The Crystal Brook Bunyip
|The Warra Warra Waterhole southeast of Crystal Brook.
In 1876, the mid-north town of Crystal Brook was inundated with curious tourists trying to site the Bunyip at the Warra Warra Waterhole (sometimes spelled Wurra Wurra or Wirra Wirra) on the Broughton River.
The waterhole is located in a bend of the Rocky River, about a two and a half kilometres from the junction with the Broughton River, south-east of Crystal Brook.
In August of 1876, The South Australian Government issued a reward for 50 pounds to anyone who could capture the creature, dead or alive.
A reporter from the South Australian Advertiser stated that: “the hole probably covers about two acres, and the water is brackish. I have never heard of the water rising and falling with the tide, and I take the Bunyip to be no other than a dog belonging to a worthy farmer, who resides on the bank of the river near the waterhole.”
The waterhole had a reputation for drownings. In January 1878, a group of five friends left Thompsons Hotel with the intent to go swimming in the Warra Warra Waterhole. A young man named Beasley was swimming when he suddenly began to struggle, then sink into the waterhole. His friend, E.E. Boys attempted to save him, but Beasley was pulled under and drowned. Thomas Wilson eventually dived down, and after three attempts, pulled Beasley’s lifeless body out of the waterhole.
In 1889 the Bunyip was allegedly sighted by W.A. Allen and J. Parmenter, who rode into Crystal Brook and announced their discovery. The men’s statement was treated as a joke until they started paying for provisions to hunt it. The men described the beast as being four feet long and fifteen inches across its back, they could not report whether it had a head or a tail.
A trap was set for the Bunyip.
During this period, there were multiple sightings of the creature, but as a reporter for the Evening Journal pointed out, of the six different people who had seen the Bunyip, not one could give a good description of it.
The mythology of the Warra Warra Waterhole Bunyip can allegedly be traced to a sly grog shanty that once stood near the river. It is alleged that in the 1870s the grog shop proprietor told stories of the Bunyip as a real and very dangerous creature. He claimed that the waterhole had a large tunnel underneath it that went out to sea, and that the Bunyip used it to take its prey to away. Early settlers were so convinced of the Bunyips existence that they often formed shooting parties and staked out the watering hole to try and kill the beast.
Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2020