The bunyip is a creature from the aboriginal mythology of southeastern Australia, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes.
The bunyip has been described as amphibious, almost entirely aquatic, inhabiting lakes, rivers, swamps, lagoons, billabongs, creeks, waterholes, sometimes "particular waterholes in the riverbeds". Physical descriptions of bunyips vary widely. George French Angus may have collected a description of a bunyip in his account of a "water spirit" from the Moorundi people of the Murray River before 1847, stating it is "much dreaded by them ... It inhabits the Murray; but ... they have some difficulty describing it. Its most usual form ... is said to be that of an enormous starfish." The Challicum bunyip, an outline image of a bunyip carved by Aboriginal people into the bank of Fiery Creek, near Ararat, Victoria, was first recorded by The Australasian newspaper in 1851.
The bunyips presumably seen by witnesses, according to their descriptions, most commonly fit one of two categories: 60% of sightings resemble seals or swimming dogs, and 20% of sightings are of long-necked creatures with small heads; the remaining descriptions are ambiguous beyond categorisation. The seal-dog variety is most often described as being between 4 and 6 feet long with a shaggy black or brown coat. According to reports, these bunyips have round heads resembling a bulldog, prominent ears, no tail, and whiskers like a seal or otter. The long-necked variety is allegedly between 5 and 15 feet long, and is said to have black or brown fur, large ears, small tusks, a head like a horse or emu, an elongated, maned neck about three feet long and with many folds of skin, and a horse-like tail. The bunyip has been described by natives as amphibious, nocturnal, and inhabiting lakes, rivers, and swamps. Bunyips, according to Aboriginal mythology, can swim swiftly with fins or flippers, have a loud, roaring call, and feed on crayfish, though some legends portray them as bloodthirsty predators of humans, particularly women and children. Bunyip eggs are allegedly laid in platypus nests.