The dog-faced bunyip is a variety of bunyip primarily seen around the Murray River Basin. It is described as being about 5 to 10 ft long, with shaggy black or dark brown fur, a round dog-like head with whiskers, prominent eyes and small pointed ears. It is usually described as having two front flippers and two at the back, like a seal.
In 1821, Edward Smith Hall, who later became the founder of the Bank of New South Wales, described watching a seal-like creature with black fur and a bulldog-like head thrashing in the water for about 5 minutes on Lake Bathurst. In 1850, geologist E.J. Dunn claimed to have witnessed several black seal-like creatures swimming around the flooded Murrumbidgee River near Gundagai. In 1857, British artist Edward Stocqueler illustrated a dog-faced bunyip he saw while he was travelling by boat between the Murray and Goulburn Rivers. He claimed they resembled large seals, covered in glossy black fur, two paddles on their shoulders, a long neck, a dog-like head and a strange pouch on their neck. Stocqueler claimed he saw these creatures six different times. At one point, he was only 30 ft from one at tried to shoot at it but missed. Stocqueler wanted to get closer to the animals, but was cautious due to being on a small, rickety boat and because of the legends he heard of bunyips being dangerous. Sadly, Stocqueler’s paintings depicting the bunyips are now lost.
In 1947, a “black seal-like creature” was reported in the Murray River. On September 8, 1949, L. Keegan and his wife reported they had seen an eight-foot long-necked bunyip with shaggy ears several times over the past two weeks in the Lauriston Reservoir, Victoria. In the 1960s, author Jack Mitchell collected dozens of reports by farmers and tourists of dog-faced bunyips around the Macquarie River. Some cryptozoologists theorize the dog-faced bunyip are misidentified vagrant seals that swim inland or are marsupials that convergently evolved a seal-like niche due to the pouch sometimes described.
An illustration of a dog-faced bunyip by Philippe Coudray
The Murray River