THE MISSING MORNING
Bounce the wallaroo had been fast sleep in his little home under the Bendy Tree in Secret Gully. He was beginning to wake up because he felt rather hot. He slowly opened his eyes and saw that the sun was high up in the sky shining down on him.
Bounce thought that this was rather strange, because every other morning when he woke up, the sun was only just peeping through the trees, and the morning was cool and fresh.
Bounce stood up and hopped into a shady spot under the Bendy Tree. He sat for a moment thinking. His tall ears moved this way and that as he listened to the sounds in Secret Gully. There was something different about the sounds he heard. Normally there air was full of the calls of birds waking up and talking to each other. But now there was hardly a bird to be heard and the trees were quiet.
Bounce was puzzled. The morning had gone missing and there was no sign of it anywhere. So Bounce decided that he would go and tell Nibbles the koala. Nibbles was a very clever animal, and surely he would know what was going on.
So Bounce hopped away through the long grass in the direction of Nibble's favourite eucalyptus forest. He hadn't gone very far when he heard a voice calling out.
"Hey there Bounce, what's the hurry?" called the voice.
Bounce stopped and looked about and noticed Spike the echidna waddling out from under an old fallen tree.
Spike," replied Bounce. "I'm off to tell Nibbles the news"
Bounce continued on his way and soon he was at the edge of the eucalyptus forest. He stopped and looked up into the trees, searching for Nibbles. After some careful searching, Bounce discovered the little koala high up on a comfortable branch, fast asleep.
up there," called Bounce in a loud voice.
As he climbed down the tree, Nibbles thought to himself that this was probably just another one of Bounce's funny dreams. He was still half asleep so it took Nibbles quite a while to climb down to a low branch. By the time he was ready to have a chat, Bounce was getting rather impatient.
"Hello Nibbles, the morning is missing, and it's been missing since I woke up, which is not all that long ago in actual fact," Bounce said rather quickly.
Bounce," replied Nibbles thoughtfully. "What makes you think
that the morning is missing?"
Nibbles looked up and saw that the sun was indeed high up in the sky. Then he listened for a moment and noticed that there was no morning bird calls.
"That's very strange," said Nibbles, "I think we had better go and talk to the other animals, to see if they know anything.
Nibbles climbed down to the ground. He was fully awake now, and very curious about the mystery of the missing morning. Nibbles and Bounce made their way through the eucalyptus forest to the foot of an old tree with a little hollow high up in the trunk. This was where Scamp the sugar glider lived.
"Hello up there," called Nibbles and Bounce.
"Um..err..hello down there," called the sleepy voice of Scamp.
"The morning is missing," called Nibbles.
A little gray furry head poked out of the tree trunk and blinked in the bright sunlight.
"That's funny," said Scamp, "so it is. I wonder where it went?"
"We're going to see if we can find it," said Bounce. "Do you want to come?"
"Ooh yes," said Scamp who loved to go on adventures.
"Come on then," said Nibbles, and trotted off through the trees, with Bounce following close behind. High up above them, Scamp glided from tree to tree. He didn't like walking on the ground very much, and anyway it was quicker in the air.
As he glided through the trees, Scamp saw Misty, the greater glider possum, fast asleep in a leafy nest, high up in a tall tree. He landed on the trunk of the tree and quickly scampered to the top.
"Hey Misty, wake up, the morning is missing!" said Scamp, jumping up and down and making the nest shake.
Misty woke up with a start. "Stop jumping. What's the matter?" she asked.
"I'm going on an adventure with Nibbles and Bounce to find the missing morning," said Scamp trying hard to keep still which was very difficult because he was rather excited.
"How do you know the morning is missing?" asked Misty.
"Because it's not here!" replied Scamp. "Have a look"
Misty looked around and saw that the sun was high up in the sky. It certainly wasn't morning at the moment, and even though she thought very hard, she couldn't remember actually seeing the morning at all.
"How peculiar," said Misty. " I think I'll come with you."
"Yippee," cried Scamp, "let's hurry, we'll have to catch up with Nibbles and Bounce.
So the two gliding possums took to the air. With their arms and legs outstretched to hold their soft furry skin out wide, they glided from tree to tree. Soon they had caught up with the koala and the kangaroo who had just bumped into Spike the echidna.
"What's going on?" demanded Spike. "I've missed out on breakfast and I will have to eat a lot of ants to catch up."
"This is a very big mystery," said Nibbles thoughtfully. "I think we had better go down to the Wisdom Tree, and have a big think."
So the little band of puzzled animals made their way to the edge of the forest and down into the rocky gorge, to the foot of the Wisdom Tree.
The Wisdom Tree was very very old. Much older than anyone knew. Underneath the wisdom tree there was a large tumble of boulders which was always a good shady place to sit and think. Sometimes, if you were very quiet and listened carefully, the wisdom tree would talk to you. At least, it seemed like talking, but it was a deep deep sound, much deeper than any voice you have ever heard.
The animals sat in the shade of the Wisdom Tree, looking out at the bright day.
"This is certainly a big mystery," said Nibbles. "The morning is missing and none of the animals know where it went."
"It has never happened before," said Bounce.
"It makes you hungry," said Spike.
"I wonder where it went?" said Scamp in a puzzled voice.
"Shhh," said Misty. "I think I can hear something."
The animals sat quietly. They couldn't hear anything at first, but after a few moments they began to notice a soft, gentle sound. It might have been a very deep voice, but no-one could be sure. But as they sat and listened, the shiny green leaves of the Wisdom Tree began to rustle quietly and they seemed to hear some words, which sounded like this..
the morning missing
The words disappeared slowly with a sigh and the leaves became still again. The animals thought for a moment about what they had heard.
Nibbles was the first to break the silence. "I think I know the answer," he said
"The answer to what exactly?" asked Spike, who wasn't even sure of the question.
"What the Wisdom Tree asked," replied Nibbles,.."is the morning missing or did we miss the morning?"...
"I don't know, it sounds like the same thing to me," said Spike.
"Well, if the morning is really missing, then that's a very strange thing but if we simply missed the morning for some reason or other, then perhaps we can find out why," replied Nibbles.
"But how could we miss the morning?" asked Bounce.
"We could have slept right through it," said Misty.
"Exactly!" said Nibbles, "and I think I know the reason why. Did anyone hear Chuckles the kookaburra this morning?"
The animals thought for a moment. Very early every morning Chuckles would fly from tree to tree, waking all the animals with his happy laughter. But for some reason, none of the animals could remember Chuckles laughing on this particular morning.
"I didn't hear Chuckles this morning," said Scamp. "The first thing I heard was Nibbles and Bounce calling out, and that was in the afternoon."
"And I didn't hear Chuckles either," said Bounce. "I woke up because the hot afternoon sun was shining on me."
"Exactly!" said Nibbles again with a serious nod of his head. "If you ask me, I don't think Chuckles laughed this morning, and so everyone just stayed asleep. In that case, the morning isn't missing, we just all missed the morning.
"Oh, now I see what you mean," said Spike, who wasn't concentrating all that well because of of a line of ants that was marching past.
"Well if Chuckles didn't laugh this morning, then perhaps he's not feeling very well. We should go and look for him," said Misty.
"Good idea," said Bounce.
"I think I know where his nest is," said Scamp. "It's somewhere over on the hill"
"Well let's go!" ordered Nibbles. "Thank you very much for your advice, Wisdom Tree"
"Yes thank you!" the animals all called out as they turned and headed towards the rocky hill that stood in the middle of Secret Gully.
"You are welcome, my little friends," sighed the Wisdom Tree.
It wasn't far to the rocky hill. Scamp and Misty glided from tree to tree, while the others made their way through the long grass. Soon they were all standing in a little group at the foot of the hill, looking up into the tall trees.
"I think Chuckles lives in the big tree right at the top of the hill," said Scamp.
"Are you sure?" muttered Spike, who had the shortest legs and would take the longest to get there.
"Well I have seen him there quite often," replied Scamp.
"Up we go then," cried Bounce, and he charged off, jumping over boulders with his long legs.
"Hang on!" called Spike. "Wait for me."
But after a bit of huffing and puffing the animals arrived at the foot of the tall tree and peered anxiously up into the leaves.
"There he is," cried Scamp, peering up into the leaves.
"Lets go up and talk to him," said Nibbles as he started to climb the tree.
"What about us?" demanded Spike. "We can't climb trees, can we Bounce?"
"No, I don't think so," said Bounce thoughtfully.
"Just wait here," replied Nibbles, as he disappeared into the leaves with Scamp and Misty following him.
Chuckles the Kookaburra was sitting high up in his favourite tree, on the top of the hill in the middle of Secret Gully. Down below the massive roots of the tree were tangled amongst rocks and boulders, but up above the leaves seemed to touch the sky.
Chuckles liked the tall tree because from its branches he could see almost everything that there was to see in Secret Gully. If he looked in one direction he could see down into the creek which tumbled through the rocky gorge where the turtles lived. If he looked in another direction he could see the grassy valley floor where the wallabies ate, and across into the ridges where the eagles lived.
Chuckles loved to know what was going on in Secret Gully. He was up before sunrise every morning and made it his business to fly from one side of the valley to the other, laughing happily and waking everybody else up.
However, on this particular morning something was different. Chuckles woke up early as usual, but for some reason he didn't feel like laughing or flying around the valley. So he just sat quietly on his high branch and stared out over the forest. He wasn't looking at anything in particular and had been sitting like this for a long time when he heard a voice just below him. It was Nibbles.
"Good morning Nibbles," said Chuckles.
"Good afternoon Chuckles," replied Nibbles, as he clambered up onto Chuckle's branch.
"Is it that late already?" asked Chuckles.
"It certainly is," said Scamp, appearing out of a large bunch leaves.
"Because we all got up late today," said Misty, appearing out of another.
"Oh, why was that?" asked Chuckles.
"Because you didn't fly around the valley this morning, laughing and waking us up like you always do," said Nibbles.
"That's true," said Chuckles thoughtfully.
"Are you feeling sick today?" asked Misty.
"No not really," replied Chuckles. " I just don't seem to feel like laughing much.
"That means you must be feeling sad," said Scamp. "I sometimes feel sad."
"Maybe," said Chuckles.
"I've got an idea." said Nibbles who was looking thoughtfully down into the rocky gorge.
"Oh goody, what is it?" asked Scamp jumping up and down. He was very fond of ideas, especially if they meant something interesting to do.
"Well, first of all we'd better find out who likes getting woken up in the morning by Chuckles." said Nibbles.
"We do!" said Misty and Scamp at the same time.
"I do!!" called a voice far away down at the bottom of the tree. It was Bounce, who had very good ears and had heard everything that was being said.
"You do what??" asked Spike who hadn't heard a thing because he was crunching on an ant.
"I like getting woken up in the morning by Chuckle's laughter." replied Bounce.
"Me too!" said Spike and continued on with his crunching.
"Well it appears that everyone likes Chuckles to come and wake them up with his laughter," said Nibbles. "But it seems that even Chuckles sometimes has trouble trying to laugh."
"Especially if you're sad," said Scamp.
"I don't really think I'm sad," said Chuckles. "I just don't feel like laughing much today"
"So my idea is that we all think up some funny things to do, to help Chuckles feel like laughing again!" continued Nibbles.
"Good idea!" called Bounce from far below.
"What's a good idea?" asked Spike who still couldn't hear anything on account of having found a few more ants.
"Doing something funny to help Chuckles laugh again." replied Bounce.
"Oh yeah, good idea!" said Spike looking around for more ants.
"The gorge would be a good place for everyone to meet and do something funny. And then every rtime Chuckles flies past our homes, all he has to do is think of the funny things we did and he will start laughing!"
"OK I'm off to do some practice for my funny act." said Scamp and glided off through the trees in the direction of the gorge.
"Me too!" called Misty following Scamp.
"Will you come down to the gorge and see the funny show?" Nibbles asked Chuckles.
"Sure I will," replied Chuckles, "although I don't know if it will work."
"It's worth a try," said Nibbles and started to climb down the tree. He had to go the slow way because he could not glide like the others.
When he reached the ground, Nibbles explained his idea to Bounce and Spike and the three of them headed off through the bush in the direction of the gorge. On the way they met Rosy and Chirp the Lorikeets, who were keen to join in the fun when Nibbles told them about his idea.
The sun was low in the sky when the animals finally gathered beside a pretty pool in the deep gorge. Everyone had gone off on their own for a little while and practiced their funny act. But now they were ready for the show. Nibbles took charge and made sure that Chuckles had a good seat on a tall rock. Then he went to the side of the pool and cleared his throat a few times and soon everyone stopped talking.
"I now declare this concert open" said Nibbles in a large voice, "and I hope that everyone enjoys themselves and has a good laugh, particularly our dear friend Chuckles"
Everyone cheered and the concert began.
"The first act will be performed by Bounce the kangaroo, who is going to knock grass down with his tail" said Nibbles grandly.
Bounce came to the front of the audience and stood next to a clump of grass. He took careful aim with his large tail, swinging it first one way then another. Finally he shouted out "kazoompa" and hurled his tail at the grass. The grass was thoroughly flattened, but Bounce had used so much energy that his tail swung back up into the air and he tumbled over and lay on his back laughing.
Everyone clapped and laughed at Bounce's funny act. Nibbles peeped over to Chuckles and saw that he was smiling a little.
"The next act will be performed by Spike the echidna, who is going to disappear beneath the sand before you can count to 10"
Spike went over and stood in the middle of a sandy spot by the pool. Nibbles called out "ready, set, GO" and everyone started counting.
"One, two, three," they called and Spikes strong legs began to dig furiously and he sank into the sand. "Four, five, six," they continued and with sand flying everywhere, Spike's head and half his back disappeared. "Seven, eight, nine," they cried and the last bristle on Spike's back disappeared beneath the sand. "Ten," they all whispered, but the sand was still and Spike had disappeared.
Everyone cheered and laughed as Spike suddenly leapt up out of the sand and sneezed loudly. Nibbles noticed that Chuckles was beginning to giggle a little.
"The next act will be performed by Scamp and Misty, the gliders" announced Nibbles. "They are going to have a race, up a tall gum tree and then gliding back.
Scamp and Misty came forward and stood facing different directions. On either side of the gorge grew a tall eucalyptus tree. "Ready, set, GO," cried everyone and Scamp and Misty raced away in different directions across the gorge. They reached the bottom of their tall trees at exactly the same time and raced up to the top, their sharp claws gripping the bark.
"Hurrah," everyone cried as the two gliders turned and leapt off the very top of the tall trees into the beautiful evening sky. Down they came with their legs and arms out wide and their furry skin stretched like a kite. The audience looked from one to the other as they glided back down into the gorge, until they landed at exactly the same time on the very spot they had started from.
"The result of this race is a tie," announced Nibbles and everyone clapped and laughed. Nibbles noticed that Chuckles was laughing a little.
The next act will be performed by Rosy and Chirp the lorikeets, who will fly around in circles," announced Nibbles.
With a squark and a busy flapping of wings, Rosy and Chirp took to the sky above everyone's head. Around and around they flew, at first in large swirling circles then gradually turning tighter and tighter until the circles were tiny and very fast. As they looked up at the pretty birds, everyone's heads and necks were wobbling about following the busy circles until finally, when Rosy and Chirp landed, it felt like the sky was spinning.
Everyone clapped and laughed at the enjoyable act and Nibbles noticed that Chuckles was laughing too.
"The last act will be performed by myself," announced Nibbles. "I will attempt to stand on my head."
Everyone went very quiet as Nibbles stood by the little pool and placed his front paws on the ground. Nibbles had a very large head and short legs so it wasn't going to be easy.
"Hup we go," he cried and kicked his legs up into the air. But it didn't work and Nibble's legs landed back down again. "Hup we go again," Nibbles cried and kicked his legs up even harder. But still they fell back down.
The audience began to clap in a rhythm to help Nibbles stand on his head. "One two, one two, one two," they shouted as Nibbles cried "hup we go one more time," and kicked so hard that his little legs finally went up over his head. "Hurrah," they all called out as Nibbles wobbled from side to side until finally it was all too much and with a large splash, he tumbled back into the pool.
It was such a funny sight that everyone began to laugh very loudly. But the loudest laugh of all came from Chuckles the kookaburra, who as everyone knows has the loudest laugh in the bush.
"Well, that's the end of our concert," announced Nibbles, brushing the water from his fur, "and I would like to announce that it has been a great success, and Chuckles has begun to laugh again."
Everyone cheered and gathered around Chuckles who finally stopped laughing and thanked everyone for their efforts. "That was the best concert I have ever seen," said Chuckles,"and if I ever stop laughing again, all I will have to do is remember your funny acts. So make sure you get a good night's sleep, because tomorrow I'll be around at dawn as usual to wake you all up."
So everyone began to leave the gorge and make their way back to their own little homes, very happy in the knowledge that they had been able to help Chuckles laugh once more.
SECRET GULLY - CHILDREN'S ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT
Interactive and educational toys for imaginative play