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Tooroodun the Bunyip

The following story is retold from the Dreamtime story found in 'Meet the Kulin' - a publication from Monash University.

The traditional Kulin described a creature that was non-human, destructive and all powerful, responsible for sickness and supernatural events. This creature was referred to as a Bunyip.

Early European settlers were captivated by the stories of Bunyips. Newspapers and other articles theorised that Bunyips were perhaps seals, or spotted leopards or other creatures unknown to naturalists of the time.

Bunyips roamed the land a long long time ago. Not only were they ugly and dreaded they created chaos to punish people who did bad things or who had strayed too far from their own country.

No-one knew exactly what they looked like except that they did not look anything like any other animals in the country. Some people described them as a huge animal with a large head and large ears covered all over with grey feathers while others thought they looked more like large emus. Nevertheless they all agreed that the Bunyip’s growling and howling was so frightening that people were afraid to camp near the sea or large lakes and swamps.

The Bunyip that lived at the Great Swamp near Kooweerup was known to the Bunwurrung people as Tooroordun. The Bunwurrung people who lived on that country, believed Toroordun was to blame for the disappearance of a lot of people who went bathing in a waterhole at the Swamp.

To the Taungurung people, who lived further north, Tooroordun was indeed frightning. This fearful Bunyip didn’t eat people but captured them and held them underwater until they drowned.

While no-one could agree on what Tooroordun looked like all the Kulin believed that the story of Tooroordun stopped children from wandering and kept away from dangerous places.