Sunday, August 5, 2007

There's a Bunyip down by the billabong mate...

There's a Bunyip down by the billabong mate - to believe or not to believe

I decided to do some more research for another blogsite and see what outcome may result in my quest to try and discover the 'real' Bunyip of Australia.

So where have I gone in my quest? Back to ancient Australia and return. It has been most interesting learning a little about something I'd hardly heard of before. Bunyip was just a name that sprang up out of the ground when I was tossing names around of other legendary strange creatures of foreign folklore - the Yeti or Abominable Snowman from the Himalayas, a 'man bear', a large hairy apelike biped; and the Bigfoot or Sasquatch of North America, known by the Lakota Indians as "Chiye" (Big Elder brother) - a large hairy bipedal hominoid.

And what of the Australian Bunyips? I believe there have been two Bunyips, the ancient and the more modern version. So lets elaborate a little: The Bunyip is an Australian legendary monster that exists in aboriginal stories and art as well as in more modern reports. Descriptions vary wildly - aboriginals described it as having tusks,flippers and a tail like a horse. The aboriginal Bunyip lived in or around water such as creeks and pools in dried up riverbeds - known in Australia as billabongs.

It is supposed to come out at night to prey on animals, women and children. It is also supposed to give out a bellowing cry if approached - this kept the aboriginals away.

More recent accounts vary widely in descriptions, ranging from hairy, feathered, furry, having a longtail,long neck, a horse head, a bird's head etc.

Bunyips are common in Australian childrens stories, much like the Maori legends over here in New Zealand. There were for some reasons many sightings during the depression years of the 1930's.

There are three main theories:

One is the Diprotodon, an ice-age hippo sized marsupial that co-existed with early aboriginals, before coming extinct 40,000-50,000 years ago.

Another theory is that they were seals that made their way inland and become isolated, or were crocodiles.

The third is that there were many tramps who took to the roads of rural Australia, or the "bush" during the depession days of the 1930's, and many lived near bodies of water and perpetuated the myth of the legendary Bunyip.

A little historical description to finish up with:

According to Australian legend this hairy monster would hide in water holes, come out at night and terrify aboriginals. Descriptions vary, but it is generally described as having a hairy body, a horselike head and a ferocious roar. Some scientists believe the Bunyip might be a cultural memory of a marsupial called a diprotodon that inhabited Australia about 50,000 years ago, but because bones of butchered animals were unearthd at human settlements Bunyips, also known as yaa-loo and wowee-wowee, it suggests they and humans co-existed for many thousands of years.

No, there is nothing definative about this little piece of research, but what does the man from the Huttriver think? While Aussies just regard the Bunyips as fairy stories,fables and legends, there is always a touch of reality in most legends somewhere. Robin Hood was most likely based on a number of local characters, probably named Robert. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table - that's a beauty of a legend. Once again probably based on a number of characters who defended the realm against invading Saxons; who would, ironically, become established as "Englishmen" who later defended England against invading Normans, descendants of earlier Vikings. History, is fantastic!

As for the Bunyip? I'm not an Australian, but we in New Zealand have a lot of old Maori legends which have become part of our children's stories. I would put a 'couple of bob' on the Diprotodon as being the basis of ancient Aboriginal legends about a hairy monster that jumped out of billabongs, frightening animals,women and children - the ancients of many lands and civilizations have a variety of monsters, demons, devils and plain ornery old characters that Mum wouldn't invite to dinner!

The modern Bunyip? Just a fairy story, built on the old legend. Still there are places all round this planet where it is just not safe to venture after dark! Catch you later, and don't go out after dusk my blogospheric friends!

My Write Niche

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