the guy who owns them was running around putting up barriers everywhere, it was crazy," student Talitha Salier told Fairfax Media radio station 2UE.
“[The buffalo] looked like, scared. One of them got mad agitated and went to go at them and then went back."
Salier said one of the buffalo attempted to charge at the animal handler before “it got spooked” and ran into the truck. Once handlers quickly closed the back door of the vehicle, she said one buffalo could be heard “banging around”.
One onlooker said the buffalo broke out from a make-shift pen in a car park off Sydney Park Road about 10am.
"When it happened the crew cleared out pretty quick," the onlooker said.
A City of Sydney spokeswoman said a filming permit had been issued to film a commercial at Sydney Park.
"The City was assured by filmmakers there would be two experienced stock handlers on the set at all times, from an animal-wrangling company with more than 25 years’ experience," she said.
"The company also advised that the two water buffalo were both halter- and lead-trained and on the day of the shoot would be entirely enclosed with mobile fencing, or securely tethered."
An investigation has begun into the incident and whether the filmmakers had the appropriate safeguards in place, the spokeswoman said.
With thousands of witnesses, news of the roaming buffalo spread like wildfire on social media. By lunchtime, a Twitter handle had already been created for @NewtownBuffalo.
Water Buffalo roaming Newtown, Sydney? Those whacky hipsters just crossed a line. pic.twitter.com/7n184J41hn
— Brad Marsellos (@mackiemarsellos) March 24, 2014
Sydney University student Rachel Murdolo said she was walking to class when she saw two of the beasts charging down King Street.
“I was walking down King Street towards the city and these two big bulls were running along the inner side lane towards the city,” Murdolo said. “It was kind of bizarre but it was Newtown so I didn't think it was that unusual,” she said.
Murdolo said she saw a buggy filming the animals as they ran down King Street towards Sydney University.
Two minutes later she saw a police car speeding down the road in the same direction, followed by a fire truck.
Another Sydney University student Abril Felman was sitting at a bus stop on the corner of Holt and King streets when she saw what she thought were two bulls.
“I just saw what I thought were two bulls sprinting down King Street followed by a jeep rigged up with filming equipment. It had camera equipment and was following them,” Felman said.
“We were a bit shocked that the road wasn’t blocked off,” she said. “I’ve seen some pretty strange things but this definitely takes the cake.”
- Sydney Morning Herald