In 1971, British archaeologists excavating on the Eastern Coast of Australia, in the Bundaberg region, uncovered substantial evidence of the Great Emu Battle of 1876. Stories of the battle had been passed down for generations in Australian families, but the veracity of the story was always questioned. Mass quantities of shaggy gray-brown feathers were discovered along with the standard firearms of the 1800’s. However, the most important discovery was that of the charred remains of many military records. Few were legible, but those that were gave enough for the archaeologists to piece together the event. Sites such as these were found throughout the vast forests of Bundaberg.
In the 1870s, the mass expansion of agriculture in Australia and the overwhelming growth of the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) population collided. As farmland began to encroach upon the habitat of the emu, many conflicts arose, due to the volatile nature of the bird. In retaliation, the emus ate their valuable crops. When the farmers constructed fences to protect their farms, the emus became angry. The enraged emus would then fling their feces over the barriers with their long necks and even attack small children who dared to wander outside the boundaries of the farm. There were even tales of women roaming the streets crying, “The emu ate my baby! The emu ate my baby!” However, the claims of baby devouring were never verified.
The extremely intelligent emus soon discovered that by mounting each others backs, forming an emu pyramid, they could easily gained access to the farms. This gained national attention and forced the government to hear the pleas of the desperate farmers. In 1876, the government deployed 15,000 troops to Bundaberg. Col. John Monash, valiantly led the soldiers in an imperviously straight line through the forests of Bundaberg. As the day wore on, no emus appeared, and the troops believed they had successfully frightened the emus away. They held their line, preparing to return home in celebration, when the emus appeared from behind the trees, encircling them. Their tight circular formation prevented escape on any side. The birds emitted a terrifying booming, drumming, and grunting noise, that even years later haunted the nightmares of the soldiers. To signal their surrender, the men dropped their guns. The emus had won the battle.
After hours of captivity, the head emu finally bowed it’s head, and allowed the soldiers to flee the circle.
In the months that followed, Australian mental institutions filled with terrified soldiers, speaking of horrifying nightmares and daily hallucinations full of shaggy grey-brown feathers…
The government, not wanting to face the embarrassment that this event would cause, attempted to erase it from history by burning all documents associated with it. They even paid off journalists for the daily newspaper (“Wombat World”) to keep the story out of print. They believed that they had buried the documents for good, along with other evidence from the battle, but they were wrong.
Below is an entry from the journal of Alexander Murpheus. The journal was recently discovered under a floorboard in the Cucaberra Institute of Mental Health. It reads:
14 December, 1903 Dear Diary,
God knows how long I’ve been in this place. I was sent here after I kept telling my family that my albums all had subliminal messages from emus on them. I still hear the drumming, booming , grunting noise…. “DRUM…BOOM… GRUNT…DRUM …BOOM…GRUNT.” Those birds were just too damn clever…they ruined all our lives.
I know that all the doctors are working in collaboration with the emus, and want to send me back to those forests of Bundaberg. I’m never going back, I tell you!!! Tonight I will crawl through the tunnel I’ve been digging for at least 6 years and escape at last. Wish me luck.
15 December, 1903