Skippy, Australia’s most famous kangaroo

By Frank Morris

Since 1967, Skippy the bush kangaroo has been a favourite entertainer for kids of all nations.

For 25 years the original 91 episodes have been shown in nearly every country of the globe.

When you think about it, it would make Skippy our of Australia’s first superstars.

The adventures of Skippy reflect modern-day values and issues.

A series of comic books on Skippy were released circa 1967. The strip was written and drawn by an Australian, Keith Chatto.

Mr Chatto was regarded as one of the best black and white artists in Australia, perhaps the world.

Chatto was used by King Features to draw the world famous Phantom comics.

Back to Skippy…

When it comes to Skippy Garry Pankhurst, the l2-year-old hero, said in “recent years, I’ve come to realise the impact it made.

Quietly, I feel very good and proud about it,” he said.

In the mid-1990s, Skippy hopped back to the world’s TV screens in a brand new children’s series.

Set in Australia’s tropical north Sonny Hammond – he was Garry Pankhurst in the 1967 series – is now a 37-year-old widower.

Sonny is the co-owner of Habitat, an animal-theme park in the tropical hinterland.

(Here are three of the 39 original episodes of Skippy, which were screened in Australia from 1993.)

Episodes tell: How Skippy bamboozled the bandits.

Selected by Frank Morris

Skippy and the cave paintings

Skippy leads Lou and Jerry to one of her favourite hideouts – a cave in the hills near Habitat. But the twins discover that there is more to the cave than meets the eye – the walls are covered with aboriginal paintings.

Lou is for telling everybody, but Jerry thinks that he has found a way to make money, and starts to charge his mates to come and look.

When Sonny discovers what Jerry is doing at the cave, he gives his son a dressing down and calls in an aboriginal expert, who realises that the paintings are fakes.

Meanwhile Lou has discovered dome old papers belonging to Thel, and in one of them is the diary of one of Thel’s forebears, a settler of the district, important in its own historical right.

Out of these experiences, the twins learn that every heritage find is worth reporting, whether it turns out to be genuine or not.

Skippy and the snake charmer

A travelling Snake Show is doing a season at Habitat. Part of the program is a volunteer from the audience holding the snakes.

In fact, the ‘volunteer’ is the daughter of the man and woman who run the show, and is slightly older than Lou and Jerry.

Lou thinks the girl is wonderful, and wants to get friendly with the visitor, but the girl rejects Lou’s offer because the family never settles and she always gets taken away from her friends.

Finally, she runs away on a very hot day, and is in danger of dehydration in the bush before she is found by a search party.

Skippy points the searchers in her direction. She is reconciled with her parent’s lifestyle, and Lou points out that you can stay friends by writing to one another.

And the two girls do.

Skippy and the bird smugglers

Bird smuggling is a serious crime in Australia, and when it comes to Habitat, it takes the combined efforts of the twins, Sonny, and Ranger Dave to prevent it.

There are two men involved – one would do anything for the ‘big bucks’, and the other is a local who provides a boat to get the birds down river to a ship waiting to take them overseas.

Skippy, Lou and Jerry combine to release the men’s original prey, and the criminals get the desperate idea of stealing the collection of native birds out of the aviary at Habitat.

But when there are no bird calls to wake the Hammonds and Thel next morning. They are all immediately on to the case, and quick action sees the criminals caught on the jetty at Habitat, with Ranger Dave on hand, and the men’s boat drifting helplessly in the middle of the river, with a little help from Skippy releasing the rope that tethers it.

Here’s one lot of birds that will never leave Australia.

If you would like to coment on this story Ask Frank.


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