Welcome to Bollygum

bollygum title

Story and Paintings by Garry Fleming
First published by Weldon Kids 1995.


A tale of precious places and treasured friends.
Amongst our forests and woodlands there are untouched pockets where time stands still.
This is a story of one such place and the creatures that dwell in its valley.
This is the story of Bollygum. . .

Bollygum COVER

Front cover

Set in the Australian bush we meet wombat, a nervous content fellow that loves to fish everyday. One morning he is startled by the sound of someone crying, and discovers a little possum. Wombat soon learns that she is from the city and had been separated from her family, caught, and released into the bush.

Wombat decides they should visit the reclusive platypus for help, who suggests Wombat should call a town meeting. All the creatures of Bollygum meet at the big stump to discuss little possum’s dilemma.

The city is a mystery for the little creatures of Bollygum, no one knows how to get there.

Frogmouth, the wise wizard castes his spell to summons the cockatoo, who they believe might have seen the city in his travels. But it’s ring-tail possum that arrives with the information they need, a map that had belonged to his grandfather, and so the adventure begins. . .

Wombat’s compassion gives him and his friends the courage to venture beyond the land they know to take little possum back to her family. Each stage of their journey is a wonderful adventure through the bush with all sorts of mishaps and wonders.

Bollygum is a story of mateship and courage that has captured the hearts of Australian children since 1995. The story introduces the reader to some of Australia’s unique flora and fauna, the habitats in which they live, and the need for their protection.

In 2009 the Chinese edition of Bollygum was launched with the highest print-run of an Australian story sold into the Chinese market.

In Kingslake Victoria there is a wonderful community park, Bollygum Park, based on the characters and places featured in the book.

In 2013 Bollygum was one of the classic Australian children’s books chosen by the Victorian Government, as a gift to Prince William and Kate, on the birth of Prince George.

To mark the 20th Anniversary of Bollygum Garry and I decided to put together this blog so we provide some background information about the book, and create more content and resources for parents, teachers, librarians, readers and other fans.

best regards
Leonie Weldon


“The small house could just be seen amongst the yellow wattle.”

The Yellow Wattle in Bollygum is also known as Sydney Golden Wattle.

A.K.A. – Acacia longifolia

Scientific name, Acacia longiflolia.

Acacia is derived from the Greek name akakia, which refers to a thorny wattle that grows on the Nile River in Egypt.

Longifolia is a Latin word, which means ‘long leaves’.

The plant is from the family Fabaceae Mimosoideae. There are more than 950 wattle species in Australia.

The common name ‘Wattle’ was first used by the early British settlers. Wattle was the name of the smaller flexible branches woven in a frame to form a panel used in Anglo-saxon building techniques. The early settlers found that the Acacia was perfect to use for the ancient building method and so it was soon referred to as ‘Wattle’.

wattle construction

‘wattle’ construction

It was named ‘Sydney’ Golden wattle because it is common in the Sydney area.

The Yellow Wattle is native to the east coast of Australia, from Victoria to Queensland, and grows in different types of vegetation — in heathlands, woodlands and forests, often near water in creek beds or swamplands.

Because it grows so easily and has such bright, abundant flowers, it is now being grown around the world, in South Africa, New Zealand, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, Indonesia, Israel, Spain, Portugal, Mauritius and the USA.

The Yellow Wattle can grow to be a large shrub or even a small tree 6-8m tall, but it is usually a bushy shrub, and lives between 10-20 years.

Its bark is grey and smooth.

Yellow Wattle leaves are not really leaves, they are actually flat bright to dark green stalks called petiole. They are flat, long and thin, about 20mm wide and 5-20cm long, and narrow towards the tip. On most plants leaves grow from petiole, but not on the Wattles, they don’t actually have any leaves.

The Yellow Wattle has plenty of flowers, which grow from early winter to early spring. They are bright yellow and are long and thin and rod-shaped.

sydney golden wattle

Sydney Golden Wattle also known as Yellow Wattle

After the wattle flowers, drooping seed pods develop. These are narrow and long. They start off green at the beginning of summer, but turn brown. In each pod are four to 10 oval black seeds, which are smooth and shiny.

The plants reproduce by planting seeds. They get dispersed by animals, insects and birds, and by people.

When the Yellow Wattle flowers, it attracts bees and other insects. Parrots enjoy the seeds and pods, and wood-boring insects are attracted to the older, more woody plants.

Yellow Wattles are popular to grow, because in winter they are a mass of flowers.

They can grow in many soil types, and love plenty of sun.

The Yellow Wattle doesn’t need much attention, and is good for preventing the soil from eroding. It can also form a good wind break. It was used in South Africa to stabilise sand dunes, but then grew so much that it became a weed.

It is tough enough to withstand frost.

The early British settlers constructed wattle and daub buildings using the branches of the Black Wattle (Callicoma serratifolia).

wattle and daub house

Image courtesy of: State Library New South Wales ” This house was constructed in regulation style, without sills, by simply driving saplings into the ground at regular intervals, on either side of which were fastened the wattles or split limbs, forming horizontal half-rounds, the space between them being filled in solid with a mixture of earth, water, and grass. The roof was made of saplings and gum bark, and a chimney erected of slabs and finished with a barrel. A trench was then dug around the hut to drain off the water, and the new residence was complete.  ” Gus Pierce 1871

Early Australian colonial settlers cultivated Wattle and used the bark to tan hides, the tannin from the bark was known for its antiseptic properties.

In 1901, with Federation, Australians looked to native plants to build the nation’s identity.

Archibald Campbell instilled pride in the wattle, and set up Wattle Day in New South Wales in September 1909. This day of celebration was soon taken up in Victoria and Queensland. the 1st of September is Wattle Day.

Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) was declared the floral emblem of Australia in 1912 and appeared on the coat of arms.

The first Australian stamp with an illustration of wattle was the 1913 penny red stamp.


Wattle wood is light, tough and hardy, and is used to make tool handles. It can be used as fuel.

Traditionally, Aboriginal Australians also used it as a source of food, gum and fibre.

They created a toffiee by soaking the gum of the golden wattle in water and honey.

When the Sydney Golden Wattle flowered, the Aboriginal people of the Sydney knew it was time to fish for mullet.

In some areas the Acacia longifolia subspecies longifolia has become an environmental weed (Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia)

Bushfires will kill older plants but will stimulate seedlings to germinate. After bushfires masses of new seedlings will appear, ready to replace the older shrubs.


Bollygum has always had a bit of magic, an ability to touch people in unexpected ways. It is only now, in its 20th year, as we take the opportunity to look back and reflect, that we understand more why this book has remained an Australian favourite.

As we started to put together plans for the launch of the 20th Anniversary edition in September, Garry’s high school daughter Claire was given a school assignment. To her amazement, the task was to analyse the story of Bollygum. She confessed to the teacher that her dad was the author. Delighted, her teacher asked her to interview her father about the inspiration behind the story.

‘It’s funny’, Garry said, ‘I’d never really discussed it before, but when I started talking to Claire about it for her project, I realised how significant all these things were and why Bollygum always had that special something, and has remained so dear to me.”

Here are Claire’s notes from her interview with her father. Garry’s words provide a wonderful insight and reveal the special threads that wove the story of Bollygum

I began writing the story when I was about 18. I recorded a draft, and then put it down for many years. After gaining a break in the publishing world through Leonie Weldon, owner of Weldon Kids publishing, I revisited the idea. Leonie appointed Ian Cockerill, a wonderful journalist and author as managing editor on the project and with his mentorship it took about six months to complete the story.

The story has always remained a personal favourite, as it was written about my childhood — events, characters and places.

The idea was to write about animals, applying the traits and personalities of those closest to me. I grew up in a loving household with my parents, my brother and my Grandad, my mum’s father, Lawrence ‘Laurie’ Balzan.

Grandad was instrumental in who I am today. He was an incredible, intelligent man. He taught me how to make things, how to fish and how to be a better person. He was an amazing recycler (long before it became the way of the world), making clothes and undergarments from old bedsheets, and fishing floats from our used Chupa Chups sticks. He made kites from discarded Christmas wrapping paper, and re-darned 30 year old socks. (Mind you, his drawers were full of brand new un-opened packs he had been given over many years on birthdays and the like).

Some of his favourite sayings were,  ‘Mother nature was the necessity of Invention,’ (which was his version of “Necessity is the mother of invention”) and, “Laurie don’t worry”!

I have never had a friend like him, and I never will. The illustration of Wombat fishing at the start of the book is a painting of our favourite fishing spot at Picnic Point on the George’s River.

Wombat fishing

Wombat fishing

Of course my Grandad is the wise Possum in the story —the guy who solves the problems and gets the job done. I wrote myself into the story as a Platypus: a character who loves to paint and fish, and lives on the outskirts of town.

Goanna was a late entry to the story, and began as a character based on my Uncle Walter ( Laurie’s son.) He was a large man, a fearless sailor and fisherman, a man of the sea, who took on anything or anyone and beat it with pure strength! As the story evolved I gave him a real you-can-do-anything attitude,  incorporating a little bit of Leonie Weldon. She gave me the belief I could write a bestseller!

Wombat was actually based on a guy a few years older than me who lived in my street. He was quite a shy, misunderstood boy. I gave Wombat’s character some things that meant lots to me — like wanting to catch fish all the time, and always admiring someone who could.

I drew on Little Possum’s character from a girl I had met a few years before. She was little and cute, and we really hit it off. I even considered a long-term relationship with her.

But we ended up being very different in our outlook on the future. She was a city girl who could never see herself living in the country or the bush, and I was the opposite. I used her surname for the city family where Possum lived, ‘The Raymonds’. As fate would have it, we are still great friends today; and guess what — she lives with her family in the heart of Sydney, and I live with mine … in the country.

Wombat and Possum on their way to Platypus's house

Wombat and Little Possum and their way to Platypus’ house.

leaving Bollygum

Sunset as the party leave Bollygum on their adventure

The illustrations of Little Possum and Wombat walking down the path to Platypus’ house and the sunset over the gorge as they leave Bollygum were both inspired by one of my family’s favourite bushwalks from Wentworth Falls to Murphy Glen in the Blue Mountains National park just out of Sydney.

The story is really just an adventure. It has a strong environmental message, exploring our great country and its wild places.

The story also has lots of sentimental moments, and these are also based on my experiences. My Grandad passed away from leukemia just before I completed the story. In my original writings, wise Possum found the healing tree. However, after Grandad passed, I changed the story, and wise Possum was devastated that he never found the healing tree. It was exactly how I felt: I didn’t find a healing tree for my Grandad. The blue button also revolves around his passing. He gave me a blue sapphire ring that had belonged to his dad. He asked me to ‘keep it safe’. I keep it in a small felt box in my desk drawer.

So these are some of the reasons that this story will always remain my favourite book. I hope it lives on for many years to come.

August 2015, 20 years after Bollygum was first published, and 26 years after I first thought of the story.

Lawrence Balzan, 'Laurie'

My grandfather ‘Laurie’ eating his home-made soup that he made every day.

Garry Fleming is an award-winning wildlife artist, author, and illustrator with 137 titles published, in more than 56 languages, making him one of the world’s most published wildlife artists. He has won several awards for his work, including the Royal Agricultural Society’s Birds and Wildlife Award, the Wilderness Award for Book Illustration, the Australasian Zoological Award 2000, and the Highly Commended Wildlife Art Society of Australasia Award.’Bollygum’ was one of Garry’s first works to be published and remains an Australian classic.

“I grew up in Panania in Sydney’s south-west, and spent most of my spare time on the Georges River, which is where my love of nature begun. I was very influenced by my grandad, Mum’s father. When my Nan died mum and dad sold their house in Bankstown and we moved into Pop’s little two bedroom house. Mum and dad thought Panania would be a great place for my brother and I and then they could also look after Pop— I was five at the time.

I would often come home from school to find a note from Granddad: ‘Gone fishing. Hurry up. Pop.’ So I’d grab my bike and be off.

Every day I would leap off the bus after school and rush home, hoping to find a note waiting for me.  Picnic Point on the Georges River was our favourite spot.

Granddad and I shared a room, with me on the top bunk. He would often get into trouble for having the telly on too late on a school night, or for hanging out my window smoking.

I had a wonderful childhood. Mum’s sister lived next door, which meant my brother and I grew up with six cousins as play mates, and we remain close today.

Dad was Scottish, a leadlighter by trade, and mum was Maltese; she was a seamstress.

Dad was always called Scotty, although his real name was George. He was a quiet, gentle man, a good provider, and a hard worker. I could count on one hand the amount of sick days he took during his working life. I never saw him drunk, and I never saw him lose his temper.

Mum was the opposite of Dad — a typical fiery Maltese woman. If she was pushed too far, she could throw stuff.

My dad always loved music, and dabbled in bands in his youth; when I was a kid he started doing stand-up comedy on weekends. His called himself Angus McFungus, and he was soon in great demand; he also sometimes got work as a Paul Hogan lookalike in commercials.

When I was about 16, Dad left leadlighting and went into fulltime entertainment. It was Mum who put her foot down:  the strain of Dad working two jobs was getting too much for her; he’d get home from work and then be off again to some gig. So she said he had to decide – her, or his music. To her surprise he quit his job so he could have both.

He then came home with a keyboard, and said to Mum he was going to teach her to play, which was pretty funny as mum didn’t have a musical bone in her body. Mum was horrified but after much protest, and a lot of practise, she ended up on stage with him playing the keyboard — and carried on doing it for over 20 years.

Dad was a true entertainer and a very funny MC. Together they played Country pop music and their act was called Toucan Do It Two. They performed on the Club circuit, on cruiseships, private parties and corporate events.

Their partnership and love for each other has always been an inspiration to me. They fell in love when mum was 16 and married a year later, but even in their 60’s you’d catch them cuddling and laughing in a corner.

I always wanted to do kids’ books, and used to make them myself when I was a kid. I’d collect feathers and leaves and stick them in the pages, with notes.

I even got into taxidermy, much to my mum’s horror as I didn’t really know what I was doing. I remember being proud of an owl I had stuffed with cotton wool, but the smell of it when it went off was enough to drive Mum crazy.

From a very young age art was my hobby but I failed art at school, mainly because of the theory, which bored me. I left school after Year 10 and got work as a labourer.

I went from job to job. I worked in a carpentry factory, and did a bit of sheet metal work, concreting, and even upholstery.

I then got accepted into a training program with the town planning department at the local council. My days were spent drawing buildings, trees and cars and after three months working as an unpaid intern, they offered me a fulltime position. I was there for a year before I was let go. I found out later the Mayor’s son wanted my job, so I was sacrificed.

I was driving home on my last day of work when I saw an old schoolmate at the traffic lights. We had a chat, and it turned out he was working as an illustrator at a souvenir company. He said they were looking for more illustrators, and suggested I contact them. I applied, and got the job.

Perfection Souvenirs made everything from fridge magnets and stickers to t-shirts and mugs for the tourist market. My boss was a wonderful mentor, and taught me many things about illustration and production. It was here that I started perfecting my style. I worked there for four years before leaving to pursue a career in wildlife art. My dream was to get into books. I had enough savings to live for about four months while I started knocking on doors.

Australian Geographic Magazine gave me some freelance work for a space project, which was encouraging. I then landed a job as an apprentice picture framer and was deciding if I should take this more stable option, but I broke my knee so I couldn’t take the job. I felt this was a sign to keep trying to make it as an illustrator.

I picked up some more freelance work from my old boss and cleaned toilets at an auction house to subsidise my income. I did this for two years, every day from 4am to 9am.

During this time I caught up with an old girlfriend for coffee. She gave me a copy of Birds International, a high quality magazine of the time. I made an appointment to meet with the publisher, Grant Young.

Dad waited in the car while I hobbled in on crutches to see Grant. He didn’t have any work for me, but he said there was a lady downstairs I should meet. He then took me to the office downstairs to introduce me to Leonie Weldon. He never mentioned she was his wife.

Leonie ran Weldon Kids, a small children’s publishing company. When I walked in she was discussing an upcoming project with a customer, The Big Book of Wild Australia, a huge glossy cardboard book. Every page was to be a montage of Australian animals from each habitat.

When Leonie asked if I thought I could do it I jumped at the chance. I walked out with the contract shell-shocked, this would be the biggest thing I had ever done, and it would be ‘my’ book, my first book. Not only that, I could quit cleaning toilets. It was a huge project and took over six months to complete. We sold 65,000 copies in two months, and followed it up with a calendar that sold out in a month.

Weldon Kids then offered me a contract to be their in-house illustrator. Over the next two years I produced other titles ‘Wild Australia-Close-up’, ‘ Just Imagine’, ‘The Very Ordinary Caterpillar’, ‘Home for Christmas’, and of course ‘Bollygum’, along with any other illustrative work that was needed. It was a busy time and not limited to just painting and writing.

When Weldon Kids were asked to quickly produce a one-off magazine on the bushfires in ’94 Leonie had me down the National Park taking photos. I got access with a bogus ACF name tag. Weldon Kids was doing very well, we were all under 30, we all worked hard, but God did we had fun.

Weldon Kids nurtured me and believed in my talents. The time there gave me the confidence to have a go at writing my own stories. Leonie involved me in every area of publishing to teach me as much as she could. I visited printers to understand the printing process, and worked with writers, editors and designers. I went to the International Children’s Book Fair in Bologna with her, and she organised for me to visit the world famous bird illustrator Bill Cooper to pick his brains.

Weldon Kids was a gun team of young people producing great quality children’s books. They worked closely with a great team at Scholastic who distributed their books. It was during this time that I showed Leonie my first draft of Bollygum, with a couple of illustrations.

‘From the minute I looked at Wombat walking down that bush path and read the rough draft of Garry’s story I knew it was special. But most of all I thought, at last we have a title which can showcase all of Garry’s talent, and his personality. The story had a good environmental message, was all Australian, portrayed true mateship, was wholesome and even had humour’  Leonie Weldon.

In 1999 Leonie decided to close down the production office of Weldon Kids to spend more time with her children, who were now getting to high school age. We had had a good year; it was nice to finish on a high.

I was then out on my own again, but I was busy from the moment I stepped out that door.

To date I have 137 titles under my belt, with worldwide sales of over 5 million. I now have a publishing company of my own, and have a few art exhibitions a year selling my paintings.

Over all the years Leonie and I have stayed close and have always wanted to work together again. The 20th Anniversary launch of Bollygum is just the start, we have many things planned.

I now live on my property, ‘Pineberry’, in the Southern Highlands, with my gorgeous wife Sandy and our four beautiful children, Clare, 16, Grace, 15, Ruby, 6, and little Max, who is 4.

We live in a rambling weatherboard house I built with wide wrap-around verandahs, and leadlight windows made by my father before he passed away. Like dad, I do a bit of music on the side, and have a band, ‘The Dirt Road Band‘, playing country rock and rhythm. We write a lot of the songs, I’m the lead singer and we have fun playing at different pubs and events.

Both my parents and my pop have passed away and I miss them a great deal but their influence on who I am and how I live is still strong. My love of life, my work ethic, the importance of family, believing in your dreams and having a go, all these things came from them, along with a good dose laughter.

Looking back I feel very grateful, here I am living here with kids running across the veranda, chickens in the backyard, working in my studio, surrounded by family, doing what I love.”

Garry onsite putting the finishing touches to a commission work.

Garry onsite putting the finishing touches to a commission work.




‘Wombat lived in a small house under the shadow of a tall ghost gum.”

A.K.A. Vombatus ursinus,

The scientific name of the wombat comes partly from Latin – ‘ursinus’ means ‘bear’ – and partly from the word ‘vomat’ or ‘vombach’ from the Darug Aboriginal language.

Wombat in Bollygum is a Common Wombat. This species is also known as the Bare-Nosed Wombat, the Naked-Nosed Wombat, or the Island Wombat. The other wombat species are the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat and the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat.

The wombat is the animal most closely related to the koala. Like koalas, wombats are marsupials — this means that the mother has a pouch, and when she gives birth to her baby it lives in the pouch for a while, drinking her milk.

The different wombat species live in different areas. Common Wombats are usually found in Tasmania, and live mainly in forest-covered areas in south-eastern Australia.

Common Wombats have large noses with no fur on them, small ears, and thick coarse fur like toothbrush bristles. Their fur can be sandy in colour, or brown or black.

Wombats grow up to about a metre long, and can weigh up to 40 kg. They have wide feet and claws and strong limbs. This makes it easy for them to make tunnels in the ground, or burrows, in which they live and also hide from their predators. They are the largest burrowing mammal, and the second biggest marsupial — only kangaroos are bigger.

Wombats have strong teeth, but because they are always chewing on tough grasses their teeth wear down. Fortunately, unlike most other species, their teeth grow continuously.

Though wombats move slowly, they can speed up to about 40 km/h if in danger. When wombats feel threatened or angry, they growl or hiss.

When young wombats are lost, they communicate with their mothers by calling ‘huh, huh’ repeatedly. Their mothers reply with the same sounds.

Wombats throw sand over themselves to get clean, and they like to swim.

They are nocturnal animals. They come out of their burrows after sunset, when the air temperature cools. They usually go back to their burrows before sunrise, and stay there for most of the day.

Wombats are herbivores — they are plant eaters. They like to eat roots and grasses, and sometimes tree bark also. If they can, they graze on crops, and are unpopular with farmers.

Wombats have one baby at a time, about once every two years. Pregnancy lasts for only a month before the baby is born. The baby is not fully developed at birth. It makes its way to the mother’s pouch, and stays there for six to ten months, growing and developing. Then it leaves the pouch, but stays with its mother for several months more before moving away to live independently. If danger threatens, it goes back into the pouch.

Wombats can live for five to ten years in the wild, but in captivity they can live as long as 30 years.

A group of wombats is known as a ‘wisdom’.

To escape predators, wombats dive into one of their tunnels and block the entrance with their bottoms.

Wombat Day is on 22 October every year around the world.

Australia celebrates Hairy Nose Day on 11 May each year. On this day people ‘Wear Whiskers for Wildlife’ to draw attention to endangered species, and the Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat is used a symbol for all endangered species.

Dingoes, foxes and Tasmanian devils are the wombat’s natural predators. Wild dogs, which are an introduced species in Australia, are a great threat to weaker wombats, such as babies, injured animals and older animals. If a wombat is attacked by a single dog, it will usually be strong enough to survive, but it wouldn’t be able to keep up a fight against a pack of dogs.

Though it has predators, the Common Wombat is not considered an endangered species. But other types of wombats are more endangered. The Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat is critically endangered, which means that this species may soon become extinct.

Though in most places in Australia wombats are protected by law, they are considered vermin in Victoria because they eat through fences and destroy crops.

Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals, 1990, vol.1, McGraw-Hill, New York


Orange Passionflowers

‘Wombat lived in a small house under the shadow of a tall ghost gum.

Perfumes from his garden of orange passionflowers and pink boronias filled the air. ‘

A.K.A. Blunt-leaved passionfruit Native passionfruit Red passionflower

Botantical Name:   Passiflora Aurantia (Passiflora comes from the Greek passio, meaning passion, which refers to the ‘passion of Christ’. If you look at Passionflower species found elsewhere, the choice of name is easier to understand as the busier, more intricate varieties obviously reminded someone of the crown of thorns. Aurantia comes from the Latin word aurantius, which means orange coloured.)

The Orange Passionflower found in Wombat’s garden is one of two native passionfruit plant species found in Australia. This plant occurs naturally from north-eastern New South Wales up to north Queensland, and grows on the edges of the rainforest or in sandy loam soils where nutrients are low.  It is common in Cairns.

This plant is a climber. Its slender vine develops wonderful curly bits to help it grab on to other plants and branches. Its green leaves are flat, with three shallow rounded lobed ends, and grow up to 7cm long.

The flowers are about 4-8 cm in diameter. When they first start to open the petals are creamy in colour before gradually turning to pink and then orangey red over a 3-7 day period; the flowers never open completely before falling off. The flowers on one plant will all bloom at different times, so all the stages of the colour variations can be seen together when the plant is in flower. This plant flowers mainly in Winter and Spring, but does produce some flowers all year round.

From the flower comes the green round fruit. The pulp is greyish in colour and filled with black seeds, each about 3mm x 2mm. The fruit turns slightly purple when ripe. The pulp is edible, but apparently it doesn’t taste very nice.

Butterflies, bees and some birds are attracted to the Passionflower. It provides good shelter for small birds and a bridge between the lower and higher plants.

You can grow Orange Passionflowers in temperate climates. They do quite well both indoors and out, in full sun to semi-shade, but they don’t like the frost. Plant in fairly rich soils with average drainage. If you feed your Passionflower too much nitrogen, it won’t flower. You can plant it from seeds or from new growth cuttings. If growing from seeds, clean and dry the seeds from very overripe but unblemished fruits. The seeds and seedling are available from various on-line nurseries.

Though there are only two native Passionflower species in Australia, another four six species are found in this country. There are about 500 species globally. The non-native Australian species were introduced as ornamental flowers, and of course the common Passionfruit was introduced for its fruit. The bad species that cause problems are Corky Passionflower (Passiflora suberosa), Stinking Passionsfruit (Passiflora foetida) and White Passionflower (Passiflora subpeltata). Although we would not like to eat their fruit, some birds and animals do, and this has helped to spread these environmental weeds around, smothering native vegetation. The Australian native varieties are not invasive and don’t smother other plants.

Passiflora Aurantia was one of the native Australian plants included in the Botanical illustrations from the voyage of HMS Endeavour (1776-1771). Artist Sydney Parkinson recorded most of the flora and fauna from this voyage. Sadly, he passed away at sea, but after the voyage other artists back in England embellished his sketches, under Sir Joseph Banks’ guidance and sponsorship, into wonderful engravings using Parkinson’s work as reference.

Passiflora Aurantia engraving
Caption on botanical Illustration from the Voyage of HMS Endeavour: “S. Parkinson del. 1770 / F.P. Nodder pinx.1780 / Plate 134 / D.MacKenzie sculps. / “PASSIFLORA AURANTIA… / Thirsty Sound, Australia / 29 May- 31 May 1770′ The specimen for this engraving came from Thirsty Sound on the Queensland coast. (about 500km north of Brisbane) Notes from the voyage:

‘May 29th 1770 ….   Anchored at Thirsty Sound [Town of 1770] and spent one night on the ship and landed searching for water but none found. Banks was enthused with all the botany and much impressed by the butterflies.’

It is interesting the butterflies are mentioned, as the Passionflower plant is a favourite food plant for the larvae of the Cruiser and Glasswing butterflies. Butterflies, bees and some birds are attracted to the Passionflower, and it’s a food plant for the larva of the Cruiser and other butterflies. CONSERVATION STATUS
Passiflora Aurantia still thrives, and is not considered to be at risk in the wild.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 4.04.25 pm Passiflora Aurantia engraving Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 4.03.26 pm


Bollygum Chinese edition

bollygum Chinese edition

In 2009 Bollygum was chosen as part of the Chinese Government’s civil reading program for school children in Guangzhou. It’s a great program where the Government choose a collection of books for each age group, packs them in an economical pack for parents to buy the children. the Government subsidise the cost to make them affordable. The children have a years worth of books to read, and the parents know that good books have been selected by the educators. The reading program is supported by a ‘book club’ where the children can complete fun activities around the books, enter competitions and receive reward points for the most books read. During the launch we presented the top readers of the province with prizes.

This was the first time an Australian story has been selected for the reading program. Our partner was the China Peace Publishing House, a subsidiary of Song Qing Lin Foundation. The Nanfing Media Group, in Guangdong Province was the first educational distributor to take up the rights, with an initial print-run of 50,000 copies, the largest print-run of an Australian book into China.

We were honoured that the famous Chinese translator, Professor Li Yao translated the book into Chinese. He loves Australian stories and has translated such works as Patrick White’s Tree of Man, and Seven Little Australians, as well as various best selling Chinese titles into English for the western market. We received a lovely message from him saying how much enjoyed the story. Professor Li Yao holds the positions of Member of the Chinese Writers” Association, Member of the China-Australia Research Association and Professor of the Academic Training College for International Officials affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce.

The Nanfang Reading Classification Research Centre held the launch at the Guangzhou Jinguang Exhibition Book Fair, reportedly the largest book fair in China. This was considered an important cultural exchange between Australia and China and was attended by the Cultural Counsellor from the Australian Embassy, Jill Collins.

“We need cultural exchanges. cultural intercourses create a win-win situation between China and Australia. We ought to share children’s books of high quality. We hope this cultural intercourse even is simply a good start of a very long journey in which more good Australian stories are introduced into China, and in turn a great variety of good Chinese children’s books are introduced into Australia, the children of both countries sharing the joy of reading” Jill Collins speech.

launch moment on state

BOLLYGUM Chinese Edition is launched


Crowds at the bookfair getting a seat to watch the Bollygum launch

children dancing on stage

The school children performed a musical show based on the Bollygum story. They were all dressed in animal costumes. Unfortunately they couldn’t find costumes for the Australian animals but it didn’t matter it was such a wonderful show.

chinese peace pub

Xiao Li Yuan, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, China Peace Publishing House.


Jill Collins, the then Cultural Counsellor from the Australian Embassy talking with Yang Yi Kai, the deputy Director General of Guangdong Press and Publication Bureau, Chinese Government

leonie signing 2

Leonie Weldon signing copies of the books for the children.

the bollygum photo card leonie

The display at the bookfair included a huge cutout of the cover, the crowds lined up to get their photos taken peeping over the fronds like wombat.

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