What is a Bunyip?

What is a Bunyip?


“What is a bunyip?” I hear you ask. Having named my children’s book series ‘Bunyip Tree’, I hear that question a lot, even from Australians who you think would know. So here is my quick run-down on bunyips to clear things up.

Bunyips are mysterious and mythical creatures that are rumored to live unseen throughout Australia. They are thought to congregate near or even in billabongs or small bodies of water. I like to think of them as our version of the yeti, or bigfoot. Sometimes known by different names, the bunyip legend was widespread and formed part of traditional Aboriginal stories right across Australia.

Despite a handful of supposed ‘sightings’ there does not seem to be any evidence to prove that these elusive creatures actually exist. There are, however, no shortage of theories as to what might have been the origin of the bunyip. Legends ranging from seals that swam up rivers, to cassowaries (a large emu-like bird) through to tribal memories of the ancient, now extinct megafauna, Diprotodon. I like the last one because ‘dinosaur’ is always the best answer.

In the Bunyip Tree books, bunyips maintain an air of mystery while also being kind, wise and always there to help out any animal in need. They come in many shapes and sizes and are responsible for different parts of the land.

The Water Bunyip, who appears in the book Special Delivery lives underwater and takes care of the billabongs and rivers. There is another bunyip in Special Delivery if you look closely, the Elusive Bunyip. Not much is known about her because, of course, she is so elusive. Keep an eye out for more bunyips who may appear in upcoming books…