The Adventurous Dunnarts

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

One morning Benson was digging a tunnel in the backyard when he heard a scurrying noise outside. He popped his head out to see what it was, and three little dunnarts ran over his nose.

“Oops, sorry!” they said. “We didn’t see you!”

The dunnarts were so small, Benson could have put them all in one of his pockets.

“Are you going somewhere?” he asked them.

The biggest one said, “We’re going on an adventure. It was my idea, but Teddy and Eddie wanted to come too so I let them.”

Teddy and Eddie said, “Gus is really smart. He always has the ideas.”

“What sort of adventure?” Benson asked. He liked adventures himself.

“We’re going to the beach,” Teddy said.

“The beach?” Benson said. He was very surprised. It was a long, long way to the beach, and the dunnarts had very short legs. “Isn’t it a really long way away?” he said.

“Dunno,” Gus said. He looked at Teddy and Eddie. They both shrugged too.

“What did your mum say, about going to the beach? Didn’t she tell you it was a long way?” Benson asked.

Gus said, “She never lets us go anywhere, so we didn’t tell her we were going.”

Eddie nodded. “We’ll tell her when we get back,” he said.

This didn’t sound like a good idea to Benson. “Do you even know where the beach is?” he asked.

“It’s got to be somewhere,” Gus said. “Don’t you know where it is?”

Benson said, “I know it’s a long way.”

Gus said to his two brothers, “I knew a wombat would know! Wombats know stuff!”

“Did you bring your hats, and your swimmers?” Benson asked.

“What for?” Gus said.

“For swimming. At the beach,” Benson said. “You know what a beach is, don’t you?”

Gus shrugged. “People go there for their holidays, so it’s probably got Christmas trees and Easter eggs and sparkly lights,” he said.

Benson thought this adventure seemed like a very bad idea. They didn’t know where they were going, or how far it was, or even what a beach was. “I don’t think this is a good idea,” he said.

“It’s a great idea,” Gus said. “Sparkly lights, having an adventure by ourselves – it’s going to be great. Come on, guys!”

Benson said, “Wait!” He thought about it. If he didn’t do something, they’d go off by themselves, and anything could happen to them. They could get lost, or hurt, or some animal might even eat them.

He said, “What about a different kind of adventure?”

Six little dunnart eyes looked at him. “Like what?” Gus said.

“How about exploring a really great wombat hole?” Benson said.

“Boring!” Gus said. “How about going to the circus?”

Benson thought fast. “It’s Tuesday,” he said. “The circus is shut on Tuesdays.”

“Let’s go and climb the Blue Mountains!” Teddy said.

Benson shook his head. “There are tigers in the Blue Mountains, and they eat dunnarts for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

“Even on Tuesdays?” Eddie asked.

“Especially on Tuesdays,” Benson said. “I could put you in the basket on my bike and take you for a ride?” he suggested.

“Baskets are for girls,” Gus said. “We want to have a proper adventure. Like wrestling a grizzly bear.”

“Or a crocodile,” Eddie said, “a really big crocodile.”

Benson couldn’t believe his ears. “Crocodiles smell bad,” he said, “and besides, they tell terrible jokes. I’ve got a better idea.”

“What?” said Teddy and Eddie.

“I’ll take you to my very own beach,” Benson said.

“That’s a great idea!” Gus said. “See?” he said to the others. “I told you wombats knew stuff.”

Benson said, “Just give me a minute.”

He dug a wide, shallow hole. Then he got a bucket and filled it up with water. He got a twig with leaves on it and stuck it in the ground to be a beach umbrella. “Here you go,” he said to the dunnarts, “your own private beach.”

“Yay!” they shouted. They ran over and jumped into the water. None of them knew how to swim so it was lucky the water only came up to their knees. They splashed and dived, and floated on their backs. Benson found a piece of bark for them to use as a surfboard, and he made waves in the water with his feet. They all fell off and got back on again, and fell off and got on again over and over. Gus and Eddie pushed Teddy off, and Teddy and Gus pushed Eddie off. Then Teddy started to feel sea-sick so Benson stopped making the waves and Teddy lay down under the umbrella until he felt better.

After that they pretended they were on a big ship, sailing out to sea. Benson got a triangle-shaped leaf and pretended he was a shark, but they all got frightened and hid under the beach umbrella. He had to pretend he was a life-guard and chase the shark away before they would get in the water again.

Everyone had a great time, until all the water soaked away into the ground, and the hole was empty.

“Time to go home,” Benson said.

As they ran off, Gus said to his brothers, “It’s Wednesday tomorrow. Let’s run away to the circus!”

“Yay!” said Teddy and Eddie.

Benson sighed, and went back to digging his tunnel.

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