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

Aunt Lillibet had made herself a new hat. It was made of plastic grapes and cellophane, with a cauliflower made out of a face-washer stuck on the top. She thought it looked wonderful. Benson thought it looked extremely odd.

“I think I’ll go and show it to Nanna,” she said. “Nanna appreciates true originality.”

Benson asked if he could go too. There was usually cake at Nanna’s, or at least jam-and-cream sandwiches. They set off together. Aunt Lillibet was wearing her new hat very proudly.

Halfway along the track to Nanna’s they came to the forest of silky oak trees. It was Benson’s favourite part of the track, especially when the trees were covered in their orangey-golden flowers. Their branches reached up and bent over and touched in the middle of the track, so it was like walking through a golden tunnel.

Just when they reached the middle of the silky oaks, an unfortunate thing happened. Plop! Something white and sticky dropped out of the trees and landed on Aunt Lillibet’s hat.

Aunt Lillibet took off her hat to see. There was a long white streak of something nasty dripping all down her cauliflower. “Oh no!” she said. “Look what some rude bird has done to my hat!”

Benson said, “Oh well, you’ll just have to put it in the bin.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “My new hat? Certainly not! I’ll think of something.”

When they got to Nanna’s place, she tried to scrub the white slime off but the cellophane melted and the grapes all fell off. “My poor hat!” said Aunt Lillibet. “Never mind, I’ll think of something.” She took the cauliflower off and made it into a kind of cactus with yellow tubes worming out of it that were actually some old noodles she had found in Nanna’s fridge. She put it on and said,”There! Isn’t it wonderful?”

“Well, I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Nanna said.

“I think it’s even better than it was before,” Aunt Lillibet said.

Nanna patted her hand kindly. “If you think so, Lillibet,” she said.

Benson thought it looked like a compost heap had exploded on top of her head.

They had some of Nanna’s carrot and banana cake and lime syrup milkshakes, and then they set off for home again.

Just as they got to the silky oak forest, an unfortunate thing happened. Plop!

“Oh no, I don’t believe it!” Aunt Lillibet said. “Those disgusting birds!”

Benson actually thought it looked better with the white streak covering up some of the noodles, but Aunt Lillibet was quite upset. “My beautiful hat!” she said.

Benson looked up in the trees but he couldn’t see any birds at all. “Look at it this way, Aunt Lillibet,” he said. “If you hadn’t been wearing your hat, it would have been worse.”

That didn’t make her feel any better at all. When they got home, she spent a long time in her room making a new hat out of a bed-sock and some old toothbrushes, all painted yellow. Benson thought it looked like an alien had emptied its garbage bin on her head, but Aunt Lillibet was very proud of it. “Come on, Benson, I can’t wait to show Nanna,” she said.

“But what about the birds?” Benson said.

“They won’t get me this time, those dratted birds!” Aunt Lillibet said “I’m taking an umbrella!”

She put the umbrella up, and she and Benson set off. When they came to the silky oaks, they tried to hurry through the trees, but just as they reached the middle she heard a plop!

Aunt Lillibet looked out from under the umbrella. There was a big white spot on it. “Ha!” she said. “You missed my hat this time, you stupid birds! Lucky I had my umbrella!” There was another plop! A big white streak landed right on Aunt Lillibet’s nose.

“Arwwwk!” she yelled. “You nasty, disgusting creatures! Wait till I get my hands on you!”

Benson looked carefully at the white stuff on Aunt Lillibet’s nose. He sniffed it, then he got some on his finger and he tasted it.

“Eeuyeww, Benson, that’s disgusting,” Aunt Lillibet said.

“No, it’s not,” Benson said, “it’s ice cream.”

“Ice cream?” Aunt Lillibet said. They both looked up into the trees, but the leaves and flowers were too thick for them to see anything. Benson thought he heard a little giggle but it might have been the wind.

“Come on, Aunt Lillibet,” he said. “Let’s go and see Nanna.”

Nanna listened carefully to what Benson was saying. “It’s definitely ice cream,” she said. “I think someone might be playing a trick on you, Lillibet. Why don’t we see if we can teach them a lesson?”

She got out the water-pistols she used when she wanted to get the white moths off her cabbages and they filled them up.

They hid them behind their backs until they got to the silky oak forest. Benson said in a loud voice, “I hope there aren’t any of those pesky birds around.” They heard a giggle from high up in the trees, then a big drop of melted ice-cream plopped out of the trees. Benson jumped out of the way just in time. “Now!” he shouted.

Everyone fired their water-pistols up into the trees, splash, splat, sploosh, until they were empty. “Ha, ha, you missed us!” Nils and Nella yelled. “Come on, let’s go!” The two possums scampered away through the trees with the rest of their ice-cream, laughing and giggling.

Just as they got to the last tree, there was a loud ‘kaa-kaa’ sound overhead. A big cockatoo flapped slowly past. Plop! Plop! There were long white streaks right on top of Nils and Nella’s heads.

Nanna waved to the cockatoo as it flew away. “Thanks, Frankie! Perfect shot!”

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