Near Uluru in the heart of Australia, children played in the shade of a gum tree. The children laughed as they played. Their laughter floated north across the hot sandy deserts and all the way to Darwin.
Children playing in the school yards in Darwin heard the laugh. They began to laugh too. Soon all the children in Darwin were laughing.
The laugh became bigger and bigger. It travelled south along the west coast of Australia, all the way to Perth.
Children playing in the school yards in Perth heard the laugh. One by one they began to laugh. Soon all the children in Perth were laughing.
The laugh was becoming bigger and bigger. It travelled east across the Nullabor plain to Adelaide.
Children playing in the school yards in Adelaide heard the laugh. They began to laugh too. Soon all the children in Adelaide were laughing.
The laugh floated across the Southern Ocean to Hobart.
Children playing in the school yards in Hobart heard the laugh. One by one they began to laugh. Soon all the children in Hobart were laughing.
The laugh travelled across the Bass Strait to Melbourne. The winds blew some of it away. But one little girl heard it. She was sitting in a school yard alone under a gum tree.
Annie used to live in the bush and had just moved to Melbourne. She was very shy. The other children teased her because she was different. Her clothes were different and she spoke differently because bush ways were different from city ways.
The other children did not hear the laugh because they were playing noisy games.
The laugh floated closer to Annie and the leaves in the gum tree began to tremble. Annie looked up. The tree seemed to be laughing! Then one of the slender green leaves dropped from the tree and landed in front of Annie. It lay on the ground shaking. It shook and shook until it grew bigger and bigger. As it grew bigger it took on a shape. There in front of Annie was a large green coolamon!
Annie knew what a coolamon was because she had seen Aboriginal women near her family’s sheep station carrying them on their backs filled with wild berries. Sometimes they carried their babies in the coolamons.
Annie stepped into the coolamon and sat down. As soon as she did the coolamon lifted off the ground and up into the sky! Far below her Annie could see the kids playing in the school yard and the teachers standing near the fence. No one noticed her flying through the sky. The coolamon rose higher and higher until she could see the tops of the houses. Then she saw rivers and trees and kangaroos and emus bounding across the plains.
Finally she saw the big red rock called Uluru, and she heard children laughing. The coolamon landed gently on the ground right under the tree where the children were laughing. When they saw Annie in the coolamon they beckoned her to join them.
The children were all dark skinned, dark haired and dark eyed. Annie was fair skinned with blond hair and blue eyes. But she didn’t feel different at all.
“Why are you laughing?” Annie asked.
The children shrugged their shoulders and looked at each other. They couldn’t remember why they were laughing. Then the giggles rippled up into their throats again and spilled out into the clear desert air. Annie felt the laughter swelling inside until she was laughing too. She laughed and laughed.
Later, the coolamon took Annie back to Melbourne. It landed in the school yard under the tree where her journey began. When she stepped out, the green coolamon began to shrink. Slowly it became a slender green leaf once more.
Annie was still laughing. She forgot about her shyness and ran toward the other children. They stopped their games and looked at her. Her laughter made them laugh too. Soon they were all laughing together.
Annie looked back at the tree where she had sat alone and sad for so long. She saw the slender green leaves begin to tremble and she knew the laugh was starting another journey.
An original story by JB Rowley free for others to use except for commercial publication.
Song: Native Animal Song (Use the link. Scroll down on right.)
Rhyme: Coolamon Song lyrics (This can be used as a rhyme – great action rhyme)
Activity: Dot painting for kids.