Tuesday, 4 April, 2023

Farewell to a trailblazing Australian; a hirsute achievement; listening to plants cry; and a row into the record books.



Today’s Quick Links: 

ABC video story on Yunupingu’s passing:

Yothu Yindi Foundation tribute page to Yunupingu:

World’s longest beard chain:

Listen again to the plant sounds:

Rower Michelle Lee’s web site:


Dig Deeper:

About the Garma Festival:

A tracker of Michelle’s trip:

Original Sources: 

Stressed plants make sounds:


Classroom Companion

Teachers! Want to access free, curriculum-aligned classroom resources tied to the daily podcast? Sign up to be a Squiz Kids Classroom and download the Classroom Companion each day. Made by teachers for teachers, differentiated to suit all primary school ability levels. And did we mention it’s free?


Get started on our free media literacy resource for classrooms


Stay up to date with us on our Squiz Kids Instagram!  


Got a birthday coming up and you want a shout-out? Complete the form on our Squiz Kids website. Link: SHOUT OUTS or / send us an email at [email protected]





One of our country’s most influential indigenous leaders, Yunupingu – a man who fought his whole life for Aboriginal land rights – died yesterday on his country in northeast Arnhem Land, at the age of 74.


Yunupingu, whose name and image are being used by the news media with the permission of his family, was a trailblazing leader who gave advice to, and met with, every Australian Prime Minister since 1972. He didn’t see a white person until early childhood, but by the age of 20, he was translating in court between the government and his clan’s elders, as his people fought for land rights. 


Tributes for the Yolngu (yoong-u) man flowed in from around the country yesterday, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying, “Yunupingu walked in two worlds with authority, power and grace.” He was referring to how Yunupingu was a deeply respected leader both at home on traditional land with his Gumatj (gumahch) clan, and within broader Australian society… and he worked his entire life to bring those two worlds together. 


If we were to acknowledge all Yunupingu’s accomplishments, we wouldn’t have time for anything else on this podcast, but you should know that he was Australian of the Year in 1978, long before you and perhaps even your parents were born. He also helped to start something called the Garma Festival, which is Australia’s largest indigenous gathering – an annual four-day festival that the Prime Minister attended last year to work with indigenous leaders, including Yunupingu, on the plan for the upcoming referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament. 


Yesterday, Yunupingu’s daughter Binmila said


Our father was driven by a vision for the future of this nation, his people’s place in the nation, and the rightful place for Aboriginal people everywhere. There will never be another like him.”


I’ll put resources in your episode notes to learn more about this great Australian. 




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops .. and today we’ve landed in a pub in the American city of Casper, Wyoming, where 69 men have broken a Guinness World Record for the longest beard chain. 

Now, if you’re wondering what a beard chain is, you’re probably not alone. Imagine someone with a beard that’s at least 20 centimetres long. Now, imagine splitting that beard in half. One half goes to the left, one to the right. The tips of the beard are connected to the neighbouring person’s beard tip with a hairclip. Repeat until you have 69 beards connected, then measure. 

The previous record, set in Germany in 2007, was 19.05 metres. The new record, set at the American Beard and Moustache Championships – yep, that’s a thing – is 45.99 m. Of course there are pictures and even video in your episode notes. And here’s a new word for you: hirsute. It means hairy.



What do you think that noise is?
Bubble wrap being popped? Microwave popcorn? 

Actually, it’s the sound of a stressed out, unhappy plant … with the frequency lowered so that human ears can hear it. Researchers in Israel used an ultrasound machine to capture noises coming out of healthy plants, and compared them with plants that were dehydrated or had their stems cut. Happy plants made about one click per hour. Sad plants, about 35. And although the noises are too high pitched for us to hear, it’s likely that bats, mice, insects, and other animals exist in a world filled with plant sounds.  

Of course, plants don’t have vocal chords or lungs. Scientists think that the noises are made inside the xylem – a great ‘x’ Scrabble word – which are the tubes that take water from a plant’s roots to its leaves. Air bubbles are more likely to form in the tube during stress on the plant, and those bubbles could be responsible for the stressed-out popping noises. 

Excuse me while I go and water my plants. 



A Sydney woman, Michelle Lee, is on schedule to arrive in Cairns tomorrow. Which is newsworthy because the 50-year-old is arriving by rowboat, and when she makes land, she will have become the first woman to row solo and non-stop across the Pacific Ocean!

Michelle set out from the west coast of Mexico in August last year. Just pause a second to take that in. She started in August. It’s April. No break. Unbelievable. 

Michelle encountered hurricanes and cyclones, saw majestic giant blue whales, and watched flocks of migrating sea birds. After finishing her secret stash of Easter Eggs four weeks ago, Michelle’s final challenge is to navigate the tides, winds, and currents of the Great Barrier Reef.

Besides seeing family and friends, Michelle says she’s most looking forward to a shower, fresh bed sheets, and a massive stack of pancakes. What about refreshing that Easter Egg stash? She’s just in time, after all… 


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

  1. What fancy ‘h’ word means “hairy”? 
  2. Rower Michelle Lee set out in August from the west coast of which country? 
  3. What is the name of Australia’s largest indigenous gathering, started by Yunupingu? 





It’s April 4… the birthday of Australian actor Hugo Weaving, whom you may know as Megatron, from Transformers … or Noah, from Happy Feet… or Red Skull, from Captain America… or Agent Smith, from the Matrix Series … or Elrond, from Lord of the Rings… or Rex the Border Collie, from Babe: Pig in the City. And that’s not even the whole list. 


It’s also a very special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today… 

Roja from Montmorency, Wisdom from Oran Park, Layan from Tamworth, Harley from Yarrowitch, Kane from Ivanhoe, Audrey from Perth, Alexis from Dakabin, Ciannah from Adelaide, Lillian from West Pennant Hills, Condor from Mermaid Waters, Kobus from Ithaca Creek and Clayton from Waitara. 


We’re sending belated birthday wishes out to …. Chris from Minto and Phoebe from Burpengary.


And let’s not forget our Squiz Kids Classrooms… shoutouts go to…class 5/6G and Mr Patakos at Carlton Public School, class 6S and Miss S at Narrabeen Lakes Public School, class 5RH with Mrs Rowlison and Mrs Hallet at Carlingford Public School, class 6G and Mrs Gymer at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Chinchilla and class 5/6R and Mr Raslan at Toukley Public School. Special shout out to Miss Zantis and Miss Tattle from Middle Harbour Primary School – who are both celebrating birthdays today.  


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Hirsute
  2. Mexico
  3. The Garma Festival