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Australia and New Zealand | Creepy urban legends from around the world


Urban legends are great for sending a chill up your spine at this time of year (like the idea of travelling without travel insurance). We’re all familiar with Bloody Mary (delicious with some celery) and a phone call from beyond the grave (I wonder how much roaming charges are for the afterlife), but we are missing out on a whole world of spine-tingling, supposedly-true tales from around the world. In this series, you’ll find some of my favourites from around the world. I should point out now that most are creepy and a few are a little gruesome.

To quote one of my favourite childhood authors, “Reader beware, you’re in for a scare.”

The choking doberman | Sydney, Australia

This classic urban legend originates in Sydney, Australia. According to the tale, a well-to-do couple return home after a nice evening out to discover their pet doberman choking in the hallway near the door. The concerned couple rush the animal to the vets, leaving it in the care of experts.

One their return home, they make it half-way up the stairs before the house phone begins to ring. Worried about the dog they rush back down the stairs to answer the phone, discovering the call is from the vet, telling them to get out of the house immediately and call the police, as their dog had been choking on three human fingers. The police arrive while the couple wait outside and find an intruder, three of his fingers missing, passed out in a closet from loss of blood.

Who’s a good boy, then?

The three witches | Auckland Domain, New Zealand

Auckland Domain is a picturesque park found in New Zealand, but it used to be swamp land, and was supposedly used in the 1800s to hang a trio of witches. Local stories state that to this day, lone travellers who venture into the park after dark may find themselves accosted by a lone, cackling or growling hag. Which at least will give you the incentive you need to finish off your evening jog with a nice burst of speed.

The Bunyip | Australia

Now it’s a well known fact that every animal in Australia wants to kill you. As if the spiders, snakes, crocodiles, jellyfish, sharks, cassowaries and drop bears weren’t enough, the Aboriginal Australians told stories of a water spirit call a Bunyip which would in waterholes, rivers and swamps and drag passing travellers to their watery doom. It was apparently not a looker, with a dog-like face, a horse’s tail, flippers, dark fur and tusks.

I think I’d prefer the crocodiles.