Thursday, 28 May, 2020

New Zealand here we come!; the world’s toughest cuckoo; JK Rowling’s free new book; and Hallelujah, the footy’s back!



Giant kookaburra

Onon the cuckoo’s marathon flight

J.K Rowling’s The Ickabog:






All eyes might have been on the SpaceX rocket launch pad in Florida this morning, but closer to home, it’s a much shorter journey than a trip to the International Space Station that has been occupying the minds of our leaders.

Specifically, the plane journey from Australia to New Zealand.

Both the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern are keen to open up what they call a ‘trans-Tasman travel bubble’. 

The Tasman Sea is the body of water that separates Australia and New Zealand.

Because we’ve both done relatively well at tackling the coronavirus, there’s a chance that when travel restrictions are lifted here in Australia, we might also be able to spread our wings and pay a visit to our cuzzie bros across the ditch.

Pack your jandals and fill up your chilly bins people!


If you happen to be travelling on Queensland’s Bruce Highway any time in the next month, and you pass a giant kookaburra making its way to Townsville – do not be alarmed.

It’s the handiwork of Townsville local, Dr Farvardin Daliri, a sculptor by training who has used his time in lockdown in Brisbane to create an 8 metre long giant kookaburra – whose beak moves as it emits from speakers the kooka’s trademark laugh.

Why, you may ask? Because Dr Daliri wanted to make people smile. And he wanted to make something for the upcoming Townsville Cultural Festival. It’s not the first extra-large Australian animal he’s created. He’s also responsible for a giant koala and a giant carpet snake. Give the man an Order of Australia already … 




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops. And today, we’ve landed in Mongolia … a vast country wedged between Russia and China – where Onon the cuckoo is about to complete the longest flight for a land bird ever recorded. 

Scientists tagged Onon in Zambia – a country in southern Africa – back in March, in order to track his migratory journey back to his breeding ground in Mongolia. Now, just over two months later, he’s about to touch down in the East Asian nation, having flown over 16 countries, crossed oceans and travelled more than 12,000 kilometres in the process.

Cuckoos like Onon undertake this marathon migration every year. 

One part of Onon’s journey saw him fly thousands of kilometres, without stopping, across a portion of the Indian Ocean.

Onon was one of five cuckoos who were tagged by scientists. The other four sadly didn’t make it. That Onon is one tough bird. There’s a link in today’s episode notes to a map of how far he flew. 




Does it seem like forever that we’ve been talking about the return of professional sport? Well – tonight the drought is officially broken, when the Parramatta Eels run on to Suncorp Stadium in Brissie to take on the Brisbane Broncos in the official restart of the NRL 2020 season. There will be no crowds, because: coronavirus. But that won’t take away from the fact that Australia’s rugby league competition is the first major sporting code in the world to return to competition following a COVID-inspired pause.




Harry Potter author JK Rowling has delighted fans by publishing online, and for free, a brand new story that has sat in a box in her attic for over ten years. 

Called The Ickabog – it tells the story of a fierce child-eating monster with extraordinary powers … which sounds frankly terrifying. 

An actual printed book version of the story will be published later this year. And here’s a challenge … the author has called for any budding artists out there to help her illustrate the book by sending in drawings inspired by the tale. Which sounds like a properly awesome opportunity. 

There’s a link in today’s episode notes with all the details.




 This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. What’s the name of the sea that separates Australia from New Zealand?
  2. What species of bird is Onon, the super bird that’s just flown from Zambia to Mongolia?
  3. What’s the name of author JK Rowling’s new book? 




Today’s birthday shoutouts… Tyler from Dubbo, Josh from Putney, Henry from Lane Cove, Louie from Abbotsford, Grace from Sydney, Rashane and Lachlan from Wahroonga, Niamh and Clementine from Coburg, Luna and Chris from Melbourne, Gicinta from Mudgee, Lachie from Heidelberg, Helen from Mount Nelson, James from Longreach and Riley from Jindalee.

And some belated birthday shoutouts… Derek from Adelaide, Conor from Sydney, Nash from Mooloolaba, Abbie from Valentine, Archie from Stanhope Gardens, and Adam from Calista.

Happy birthday to you all.  

Today’s classroom shoutouts… 3G at Deepdene Primary School, Stage 3 Newtown North Public School, and Ayla and Miss Godfrey from The Gap State School, who share a birthday today. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Tasman Sea
  2. Cuckoo
  3. The Ickabog