File:Bunyip skull.jpg
Proof: The much debated skull from the alleged Bunyio. Photo: Henry Dowling, John Murray January 1847 /wikimedia

As the white settlers started to take land in the 1840 and 1850 in Australia, they started to observe something they didn’t think they would. Particularly near the southeast colonies like Victoria, New South Wales they heard unknown cries in the night, found strange bones and started taking notes of the new surroundings. But what was this newly discovered animal? This is something modern day cryptozoologists still debates.

Perhaps it wasn’t as “newly discovered” as the settlers claimed. As they found skulls and displayed it in museums, writing sensationalist news articles about the animal, the native aboriginals had a different story to tell about the Bunyip.

The Creature

The mere word, Bunyip, is today most often translated as devil or evil spirit. The stories of the Bunyip varies widely. The tales was told before the white settlers came, but what happened to the mythology and folklore of the native aboriginals is an atrocity, and they got their whole culture and way of life wiped away for centuries, at some times, forever. So who really knows now, the true origins of the Bunyip today? When the white settlers came they mixed their own folklore into the mix, especially of the Irish mythological monster, Púca. Still, the ones keeping the tales of the Bunyip alive today is the local legends that have been passed down for a long time.

Bunyip (1935).jpg
A monster from the lakes: Drawing of the Bunyip from 1935/Wikimedia.

But most of the accounts describes it like a sea spirit, river monster or something of a dog or a seal, swimming in lakes and waters. And it is described as highly dangerous. While most aboriginal myths claims they are a nocturnal being, feeding on crayfish, there are also so many legends, claiming it to pray on humans as well, especially small children and women.

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The Bunyip is supposedly makes a booming and roaring scream from the billabongs and swamps, and children was told to never go swimming so not to be taken by the Bunyip. One legend is claims that a man whose name was Bunyip was banished by the good spirit Biami. This is what drove the man to become an evil spirit that lured his fellow tribesmen into the waters to eat them.

The Case of the Burrawang Bunyip

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A hunger for humans: Macfarlane, J. 1 October 1890/wikimedia

It is not like the tales of the Bunyip disappeared as the aboriginal myths were silenced and the white settlers got a better understanding for the wild and foreign country they found themselves in. So far up to modern times, accounts of the Bunyip has been reported. Even in the 1960s, there was tales about the swamp monster, lurking in the deep south murky swamps.

This is the case of Burrawang, a highland village south-west from Sydney. Below the village there is a large swamp that is the home of many rare creatures, and locals claim they’ve heard the sounds from the Bunyip.

There are also a tale of railway workers running away from the monstrous sounds coming from the swamps. The Burrawang locals heard the roaring sounds from their local Bunyip, all up until they built a dam in 1974, and the sounds disappeared. Why? Did they push the wildlife away and in that, the Bunyip as well? Perhaps it was only something else making the sounds. But what? That is something the modern world perhaps is too late to figure out.

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Sources:
https://www.britannica.com/topic/bunyip,

https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/blogs/tim-the-yowie-man/2020/03/the-case-of-the-roaring-bunyip/

Bunyips: Australia’s Folklore of Fear by Robert Holden, Nicholas Holden

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