It had been a hot day, and now in the cool of the evening the children were rather glad to be able to stretch their legs and go for a walk in their favourite part of the bush to see if they could find their friends who lived there. As they hurried along the path with Liam leading the way followed by Robert and Marie Eline, they were wondering who they would meet this time. They didn't suppose the Wombats would be around, as it was far too hot for them still, and they would wait until it got darker before they ventured out. Maybe if they were lucky they might see the platypus family, because it was always nice in the water, even if it was hot outside.
The leaves scrunched beneath their feet, as they were very dry. The trees above them dropped lots of their leaves at this time of the year, as having leaves on the ground near their roots helped to stop the ground from drying out too much, and helped to keep the moisture in! The children wore proper boots as it was very important because you really didn't know who or what you could come across on the ground, Mrs Snake slithering off for a cool drink, or Mr Bull Ant scuttling off to find something to eat, and of course there were all the twigs and prickles around, so it was better not to wear sandals.
Anyway they were far more interested in seeing who of their friends they would see first, and they were chattering away to each other about it all when they saw the kangaroos grazing over on the side
They waved to them and asked asked them if they had seen the platypus family, but they either didn't hear or were too busy munching to reply. Just then they heard a rustle under the leaves, and when they looked down there stood Mrs Frillynecked Lizard
"Oh! yes," the three of them said together "Do you know in which part of the river they are playing today?"
"Well," said Mrs Frilly "I did see them earlier on this morning, but I know their mother wanted them to go inside and have a good days rest, so I don't know if they have woken up yet. But I daresay it won't be long before they are out and about again! Mind you the least little bit of noise, and they're off to their homes again, you know how shy they are don't you?"
Liam nodded his head in agreement, and turned to Marie Eline and Robert to explain that platypus' were nocturnal animals, and played in the night time and slept in the daytime, and were very timid private creatures who didn't like a lot of noise.
They thanked Mrs. Frilly and continued on their way. Just then they saw their old friend the Lorrikeet who seemed very pleased to see them, and called out "How are you? Did you bring anything to eat?"
"Of course, we did, we never forget our friends! We've brought you some bread and some fruit. We know you like fruit, because you are always raiding our trees! So here you are just for you, two lovely juicy plums!" "Oh! how kind of you" said the Lorrikeet and flew down and helped himself to the plums "Ummm these are very juicy and sweet, just the ticket!" He picked up the plums one at a time with his claws and pecked at the fruit until there was nothing left but the stone. As he dropped the stones the children picked them up and put them in their pockets, as it wasn't a good idea to leave them about to germinate when this bushland was for all the native plants and trees, and this particular plum tree had been brought from another country.
They could hear all the animals beginning to move about. There were grunts and hisses from some of the grumpy ones who perhaps had been bumped into by the younger ones eager to get on with it. The birds overhead too were beginning to sing. At first there were the maggies just calling out to each other, then you could hear the parakeets swirling around on one of their raiding sortees, chattering away to each other "This way," "No, over here" you could almost hear them say! The kookaburras could be heard down by the river laughing at a joke one of them had just cracked! Yes, things were definitely moving again!
The children were heading towards the river, and were hoping they would be able to have a bit of a swim at a special spot where there was an old tyre tied with a bit of rope to a branch of a tree hanging over the river. But first they wanted to see if they could find the Platypus family and so they headed off in another direction away from the main path. The track they were on began to get narrower and narrower, and windier and windier, until they could hardly see the track at all. This was because hardly anybody came this way, and that's why the Platypus family built their home in this area, because it was nice and secluded.
The track suddenly came to a stop, and the children looked around to see which way to go. They knew the river was very close, because the vegetation was quite thick and green. All of a sudden they saw an opening with branches over the top, just enough room for them to squeeze under. They bobbed down under the branches and wriggled their way through. Soon they were able to stand up straight again, and right there in front of them, well you've guessed it, were the platypus family in the water!
Oh! they looked so peaceful and contented and happy. Marie Eline and Robert were so taken with them, because this was the very first time they had ever seen a platypus. They were just dieing to jump in with them, but Liam signalled them to stay quiet and not scare them away, but to let them get to know them first. Now Platypus's are quite small really, with their web feet, which are good for swimming and their big strong bills for moving mud, and building their nests, and looking for things to eat. They swim effortlessly, gliding about, or doing acrobats with the minimum of effort.
After a while, Mrs Platypus looked up and saw they had visitors. "Well look who we have come to pay us a visit" she said, and Mr Platypus and Curly came swimming up to the river bank, and called out to them "G'day to you! The water is beautiful, you want to join us?"
Well, the children didn't need to be asked a second time....they quickly took off their shorts, t-shirts, socks and boots, and put them in a tidy pile and jumped into the river! What a splash they made.....the Platypus family, knowing this was coming, dived for cover but soon reappeared to join in the fun with their friends.
Pretty soon they were all splashing each other and diving around and tugging each other from behind, giving each other surprises. The Lorrikeets gathered on the branches of the trees overhanging the river, and were enjoying being splashed as well, for they liked a bit of a bath too.
It didn't take long before the Kookaburras joined them. At first sitting on the branches like the lorrikeets, and then diving into the river and coming up and taking off up to a branch, where they would shake their feathers. And then they would do the same thing again.....sometimes they would hover over the water and sort of dip themselves in and getting themselves wet all over. Don't forget these birds belonged to the kingfisher family, and they loved fish, and were very good at catching them. They would egg each other on, and let out the most screeching laughs the whole neighbourhood heard.
"Oh! look at you - you are pitiful. Call that a dive?" Kenny Kookaburra screeched to his mate Lenny Kookaburra, who had just dived in. "Here, let me show you what a dive is!" And with that he stood up straight on the branch, and with a deep breath hunched himself up and shot off into the air and straight down into the water!!!!
After a while he shot back up to the surface again, and with a chuckle lifted himself off and flew off to a branch shaking the water off his feathers. "There you are that's what I call a dive!" Lenny , not to be outdone, screeched back "No way! no way! can anyone call what you've just done a dive! More like a belly-flop if you ask me!"
"Hey, what do you reckon kids, was that a dive or was that a dive?" asked Kenny.....The children who had been watching all of this with amusement, where rather taken aback when asked for an opinion......."Well" said Liam....."It looked pretty good to me..." he said "But" said Marie Eline, " You really didn't make a clean entry into the water, there was an awful lot of splashes, you know, I felt it from where I was." "Yes," said Robert "And you didn't take a long enough spring from the branch to start off with"
"Phaw....ask a simple question, and what do you get.....all of a sudden up and coming authorities on the subject......" muttered Kenny. "I should have known better than to ask.....everybody has an opinion...." he muttered. "Cheer up," Lenny said, "you know, its only a bit of fun after all, and its really been a hot day, and nobody really cares too much, we all simply want to cool off don't we?" "Oh I suppose so" said Kenny, and with that he flew up to the higher branches.
"You know" said Mrs. Platypus, "It always amazes me, how the kookaburras can do that....I mean dive into the water from such heights! I can't" "Yes," said Curly Platypus "One day, I'm going to have a go at that.....just wait and see....." Mr. Platypus let out a grunt, and turned to Mrs. Platypus..."I seem to have heard those words before, haven't I?"
Turning to the three children, he said "You see when you are young, one is inclined to think that anything is possible.....that's good you know, for then it helps us get up and explore....and discover so many things....in the bush, in the water, in yourself eh?" The children nodded their heads, and Liam said "Well, we wouldn't have found you and become your friends if we hadn't explored around the bush and asked the other animals where you lived.....all this wouldn't be happening." He waved his arms at the river and all of them in it having so much fun.
As usual, time was marching on, and the children became aware that perhaps they had better make tracks home, so they got out of the water, still laughing and splashing, ran up the bank of the river, and quickly dried themselves as best they could, pulled on their clothes, and turned to the Platypus family.
"Thanks for letting us play with you" said Liam, with Marie Eline and Robert nodding their heads in agreement. Mrs. Platypus was busy rounding up Curly too, to go inside and have something to eat, but she looked up at them and said "You are more than welcome anytime, you know that don't you?" "Now be careful kids, as you go home, watch where you step won't you?" added Mr. Platypus "And we'll catch up with you next time."
"Don't worry, Mr and Mrs. Platypus" said Lorrikeet "I'll keep them company and make sure they get home okay!" They all looked up at Lorrikeet, and Mr. Platypus said "Great, thanks!" and then the Platypus' gave the children one last wave, and sank back into the water again and disappeared.
The children turned around after making sure they hadn't forgotten anything, and started off for home. There was a feeling of contentment in the whole bush, which swept over the three little ones, for they too let out sighs of happiness, telling each other what a wonderful place this was, and how lovely all their friends were. They were really very lucky weren't they?
Just then, they could hear their parents calling them from far off, which seemed to break the spell, and with a shout "We're coming Mummy........we're coming Daddy......." they raced up to the top of the path that led them back home.