Wombat, Mudlark and Other Stories

Wombat, Mudlark and Other Stories

by Helen Milroy


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From a falling star to a lonely whale, an entertaining lizard to an enterprising penguin, these Indigenous stories are full of wonder,
adventure and enduring friendships. Told in the style of traditional teaching stories, these animal tales take young readers on adventures of self-discovery and fulfilment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781925815818
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Edition description: None
Pages: 96
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 7 - 10 Years

About the Author

Dr Helen Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia,
but was born and educated in Perth. Australia’s first
Indigenous doctor, Helen studied medicine at the
University of Western Australia and is currently
Winthrop Professor and Director of the Centre for
Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health at UWA, and a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Specialist Aboriginal
Mental Health Service, Department of Health. Helen was recently appointed as the AFL’s first indigenous commissioner. This is her first book for children.

Read an Excerpt



Some children are just like the wombat in this story. They are the dreamers who inspire us with their imagination and wonder. They are exceptional children and wise beyond their years.

Since the beginning of time, Mother Earth had looked after everything and everyone, asking for nothing in return. Mother Earth had helped the trees to grow, the flowers to bloom, the animals to live and the rivers to run. But now that everything was thriving, everyone forgot about Mother Earth. Mother Earth was sad and lonely. She felt empty and cold. Although the sun came up every day to warm Mother Earth, by sunset the warmth had already left her like a willy-willy disappearing into the sky. One night, Mother Earth was so cold she started to cry. Wombat was fast asleep under a tree and woke abruptly from his dreaming.

'What is going on?' he asked. 'Who is that crying?'

'It is me,' said Mother Earth. 'I am sorry I woke you but I am so cold and sad, I can't stop shivering. I don't know what has happened to me but I haven't felt happy for a very long time. I don't know what to do,' she sobbed.

'Oh dear,' said Wombat, 'let me see if I can help you.'

Wombat felt very sorry for Mother Earth. He had never seen her like this before. Wombat loved Mother Earth and all the wonderful things she had helped to create. So Wombat started to tell Mother Earth of the many beautiful discoveries he made each day and of the wondrous dreams he had every night. He told her how much he loved and cherished her.

'None of us would survive without you,' said Wombat.

Wombat and Mother Earth talked and laughed together until the early hours of the morning. Wombat was so pleased to have someone to share his stories with, and Mother Earth loved hearing them.

'I am no longer feeling so cold,' said Mother Earth. 'For the first time in a long time, I feel warm and happy.'

'That may be so,' said Wombat, 'but now I am freezing after sitting up most of the night!'

'Dig a deep burrow into the soft earth and I will keep you warm and safe in my belly until the sun wakes up for the day,' said Mother Earth.

Up until that night, Wombat had always slept on top of the ground. Each night he tried to find some soft leaves or a warm place to sleep. Sometimes it took ages for Wombat to find the right spot and this shortened his dreamtime. Sometimes when the sun woke him up in the morning, he hadn't finished his dreaming and would wake very grumpy. Wombat was excited at the idea of sleeping in the belly of Mother Earth, it would be warm and cosy. Even the pesky sun wouldn't be able to wake him up and he could dream as much as he liked.

'That is a great idea,' said Wombat, who was now exhausted and desperate to return to his dreamtime. Wombat dug the burrow deep into Mother Earth and fell into a strange sleep. Each breath Wombat took tickled Mother Earth's belly and Mother Earth giggled, but when Wombat snored, Mother Earth laughed out loud. Mother Earth was feeling warm and content looking after Wombat, while Wombat felt snug and safe in his burrow. Soon Wombat started to dream and something magical happened. The power and wonder of Wombat's dreams swirled around Mother Earth's belly and filled her with love, joy and hope. Mother Earth could now see clearly once again and realised what was wrong.

At the beginning of time, Mother Earth was born with an eternal flame buried deep in her heart underground. The flame had started to falter and her heart was struggling. Mother Earth was exhausted from always looking after everyone else. Now she needed someone to look after her.

The love and wonder from Wombat's dreams were exactly what Mother Earth needed. They surged like electricity along invisible threads that wove through the earth, awakening the eternal flame and creating a furnace that warmed her completely. Mother Earth's heart started to glow and its beat grew stronger and stronger, setting in motion rivers of light that radiated throughout Mother Earth. It was like the dawning of the first day, when hope broke through the darkness and the future became possible.

Through Wombat's dream, Mother Earth was able to see all of what she had helped to create and how much love there was in the world.

Mother Earth was so grateful, she made sure Wombat was safe and sound until he awoke to start the new day full of stories yet to be told. Mother Earth even kept the sun from shining into the burrow until Wombat had finished his dreamtime.

In the morning Wombat woke feeling refreshed like never before.

'That was the best dreaming I have ever done,' said Wombat. 'I am going to sleep in my burrow every night from now on! I am also going to make sure everyone looks after you as they should!'

'That would be wonderful,' said Mother Earth. 'I promise to watch over you every night so you can dream your dreams for everyone!'

Mother Earth never felt cold and sad again, and Wombat never again woke up grumpy. Mother Earth and Wombat loved sharing the stories and dreams together.

Every night, Wombat crawled into his burrow ready to begin his dreaming.

Every night, Mother Earth watched and waited for the dreaming to begin.



Some children are just like the mudlark in this story. They have a strong emotional intelligence and will share the joys and burdens in life. They are extraordinary children and unwavering in their support for others.

When Mudlark was a little fluffy chick just out of the nest, she loved rolling in mud and playing in the mud-pool. Sometimes she would play all day but by late afternoon, the mud pool would be cold. Mudlark would shiver and her beak would make a funny chattering noise.

'What is that strange sound?' said Sun one day.

'It's me,' said Mudlark. 'I'm freezing.'

Sun looked down, but all he saw was a ball of mud.

Mudlark wiped the mud off her face. 'See,' she said.

Sun laughed at the little bird. 'I will warm you up,' he said, and he did. From then on Mudlark and Sun became good friends.

One day Sun started to become angry. He woke up angry, he went to bed angry and he was fiery all day long. Sun's anger increased day after day. Soon Sun was so angry he hardly set at all. The animals were getting tired because there was too much light and heat to sleep. They were worried that one day Sun might set the land on fire. They didn't know what to do. The water was disappearing and even Mudlark's favourite mud pool was turning to dust. Something had to be done. The days had become so hot, the animals had started living underground.

Mudlark knew Sun hadn't always been like this. Sun used to be the best sun in the universe. Something must have happened, thought Mudlark.

'It can't be very nice for anyone to be feeling that way all the time,' said Mudlark to all the animals. 'Perhaps I should try and talk to him.'

'You do that,' said the animals. 'We are fed up and want Sun to go away.'

'Sun,' Mudlark called out. 'Sun!'

Sun wasn't listening. Solar flares kept firing off all over the sky, sometimes leaving hot burning coals to fall to the ground. Mudlark threw mud-pies at Sun to get his attention but as soon as they got close, they were burnt into dust and blew away.

Mudlark decided she needed help. That night, she went to talk to Sun's oldest friend, Moon.

'Do you know why Sun is so angry?' Mudlark asked Moon.

'Well, he has always had a hot temper, you know,' said Moon, 'but I don't know what is wrong with him. He keeps making me wait later and later to rise in the evening and then he gets up very early. Sun was always determined, but he never used to be this angry. Perhaps you should ask his cousin, Comet. Comet visited Sun not so long ago. Maybe Comet knows what is wrong.'

'Thank you,' said Mudlark, 'but how am I to find Comet?' Comet only visited the earth every few years. Mudlark had no idea where he would be now.

'I could ask the stars,' said Moon. 'They stretch for miles and are always gossiping about what is going on across the universe, so they might know where he is.'

The stars sent a message out through the constellations and soon everyone was chattering about Comet.

It didn't take long for Comet to hear what was happening. Comet quickly turned around to pay Mudlark a visit.

Mudlark woke with a startle to a bright light hovering overhead. Mudlark and Comet talked for ages. Comet had known Sun since the beginning of time. Comet told Mudlark that when the universe was created there were so many children of the sun parents, there was little time for play. The little earth sun was always worried and had trouble settling to sleep. Everybody was concerned he would burn up the whole universe. His grandmother, however, adored him and would often tell him stories and play games to teach him how to be a good earth sun. She even wrote him a special lullaby which she sang every night to help him settle and create the most beautiful sunsets before going to bed. He really loved his grandmother.

'When I visited recently,' said Comet, 'I had to tell Sun some sad news. His grandmother had set for the last time. He was heartbroken.'

'Now I understand,' said Mudlark. 'Can you teach me the lullaby?' she asked.

Mudlark and Comet practiced the lullaby all night until she sang it just right. The next day was so hot no one could go outside at all, so Mudlark rested until late in the afternoon. Then Mudlark gathered up her last bit of water to make some mud and covered herself with a thick coating.

Sun was at the edge of the earth but was refusing to set. Mudlark flew towards Sun, covered in her mud coat so she could get as close to Sun as possible without getting burnt. Mudlark started singing the lullaby as loudly as she could. Sun stopped immediately when he heard the song and just listened. The fiery flames started to dissipate and the harsh light softened. The temperature started falling and suddenly rainclouds rolled across the sky. Rain poured out all over the land, filling the rivers and lakes and the mud pools. All the animals came out to see what was happening. Mudlark stood fast and kept singing. As the storm passed over, Mudlark was finishing the last verse of the song.

All the mud had washed off Mudlark and her feathers glistened with raindrops. Sun looked down.

'It was you singing, Mudlark,' said Sun with great joy.

'Yes,' said Mudlark. 'Comet taught me your lullaby. I am so sorry about your grandmother.' 'I was trying to be strong and hide my grief,' said Sun, 'but I didn't realise what I was doing. The rain was my tears for my grandmother.'

'It's okay,' said Mudlark. 'We don't always understand or know what to do with our feelings, but you can always talk to me, Sun.'

Mudlark was still dripping wet and getting a bit cold. Sun shone just a little brighter to warm her up, then cast a beautiful rainbow overhead. It was the most magnificent sunset the world had ever seen. All the animals were overjoyed to see Sun back to his usual self.

From then on, every evening and whenever Sun requested it, Mudlark would sing him his grandmother's lullaby. In return, Sun warmed the mud pool for Mudlark every afternoon so she could play happily all day.



Some children are just like the dingo in this story. They are the eternal optimists and will always bring light and hope to dark places. They are wonderful children and are kind and helpful to others.

A long time ago when the earth was formed, it was in complete darkness. All of the animals were in a deep sleep waiting for the dawning of the first day. When the earth sun was ready, he travelled a long way to take his place in the sky. As Sun neared the earth, morning appeared with a gentle light spreading across the landscape, waking all of the animals from their dreamtime. The animals saw their country for the first time and it was magnificent.

With great excitement, the animals explored the landscape and saw the forests, mountains and rivers. At the end of the first day, Sun was tired and wanted to go to sleep. Sun warned the animals that his light would soon fade and would not return until the morning. All the animals scurried back to their homes for fear of getting lost in the dark. As Sun set, the earth once again fell into complete darkness. On the second day, the animals asked Sun if he could keep some light in the sky during the night, but Sun said he needed his sleep, otherwise he would not be able to warm the day and help the earth to grow. The animals tried to make sure no one was ever left alone in the darkness.

Meanwhile, far away in the outer heavens, all the moons were getting ready to take their place in the universe. The earth moon was very shy and nervous. When it was time for her to travel to earth, she panicked and lost her way. Moon found herself in a distant dark galaxy all alone. Moon was scared and started to cry. It was so cold that her tears turned into ice crystals. The ice quickly surrounded Moon, trapping her. The more she sobbed, the thicker the ice wall became. No one could hear Moon's cries.

Back on earth, the animals loved their days roaming around country but still feared the darkness at nighttime. In the forest lived a large family of dingoes with lots of pups. One little dingo loved visiting and playing with all the animals and often travelled far from home chasing geckoes. Everyone loved Little Dingo, even the geckoes. Little Dingo knew where everyone lived and was always helping gather the little ones and get them safely back to their homes before dark.

One day Little Dingo was helping a baby wombat return to his den at sunset. Wombat was too heavy for Little Dingo to carry and Wombat walked so slowly that it took ages to reach his family. This left Little Dingo too far away from his own home when the darkness came. As the light faded, Little Dingo desperately tried to run home. Poor Little Dingo, he just could not find his way in the dark and could not even see where to shelter for the long night ahead. Little Dingo ran around frantically but he kept tripping over and bumping into things. He ended up falling into a deep crevice in the mountain. Little Dingo knew no one would be able to come looking for him until the morning. He was so scared he started to howl. He howled and howled and howled long into the night. His call echoed through the mountains and was amplified across the universe. His cry pierced the outer heavens and shattered the ice wall of tears holding Moon. Moon was finally free.

Moon could hear Little Dingo's howl and she knew in her heart she had to follow his voice. She no longer had to find her way across the universe on her own, she had Little Dingo guiding her to her rightful place above the earth. The shattered ice crystals slowly fell across the darkness to form stars along the path left by Moon in her hurried escape. As Moon arrived at the earth, a gentle glow surrounded Little Dingo. Little Dingo looked up in surprise to see a beautiful new moon smiling down at him, shrouded in a glittering night sky.

'You found me and rescued me,' said Moon gratefully.

'And you found me and rescued me!' said Little Dingo with great relief.

Moon gently laid down some moon dust to help Little Dingo climb out of the crevice and gave him a moonbeam to help him light the path on his way home.

All of the animals were overjoyed with Little Dingo's return and praised him for bringing light into the darkness. In celebration, all the dingoes got together that night and sang a welcome song to Moon and her stars.

Every evening Little Dingo would sing to Moon so she never felt scared or alone again. And every night Moon would light Little Dingo's path so he could always find his way home in the darkness — but Dingo kept his moonbeam close by just in case.



Some children are just like the penguin in this story. They seem to know about family and where everyone belongs. They are remarkable children and make for loyal and faithful friends.

Penguin was a very clever fellow. In particular, Penguin was a brilliant navigator. He could journey across both land and sea. He knew where everything was in Sky, and that is how he found his way around. Penguin understood where everyone belonged and was always able to find anyone who was lost.

One morning Penguin looked up at Sky and noticed emptiness was showing through in big patches. Everything had moved about and Penguin felt confused.

'Sky, why are you losing your colour?' asked Penguin. 'And why is everything in the wrong places?'

'I am worried,' Sky confided to Penguin, 'I don't know what is happening and it seems to be getting worse. If it keeps spreading, we will all disappear into the emptiness!'

'This is serious,' said Penguin.

Penguin set off to look for the blue by following where the emptiness was at its strongest. He climbed up to the top of a huge iceberg and looked out to sea. Suddenly, he heard a big splash and looked around to see an enormous whale leaping into Sky. Each time the whale came out of the water it spun around and wrapped itself in Sky, taking with it some of the blue.

'Whale,' Penguin called out, 'what are you doing?'

Whale was startled and hid under the water. Penguin waited and waited for Whale to re-surface. Finally, Whale lay on his side close to the water's edge so he could see if Penguin was still there.


Excerpted from "Wombat, Mudlark and Other Stories"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Helen Milroy.
Excerpted by permission of Fremantle Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Wombat and Mother Earth,
Mudlark and Sun,
Dingo and Moon,
Penguin and Sky,
Brolga and Little Star,
Gecko and Big Rock,
Platypus and River,
Frillneck Lizard and Tree,

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