Yowies and Bunyips and Drop Bears, Oh My!

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Like most countries in the world, Australia has a number of cryptids and mythical beasties allegedly lurking out in the forests and outback (because Australia's natural wildlife just isn't interesting or dangerous enough). This page covers the three most common creatures found in Australian folklore.

  • The Yowie is supposedly a large, humanoid creature covered in dark brown or black fur. They also have a lot of fangirls. The first reports of the creature come from Aboriginal folklore, although there have been several alleged sightings over the past few decades. See also: Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti.
  • The Bunyip is another creature originating in Aboriginal folklore which has crossed into mainstream Australian culture. However, unlike the Yowie, there is no definitive definition as to what a bunyip actually looks like. Most accounts describe it as some sort of large carnivorous, aquatic creature that dwells in billabongs (seasonal lakes) and rivers, preying on unsuspecting travellers. Some variants claim that it can become invisible, or take the form of a beautiful woman to lure in victims.
  • Drop Bears are large, carnivorous creatures closely related to koala "bears". They hunt prey by climbing tall trees and then ambushing them from above. Certain techniques can be used to deter drop bears, such as smearing Vegemite behind one's ears. Unlike the other two beasties, the drop bear does not have any reported sightings or basis in folklore, and the myth was created solely for the purpose of scaring gullible tourists. Interestingly, however, the drop bear has an extrordinary resemblance to a now-extinct creature known as Thylacoleo or the marsupial lion—a prehistoric, tree-dwelling ambush predator whose closest known relatives are wombats and koalas. However, this is obviously just an eerie coincidence. ...
Examples of Yowies and Bunyips and Drop Bears, Oh My! include:


  • A Bundaberg Rum advertisement features Australian male campers using stories about drop bears to lure attractive female backpackers into moving their tents close to them. The blonde backpackers are incredulous until the Bundy Rum bear (a large talking polar bear often featured in the company's advertising) drops out of a tree near the edge of the lake, destroying one of the girls' tents.
  • There was a Cadbury's product sold in Australia and the UK called "Yowie", which were hollow chocolate Ugly Cute Cartoon Creature versions of Australian fauna. In the story, the Yowies were all guardians of different kinds of wild habitat, and were ruled by a Bunyip king. They came with a small toy of an endangered animal and a little booklet talking about them and why they should be preserved, and some of the money from sales of the chocolate was donated to rainforest preservation.

Comic Books


  • In The Last Continent, the protagonist (a visiting foreigner) has a run-in with a flock of drop bears, but when he tells people about it nobody believes him because they all know for a fact drop bears are a myth invented to mess with visiting foreigners.
  • The short story "Matilda Told Such Dreadful Lies" by Lucy Sussex is purportedly the true story that inspired the song "Waltzing Matilda", as told by the bunyip who haunts the billabong where it happened.
  • The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek is a picture book well-known in Australia about a bunyip who doesn't know what kind of creature he is, and sets out to find somebody who can tell him. (At one point he encounters a proud rationalist who tells him confidently that he doesn't exist.)
  • The Temeraire series features bunyips as dragonlike burrowing animals that lurk near bodies of water and pick off unwary travellers. Nearby Aboriginals try and fail to convince the protagonists not to camp near a billabong, with predictably terrible results. For extra horror, they are shown to be lightning-fast, and if you're by the water and your friends take their eyes off you for just a second...
  • In one of the books in The Tomorrow Series, an Australian prisoner of war in a work party tells the supervising soldier to watch out for the drop bears and hoop snakes.
  • One of the best known bunyip characters in Australia is Alexander Bunyip, who appeared in a series of children's books starting with The Monster That Ate Canberra in 1972.

Live-Action TV

  • Alexander Bunyip (see Literature, above) had his own TV series called Alexander Bunyip's Billabong.
  • The bunyip was featured repeatedly on Charmed, most notably the episode "Nymphs Just Wanna Have Fun".

Newspaper Comics

Tabletop Games

  • D20 Modern features drop bears in its Menace Manual.
  • The Call of Cthulhu supplement Terror Australis has statistics for quite a few mythological Australian monsters, including the yowie and bunyip (but alas, no mention of drop bears).
  • Dungeons & Dragons. The original Fiend Folio (1981) had statistics for a bunyip.
  • Shadowrun not only has drop bears, they're vampiric!
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Bunyip were a werewolf tribe that went extinct in the 1920's along with the thylacine. The other werewolves helped things along as well, which remains a sore point.


I learnt some tricks from the Ipswich Witch:
If you want to win a vote, scratch a bigot's itch.
Said the Oxley moron, "Let's breed bunyips!"
They say her face had launched a thousand fish and chips.


  • In the early 2000s, the (then) British chocolate company Cadbury's had a hollow chocolate treat called a "Yowie", each of which contained a small "collectible" plastic model of an antipodean animal. Yaoi Fangirls gave them out at anime conventions down under.

Video Games

  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger features bunyips.
  • RuneScape has a familiar called the bunyip. Its special ability allows you eat raw fish (when the scroll is used, you see the bunyip eating some fish). It's actually a pretty vital summon for people doing slayer or bossing if their summon level isn't high enough, since it also heals you 2 hp (20 lp) every 15 seconds, which adds up.
  • In Escape Velocity: Nova, the player will sometimes fall victim to "Drop Bear" attacks on Auroran worlds, but they stop happening once far enough into the plot to set an Event Flag. Drop Bear Repellent, however, is Schmuck Bait.
  • Two enemies in Final Fantasy X are named Yowie and Bunyip, though they bear little resemblance to their inspiration.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • "Bunyip Moon" from Dot and The Kangaroo.
  • Scooby Doo has the Yowie Yahoo prominantly featured in Legend of the Vampire.
  • A bunyip was featured in an episode of Mona the Vampire, having been accidentally transported to the main character's town in a large amount of special Australian mud meant for a spa.
  • Bunyips were featured on The Secret Saturdays, in the episode "Into the Mouth of Darkness". Here, the bunyips were depicted as small, furry, mischievous cryptids that resemble the Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes with small antlers.
  • A bunyip appears in an episode of The Wild Thornberrys.

Real Life

  • Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating once accused an opponent of being from the "Bunyip Aristocracy", meaning he had fanciful notions of belonging to an aristocracy that didn't exist.
    • This is actually a quote from an early speech ridiculing MacArthur's plans to set up an aristocracy by Daniel Deniehy.