'Bunyip' may be a corruption of an Aboriginal word. The term first appears in print in 1920 in the Sydney Gazette where the ‘bahnyip’ was described as ‘a large black animal like a seal, with a terrible voice which creates terror among the blacks’.
There are two types of Bunyip. One resembles a big seal; the other has a long neck and small head. Both are furry and considered dangerous. Bunyips supposedly emerged at night to hunt prey including humans.
There were a number of sightings by white settlers up till the 1930s. These may have been based on leopard seals or sea lions that had strayed many miles in land by swimming up rivers. Inland tribes would have been totally unfamiliar with these marine mammals that can be quite large and aggressive. The weird vocalisation attributed to the Bunyip may have been made by the Australian bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus.