Bunyips, The Australian Sprite by Davy Russell
POSTED: April 98
According to Aboriginal legend, Bunyips are creatures that lurk in swamps, billabongs,
creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes. They emerge at night, making terrifying,
blood-curdling cries, and devour any animal or human that dare venture near its abode.
The Bunyip's favourite prey is said to be women.
Fearing to go near suspected Bunyip haunts, the Aborigines shared their fearsome
legends with early white settlers. After hearing such tales, they became fearful of
strange, loud noises at night, and seriously considered the existence of the Bunyip
Descriptions of Bunyips include a wide spectrum of appearances from animal to spirit.
Some describe the Bunyip as a gorilla-type animal (kinda like bigfoot, or the Australian
Yowie), while others say it is half animal, half human or spirit. Bunyips come in all
sizes, shapes, and colors. Some are described to have long tails or necks, wings, claws,
horns, trunks (like an elephant), fur, scales, fins, feathers...any combination of these.
Although scientists have found no physical evidence of Bunyips, they suggest it could
have been a diprotodon, which became extinct 20,000 years ago. It frightened natives
even after it's extinction, spawning horror stories that have made it such a feared
Another circulating theory is that the modern Bunyip encounters originated
(unintentionally) from wanderers or those who went off into the Australian wilderness
during the Great Depression, or to escape hardships or the law. To prevent discovery,
they would hide from others by creating a make-shift snorkel out of bone and hiding
underwater. If they popped out before the unwanted guests left, it would make for quite
a scare on both sides. And the startled cry of the one in hiding could cause the frightened
passers-by to think they encountered a Bunyip. As for their affinity for women, this
could be explained by the wanderers long periods of time alone, without contact with
women, and when one came along, it made for an irresistible opportunity.
Whatever the Bunyip is, was, or was not, it has become a celebrity in children’s
literature. After investigating reports, and analyzing alleged Bunyip bones, many
Australians now disregard the existence of the Bunyip as purely mythological.
SOURCE: Various Australian newspapers and articles.