Thursday, October 05, 2006
Bunyips and Yowies
Hey, y'all, my CPs just informed me that most Americans have never heard of a Bunyip, so I figured maybe you'd like to hear about one of our most famous mythical creatures.
The bunyip (also called a yowie)is commonly featured in Australian children's stories. We even have chocolate yowies for sale in the supermarket with plastic native animals inside them. Are they real? Well, you be the judge.
Bunyips are supposed to live at the bottom of lakes, billabongs (dried up river beds) and dams. They emerge at night to prey on animals, women and children and give a loud bellowing cry if approached. When the Aborigines hear the cry, they stay away from the water, which is why I've always enouraged the stories in my home. It keeps little kids from wandering alone in places where they might drown. By the time they doubt the stories, mostly they can swim.
There were many "sightings" in the 1930's during the Depression when many tramps and vagrants (swagmen)took to the road to find work. They often lived near bodies of water to survive, so who better to see a Bunyip?
Descriptions vary widely- tusks, four legs, flippers, a large oval body and a tail like a horse is the most common, but they have also been described as hairy, scaled, feathered, fur, long tail, long neck, horse head, bird head etc... I guess it depends how drunk the seer was at the time. :-)
Some people believe the bunyip was a Diprotodon, an Ice-Age marsupial that co-existed with the early Aborigines before becoming extinct. Another theory is that Bunyips are seals, that somehow made it far inland, or crocodiles. But whatever it is, you don't want to mess with a bunyip.
According to folklore a fisherman once caught a baby bunyip, and although his companions begged him to put it back in the water, he refused to do so. Naturally the mother bunyip was furious. She retaliated by causing the waters of the lake to rise until the whole countryside was flooded and the baby floated back to her.