A mythical creature of Aboriginal origin, the Bunyip was known by most of the mobs across south-eastern Australia by the time white men began to record the stories. (The origin of the name is traced to the Wemba-Wemba or Wergaia language.) Bunyips became one of the few Aboriginal legends to be truly embraced by the European settlers, and it has become a cultural touchstone in Australia.
Said to lurk in billabongs, creeks, waterholes and swamps, the physical descriptions vary widely, with early white writers recording being told about dog faces, horse tails, fur, starfish arms, duck bills, flippers, walrus tusks. The different native groups seemed to agree on only one thing: bunyips were terrifying and not to be messed with.
Non-Aboriginal writers have frequently attempted to find a real world explanation for the stories of Bunyips, with suggestions ranging from inland seals to large extinct marsupials.