Australian Bunyip Legend

Background Information: 

The informant was born and raised in Australia but has roots in Czechia. She is describing her childhood in Sydney.

Main Content: 

ME: Hey, would you mind telling me about the Bunyip? 

SP: Yeah, sooo the Bunyip is an Australian story that came from indigenous Australian people, and it was like I think a way that our parents got us to stay away from the water when we were little, to not like wander near rivers and ponds and like dams and billabongs and like drown. So if it was like if you go too close to the water the Bunyip, which is a really scary creature who lives in the bottom of the dam, will come out and grab you and you will disappear into the water forever. 

ME: So where did you find out about the Bunyip? 

SP: I think the Bunyip came from my parents… telling me not to go near the water, but all of my memories from it are from my grandparents because their farm had this really scary billabong, which is like a mini-lake, and it looked like really dark and scary and I just remember my grandma telling me not to go to close otherwise the Bunyip would get ya. 


This interview happened in-person at my apartment.  


A classic example of a legend that is trying to teach children to stay away from dangerous things. The informant told me that especially in Australia, there are a lot of waterways that kids could drown in, as well as dangerous animals that often live in the waterways. Scaring children that there is a dangerous monster that lives in the water is much more effective way to get them to stay away than actually telling them the truth. There are plenty of stories like this, such as the Inuit tale of the Qallupilluit, which talks of a monster who kidnaps children who wander out onto frozen ice in the Arctic Ocean. To learn more about this story, read here: “Inuit Stories – Qallupilluit.” Tia and Piujuq, 14 Mar. 2019, For a different account of the Bunyip legend, read here: Pfeifle, Tess. “The Bunyip.” Astonishing Legends, Astonishing Legends, 15 Feb. 2018,