Blinky Bill: Australia’s Most Famous Koala!

Blinky Bill

Blinky Bill

“Yahoo, didgeridoo!  Blinky Bill and all his crew!

Nutsy, Flap, and Marcia too, 

and Splodge the kanga-, Splodge the kanga-, Splodge the kangaroo!

Sing this to any American and they will give you such a strange glance.  Sing it to any Australian, especially one who grew up as a kid in the 1990’s, and you will be greeted with a look of utter joy that one cannot help but embrace.  For Aussies, Blinky Bill has been a proud symbol of Australia.  He is right up there with the boxing kangaroo, a jar of Vegemite, Men at Work’s Grammy, and Hugh Jackman’s vocal chords.  For those unfamiliar with the antics of this mischievous, adventurous, and lovable marsupial, here’s the lowdown on this iconic Aussie.

What Winnie-the-Pooh was for both the Brits and the Yanks, Blinky Bill gave the Aussies their own proud, bear native.  And yes, I am fully aware that koalas are not actually bears!  His story began back in 1933 after appearing in Brooke Nicholls’ book, Jacko – the Broadcasting Kookaburra, which was illustrated by Blinky’s author, Dorothy Wall, a native of New Zealand.  Wall then featured Blinky Bill in a series of her own books, including Blinky Bill: The Quaint Little Australian, Blinky Bill Grows Up, and Blinky Bill and Nutsy.  The books are considered quintessential Australian children’s classics, and have never been out of print in Australia.  The first book Blinky Bill: The Quaint Little Australian was published in 1933 and was based on stories told to her only child, Peter.  In the 1990’s, with help from Aussie animator Yoram Gross, the same man behind the studio that made the 1977 film adaptation of Dot and the Kangaroo, another staple of Aussie literature, Blinky Bill finally was given the animated treatment.  An animated film premiered in 1992, which was then preceded by a cartoon series by the Australian Broadcasting Channel which ran from 1993 to 1995.

Blinky Bill: Australia's Most Famous Koala!

Blinky Bill: Australia’s Most Famous Koala!

But you’re probably wondering, “How the heck did an American discover a character that is almost unheard of in America, but is so recognizable and famous in Australia?”  Well, much like my accidental discovery of the Rabbitohs in Alice Springs, my discovery of Australia’s most famous koala happened by surprise as well.  I was 10 years old in the spring of 1996 and I had woken up earlier than usual to watch cartoons.  When I flipped on the TV set, I was treated to this rather adorable, Australian tableau of marsupials with distinct accents.  After watching for about 5 minutes, I thought I was hallucinating, think to myself, “Am I watching an Australian Winnie-The-Pooh?!”  Well, confused or not, I was most impressed.  I saw just a few more episodes before it mysteriously left the air.  I would have to wait until April of 2000 to see these friendly faces of Greenpatch once again during a family trip to England when I would catch them on Cartoon Network UK.  Then YouTube came along and I didn’t have to travel abroad to see his adventures.

During my first visit to Australia in 2009, I was perusing a bookstore in Yulara, near Ayers Rock.  One of the books I came across was a reprint of the original Blinky Bill story that dated back to 1939.  Never mind how stoked I was to find this tome, I was more stoked to find it in such a small bookstore in such a remote corner of the globe!  And then, during my fourth visit in 2015, I found a trio of plush figurines at Sydney WildLife World; you could imagine how my jaw hit the floor when I saw them.  I had last seen this rare gem inside a Toys R Us in Brooklyn around 1997 (YES, a Toys R Us in Brooklyn of all places!).  I blew the chance to get it, but this time, I would not make the same mistake.  Long story short, three Blinky’s came home with my from Sydney and I couldn’t be happier!

"Bringing Blinky Bill home to America is easier than ever!"

“Bringing Blinky Bill home to America is easier than ever!”

Robyn Moore: Behind every great koala is a great vocal actress!

Robyn Moore: Behind every great koala is a great vocal actress!

Extraordinary!  Good on ya, Blinky!

 

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
This entry was posted in Australia, Australian Literature, Australian Wildlife and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *