Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a very nice, roomy wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
One day Benson was coming home from visiting his grandmother with his mother when he noticed something big and furry in a tree. “Look, there’s a really big possum,” he said to his mother.
“I think it’s a tree kangaroo,” she said, “although they usually don’t come this far south.”
Benson rolled over on the ground, laughing. “A tree kangaroo?”
His mother said. “There’s a special kind of kangaroo that lives in trees. They’re very good at climbing and jumping.”
Benson thought that was an amazing idea. “Are there tree wombats, too?”
“No, of course not, “ his mother said.
Benson started thinking about it. He couldn’t see why not. He imagined looking out from the top of a tree, seeing the whole bush spread out below him. All it needed was the right kind of tree, with strong branches that wouldn’t snap off when he sat on them. As soon as they got home, he started looking around.
Later on he came into the kitchen where his mother was working.
“Can you hold the ladder for me, please?” he asked.
“The ladder?” his mother said. “What do you need the ladder for?”
“Well, I found a tree just the right size, but the branches are a bit too high up from the ground.”
“A tree the right size for what?” his mother asked.
“For me to live in,” Benson said. “I’m going to be the first tree wombat.”
“Benson,” his mother said, “have you thought about this?”
“Yep,” Benson said. “I’ve got my books and a bucket to catch rain water, and a torch, and some apples and carrots. And maybe my paints, but I’m not sure if the branch will be big enough.”
Benson’s mother wasn’t sure either, but she went out and held the ladder. Benson climbed up slowly, holding the bucket in one hand. Even climbing the ladder wasn’t easy. At the top, he climbed out onto a strong branch, and gave a little jump. Nothing happened, except his mother gave a little squeak. He gave a bigger jump, and a bigger jump. “This one seems strong enough,” he said.
He hung the bucket up, then he climbed down the ladder. He got the torch and climbed up again. He put it in a crack in the tree trunk and he climbed down again. He picked up one of the apples and went up again and put it in a hollow in the branch and came down again. He picked up the next apple.
“Benson,” his mother said, “I’ve got a lot of work to do to get ready for the council meeting tonight. I can’t hold this ladder all afternoon.”
“Okay, I’ll get the rest later,” he said. “I’ll just get one of my books. “ He chose his favourite book and climbed up again.
Benson’s mother went inside. She sat down and got ready to work and then she heard him calling from the back yard.
She went back out again. “What is it?” she asked.
“I finished my book,” Benson said. “Could you hold the ladder while I get another one, please?”
Benson’s mother went inside and got a basket and some rope. She threw the rope up to Benson and he tied it to his branch. She filled the basket with books and Benson hauled it up with the rope. She went inside again.
She sat down and picked up her pen and found the place she was up to and then she heard Benson calling again. She went back out outside. “What is it?” she asked.
“I finished my apple,” he said.
He dropped the basket down to her and she filled it up with apples and carrots, and he hauled it up to the branch. She went inside again.
She made a cup of tea and sat down to work and then she heard Benson calling again.
“I finished all the apples and the carrots, and I want to get down and do some digging,” he said.
Benson’s mother held the ladder while he climbed down.
“When you’re a tree wombat, you miss digging,” he said.
“I can imagine,” his mother said. She went back inside. She folded the washing and she made some soup then she made a cake and then she heard him calling again. She put down the spoon and went outside.
“I’ve found a better tree,” he said. He took her into the bush a little way, and there was an old, old gum tree that had fallen down in a storm many years ago. It was resting flat on the earth, and part of its trunk was rotten and hollowed out by small animals and termites.
“I’ve dug a tunnel that comes up right in the middle of the old tree where the trunk is hollow,” he said. “There’s room for everything, all my books, the torch, the bucket and even my paints.”
“It’s very nice,” said his mother, “and no need for a ladder.”
“I think that to be a tree wombat, you need the right kind of tree,” he said.
“Yes,” said his mother.
“You can come and visit, if you like,” Benson said.
“Why don’t I bring some banana and walnut cake, and we can have a house-warming?” his mother said.
“Great idea,” Benson said.