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The Naked Bunyip is a 1970 Australian documentary film directed by John B. Murray. The film explores sex in Australia using a fictional framework.

The Naked Bunyip
Directed byJohn B. Murray
Produced byJohn B. Murray
Phillip Adams
Written byJohn B. Murray
Ray Taylor
Phillip Adams
StarringGraeme Blundell
CinematographyBruce McNaughton
Edited byBrian Kavanagh
Southern Cross Films
Distributed byJohn B. Murray
Release date
12 November 1970 (1970-11-12)
Running time
136 minutes


The Naked Bunyip is a sex documentary and a blend of fact and fiction; "[it] incorporates the fictionalizing of the 'real' that had been a feature of tendencies in French 'new wave' and the American avant-garde narrative cinema." Graeme Blundell plays a shy young man who works for an ad agency, and the agency hires him to survey about sex in Australia. The film consists of "unrehearsed and unscripted" interviews as Blundell's character investigates a variety of sexual experiences, all except for the "normal" heterosexual experience.[2]

Among the people interviewed are Dame Edna Everage, Jacki Weaver, Aggy Read, Harry M. Miller, and Russell Morris.


Phillip Adam and John Murray decided to make the film after much study of the Australian film industry at the time, noting the popularity of 16mm travel documentaries shown in public halls in the suburbs and the country. They decided to make a comic film about sex as the most commercial option. Finance was provided almost entirely by tyre dealer Bob Jane and it was shot on 16mm.[1][3]


Murray chose to exhibit The Naked Bunyip himself rather than use a distributor, often using his own equipment, hiring theatres directly and handling his own publicity. This proved successful and the movie ended up running for two years in cinemas.[4]

It led to director Tim Burstall also deciding to use the direct approach for his comedy film Stork in 1971.[5] The Naked Bunyip was the stepping stone for Australian film distribution in the 1970s, leading to Australian films' presence at international festivals and the US release of Mad Max in 1979.[6]

Censorship controversyEdit

The Commonwealth censors insisted on five minutes of footage being removed but the producers refused, simply blacking out the offending images and bleeping the soundtrack. On the black footage, Murray inserted a picture of a bunyip performing a parody of the forbidden action. Murray also previewed the film without cuts to censors, angering the censor. This led to a debate about censorship which helped lead to a reform of censorship standards.[1][7]


  1. ^ a b c Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998 p252-252
  2. ^ O'Regan 1996, p. 240
  3. ^ John B. Murray 'Prelude to a Screening', AACMI website, 2008 Archived 28 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine accessed 20 September 2012
  4. ^ Paul Martin, 'The Naked Bunyip Q and A', Melbourne Film Blog, 21 Sept 2008 accessed 20 September 2012
  5. ^ MacFarlane 1988, p. 23
  6. ^ MacFarlane 1988, p. 32
  7. ^ 'Film Censorship 1970-1971: The Naked Bunyip (1970)', Refused Classification: Film Censorship in Australia accessed 20 September 2012


  • MacFarlane, Brian (1988). Australian Cinema. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-06728-3.
  • O'Regan, Tom (1996). Australian National Cinema. National Cinemas. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-05730-2.

External linksEdit