If you grew up in Australia, you’re guaranteed to have heard something of the Bunyip. A mythical beast said to inhabit rivers and billabongs. Yet the features are hazy, and no one can agree how it looks.
Despite the wide familiarity, few Australians would know the bizarre and wonderful Indigenous tale that lies behind it. Academic Paul Michael Donovan joins us to explain how his compelling and fascinating research may have shed light on this ancient legend, and provide a pretty good case for just what exactly the original bunyip was.
Sketch of the Challicum Bunyip geoglyph, 1867 by J.W. Scott
Diagram of the site of the Challicum geoglyph, 1867 by J.W. Scott
‘The so-called Bunyip skull’, Henry Dowling, John Murray – Reproduced from The Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science
An 1882 illustration of an Aboriginal man telling the story of the bunyip to two children, Troedel & Co – State Library of Victoria
Photograph of the ‘Bunyip skull’, later identified by William Sharp Macleay (1792-1865) as a malformed horse foetus.