Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a nice, comfortable wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
Benson’s friend, Mick, and his little sister, Bonnie Lou, came to Benson’s place to play. Aunt Lillibet was looking them while Mick’s mother went to a conference with Benson’s mother.
The weather was perfect so Benson and Mick spent all morning outside digging and playing submarines. Bonnie Lou played with them a bit but she didn’t like submarines and the others kept all the fun parts for themselves, like firing the torpedoes, and yelling ‘Dive! Dive! Dive!’, so she got bored and wandered off to play by herself.
She found some big gumnuts under an old woollybutt tree. She pretended they were babies and played tea-parties for a while, and when that got boring, she found some casuarina seeds and decided to tie them all together and make a necklace. The trouble was the tying part.
She tried winding grass around them, but that didn’t work. She tried poking a hole in them with a stick but that didn’t work. She tried gluing them together with mud but that didn’t work. She got so frustrated that she threw them on the ground and stamped and screamed.
Aunt Lillibet came rushing out. “What’s the matter? Is there a snake?” she said.
“I want to make a necklace but it won’t work!” Bonnie Lou said, starting to cry.
“Don’t cry!” Aunt Lillibet said. “Wait here.”
Aunt Lillibet went inside and got out her box of beads and a needle and some thin elastic. She threaded red and pink and green beads on the elastic and tied it in a circle. It made a very pretty necklace.
She took it outside and said to Bonnie Lou, “Here you are.”
Bonnie Lou didn’t even look at it. She was jumping on her gumnuts and yelling.
Benson and Mick came up to see if it was time for lunch yet and if Aunt Lillibet had brought some food out.
“Lunch is in two hours,” Aunt Lillibet said. “If you’re hungry, you can have some fruit.”
Mick said, “Did you make that for Bonnie Lou?”
Aunt Lillibet said, “I don’t think she likes it.”
Mick said, “She always wants to make things herself, but the things she makes never work out. She’s just a baby. She can’t do anything.”
Aunt Lillibet suddenly looked very fierce. Mick and Benson both ran for the shelter of the submarine, shouting, “Dive! Dive! Dive!”
Aunt Lillibet said to Bonnie Lou, “I can help you make a necklace if you like. Bring all those gumnuts inside.”
They went inside, and Aunt Lillibet got out a very tiny drill. She drilled a hole right through each of the gumnuts, and she showed Bonnie Lou how to thread elastic through them. It made a beautiful necklace.
Bonnie Lou put it on, and smiled very happily.
Aunt Lillibet said, “You know, we could paint them different colours.” She got out her paints, and they painted the gumnuts all different colours and made beautiful bracelets out of them. Bonnie Lou put them all up her arms, and Aunt Lillibet put one on too.
Bonnie Lou said, “I found some interesting seeds before. Maybe we could use them too.” She showed Aunt Lillibet the seeds she had found, some shiny and some spiky and some that looked like stripy wood. They polished them with some of Aunt Lillibet’s sandpaper to make them smoother and shinier. Aunt Lillibet drilled holes in them and Bonnie Lou threaded them together in patterns, and made beautiful necklaces and bracelets until they ran out of elastic.
There were still some gumnuts left over. Aunt Lillibet said, “You know, if you glued on a little piece of felt, and painted a little face on it, it would look like a little person.”
Aunt Lillibet got out her scrap box and they glued little hats and pants and dresses on the gumnuts, and made them hair with little bits of wool. They made gumnut babies and gumnut mothers and fathers and aunties, and bank-robber gumnuts and astronaut gumnuts and pilot gumnuts. At lunchtime they were still busy, so Benson made sandwiches for everybody. They glued and painted and snipped and made things all day.
When Benson’s mother and Mick’s mother came home, Bonnie Lou and Aunt Lillibet were surrounded by gumnut people. Bonnie Lou was wearing three necklaces and Aunt Lillibet was wearing two. “I made this necklace for you,” Bonnie Lou said to her mother, “and I made this one for you,” she said to Benson’s mother.
“They’re absolutely beautiful!” said Benson’s mother. “You’re so clever, Bonnie Lou! And what did you boys do today?” she asked Mick.
“Um, we dug, and we played,” Mick said.
Mick’s mother thanked Aunt Lillibet for looking after them. Aunt Lillibet said, “It was no trouble at all. Bonnie Lou is very good with her hands, and very creative. I had the most fun I’ve had for ages!”
Bonnie Lou smiled and gave Aunt Lillibet a big hug.
Benson said, “You know, these astronauts are great. It would be really good if you could make a kind of rocket for them, and a space station.”
Bonnie Lou smiled. “No problem,” she said. “Leave it with me.”