Monday, 14 December 2015

We Drove A Sunburnt Country Part Two.

“That’s not a Knife, this is a knife!” I am standing in a pub in the middle of no where holding the prop knife that Paul Hogan made famous in the movie Crocodile Dundee. The pub itself is the one used on location as Mick Dundee’s “Outback Tours” local watering hole.
We had departed Mt Isa at a reasonable hour in the morning and had driven hours across open dry flat country with nothing much to see except for plenty of roadkill. I admit outback Queensland is in terrible drought and it is very sad to see the state of the stock, sheep and cattle are in desperate condition.
It was a well earned reprieve to see the oasis of the tiny town of Kynuna, population – 20 and the famous pub. We wet our whistle, had a chat to the locals while taking in the sights of the bar which was adorned with movie memorabilia and before long were back on the road.
I felt it had been rather special to stumble unexpectedly across this iconic hotel, a small piece of Australian film history, especially after living in Darwin for the last eighteen months and having the opportunity to see and explore parts of the amazing wilderness that is Kakadu National Park. While there we had the awesome experience of climbing the plateau to watch the sunset over Arnhem Land, where in Crocodile Dundee Mick is quoted as saying he “owns the land as far as your eyes can see!” That is some statement, you can see a very long way! That’s now two iconic places from the film I have been able to experience.
More dirt, more dead kangaroos, a few rugged outcrops, finally we reached the destination I had been longing to reach, Winton – Dinosaur capitol of the Queensland outback.

Monday, 7 December 2015

We Drove a Sunburnt Country Part One.

For six days, three states and over four thousand kilometers we drove across a sunburnt country from Darwin at the top end of the Northern Territory south/east to outback central Queensland and down through the back of NSW to Canberra and home to our quiet little cosy country estate..
Along the way I couldn’t help remember and recite a famous Australian poem that we were all taught at school (and loved) when we were young :-
 Dorothea Mackellar’s “My Country.”
I love a sunburnt country,
A sunburnt country of sweeping plain and far horizons.
A sunburnt country of sweeping plain and far horizons.

A land of sweeping plains,
Of rugged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror-
The wide brown land for me!
We packed up the car and said goodbye to our view of the jewel sea, in this case the Arafura Sea as it enters Darwin Harbour. Within minutes we were in the harsh dry outback of the Northern Territory. Flat sweeping plains as far as the eye can see broken only by the occasional rugged mountains and an abundance of termite mounds so numerous it is impossible to count. First stop, Pine Creek, a tiny old gold mining town with nothing much open on a Sunday morning, so it was non-stop then to Mataranka for a promised legendary Mataranka pie. Another really tiny outback town, it’s main claim to fame being the autobiographical novel “We of the Never Never” by Jeannie Gunn and immortalised in the 1982 movie with Angela Punch McGregor in the leading role. Set in Mataranka, the book was written about the authors life and experiences moving to such a harsh and isolated area in 1902 when women, albeit white women, were not seen to be on the land or help their husbands on outback cattle stations. If you spend an afternoon swimming in the local thermal springs you can then partake in a cool ale at the local watering hole while watching the legendary movie. We didn’t stop long enough to do this as we had previously experienced the Mataranka hot springs in all their glory on another occasion. Over 1,100 km and and 12 hours after saying goodbye to Darwin we finally pulled in for the evening at Barkly Homestead, and yes, believe it or not, we were still in the Northern Territory! When travelling in air conditioned comfort it is easy to forget just how hot it is outside, (particularly as we approach the summer months in Australia and the “build up” in the NT) that is until you open the car door and step out into the furnace. It was 7:00 pm and yet still 45 degrees C with a formidable burning hot wind.
Avon Downs police station in the middle of nowhere.
Avon Downs police station in the middle of nowhere.
Day 2 we set of bright and early before the heat set in and began our journey well. We planned to cross the border into Queensland and reach Mt Isa in time for morning tea. Should have known all good plans always go astray. As the sun and heat rose and we cruised through the sweeping plains gazing at the wonder of the far horizon, we came around a sweeping bend in the road and over a “flood” bridge only to find a pot hole in the middle of the road almost the same size as our car. Too fast and too dangerous to swerve we hit the pot hole and hoped for the best. Sure enough we blew out the front right tyre. Not a problem! Just pull on over to the side of the road, unpack the bags from the boot, lift up the flap and look inside to where the spare tyre should be. Were my eyes deceiving me? We have a brand new car and NO spare tyre! Who would have thought? It may have seemed naive of both of us not to check before leaving Sarwin but we both assumed a new car would come equiped with a spare tyre! There we found ourselves in the middle of the outback, heat rising every minute, and not a soul in sight for miles. “Not to worry” said hubby, “I’ll wave down the next truck driver that comes along and get him to radio for help.”
That was real successful! Turns out in the heat of the outback CB radio signals don’t reach futher than 10 km at most. The nearest small town was 70 km away and Mt Isa was still 300 km ahead. Not to worry, don’t despair, believe it or not, just 200 m further up the road was Avon Downs Police Station! Who would have believed it! In the middle of absolutely nowhere stood a police station! We limped the car up the road and found the local policeman just opening up shop for the day. His response, “So the pot hole has got another one has it?” He helped us organise a tow-truck into Camooweal, 12 km east of the NT border into Queensland, population 300 (on a good day when all the indiginous folk are in town to do a head count) so the tow truck driver told us.
What do you get if you cross a kangaroo with a buffalo?
The Buffaroo at Camooweal.
The Buffaroo at Camooweal.

A buffaroo of course!
It stands proudly outside the Camooweal Roadhouse.
The story goes that one evening a couple of truckies were having a drink at the local pub and began to discuss who were tougher, Queenslanders or Territorians! The more they drank, the more vocal they became, the Queenslanders insisting their kangaroos were tougher than the territories buffalo. It didn’t take long before the idea came to pass that the strongest of all would be a cross between the two. It just so happened an artist was listening to the conversation and drew a sketch on a coaster. Before he left he showed the bartender and asked if they would like one? A few weeks later to the towns surprise a special delivery arrived. The Buffaroo now stands pride of place for all to see as you arrive in the sleepy outback town.
Instead of reaching Mt Isa by the intended morning tea break of 10:00 am we finally arrived at 5:00 pm, just in time to call it a day.

Monday, 23 November 2015

When the FIFO Life Gets Hard.

I’m sure many people believe I live a pretty exciting life these days living a fly in/fly out lifestyle with my husband. In many ways that is true. Flying across the country between Canberra and Darwin and everywhere in between. I do have the opportunity to see and explore many parts of our beautiful country that so many other families never have a chance to experience and I do very much appreciate it. This can only happen now that our boys have grown into such independent young men, two of which are now married thus leaving only our youngest still in the proverbial nest.
Last week we finally managed to have son no 3 come visit us in Darwin for the first time, but as I watched him depart on his return flight to Canberra my heart broke. A lump developed in my throat, my stomach churned and tears swelled in my eyes. He was no sooner here and he was gone, I missed him already. I won’t see him again until we head home for our Christmas break. Seven weeks on in Darwin and only one week home in Canberra at a time after eighteen months of fly in/fly out life is obviously taking its toll on my emotions.
We had a wonderful week together. I was able to show him some of my favourite places around town and introduce him to my new friends. My husband took him on site and gave him a tour of the plant they are building, giving him an insight to what the construction industry is really like. We even took him out to Litchfield National Park for a swim under Florence Falls. It has taken me a lifetime to tick swimming under an outback waterfall off my bucket list and he has now checked it off at age 21! My first opportunity to swim under an outback waterfall was only a couple of years ago when my husband was working in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and we visited Python Pool in Millstream National Park.

Alex and I swimming at Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park. Northern Territory.
Alex and I swimming at Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park. Northern Territory.

Swimming at Python Pool, Millstream National Park, WA
Swimming at Python Pool, Millstream National Park, WA
Herein is where my dilemma lies. As a mum, he will always be my responsibility and I feel he still needs me at home while he continues his university studies. I understand it is natural for our children to grow up and fly the coup, but it feels somewhat unnatural when it is me that has left the nest, not him. I know he isn’t ready to leave home just yet and by following my husband I am the one who has left home and him behind. That being said, it is my husband who has for many years done the hard yards of FIFO on his own. Isn’t it about time he had the company and support? So far son no 3 has had son no 2 and his wife living at home with him. That all ends within the next few weeks as they embark on the next exciting chapter in their lives and move into their new home. This is a step forward for them and I am so happy that they have reached this time in their lives but it leaves our youngest at home to study alone and look after our 13 acres. Am I asking too much of him? However I have a Celiac husband to consider. With the long 12 hours of work plus an hours drive each way six days a week, I know without me there to provide his meals his health will suffer as he is too tired to come home and cook of an evening. I am at a crossroads, two men in my life whom I love dearly, both need me. Do I continue the FIFO life and support my husband or stay home more often and support my son?
My heart goes out to all the FIFO workers living week in, week out without their families and vice versa. It is a difficult situation no matter which way you look at it. The construction/mining industry is riddled with broken marriages and torn apart families who do it tough. Some of us survive it, many don’t and many are filled with guilt and depression. It may appear to others that we eat out or entertain a lot, but it is essential to be there to support our fellow FIFO colleagues, wives and partners.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Dream Thirty Years in the Making.

Earlier this year I entered "Emma the Eager Emu" into a picture book competition only for Indie authors. The closing date for submissions is only days away. Avivia Gittle, the owner of the Gittle List has kindly interviewed me and written a press release regarding my writing journey from my hopeful beginnings as a teenager when I first won the National ANZAC day poetry competition to when I finally achieved my dream of publishing children's books. You can read both my story and all about the Gittle List at the link below.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Spreading a Helping Hand

The majority of us go through life lending a helping hand wherever we can, not really planning to try to save the world in any huge way. Most of us don’t have the ability to make a huge difference in the lives of great numbers of people at any one time but in general we do attempt to make a difference in whatever small way we can. Whether that be by volunteering at a hospital, helping the homeless, reading in a classroom on a regular basis, or simply raising our own children to the best of our capabalitiies, we all hopefully make a difference in at least one other persons life during our lifetime.
Although not everyone has the time to volunteer or the ability to provide their services somewhere, even a smile as we pass by a stranger can brighten someone elses day, a kind word to a child or a moment taken to listen to a friend’s problems can change their outlook and make a problem that seemed insurmountable suddenly manageable.
When I began teaching primary school I believed my way of helping society was through increasing literacy skills in our youngest generation of readers. However as the years progressed I hoped to achieve this through writing children’s books and spreading a love of reading with fun and laughter instead.
Imagine my surprise when just last week I discovereed I was also lending a helping hand in a completely different way with my books than I ever expected or planned.
I always enjoy spreading a helping hand by encouraging home reading through my facebook group “Raising Awesome Readers” as well as giving away many of my children’s books to people in need. Earlier in the year I gave a copy of each of my books to a fellow who lives a somewhat difficult family life. He happens to be a “fly in/fly out” dad to three kids, one of which is severly Autistic and another with Aspergers Syndrome. You can imagine the difficulty and frustration not only for him livng away from his family three weeks at a time as well as his wife trying to manage while he is away. So I gave him copies of Gingerbread Aliens, Aliens Shenanigans and Emma the Eager Emu to take home on his R&R to read with the kids. He was so grateful to be given a simple opportunity to read aloud and share a few precious moments with his children.
I hadn’t heard anything from him, nor did I expect to, until I ran into him just last week. I was delighted to learn that not only did his family enjoy all the books very much but his wife, who is a psychologist, found the stories were so good for her children she began taking the books to work.
Her clients are mostly children of parents going through break ups mainly from the rigors of the fly in/fly out life style. She is using my books on a regular basis with the children as they find the characters real and relatable. My stories are spreading a helping hand to help chidren overcome anxieties, fear, tension, sibling rivalry. lack of self-confidence and helping them to learn to face conseequences for their actions all in an entertaining and light-hearted manner. The use of the books have become so successful, she is now lending them to her colleagues.
It is not only nice to know that in my own small way I am making an imapct in childrens lives different to that which I had ever anticipated. It is also rather overwhelming to know that children that need love and understanding are gaining so much more than just a simple smile from reading the pages of my children’s books.
What are you doing in your small way to spread a helping hand in your community?

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Frazzled Freya is Coming!

The Australian Outback is a harsh and dry place.
Not the ideal environment for a game or race.
Freya is too frightened to go out and play.
So she hides in the shadows to watch all day.
Her friends are all out in the heat of the sun.
But Freya is too frazzled to join in their fun.
Can Freya face what frightens her so?
Or will she forever hide and say no!
Frazzled Freya is my second pictured book beautifully illustrated by Dianna Budd. If you adored her images of Emma the Eager Emu and her other Australian bird friends, you will equally enjoy the delightful designs Dianna has brought to the pages of my latest story.
While Emma has the tenacity to chase her dreams and try to learn to fly, Freya is a rather timid frill-neck lizard who, once again with the help of her friends, (this time desert dwelling animals) must learn to have courage. Will she come to the realisation that the only thing to fear is fear itself?
What are you afraid of? Come on a journey of self-discovery with Frazzled Freya and see if you can face your inner monsters too!
Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

Monday, 7 September 2015

Great Characters, Amazing Plot, Fabulous Setting!

I try to stay with my own genre, (Children’s Literature) when it comes to writing reviews, however the latest novel I just completed reading begs to be praised. It not only has great characters, an amazing plot but has a fabulous setting, all the prerequisites for an absolutely fantastic read.

big-little-liesI picked up “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty at the airport the other week looking for something to read on the plane. I had no prior knowledge of Liane’s writing so was pleasantly surprised when I found I couldn’t put the book down. I am a sucker for great characters that draw me into their lives. The plot brilliantly revolved around a primary school on the north shore beaches of Sydney and seemed so familiar it could easily have been any beach side country town in NSW. The writing was authentic and drew me in to a climax that I did not see coming, (and I pride myself usually on figuring these things out). I was hooked completely, the full fishing line and sinker reeled me in. If you have ever had anything to do with children and schools you will empathise with the parents in this story. The depth of characters, humour and darkness are all well balanced to make this a gripping tale from start to finish.
The plot hints of a murder occurring during the school trivia night, (a fund raiser for smart boards, essential equipment in any modern school) and we find ourselves trying to figure out not only “who dunnit?” but “who was murdered?” The more we read the more the plot thickens as we become more familiar with each of the key characters, their families and the children of the Kindergarten class. As a former Kindy teacher and mum I found myself quite amused at times with the parental behaviour. Liane has observed their typical characteristics so well it was almost like reading events that could so easily have happened in a school near me (or you).
While at times quite light and humorous, the story also has quite a dark side to it as it tackles issues such as school bullying and violent affairs within and out of marriage. Both subjects are very topical at the moment and Liane has represented the issues in a clear and poignant manner.
On googling the book to find a picture to add I found that the story is being made into a telemovie to be released next year on Foxtel produced by and staring Nicole Kidman and Reece Witherspoon who play the key characters. I really look forward to seeing how they produce this.
I gave this fantastic novel 5 out of 5 stars. I couldn’t put it down. :)

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Classroom Science Trouble!

National Science Week this week, National Book Week next week, so no other better time than for a school visit and book reading of my chapter book series for early readers. Both Gingerbread Aliens and Alien Shenanigans incorporate plenty of scientific kitchen and classroom experiments that evolve into enough inevitable disaster and trouble to make young readers and their parents laugh along with the mix-up of mischief, mayhem and mishaps.
Tomorrow I head in to do a school reading for a group of year 2 students who are looking forward to not only my reading of a chapter of “Alien Shenanigans” but also watching me erupt a paper mache volcano for them as well.
project-childrensbook_Page_03Alien Shenanigans opens with a classroom full of anticipation as the year 6 students prepare to erupt their volcano experiments.As in all good stories nothing goes to plan and our hero is naturally assumed guilty. My volcano tomorrow will not explode in quite the same astonishing manner, but I hope the students will be suitably impressed!
project-childrensbook_Page_32Later in the story the classroom teacher, Mr Haggardy and the boys next door neighbour, Mrs Witherbottom are inadvertently involved in another somewhat unplanned science experiment. Have you ever seen the reaction when mentos mints are added to a bottle of cola? I’d love to demonstrate this one tomorrow as well, however I don’t think I would ever be invited back to the school if I made a terrible mess in the library. Instead I will settle for showing them via a youtube video clip where other scientists not only get to make all the mess but have a whole lot of fun doing so.
What is your favourite classroom science experiment?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Fun, laughter, mischief tied together in my two new books!

As most of my readers know by now, one of my goals in life is to help parents improve the literacy skills of their children by providing uniquely fun and imaginative books for them to read together. As I stood beside my former colleague and dear friend Sue LaFlamme and listened to her present the opening speech for my double book launch I realised two things. She really gets me and understands my dreams. I felt so honoured by her wonderful words of praise for both myself and my books, that I wanted to share her speech with all my readers that could not make it on that memorable morning here in Canberra.
So, without any further ado, I give you Sue :-
It is with great pleasure that I introduce a fabulous person and author, Sandra Bennett, to you today.
I have known Sandy for more than a decade and I have observed some wonderful things about her:
– she is fun
– she loves to laugh
– she enjoys good mischief
– she has a great sense of humour
– she understands lots of special things about other people and particularly about kids, (big and small)
Most importantly she knows how good a fabulous well planned, researched, well-written and well-read book can be. So, I’m extremely lucky today because I am able to suggest that you dive into the pages of two new books. These are called “Emma the Eager Emu” and “Alien Shenanigans/”

The two books are completely different, cleverly illustrating that Sandra Bennett is an adaptable author, knowing that her reading audiences love to read a range of genres and books that emphasise different things.

I think that your toughest decision today will be which one to read first, Emma the Eager Emu or Alien Shenanigans? Flip a coin! Heads. So, it’s Emma the Eager Emu.
Actually, I’m not going to read it to you, but I’ll introduce Emma to you through my eyes. First of all, Emu’s are such big birds, that have big dreams. I’ll tell you now, Emma is the same. She dreams big – of something I always wanted to do as a child – and that is to fly. Emma is extraordinary. She has intellect, persistence and the strongest of desires to make dreams real. Emma sets about this. as her creator – Sandra Bennett, sets about tasks – she plans, imagines, deliberates, investigates and keeps on going!
In the end I think you’ll discover Emma’s amazing feat. I can’t tell you more, except that you will really enjoy reading this book. I will add that the illustrations are an absolute delight. Gourmet! Emma the Eager Emu will be well loved and recommended.
Now I turn to “Alien Shenanigans.” It has a certain unknown mystery about it. Dad da daa! Are there truly such things as aliens? If so, or not (as the case may be) we can imagine that there are! We can also imagine a melody of mishaps around mischievous full of beans kids, especially when they come into contact with an observant, witty, lovable alien.
I wonder what your favourite part of Alien Shenanigans will be? Will it be foods that fly, the giggles, the serious investigations or the extreme science experiments?
My favourite part is the driving force behind the story – the kids. Sandra Bennett knows that without these characters – the kids – books, life and the universe would be somewhere less special, adventurous, creative and imaginative. True!
So, without further so ons, I’ll introduce the lovely, clever and fun Sandra Bennett and her two new reads: “Emma the Eager Emu” and “Alien Shenanigans.”
Thank you so much Sue for your faith in me and my books. The time you spent reading and preparing your speech was very much appreciated. I hope the kids in your class enjoyed both books.
Hands up, who believes in aliens? Could there really be lovable, mischievous aliens hiding out there somewhere?

For helpful tips and tricks to improve your child’s reading come and join in the discussion by joining my facebook group Raising Awesome Readers.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Importance of Reading Aloud.

The one main take home message I gained from having a stall at our community fair the other month came from discussions with parents as they looked at my books. I realised that parents still don’t understand the importance of reading aloud to their child no matter the age. This has also been confirmed during my days working in the gift shop at Cullen Bay Darwin and selling my books during the book launch there as well.
“What age is this book appropriate for?
“My child is only in kindergarten, she can’t read that herself yet.”
Time and time again it has become obvious that parents are still not getting the importance of shared reading aloud with their children.
Teachers can only do so much in the classroom when it comes to teaching reading, the fundamental Cullen Bay book aunchbuilding blocks of language have to be established in the family home. Reading together from birth stimulates the brain and enables significant connections to be made that develop the foundations for literacy.
Reading out loud to a child during the early pre-school years not only gives you a wonderful opportunity to snuggle with your children and show them how much you love them, it also allows you time to demonstrate a number of pre-reading language skills.
Picture books like “Emma the Eager Emu” provide a wealth of opportunities.
1. You model reading with great enthusiasm and expression.
2. Reading alliteration helps teach that language is made up of individual sounds not just words and syllables.
3. Repetition increases familiarity and produces opportunities for guessing what might happen next?
4. Vibrant illustrations allow for discussions and further language learning.
5. The more often you read, the more they will make the pre-reading connections such as which way up the book should be, front to back, words flow left to right and top to bottom to tell the story.
6. They will also realise the significance of the pictures in the story telling too. A picture truly can be worth a thousand words.
7. Increases empathy and understanding of the world around them.
8. Extends their vocabulary.
Once children reach that early independent reading level, parents seem to think their child needs to do it all alone. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Books like Gingerbread Aliens and Alien Shenanigans might be early independent chapter books but they are still excellent resources for sharing reading out loud together. Your 6 – 10 year old still needs you!
1. They still need to hear modeled reading out loud for expression.
2. It can be fun to share a humorous chapter book with your child.
3. It opens opportunities for discussion when you read together.
4. It provides opportunities to discuss any words they may have difficulty reading or understanding.
5. You can determine through questions whether they have comprehended what they have read.
6. If you read a book just above their level of ability, you extend their comprehension and vocabulary.
7. It builds wonderful memories of special time spent together reading and sharing no matter their age.
If you enjoyed reading this post and are interested in joining a discussion on helping parents, grandparents and other carers with encouraging children to read, please come and join us in my new group forum Raising Awesome Readers I’d be happy to see you there, I look forward to more people becoming involved in our chats and spreading the word on the importance of reading aloud.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Cool Classroom Science – Make and Erupt a Volcano

A couple of weeks ago I made a paper mache volcano and erupted it during my book launch at the Paperchain Book Store in Manuka, Canberra. Why would I do this? Mr Haggardy’s year 6 class all make their own volcanoes and attempt to erupt them in the first chapter of “Alien Shenanigans,” The Bradberrie Brothers Alien Adventure, Book 2. I promised to perform the experiment while reading part of the first chapter at the launch. It was a lot of fun, although I do admit, owing to the nervousness of the manager of the bookstore, I kept the explosion somewhat more controlled than I (and my audience) would have preferred.
Below are the instructions for how to make a paper mache volcano and how to consequently erupt it!
Beware! The more baking soda you use, the bigger the reaction!

The Making of a Paper Mache Volcano

  1. Find a suitable disposable plate to build your volcano on. (I used an aluminium pizza tray)
  2. Find a cylindrical tube you can use in the centre of your volcano to hold the liquids for your experiment. (For this I used an empty Berocca container)
  3. Gather strips of newspaper.
  4. Make glue from 1 cup flour, a little water and a pinch of salt to preserve volcano. Mix to a thick pancake like consistency.
  5. Place your cylinder in the middle of your plate start adding strips of newspaper dipped in paste. Continue to add layers until volcano takes shape. Sometimes I feel it is best to paint the strips of paper with the paste when on the volcano rather than dipping into the mixture. (This is less messy).
  6. Leave to dry. Depending on the weather this may take a few days. If it is cold, place in front of a fire to dry faster.
  7. Once fully dry and hardened, paint as desired.Paper mache volcano

Erupting A Paper Mache Volcano

You will need:

  • Water
  • Liquid Soap
  • Vinegar
  • Food Colouring
  • Baking Soda


  1. Fill centre of volcano halfway with water.
  2. Add a couple of drops of food colouring. (ie: red and yellow if you want orange lava)
  3. Add a few drops of liquid soap.
  4. Now fill the volcano almost to the top with vinegar.
  5. Add a heaped teaspoon of baking soda and stand back!

Watch your volcano erupt!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Five Fun Facts About Kookaburras

Last week I wrote 5 Fun Facts about Emus, as Emma the Eager Emu was the star of the first book launch last Saturday morning. This week, with one more book launch to go on Friday night, it is Kelly the Kookaburra’s turn to share some fascinating key facts about herself.
In last weeks post I mentioned that  emus like to steal food from unsuspecting picnickers and campers, which leads me to my first fascinating fact about kookaburras.DSCN0249
1. Did you know that Kookaburras are the largest member of the Kingfisher family? So you would expect them to eat fish, but they don’t. Kookaburras much prefer worms, insects, mice and even snakes and lizards. They particularly  like to dive from high in a nearby gum tree and swoop down to steal a sausage or two from your BBQ. (Maybe the sausages look a bit like a snake or lizard sizzling on the hot plate). Kookaburras don’t need to drink as they get all the water they need from their food.
2. Kookaburras live in native bushland all over Australia but also among our many coastal towns and cities. It is easy to see them regularly around your backyard especially if you frequently feed them a bit of raw mince meat by leaving the meat out in a bird feeder or on your verandah railing. They will get rather demanding though so don’t start this habit unless you are prepared to do it everyday. Note: Like most native wild birds it is best to let Kookaburras find their own food, not become reliant on people.
3. All throughout the Australian Bush you can hear kookaburras call out in the early morning or towards the evening. Their unusual call sounds more like a great big belly laugh as if something has really amused them, but they are not really laughing at all, they are actually telling other kookaburras that this is their territory.
4. Kookaburras live in families just like us. They mate for life and raise a family together, with the older siblings helping to raise the younger babies. Chicks are born blind and with absolutely no feathers which take a month to grow. (No wonder they need help from their older brothers and sisters.)
5. Most people see the common kookaburra around their homes, however further north and close to the coast is also the blue winged kookaburra aptly named for the colour in its wings. They are both 47 cm (18.5 inches) long and weigh about 0.5 kg (1 lb), interestingly that means a kookaburra weighs about as much as an emus egg!
Here is a link to a video you can watch and hear a kookaburra laugh.
Added Bonus
“Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree” is a well known old song that was taught as a round to kids in schools all over Australia for many years. Below is a link to a version of the original song being played in a round and a second link to the words of all the verses of the song (with a few extras that have been added over the years).