"Mum, whatís that smell?" Boomerang
asked, sniffing the air.
The other animals, squished in
Wandiís pouch with the joey, began sniffing too. "I smell it! There must
be a fire. Itís smoke!" Banjori said.
Wandi stopped hopping. "It is a
fire. Look over there," she said, pointing to billowing smoke.
"The bush is on fire. Oh no! Weíd
better get out of here. Bushfires spread quickly," Daku said.
"Mum, hop to the nearest billabong.
I donít want to get burned," Boomerang cried.
The sounds of the grass burning
frightened the animals. "When the fire hits those eucalyptus trees, weíre
going to hear some explosions. I know the leaves are filled with
eucalyptus oil. It burns hot and it burns fast," Jiba warned. "Youíd
better listen to Boomerang and get to the billabong as fast as you can."
Wandi looked at the orange flames.
She could hear the popping and crackling of trees as the flames engulfed
"They say when itís a windy day and
thereís a fire in the bush, itís a very dangerous thing," Tinka added.
"Think of all the other animals caught in it. I hope they are able to
When they arrived at the billabong,
they were surprised to see hundreds of other bush animals crowded around
and standing in the water. Smoke was thick in the air and hot embers,
carried by the wind, were landing in the surrounding grasses. Huge, hot
clouds formed above the fire. "Iím frightened, Mum," the joey cowered.
"Everybody get out of my pouch and
go into the billabong," Wandi shouted, seeing the flames moving closer and
The koala, wombat, echidna, skink,
kookaburra, platypus, spider and two kangaroos squeezed into the crowded
pool of water. "What if thereís a croc in here?" Kiah worried.
"Thatís the least of our worries,"
Yindi said. "Look whoís over there." She pointed to the other side of the
"Oh no! Itís Boomer and Old Man!"
"Theyíve not seen us yet, so donít
worry. Thereís too much smoke. Theyíre more worried about saving their own
hides than about us," Wandi said, calmly.
For hours the fire raged around
them. Cries of fear filled the air as the smoke grew thicker and thicker.
Luckily, as night fell, the winds died down and the fire ran out of fuel
around the billabong. "Everythingís so black now," Jiba said. "Look at the
trees. There is nothing left but charcoal stumps."
"The groundís burnt too," Daku
All night the animals stayed in the
water. When the sun rose in the morning the first animal crawled out onto
the blackened ground. "Itís not hot anymore," the dingo shouted. "You can
all come out."
Wandi and the others walked out of
the water. "I want to go home, Mum," Boomerang sobbed. "I donít like it
here anymore. I want to find our baobab forest."
"Now, now, Boomerang. Weíll get home
soon. Donít cry," Wandi said, patting the joeyís head.
"Well, well, well. If it isnít our
friends," Boomer said, hopping towards the group. "Look what the fire
brought to us." Old Man hopped along beside him.
"The flyer! Youíve got a powerful
kick there," Old Man said.
"Where are you going to hide this
time? There are no trees and thereís no croc to protect you," Boomer
"Everyone inside the pouch," Wandi
ordered. They quickly climbed inside her pocket.
"Oh no you donít. Youíre not getting
away that fast," Old Man said. He was standing on Wandiís tail so she
Just then a burnt branch fell from
the only remaining tree. It landed on the ground right next to the two
kangaroos. Boomer jumped and Old Man fell over with a fright. Seeing a
chance to escape, Wandi hopped away as fast as she could. The ground was
hot in parts but she kept on hopping. The others looked at the destruction
done by the bushfire as they hurried away. "Mum, hop fast. Donít let them
catch us!" Boomerang yelled.
Wandi wasnít sure which direction
she should go. There were no trees or landmarks. All she could see was a
huge red rock off in the distance. "Is that Ayerís Rock?" Tinka asked.
"It looks like it," Wandi said.
"Iíll head for it. We can climb to the top and have a better view. Iíve no
idea where else to go." Soon they found themselves standing at the bottom
of the giant rock mountain. "Itís much bigger than I thought. I canít hop
to the top with you all inside. Youíll have to get out and climb it
After listening to the others
moaning and grumbling about it, Banjori started to climb. "This is much to
steep for a koala," he found himself complaining.
"How can that be?" the wombat asked.
"Koalaís climb trees every day."
"Yes, but this is different. Itís
like having a hundred trees on top of each other," Banjori answered.
"I suggest you just keep moving,"
Daku replied. "Iím a wombat and I never climb, but if Boomer and Old Man
come, weíll wish weíd gone up faster."
"Youíre right," Banjori said and
made his way up the rock.
The echidna couldnít roll up the
mountain. She had to use her feet. "Iím sure it will be much more fun
coming down," Jiba said. Her spikes were dark and dirty with smoke, much
like the other animalís fur and skin.
"Iím only a small lizard. I have to
take ten steps for every one of yours," Tinka said, but kept climbing.
"This is one time Iím glad I have
wings," Yindi laughed. "I can fly most of the way."
"Can I sit on your back? Will you
give me a ride?" the trap door spider asked. "Iíd have to take one
thousand steps for every one of Banjoriís."
"Hop on, Nimu," Yindi said. The
spider climbed onto her feathered back and grabbed hold.
Wandi saw that Kiah was having a
hard time climbing. Platypuses have webbed feet and canít walk well on the
ground. They do much better in the water. "Get in my pouch with
Boomerang," Wandi said. "This is much to difficult a climb for you."
Kiah was grateful and joined the
joey in the pouch. The others werenít too happy with that but kept going.
After a few hours they reached the
top. "Whew! That was a hard climb," the koala said. He was huffing and
The rest of them collapsed on the
stone next to him. "Wow! What a view!" Yindi laughed. "You can see all of
Australia from here!"
"Not quite," Wandi smiled, "but we
can see if Boomer and Old Man come anywhere near us."
Everywhere they looked, they could
see parched ground. The fire had destroyed all the trees, grasses, and
shrubs for miles. "Thatís sad to see," Boomerang sighed. He was feeling
bad about the trees being burned.
"Itís not all bad," his mum
explained. "Now new, fresh grasses will grow and it will soon be green
again. Donít feel too sad."
The sun went down, changing the blue
sky into deep pink, purple, orange, and red. "Now what?" Kiah asked.
"Sleep. Weíll deal with it in the
morning," Wandi said.
As the sky became dark and stars
appeared, the animals fell asleep, not knowing what tomorrow would bring.