The Bunyip, or Kine Pratie



The Bunyip, or Kine Pratie - from the earliest date of our intercourse with the Aborigines there has always been a traditional rumour amongst them of a creature hitherto supposed to be fabulous, in many extraordinary stories have from ti me to time been current as to the comformation and the habits of this animal. Speculation and inquiry have been on the rack to find out, First - whether there was reasonable foundation for these traditional rumours; and secondly - supposing the animal to exist, to what genus or species of animals does it belong? At the Hunter's River the reports of the natives would lead us to classify it with the carnivorous species. In this locality it is called Yaa-Hoo, and is described as having much resemblance in fo rm to the human figure but with frightful features - the feet like those of a man, but reversed or turned backwards. In the immediate neighborhood of the river the animal was called woweeee woweeee, and the blacks checked its haunts and habits as purely a quatic. It is a fact well known to residents and others near that river that the aborigines will not readily venture into the deep and dark pools which remain when its bed is partially dried up. On the Murrumbidgee River, especially on the lower parts, ru mours of the existence of this animal are more than usually rife, the aborigines are far and wide described the creature as inhabiting the waters. From their account it has a head and neck like an emu, has a long and flowing mane - feeding on crayfish (wh ich the river abounds) and occasionally on a stray blackfellow; and it inhabits the darkest and deepest parts of the river, in some of the lakes and lagoons that longest retain water. This account appears to be "nearer the mark" than any other we have met recently and the facts and circumstances we are about to detail will settle the question as to whether such a creature ever existed or not. An animal never yet described by any naturalist "lives, moves, and has its being" at the present day, and the cont inent of New Holland, or, and the most skeptical point of view, it is clear that it cannot be very long since such an animal did live, in the land or water of "Terra Australis Incognito". At the station of Mr Hopper, on lake Paika, (situated some 2 6 miles below the junction of the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee) it has been observed that the natives have never evinced a strong disinclination to bathe in the lake, leaking the kine pratie would attack and devoured him, and some short time since two of Mr Hopper's servants solemnly assert that, on looking early one morning across the lake, they aspired on the other side of it, two animals which they at first supposed to be two horses, but, been told about the movements of the creatures they rode roun d to satisfy themselves on the subject, but, arriving at the spot they could discover no tracks or trace of any animal whatever. If what they saw, or fancied they saw, were horses, it is probable that they would have left some traces behind them, but no t races were found, the only conclusion to be arrived at is, either that the creatures they saw were aquatic animals and seen on the water, or that the whole was an optical delusion. Now we may easily suppose that one man's sight and senses may be imposed o n, or perverted, that the sight and senses of two men could be simultaneously and similarly deceived in open daylight, is a matter of no very easy belief. Mr Hopper writes thus - "two Kine Praties have been seen at the same time at Paika, and that there is such a creature, we are now sure, as the skull of one, evidently of recent date, and therefore in perfect preservation, has been seen by Mr Phelps, a settler in the neighborhood, and Mr Stack, brother of the Rev. Mr Stack at Maitland - it was pic ked up at near Waldare, and is in the possession of Mr Fletcher. Another was picked up by one of the Adelaide travellers, who very sagatiously threw it away, but thinks he can find it again. Mr Hopper offerred to purchase the skull off Mr Fletcher, who we ll knowing that the value of the prize he had got, would not so much as listen to his offer. The skull has here alluded to his either in the possesion of Mr Fletcher, son of Doctor Fletcher, of this town, or of Mount Gilbert, secretary of the Mechanic's I nstitute. It is described as being the skull of an animal of a carniviorous order, as is asertained from the teeth, with a very large cavity for the brain, and a long protruding brew or jaw, which is broken off before the molares; the lower part is altoge ther wanting, and so is the top of the skull. Sufficient is however left to show that it belongs to an order of animals not yet described as either an anti or post diluvian existence. Mr Hopper also writes, that he has been informed all of these creatures was lately seen at lake Tarla, situate about 8 miles from lake Piaka, making a great disturbance in the water, and another is known to be in a smaller lake which is fast drying up, somewhere in the same neighborhood, and that a strict watch is being kept up, with the hope of taking the creature as the varmit so necessary to its existence receipts. Wergerie blacks call the creature the kine pratie, but the mutmuts, watti-wattis, and other tribes, have each their own names for it. communicated to th e Port Phillip patriot.

Sydney Morning Herald - Thursday January 21st 1847, p2





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