With the disappearance of the land bridge, bunyips lost access to their most favored prey, and with the arrival of aboriginal Australians and their dogs, bunyips were no longer free to roam as apex predators any longer.

As any biologist will tell you,a bunyip is completely unable to withstand being seen, and the mere gaze of another being is enough to kill it instantly. It evolved to combat this by lurking in muddy rivers and coastal waters, but humans and dogs had no intrinsic fear of the bunyip and often would gawk at it, turning what might have been a survivable peek into a fatal gaze.

Official Australian government estimates are that less than 10 wild bunyips survive, and despite some promising advances made using blind or blindfolded captors, none have ever lived in captivity for more than a few days. Add to that the bunyip’s peculiar reproduction, which somehow requires both a newly-dead host to incubate eggs and a live birth on dry sand, and there are few reasons to be optimistic about the species’ chances for survival.

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I’ve never read or seen The Quiet Earth or On the Beach, both of which have been books and movies.

But their message is nevertheless compelling: the last people on Earth, the last survivors of a physics experiment and a nuclear war respectively, living out their final days in ANZAC. Australia and New Zealand are in many ways an admirable locale for such: isolated yet temperate, distant yet with all the comforts of the First World.

They would be excellent places to live out an apocalypse, if apocalypse come.

So even though I’ve never been there, even though their cost of living is astronomical, even though, even though, even though…I am attracted to the romantic notion all the same. Places distant and safe, civilized and alien.

They seem like places I could live.

New Zealand especially. An isolated microcontinent, diverse in flora and fauna, as far away from Europe as one can get without booster rockets. If ever I fear an apocalypse, I feel like it’s as good a destination as any.

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“The first was Mr. Tesuipp, in 1880. He emerged from the desert near Alice Springs, laden with gold dust and claimed that he’d found a rich vein. He was delirious, though, and the notes and maps found on his body were rambling and indecipherable. The authorities were able to confirm that he’d headed north from Melbourne intent on mining alluvial gold in the Arltunga, but little else.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that bloody story before.”

“And what about Roy Blakeslee, who was prospecting the same general area two decades later and wandered into a telegraph station, delirious and dying, with nearly twenty kilos of gold-laced quartz on his body? Or Sarah Chalmsford-Ennis, who disappeared on a hiking trip in ’87 and somehow came out of the desert with a hunk of lapis lazuli? They couldn’t get an intelligible word out of her before she slipped into a coma and they pulled the plug. There are half a dozen more stories we could link to it.”

“You’re saying they all found the same motherlode?”

“I’m saying it’s possible.”

“And I’m saying it killed them to a one. Maybe that ought to be taken as a sign.”