Seriously fishy characters 6: The Wahwee

At thirty feet, the Australia Wahwee is possibly the biggest creature featured on this blog to date–but hold onto your seats, it won’t be our last supersized buddy!

The Wahwee isn’t technically a demon, but he’s got six legs, a froggy head and a massive serpent tail and frankly, who’s going to argue with him?

This amphibian lives in deep water-holes in Australia and will dig himself a burrow in the muddy banks where he will live happy as a clam. Part of the reason for this is that his wife and offspring live elsewhere.

The Wahwee will eat everything in sight. Three or four dozen humans are just an appetizer for him.

According to R.H. Mathews, Aboriginal wise men go to the Wahwee to bring back new songs for the tribe. First, the wise man paints himself with red ochre before swimming into the Wahwee’s burrow. The monster then teaches the wise man the new song, repeating it until the human can sing it by memory.

I’m just noticing how many of these water spirits are associated with creativity and inspiration. Maybe it’s because the human creative spirit ebbs and flows like water.

Sources

  • R. H. Mathews, Folk-Lore, vol. 20 (1909), pp. 485-87.

A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits
A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits

by Carol K. Mack, Dinah Mack

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Adventures in Demon Hunting 7, or An Account of Creatures Strange and Wondrous: Seriously fishy characters 1: Bunyip

The Australian Bunyip is now sadly on the Mythical Endangered Species list. The draining of its natural mythical habitat, swamps and billabongs, and the damming of rivers for electric plants, has greatly reduced sightings of this folktale monster.

It was never intrinsically bad, like the Kelpie or the Nuckelavee, but the Bunyip is shy of humans and will defend its territory by killing if it has to, and if hungry enough, will hunt humans for food. It normally eats lobster and crayfish.

No one really agrees on what the Bunyip looks like. There are lots of variations, but the general theme is that it’s four-legged, is the size of a bull, with an emu’s neck and horse’s mane and tail. It has a seal’s flippers and two tusks that descend from its upper jaw.

We do know it burrows into river/swamp banks, creating a cozy den for itself, where it lays its soft-shelled eggs, a bit like a turtle.

But nobody’s seen one for a while. Except for this sculpture from the Canadian Museum of Civilization. (If you look closely in the glass, you can see me typing research notes on Jolaine’s iPhone.)

 Bunyip sculpture, Gerald Francis Lewers, 1934

Sources

Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science, Agriculture, Statistics, Etc, Published by J. Barnard., 1849

Oliver Ho, Josh Cochran; Mysteries Unwrapped: Mutants & Monsters, Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2008

A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits
A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits

by Carol K. Mack, Dinah Mack