Going South

Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a comfortable, tidy wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

It was a very hot summer, so hot that Benson spent day after day inside because it was too hot to play outside or ride his bike or even to dig. Even deep inside the wombat hole it was too hot to do anything.

Benson’s mother was sick of cooking and cleaning and doing the washing. “It’s too hot for all this work,” she said. “I’m taking a holiday. Let’s go away somewhere,” she said to Benson.

“How about we go to the beach?” Benson said.

“No, it’s too hot for the beach,” his mother said. “The sand would burn our feet, and there would be crowds of people.”

“How about going to the mountains?” he said.

“No, it’s too hot to climb all that way,” his mother said. “I know. Let’s go south.”

She packed some things into a bag, and they both got their hats and their water-bottles and said goodbye to Aunt Lillibet and Aunt Moss and set off.

They walked and walked a long way through the bush, for a long time. They came to a valley filled with tall, tall trees with smooth, white bark. “Is this south?” Benson asked.

“No,” said his mother, “not yet.”

They kept walking, through deep forests and thick bush, along tracks that Benson had never seen before. They came to a wide, smooth, shining lake. “Is this south?” Benson asked.

“No, not yet,” his mother said.

They kept on walking, up hills and down into valleys and up hills on the other side. Benson started to get very tired. All this walking was making him hotter than he had been at home. They saw some mountains in the distance, with a covering of white snow on the very top. “Is this south?” he asked.

“No, not yet,” his mother said.

They kept on walking. Benson’s feet were tired, and his water-bottle was nearly empty. He was just about to say that he thought going south was a bad idea when they came to a great wide sea. Cold blue waves washed against the shore and stretched away as far as he could see. He stood and stared. “Is this south?” he asked.

“Nearly,” his mother said.

They got into a big boat and sailed over the huge waves, up and down. Benson started to get very cold. “Is this south?” he asked, his teeth chattering.

“Just about,” his mother said.

Then they came to a place where giant mountains of ice rose out of the sea, and enormous blocks of ice bobbed in the water around them. Snow started to fall, like fluffy white rain. Benson gazed around, catching flakes of snow on his tongue and shivering. A penguin slid down the side of an ice hill and plopped into the water.

“Is this south?” Benson asked.

“Yes,” said his mother, “this is south.” She opened the bag and got out their warm, puffy jackets, their scarves and their woolly hats.

“Beautiful,” she smiled, looking around. “Now this is what I call going on holidays.”

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