Australia has its own legendary animal to add to Big Foot, Nessie and the Yetti in other countries. We have the Bunyip and the Yowie. The first European account came from French explorers in 1801. Working along the Swan River, WA they heard a terrible roar from a bed of reeds. This may have been the booming call of bitterns which were unknown to them.
While descriptions vary widely, they often include flippers, horse-like tail, and walrus-like tusks. Legend has it that they lurk in creeks, swamps and billabongs.
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|Boomer||large male kangaroo|
|Joey||baby kangaroo still using its mother’s pouch|
|Mob||family/group of kangaroos|
|Blue Heeler||Australian cattle dog|
|Dingo||tawny-yellow native Australian dog|
|Kelpie||breed of Australian sheep/cattle dog|
|Bitzer||mongrel dog (bit of this, bit of that)|
|Fruit Salad||dog or cat of mixed or unknown breeding|
|Yabby||small freshwater crayfish|
|Bunyip||mythical creature known to inhabit waterholes and billabongs|
|Brumby||a wild Australian horse|
|Budgie||budgerigar (parakeet in USA)|
|White Ants||termites (not really ants at all), eat wood, are destructive if they infest a house|
|Cockie||cockroach, also short for a cockatoo (type of bird)|
|Field Berets||cow patties, dung|
|Meadow Cakes||cow patties, dung|
The Australian Museum in Sydney even had an exhibition in 1847 of a so-called bunyip skull found on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper published a report about it and overnight reports started coming in from people who claimed to have heard strange sounds.
The skull was eventually declared a freak of nature and not a new species and soon disappeared from the Museum.
So if you hear strange sounds and see menacing shadows the next time you’re near a creek, don’t worry. We’ve never lost a tourist to a bunyip. Crocodiles, on the other hand, do find tourists very tasty.
Did you know that kangaroos and emus cannot walk backwards. That is why, it’s said, that they were put on the Australian coat of arms.
Did you know that the Purple-neck Rock Wallaby is real. Discovered in 1924, it wasn’t until 2001 that this wallaby was finally given species status. Up until this time, sceptical scientists thought the wallaby wasn’t really purple.
Samples sent to labs were unable to find the purple pigment secreted by the skin because it disappears after 24 hours. In fact, the pigment is not permanent. It can be rubbed off or even washed off in the rain. Sometimes the colouring of this wallaby (Petrogale purpureicollis) will be an intensely bright purple, other times it has a faint pink wash. Either way, it’s another of our strange and wonderful Australian animals.