Australia. Home to twenty-one out of the twenty-five most venomous snakes in the world. A magical place where deadly creatures from sharks to box jellyfish to spiders roam free. And yet, despite all of these known creatures, there is a myth of one that is far more terrifying living in the swamps and lakes and rivers. Its name is the Bunyip.
Bunyip is the aboriginal term for ‘devil’ or ‘evil spirit.’ It is an aquatic Aboriginal creature of myth described differently in several regions — under different names until European settlers used the more popular of them — and ranging in appearance from an ox to a hippopotamus to a manatee with a long neck. Though the image changes, one fact that all the legends have in common is that the Bunyip is said to be massive — a giant man-eater.
The Bunyip is known for its monstrous looks, his cries that echo, and the fact that it has killed several people definitely adds credence to the legend. However, not all agree that the Bunyip is harmful. In fact, he is sometimes described as being a protector of wildlife. This benevolent image is portrayed in popular culture where there exists a series of children’s books featuring the Bunyip.
Though the Bunyip can be either a monstrous man-eater or a benevolent protector, the legends seem to have some facts in common. If you find yourself traversing near bodies of water in Australia, remember to keep an eye out. For there may be something worse than the deadly bugs and snakes lurking about. One thing is for certain: if you hear its echoing cries or see a massive creature rise up from the depths, run.
For more reading on the Bunyip (sources):