Wednesday, 4 August, 2021

Free phones for everyone; Bolivia’s Mother Earth festival; India’s Olympic hockey inspiration; and welcome to the Squirrel Olympics.



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Pay phones… you’ve probably seen them on a street corner near you. Also known as phones-in-a-box or phone boxes – there was once a time when they were the only way any of us could make a phone call if we weren’t at home.

I know right … hard to imagine. 

Because there’s never been a time in your life where mobile phones haven’t existed, it must seem odd to you that if your parents were ever out and about and wanted to make a phone call – they needed to find a pay phone, feed some coins into it and use their fingers to punch some numbers into it. 

None of this voice-activated calling business. No Siri. No smart phone-enabled video calls. No apps. No nothing.

And while youmight have thought a phone that was stuck to one place and couldn’t be slipped into your pocket was of no use to you whatsoever, the company responsible for them, Telstra, yesterday announced that all calls from its 15,000 pay phones around the country would be free.

That means from now on, anyone can walk up to a pay phone and make a phone call without paying for it. So I guess that makes them free phones?

But here’s a tip … you’re going to need to know the phone number – because pay phones don’t store everyone’s contacts. So now would be a good time to memorise the important phone numbers in your life, or invest in a Rolodex. What’s a rolodex? Oh dear, we’ll be here all day … 




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops. And today we’ve landed in Bolivia, in South America, where locals are burying their dinner in the ground and spilling their drinks on the floor.

It’s all a part of the festival of Pachamama. 

What or who in the world is Pachamama, I hear you ask? Translated from the local indigenous languages, Pachamama means Mother Earth. For centuries, people living in the Andes—which is the highest mountain range in South America— have worshipped Pachamama. 

And the month of August, which is the coldest of the year, is a time when people want to be on very good terms with Mother Nature, to keep themselves, their crops, and their farm animals healthy and protected. So, they burn special fires, make offerings, and cook special foods—being sure to bury a serving for Pachamama, before eating for themselves. Some people also perform a daily ritual of spilling a little of their drink on the floor, for Pachamama, before they drink for themselves. They take care of Mother Earth, so that Mother Earth takes care of them. Which is great: but I’d hate to be the one in charge of keeping the floor clean in August. 



So much Olympic action – so many medals up for grabs, and so many excellent Aussie athletes doing us proud, it’s hard to know where to look. 

Which is why our attention has fallen on the captain of the Indian women’s hockey team.

Yesterday, India beat Australia’s team, the Hockeyroos 1-0. Which on the face of it, was not so great. But have a listen to the story of the Rani Rampal, the Indian women’s team captain, and see how you feel.

She was so poor growing up, that her family were lucky if they had two meals a day. They lived in a wooden shack, in a slum, next to a hockey academy and Rani spent hours as a child watching teams train. Her parents couldn’t afford a hockey stick so she found a broken one and trained herself. She couldn;t afford a uniform, wasn’t able to afford the drink of milk every player needed each day, and when she made the team as a teenager and they won their first competition, she took the $9 in prize money home to her parents. Her father had never held that much money in his hands before. Now she will lead her country into the hockey semi-finals at an Olympic Games. Oh, and her parents will watch her on the television in the house she bought them. And that’s why the Olympics are remarkable.  




You think you’ve watched every high-stakes Olympic event possible? Think again. I’m going to bet you haven’t yet sat down to watch who wins the gold medal in the Squirrel Olympics. 

Yes, you heard right … the Squirrel Olympics. 

As their name suggests, this is an event that features the cutest critters that ever had a fluffy tail put on them, taking on an obstacle course built in the backyard by English Olympics fan Steve Barley.

The squirrels have to jump over hurdles, clamber through a mini-swimming pool and dangle precariously on a high-wire to get a bunch of nuts waiting for them at the end of the course. 

Steve spends hours hanging out of his window videoing the sporty squirrels – and the result can be found in the very entertaining video in your episode notes. You’re welcome.




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

  1. On which continent, where the Pachamama festival is being celebrated, is the Andes mountain range?
  2. Rani Rampal is the captain of the women’s hockey team from which country?
  3. What sort of tree-dwelling critters are being put through a backyard Olympic obstacle course in England?




It’s August 4 … National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day … the motto of which this year is ‘proud in culture, strong in spirit’ – it’s also the birthday of former US President Barack Obama, former Royal, Meghan Markle and current queen of pop, Jess Mauboy. 

It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today … William from Albany Creek, Sam from Kempsey, Jackson from Ashtonfield, Sasha from Blacktown, Angus from Woodhill, Austin from Sydney, Manon from North Balgowlah and Makayla and Jock from Rydalmere. 

Belated birthday shout outs go to …Ben from Hornsby, Rafael from Abbotsford and Grant and Ajay from Geelong.

Plus!!  … Because our friends in Greater Sydney and South East Queensland are in lockdown at the moment – we’re sending out Home Learning Herograms …   

4C from Leichhardt Public School who want to thank Mrs Carey for making the morning zooms great fun! 

Amelia in 2J at Cronulla South Public School in Sydney sends a herogram to all the grade 2 teachers at her school-  Mr Jarman, Mrs Granger, Ms Pryor and Ms Collins.  

Scout in Year 5 at St Agatha’s Primary School in Clayfield wants to say happy homeschooling to all of her friends who have just started their lockdown in Queensland. 

A final herogram to Charlie and Sophie from Figtree for their hard work each day with home learning. Keep it up!

Plus a couple of classroom shout outs to those of you not in lockdown … to 

Year 4 class J1 at Westbourne Park Primary School in South Australia, Miss Geller and her Year 5/6 Class from Hopetoun Primary School in Western Australia and Grade 3/4 Lee at St. Patrick’s Primary School in Camperdown, Victoria. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. South America
  2. India
  3. Squirrels