The Debil Debil

Villains like the Debil Debil have long populated the worlds of children. Everyone who has lived in Australia has heard of the Bunyip. It is one of the respectable flesh-curdling horrors of which Australia can boast. Australia never had fauns in the eucalyptus forests, nor naids in the running creeks. Debil debil and Bunyip are synonymous terms with aboriginals, although Debil debil in the abstract represents much more definite source of danger and has a far wider scope of action than most mythological deities.

The Bunyip - An appealing debil debil

Australian aboriginal stories describe the bunyip as an evil spirit which dwells in creeks, swamps, and billabongs. The bunyip's loud bellowing cry terrifies the aborigines.

They avoid water sources where they believe a bunyip might live. Some stories suggest the bunyip emerges at night principally to prey on women and children as well as animals. Many white settlers also claimed encounters with the bunyip. While descriptions of the bunyip vary, most portray a creature with a hairy horse-like head and large body. Aboriginal stories about the bunyip may reflect oral traditions of the diprotodon, a rhinosceros-sized herbivore. Diprotodon was the largest marsupial ever to have existed.

Diprotodon is believed to have become extinct between fifteen and twenty thousand years ago. Memories of encounters between the aborigines and diprotodon might have been passed down through the centuries. Modern encounters with the bunyip require a different explanation. One is that the diprotodon still exists. Another is that a large unknown animal is responsible for the sightings. A prosaic explanation is that sightings of Bunyips represent encounters with stray seals in inland waterholes and rivers. Another is that Bunyips are actually brigands or bums hiding in the outback. The Bunyip features prominently in children's literature in Australia. The word "bunyip" has also taken on the meaning of "imposter" in Australian English.
source: Pittburns.Com

More about the Bunyip

Long before the white man came the natives believed in the existence of some dark creature of monstrous size that lived in the swamps, lagoons and billabongs of their tribal lands.

Their descriptions of it varied, but they were all in agreement in describing its shining, baleful eyes and its bellowing voice. It had a huge body, either covered with fur or feathers, and where its legs should have been there were flippers that threshed the water when it was angry.

It devoured human beings, coming upon them in silence and when least expected.

The natives I questioned about the bunyip always added, with some satisfaction, that it favoured women. In a drawing of the bunyip made by a Murray River native in 1848, the creature is depicted as having a body resembling that of a hippopotamus and a head like that of a horse.

However, another drawing made by a Victorian native showed it with the head and neck of an emu. Govenor La Trobe also made a drawing of a bunyip. He believed there were two kinds of bunyip - a southern and northern type. His drawing of the southern bunyip was sent to Tasmania, but has been lost. Source: Bunyips Never Whistle by Alan Marshall, Argus Magazine 14 December 1951

more about the Bunyip


1.Try writing a portrait that incorporates a Bunyip or another mythological creature such as the 'Over Bird'. It lives in North Queensland and lays a square egg. Every time it drops one, it gives a mournful cry, 'Over'. Then there is the 'Oozlum Bird', a strange creature that flies around in ever-diminishing circles, until it diappears up it's rear end with a puff of smoke and a loud cry of 'Ozzlem'!

2. Create a fresh postage stamp of this mythical creature that terrorized Australians and send it here to Soul Food to post in a gallery that celebrates the Bunyip.

3. Find out about other mythological terrors that have haunted the hearts of children and the human psyche and write about them.

4. Write about your greatest fears and try facing some of them on the page.

Gallery of hair raising stories to disturb little kiddies around the camp-fire.

1. The Wendigo and the Donner Party.