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Bunyips & Yahoos (1976)

Bunyips & Yahoos (1976)

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Published by draculavanhelsing
Canberra Times 1976 (July 31)
Canberra Times 1976 (July 31)

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Published by: draculavanhelsing on Jul 28, 2013
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The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), Saturday 31 July 1976, page 9National Library of Australiahttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110819632
By
GedMartin
3M[oST
Canberra
children
andmanyadultsknowthe
storyofAlexander
the
Bunyipwho
livedin
LakeBurley
Griffin
and
ate
the
city'sbuildings.
Itcomcsas
'
something
of
a
surpriseto
learn
thateVen
50yearsago,Canberra
peoplefirmly
believed
that
there
were
real
buhyips
livingin
the
area.
The
earliest
recorded
bunyip
sightings
were
in
Lake
Bathurst,
nearTarago.
In1827,PeterCun
ningham,
a
travellingship's
sur
geon,reportedthat"ananimal,bearing
some
affinityto
a
seal"
hadbeen
seenin
the
lake.
"It
seemed
to
be
about
three
feet
long',1
andappearedabove
water
every
now
andthen,puffingstrongly
from
its
nostrils".
The
Aborigines
were
frighten
edof
it,
anacalled
it
"Devil!Devil!"
European
man,with
lessreverence,
hadmade
a
couplcof
.
unsuccessfulattempts
to
shoot
it.
AlthoughCunningham
was
'
aware
thatbothLakeBathurst
andLakeGeorgetended
to
shrink
in
dry
years,
it
didnot
oc
cur
to
him
to
ask
whathappened
to
thestrange
beast,
during
a
drought.
I
.
Exactly100years
after
Cunningham,JohnGale
published
a
book
aptly
entitled
'Canberra:
its
history
and
legends'.
Gale
was
enormouslyproud
ofthe
district,
andhad
lea
the
fightto
makeCanberra
the
sitefor
Australia's
capital.
,
capital.
,
He
was
convincedthatthe
bunyip
belonged
to
Canberra's
histor}',
not
its
legends.
He
recalleda
story
told
by
CaptainSamSouthwell,
"one
ofthemost
truthful
of
men".The
Southwells
werea
highlyrespected
local
family,
pillars
oftheMethodistChurch.
If
a
Southwellthoughthehad
seen
a
bunyip,
atleast
youcouldbe
sure
that
he
was
sober.
ArfdSouthwell
wassure
he
had.
Riding
alongsidetheMurrumbidgee,
just
southofCusack'scrossing
a
couple
of
miles
beyond
themodern
suburb
of
Holt
hespotted"astrange
animal
ofproportionsakintothose
of
a
three-months'-old
calf,
basking
on
a
sandbank
at
thewater'sedge".Disturbed
by
thesoundofthehorse'shooves,the
creature
wriggled
into
thewater
and
vanished.
_
Southwell
jumped
downfrom
his
mount
and
made
his
way
down
to
the
spot.
If
hehad
beendreaming,thenthe
dream
had
left
notfootprints,
but
a
trail
suggesting
fins
or
flippers.
Onanotheroccasion,
Gale
himself,
duckshooting
on
the
Queanbeyan
River,
saw
"abig^dog-like
amphibian"break
thesurfaceonly
a
hundred
yardsaway,only
to
dive
again.
Others
saw
theanimal,
which
seemed
tolive
not
far
fromQueanbeyan
itself.
And,
for
Gale,thequestion
was
settled
by
thereportedcaptureof
a
seal-like
amphibian
m
the
Murrumbidgee
at
Lambrigg
which
beforelong
will
be
a
suburb
in
Tuggeranong.
"It
was
tnesize
of
a
mastiffdog,having
a
finefur".
It
refuseddog,having
a
finefur".
It
refused
toeatfish
odd,
one
might
think,for
an
aquaticbunyip,althoughperhaps
more
plausibleif
thestrangebeast
was
really
a
wombat
and
after
a
few
days
it
cscaped
"and
doubtlessmacle
its
way
back
to
the
river".
Anddoubtless
it
will
turnup
at
Kam
bah
pool
one
of
thesedays.JohnGale'sexotic
bestiary
didnot
end
withbunyips
in
the
Murrumbidgee.The
brothers
Webb,of
Uriarra,than
whom
"there
are
no
more
reliable
and
truth-tellingmen
tobe
found"
once
had
a
nastyexperiencewith
a
yahoo,thehairy
man
of
themountains.After
a
day
mustering
cattlein
theBrindabellas,they
camped
at
twilight,
with
theircattle
grazing
ina
small
valley
below.
Suddenly
the
cattle
stampeded,and
thebrothers
saw
"aman-like
thing,
whose
coat
was
as
hairy
as
thatof
a
gorilla".It
took
no
notice
of
their
shouts,but.disappeared
after
a
shot
had
been
firedat
it.
Nextmorning
the
Webbs
followed
a
trail
of
bloodandfound
their
missingherd.
Why
didpeoplebelievesuch
tales?First,
we
must
remember
thatthe
earlysettlers
were
rarely
more
than
a
generationremovedfrom
theBritish
Isles,
where
stories
of
giantsintheforests
andmonsters
in
thelakes
werecommon
traditions.If
there
wasa
monsterin
Loch
Ness,
why
not
in
Lake
Bathurst?Tothe
firstsettlers,
Australia
wasa
strangecountry
in
which
anythingmight
bo
found:
Children
at
Duntroon
in
the
1850s
were
warnedofgiant
kangarooswhichwoulddrown
a
man,
andofsnakes
so
venomous
thattheycould
kill
with
their
-
spit,
and
some
locals
believedthere
were
crocodilcsinthe
Molonglo.Perhaps
theAborigines
really
believed
in
the
Lake
BathurstMonster,but
maybe
too
they
hoped
thestory
would
frightenoftthetroublesomewhite
man.
Fortheindividual
tales
of
strange
beasts,
there
isa
simpleexplanation.Look
around
anyofand
see

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