The Brisbane Courier (Qld.

: 1864-1933), Saturday 18 June 1932, page 21



The Mythical Bunyip.



associated the Aus-


as little





blacks, the though to this elusive monster white man has always remained something of a mysfor a subject tery and controversy. if still But is even the European a

the tralian



scrambling heavily about the rocks, it returned with a great splashwhen ing to the water. Certain tribes believed that it did not eat human beings, but only clasped them tightly and sank till with them drowned. they were In some informparts the Europeans were that the ed was bunyip always invisible to a white man-that only All agreed blacks could see It. that it was bulky of body, but not enormit killed ously large, and that men it could. whenever

bewildered and uncertain, the were aboriginals themselves always quite definite in every detail regardit. ing The first settlers were not long on the
South Land before tales about a voracious to amphibian creature known the It dwelt natives as the bunyip. always in deep waterholes, rivers, or coastal some lagoons, though tribes said that it inhabited salt water as well. It could remain submerged a very time, lying in the soft mud long at the It came to the bottom. surface by day, usually during calm weather. It the hereditary enemy was or bugbear of the blacks, and took them as food whenever chance a it occurred; and was particularly fond of snapping up or lubras native The women. tribes knew waterhole that every contained a swim bunyip, and would never there; and they declared that its hoarse and terrifying roarings and gruntings could be heard at night from afar. From their descriptions own of it the bunyip resembled no animal known to the whites in this or any other country. There are some aboriginal drawof these, the work One ings of It. of a blackfellow, River Murray shows a swollen huge, body, small head, and very small ears, large teeth, and a coat with what appear covered to be scales. tribes the bunyip was In some said to clothed in feathers; in others by long fur.




they heard


Buckley's Testimony.
evidence most remarkable of all that of the ex-convict, William Buckley, who the first escaped when settlement was penal attempted in

rpHE is

Victoria, Collins, and under Governor lived for no less than 32 years with the wild blacks. No man had such ever an opportunity of studying the natives as "the wild white man," and he afterwards his published experiences John The through a Mr. Morgan. book in 1852, the full title appeared being: "Life and of WilAdventures liam Buckley; thirty-two years a Wanderer the amongst Aborigines of the Port then unexplored country round

Phillip, now

Tribal Tales.
it was found that the blacks in all parts of Australia shared the belief In the bunyip, though, of same practically tribe had a course, every different name for it. It was the Port Phillip blacks called it the bunwho yip, and white men came everywhere to use that name. In the Northern Territory, in WestAustralia, in Queensland, the tribes ern were points. The agreed upon all main a natural not like bunyip was enemy the poisonous snake, which they could It was understand. never attacked, for all it had agreed that supernatural In some details the beliefs powers. it varied about in different parts of the said that it never country. Some went on about wandering dry land; others it would stated that leave the waterhole, and had often heard been scrambling heavily about the rocks,


the Province of Victoria." Buckley: "In Lake Modewarre, as well as m of the others inland, and most in the deep-water rivers, Is a very extraordinary amphibious animal, which the natives call Bun-yip, of which I could never see part except the back, any which to be appeared covered with It feathers of a dusty-grey colour. seemed to be about the size of a full calf, and grown sometimes larger. The natives had a very great dread of them, believing them to have some supernatural power over beings, human to so as occasion death, sickness, disease. So great is their dread that on discovering one they throw themselves flat on their faces, muttering Says
some gibberish,


sued. times




the have

flee away alone to spear



if purseveral

had It would



Bun-yip; do so

great displeasure. probably have paid

life My'own would the forfeit."

Evidence of Whites.
plenty of records of white having claimed to have seen the bunyip. In 1872 the newspapers everywhere a contained accounts of bunyip having been seen on the Mid geon Lagoon by a party of whites. It


National Library of Australia


Lagoon by described as

a a

party of whites.



with jet


all over


shining hair, about 5in. long; the ears were well developed, the tail apparently absent, and the hair was too long to its see It was eyes. watched for about half an a hour from distance of 30 yards In 1873 a party of caused surveyors great interest by their account of an alleged bunyip seen by them on Cowal Lake. They described it as an animal having a rather human-like head, "with long, dark-coloured hair." They could see only its head and shoulders, and for a long time watched it as it swam fast and dived repeatedly. Lake Cowal is about 200 miles inland from Sydney. In Victoria,




Mining Surveyor
partment, Lavender

in the Mining Dereported that he and a Mr. saw what they considered the bunyip of the blacks. It swam and dived well, and was an animal totally unknown to them. The Rev. George Taplin, author of "The Narrinyeri," also of the


and that his Southern says Murray natives described It as a creature half-human and half-fish, with a matted of reeds crop instead of hair. He himself often heard its loud bellowing, which he described in detail.



Was the Bunyip?

when the whole question is re viewed, I think we must conclude that the aboriginal bunyip is a mythical monster. No was ever specimen obtained, no bones found where settlement had ousted the blacks. It was a daily reality to them, but so were a of other weird creatures. score To some whites as well as blacks the seal was probably taken for the bunyip-and seals our went sometimes inland for some distance. At night the loud booming of the bittern, or perhaps the first bellowing of cattle sound -a at first totally unknown to the blacks-may have been the bun yip's voice. The wild leaping of giant cod after fish prey in the waterholes, the violent or musk splashings of at their ducks night feeding, may have been attributed to the same But cause. apart from and sound dreaded sight of the the monster, racial of its legend existence and habits was firmly established long before the coming of the whites. That faith being everywhere accepted, its its voice and even would appearance to follow. be sure

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