The bunyip as uncanny rupture: Fabulous animals, innocuous quadrupeds and the Australian anthropocene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

My love affair with museums began when I was seven. I saw a bunyip's head in a glass case, a strange, unsettling creature with a one-eyed blind stare, a cycloptic monster. I was small and I stood up on my toes to see the creature through the glass. On show, the bunyip was mounted in a tall, ornate nineteenth-century wooden cabinet. The typed paper label gave scientific verification: ‘A bunyip’s head, New South Wales. 1841.’ I recall the palpable shock of it, and my mixed childhood emotions: bunyips were real. With its long jawbone wrapped in fawn-coloured fur, it was a decapitated Australian swampdweller preserved. Yet, the horrific creature looked so sad, and with its sightless eye, gaping mouth and cartoonish backward drooping ears. It was a creature of pathos — a gormless, goofy redhead, a ranga, a total outsider.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-98
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Humanities Review
Volume63
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Museums
  • Bunyips
  • Australian Anthropocene

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