Day 284: Superstar Mortality-Battle! Australian Folklore Creatures Edition

originally published October 10, 2012

(note: today’s article is in no way affiliated with MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch, so there is no point in informing their lawyers. No really, put down that phone.)

Tonight on Superstar Mortality-Battle, we’re going to see who puts the “AU!!!” in Australian; who puts the “END” in Legendary; who puts the “’gina” in Aboriginal! We’re going to see who comes out on top down under in pairing together the most ghastly and nefarious of Australia’s legendary creatures! To the death!

Battle #1: Drop Bear vs. Minka  Bird

In one corner, you’ve got the mythical Drop Bear, depicted here as a koala bear with superimposed angry-eyebrows. Unlike the koala (which isn’t technically a bear, but go with me here), the Drop Bear hangs out in trees then drops on their prey, presumably ripping him or her apart with their razor-sharp claws. He’s a vicious competitor, and we might expect him to go rather far in this competition.

Except that it can be defeated. According to Aussie lore, if you stick a couple forks in your hair (which is a fairly standard Australian fashion accessory, no doubt), you’ll be fine. Also, it’s recommended to rub some Vegemite behind your ears. The Drop Bear has weaknesses.

There is no photo available of his opponent, the Minka Bird. But according to Aboriginal dreamtime stories, a sighting of this bird foretells certain death.

Since birds don’t have external ear parts upon which Vegemite can be spread, nor do they have feather-foliage dense enough to hold even a tiny plastic fork, the Drop Bear has the edge. It seems the Minka Bird will be foretelling its own demise today.

Battle #2: Gippsland Phantom Cat vs. Blue Mountains Panther

It’s feline vs. feline, and this one could get ugly. Well, we hope so anyway. The Gippsland Phantom Cat is a mythical large cat, believed to be roaming around the province of Victoria. Some say American soldiers let loose a couple of pumas when they were stationed in the region during WWII. Expect this cat to be puma-vicious, hungry and downright feral.

Up against the Gippsland Phantom is the legendary Blue Mountains Panther. There have been over 450 sightings of this beast since 2001, but no one has been able to bring in a sample. This mysterious panther knows his tactics; he allows himself to be seen, his presence to be known and the fear of his mandibles to be felt, but he remains elusive. Discarded copies of Sun Tzu’s work has been found scattered about the region, soaked in kitty slobber. This bastard means business.

The Gippsland Phantom Cat, who’s probably more feral housecat than flesh-starved puma, has no chance here. He’ll let out half a meow before the Panther swoops in and leaves nothing but a tuft of fur and the dusty residue of Gippsland cat-spleen in the ring. We won’t even see him strike.

Battle #3: Bunyip vs. Muldjewangk

This will be a bloody water battle between two dastardly foes. Stories of both are told to Australian children in order to frighten them from playing near the water. The Bunyip is described in many forms, including a giant starfish, a dog-faced beast with a horse tail, flippers, walrus tusks and a duck bill (see this article’s top photo), or perhaps it resembles the creature pictured above. It has shown up in numerous works of literature, but in real life we’ve only had ‘sightings’. Does this comical-looking thing have what it takes to fight for its life?

Over in the other corner… umm… the other corner of the water… whatever. This is the Muldjewangk:

This beast patrolled the Murray River. Sometimes it was envisioned as an evil merman, but I prefer the depiction in the above photo. Legend tells of a Muldjewangk that attacked a steamboat. The captain shot at it, despite warnings by the Aboriginal elders on board. He then suffered from horrible weeping blisters all over his body, which killed him over a grueling six months.

I’m giving the edge to the Muldjewangk here, mainly because it looks like a big bacon monster, and I always bet on the bacon monster.

Battle #4: Yara-ma-yha-who vs. Yowie

Up next we have the battle of the hominids. Two deadly human-ish gladiators, duking it out for the honor of… what is the prize again? I don’t know, we’ll offer a Men At Work box set or something.

The Yara-ma-yha-who is a tiny man-shaped beast with a large head and red skin. His attacks are more for propagation than for food. He drops from a fig tree onto an unsuspecting passer-by, then drains his victim’s blood with the suckers in his hands and feet. After the victim is weakened, the Yara-ma-yha-who devours him, has a nap, plays some Call Of Duty, then regurgitates him. The victim is shorter and slightly redder. After a few more trips down the Yara-ma-yha-who’s gullet and back out again, the victim becomes a Yara-ma-yha-who him or herself. Yikes.

The Yowie is also human-shaped, and is thought to be somewhat like our Bigfoot: mysterious, a little scary-looking, but not really known to wreak too much havoc. Some have blamed dead pets on the Yowie, but that’s about it.

No contest. The only way to defeat a Yara-ma-yha-who is to play dead until after sundown, because they don’t hunt at night. Playing dead won’t work in a deathmatch – sorry, a mortality battle – so the Yowie doesn’t stand a chance.

Battle #5: Akurra vs. Dirawong

The marquee battle of the show, we’re letting two deities fight it out to the bitter end. In one corner you have the serpent god, often associated with the mythical Rainbow Serpent. The Akurra is a water snake with a beard mane and sharp fangs. His movements shaped the very land of the outback. He dominates water and rain. If he had a chest, it would be hairy, and adorned with thick, gold chains. He’d wear wide, offensive lapels and try to steal your girlfriend. He should be a fierce competitor.

In the other corner is the Dirawong, the Creator Being who taught the Aboriginal tribes everything they needed to know. The Dirawong is at the heart of many Aboriginal tribes’ beliefs, and it is known to serve as a protector of the people against the Rainbow Serpent.

Uh-oh. This just got real. The Capo Creator vs. his slithering nemesis. I’m putting my money on the Dirawong, but that might just be pure optimism here. The Bundjalung legend tells of an epic battle between these two, in which the Dirawong was bitten, then proceeded to chase the Rainbow Serpent eastward from the coast, forming the terrain of Australia as they went. There was no climactic battle between them, so this has been a long time coming.

Grab some popcorn, rub some Vegemite behind your ears, and get ready for the battle to end all battles (and perhaps form a second Australia!), coming up… after the break!

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