Wild Babies of Wild Dog Creek

Our first stop after leaving Melbourne was Wild Dog Creek in the Strzelecki Ranges in Gippsland. In the folds of the hills, a group of young parents were holidaying on the banks of Wild Dog Creek, including our Bella and grandson Louis. We camped out for a night beside the old shearing shed that was a communal space for the families who were staying in tents scattered across the fields.

A wild, playful tribe of kids were endlessly busy with jumping games, battles in the grass, playing ‘mother’ and generally being deeply involved in the complex business of discovering and reinventing the world of play. Watching them made me long to write stories for really little kids, picture books especially. The kids’ conversations were full of rhythm and rhyme and even the tiniest babies were already engaged with language, making funny chatty sounds as if they were involved in serious conversation. The three baby girls in the photo were all born within a few days of each other. On the left is Anna and her beautiful Maya, who was born with a lovely, gentle sense of humour, laughing and nodding when you talk to her. I didn’t get a chance to get to know Nikky’s very cute Imogen (in the middle) but I had a couple of long conversations with Mary’s baby, Illaria. Illaria is a serious conversationalist. At three months, she already has a lot to say and likes nothing better than to have your full attention while she chats.

I wish we’d been able to spend more time in conversation with the kids but we were so exhausted from the weeks of packing that we fell into bed early, even before the five year olds, and woke to early morning bird calls, the laughing of kookaburras and the shouts of the wild babies and toddlers. A great start to a year of thinking about kids and stories.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Every adult was once a child and the child inside them never disappears.”

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