Yawkyawk are aboriginal Australian mermaids who live in waterholes, freshwater springs, and rock pools, especially in the Stone Country of Australia’s Top End. Although it is often suggested that Europeans spread mermaid tales around the world, the Yawkyawk were envisioned as mermaids long before Europeans arrived in Australia

Yawkyawk literally means “young woman spirit being.” They radiate incredible fertility power. Allegedly just approaching a Yawkyawk water hole can cause a woman to conceive. Yawkyawk provide rain for plants and sweet water for people, but if angered they raise destructive storms. Yawkyawk sometimes engage in marriages with people.


Australia (Kuninjku)


Yawkyawk manifest as classical mermaids: young woman above the waist, fish below. Their long hair resembles green algae or fronds of seaweed. This is believed to be their true form, but if they want, they can sprout legs and walk. Yawkyawk can also morph into dragonfly form and fly.


Yawkyawk are a favourite subject of aboriginal art, both traditional and contemporary.

Spirit ally:

The Ngalyod, a rainbow serpent, may be the Yawkyawk’s husband or father. The Ngalyod may be a different type of spirit or a different form of Yawkyawk. He manifests in white lilies and white clay and lives in water holes.


Yawkyawk tend to be most active and visible at night.



Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.