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The Bunyip, also known as the Kianpraty, is a creature from the Aboriginal mythology in southeastern Australia. It is said to live in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds and waterholes. The word bunyip translates to "devil" or "evil spirit" from the Wemba-Wemba language.


Physical descriptions of the bunyip vary. Some say it has a dog-like face, dark fur, a horse-like tail, flippers, walrus-like tusks, a crocodile-like head and a duck-like bill. There are even claims that it resembles a snake with a beard. While its wide range of descriptions make it difficult to determine its appearance, it is agreed that the bunyip is aquatic.


One of the earliest accounts of the bunyip occured in 1818, when explorers James Meehan and Hamilton Hume discovered large bones in Lake Bathurst in New South Wales. They did not call the creature a bunyip, but described the remains as similar to a manatee or hippopotamus.

In the mid-1830s, fossilized bones were first discovered by George Ranken and later by Thomas Mitchell in the Wellington Caves in New South Wales. British anatomist Sir Richard Owen identified the fossils as the marsupials Diprotodon and Nototherium

In July of 1845, the Geelong Advertiser describes the bunyip in great detail. It was also the first recorded use of the term "bunyip".

In January 1847, an unusual skull was found on the Murrumbidgee River banks near Balranald, New South Wales. Initial reports suggested that it was the skull of an unidentified creature. By July 1847, several experts had identified the skull as that of a deformed foal or calf; despite this, it was put on exhibition at the Australian Museum in Sydney as evidence of the bunyip.

One legend says that a man named Bunyip broke the Rainbow Serpent's greatest law by eating his totem animal. Banished by the spirit Biami, the man became an evil spirit that lured tribesmen and their livestock into the water so he could eat them.

In 1857, in an article titled, "The Bunyip", a newspaper reported on the drawings made by Edwin Stocqueler: "Amongst the latter drawings we noticed a likeness of the Bunyip, or rather a view of the neck and shoulders of the animal. Mr. Stocqueler informs us that the Bunyip is a large freshwater seal, having two small padules or fins attached to the shoulders, a long swan like neck, a head like a dog, and a curious bag hanging under the jaw, resembling the pouch of the pelican. The animal is covered with hair, like the platypus, and the color is a glossy black. Mr. Stocqueler saw no less than six of these curious animals at different times; his boat was within thirty feet of one near M'Guire's punt on the Goulburn, and he fired at the Bunyip, but did not succeed in capturing him. The smallest appeared to be about five feet in length, and the largest exceeded fifteen feet. The head of the largest was the size of a bullock's head, and three feet out of water. After taking a sketch of the animal, Mr. Stocqueler showed it to several blacks of the Goulburn tribe, who declared that the picture was "Bunyip's brother," meaning a duplicate or likeness of the bunyip. The animals moved against the current, at the rate of about seven miles an hour, and Mr. Stockqueler (sic) states that he could have approached close to the specimens he observed, had he not been deterred by the stories of the natives concerning the power and fury of the bunyip, and by the fact that his gun had only a single barrel, and his boat was of a very frail description."


The bunyip could be a misidentification of a known species, with suggestions such as leopard or elephant seals, cassowaries, and Australasian bitterns. It is also believed that the bunyip could be a surviving Diprodoton or other extinct Australian marsupial.

In Popular Media[]

  • Bunyip is a summonable creature in the Scribblenauts games.
  • An Australian horror movie titled Bunyip is about a group of city folk who decide to hike in the Australian wilderness but end up getting lost and have to survive against the legendary creature.
  • Another Australian horror movie titled Red Billabong concerns two brothers who uncover their family's secrets and realize that their friends go missing but don't realize that the legendary bunyip is to blame and is now stalking them.
  • The bunyip appears in the animated series, The Secret Saturdays.
  • A Bunyip appears as a mentor to the titular character in the Ty the Tasmanian tiger.
  • In the Australian children's book the Bunyip of Berkley's Creek, the bunyip tries to figure out what bunyips look like. The other animals describe bunyips as horrible creatures, so the bunyip decides to live alone where he can be "as handsome as he likes".
  • In Melbourne, there is a statue of the Bunyip of Berkley's Creek, carrying a bindle.
  • Bunyip was a Titan featured in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, hibernating in Ayers Rock in Australia. However, its name only appears on a monitor. It was awakened by Ghidorah's alpha call.
  • The bunyip appears as a docile creature in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics).
  • A bunyip named Uluru appears in The Menagerie series by Tui and Kari Sutherland.
  • Nanu Kili is the bunyip featured in Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, who serves as an ally who begins the whole quest for mystic talismans to prevent a calamity in reality. Ty can also temporarily be surrounded by a bunyip granting him invincibility and one-hit kills on all enemies. In the second and third games, Mecha-Bunyips appear, and though they are based on bunyips, they function more like Gundam suits.
  • Dingodile, from the Crash Bandicoot series, may have been inspired by the bunyip.
  • Throughout Australia where the Bunyip resides there are underwater animatronics such as the Bunyip of Murray Bridge.

Impact on Australian culture[]

Below is a clip from the 1977 Australian movie, Dot and the Kangaroo. This is a song from the movie about the bunyip.


The Bunyip Video



Sutherland, Tui T, and Kari Sutherland. Krakens and Lies. HarperCollins Children's Books, 2015