Legendary roaring monster of aboriginal peoples of Australia.
The bunyip is said to live at the bottom of lakes and water
holes, into which it drags its victims. The name implies ‘‘devil,’’
although bunyips have been given other local names, such as
‘‘yaa-loo’’ and ‘‘wowee-wowee.’’
Some claim that the creature really exists. In 1939, to verify
its existence, Gilbert Whitely of the Australian Museum collected
reports of a number of sightings. Throughout the nineteenth
century, explorers reported seeing and sometimes hearing
bunyips, which appeared to be furry, with a dog-like head,
long neck, and fins. Whitely concluded, ‘‘The bunyip has been
thought to have been an extinct marsupial otter-like animal,
rumors of whose existence have been handed down in aboriginal
legends, the latter corrupted and confused with crocodiles
in the north of Australia and seals in the south.’’
Costello, Peter. In Search of Lake Monsters. New York Coward,
McCann & Geohegan, 1974. Reprint, London Panther,