The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.

: 1848-1954), Saturday 8 October 1949, page 12

The
The

Bunyip Was
Bunyip Was
Not 100. Years

Once

Taken

Seriously

Show That Prepared to

Old Records Regarded Purely as a Myth. Even Earnest Scientific Inquirers Were Not Ago Discount- Entirely Reports of Its Appearance from Time to Time

Always
-

*y

RUSSELL
it,

O.

ATKINSON
things half-seen and
half-realised,

WHEN
ray
it, a

to think of yon come the gentlemen who saw a creature
were

has
abo-

persisted
riginal It
is

down

the ages among
true that
even

strange in

in the Murreally

tribes.

few weeks ago

justified

becoming
people

not excited

equally

white

about

for

white

have

reported

seeing unusual creatures in our rivers, lakes, and billabongs for at least 150 years,
turies.
,

and

the

aborigines

for

cen

in the mind of the white the bunyip is a myth, in much man, class as the same the unicorn, the friffin, the and the sea-serpent, anshee, with which fabulous creatures it shares the same kind of benevolent tradition; but a hundred years it still being taken half was ago sseriously, even by the earnest scientific inquirers of the day, and it is only in the last half-century that it has degenerated into a fantasy a figment of aboriginal superstition

Today,

-

-

though
in

there

are

lonely

places

the prevailing whom the bunyip
at least

people living do not share scepticism, and to who
is,

still

if

not

a

reality,

something be
difficult

more

than

a

myth.
It would to discover just

when the bunyip was reported, for the idea of a strange, unaccountable, and'not readily definable monster inhabiting our great streams and
lakes
N

first

seems

to

have

existed

since the

first

contact

almost of white men

with the blacks;- but it is certain that the blacks'themselves firmly believed in the existence of such creatures,
"

-a

belief which,

centuries

by

reports

nurtured for of .fantastic

half-seen and

National Library of Australia

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22783977

BUNYIP
men were

ON

THE
I

WARPATH
to discredit the

-

AS SEEN
close

BY

ARMSTRONG,
was

reluctant

the bunyip, and have before me in 1846 the bunyip, proof that even far from having achieved myth-hood, the subject of solemn inquiry was

scientific

clear

with the best It is brains of the day. from his contribution that at correspondence

by

scientifically

inclined
is

Australians.

THE The
of

proof

contained in

a

copy

Journal (Vol III, No. II) for January, 1847. This journal devoted to "natural was a science, agriculture, statistics, &c," and it was published by Henry Dowlof Launceston, ing, stationer, Tasmania, and John Murray, of London.
I£. was a

Tasmanian

still that day there was a good deal of uncertainty regarding both the reality and the nature of the "Bunyip of Australia Felix," and it is reasonable to suppose that for the bun-

this was the time of crisis-the scientific time when opinion on the question of the bunyip's reality hung ^in the balance. Let us see what Mr Gunn had to say
on

yip

the «subject
was

in

1846.

His

learned

journal, and
articles

its

article
con-

clearly discovery,

inspired

by
he

an ex-

included on such sub"Microscopic life in the ocean at the South Pole," "Fossil plants found near Hobart and Launceston," and "Algas of Tasmania"; but the
tents
jects as

interesting

which

plains, and he begins as follows:

""?T^ROM
M.

time

to

time

for

many

item that interests us particularly here is one entitled "On the 'Bunyip' of
Australia Felix."
article
was was

years indistinct reports have been received from the aborigines of Port Phillip of the existence of a large

amphibious
rivers

New the author of this Mr Ronald C. Gunn, who
secretary Society,

of the learned evidently and who was

then Tasmanian
in

animal inhabiting the of that colony, and called by different tribes by the names Bunyip Kayan-prati, or Katenpai, Bunyup, Tutrlutba, &c, but no Tunutpan,
traces

of

it

have been

seen

by any

of the

white

inhabitants.

was

very aborigines

much

gratified

to

have the
of of

op-

"The

statement

of the
is

that it is size of a bullock, with a head of the and neck like an emu's, and a mane and tail like a horse's. In their rude drawings of it they give it two
tusks, or front teeth, curved downwards; and feet like those of a seal; they say that it is oviparous and burrows, commencing its burrow

relative to

the bunyip

portunity afforded me it through the kindness

examining

my
St

fnend, Hehers,

Edward

Curr,

Esq,

of

pear Melbourne, who obtained the loan of it from Mr Fletcher and forwarded it to Launceston for my inspection. From the letters of His Excellency C. J. La Trobe, Esq, and
more

especially
I

Curr,
"I

have

from those of Mr drawn the preceding

under
until

water,
it is a

and

working upwards,

particulars. at once submitted the skull to my friend, Dr James Grant, whose report I subjoin, illustrated by three very report accurate
let
us

where

in

above the water level, chamber, accessible only

through the water, it deposits its eggs, which are as large as a bucket, enclosed in a membranous skin like
a

drawings
. .

."

Well,

turtle's,

say at

once

that

the

and
that

not
it

in

a

hard

shell.

of Dr February 19, appointing. dear

James 1846) he
we

Grant
was

(dated
dis-

They
and
in
its

most
is

say

eats

blackfellows
holes'

all are afraid of those deep the rivers which it

inhabits-but
or lobsters rivers in

"My
refer called

Sir,"

said.

"It
no

to

be regretted that
in these in
cases

have
this

usual food

is-

crayfish

museum
we

(very that

abundant

colonies to which
like

might
so

in the large
roots. particulars

colony) and other

of the

the "blacks, but they do not all agree either in their drawings or details, so that much uncertainty prevails as to the existence of this

MANY by nished
wonderful
attach
a

are fur

bunyip, where an apparently form presents itself. The skull new is that of a very young animal, probit foetal; and ably even might
...

prove
a

to be

that

of

a

young
were
seven

camel,
intro-

animal,

few of which animals duced to Australia about
since. hibit It
is

although

years

many
credit

considerable degree of
assertions of the
abo-

to rigines."

the

send you three drawings (plates III, IV, and V), which exdifferent views
a

I

of

the

skull.

Then
cases.

Mr Gunn comes He continues:
/

that
.
.

of
."

large

herbivorous

down

to

animal.

"During the
however,
a

last

month

And
(January),

then

the learned doctor
a

Athol Fletcher, Esq, found The banks of the Murrumbidgee, which all the natives to
skull
on

ceeds with scription of

detailed

scientific skull.

prode-

tlie

mysterious

whom
yip's,

it

was

shown

called

a

bun
of
ac-

Mr Gunn concludes his article with following hopeful words: the

unlike that and as it was animal with which he was any quainted he brought it with him Melbourne. No other bones of

"Every
obtain
or
.

effort

is

now or

being made to
living
it
is

ah

entire

bunyip, to

to

ascertain

whether

be

classed
any
it.

amongst

fabulous

animals."

description

There and
to
as

it it

found with excited much interest will probably be forwarded
were

has

London

by

an

early

vessel,

I

was

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful