Wednesday, 8 September, 2021

Return of the hairy-nosed wombat; the human who thinks he’s a hobbit; Teens rule at the US Open; and Ripper the talking duck.



Hairy nosed wombats:

Ripper the swearing duck:

Masked Singer Trailer:

Dannii Minogue:


Squiz Kids Instagram:

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Squiz Kids is proudly supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas




They’re baaack … the northern hairy nosed wombat, that snuffling, flat-nosed, nocturnal, burrow-dwelling native animal – which 50 years ago was on the brink of extinction – has roared back to life – with conservationists yesterday declaring its numbers in the wild were heading back to healthy levels.

As Australia marked National Threatened Species Day yesterday, the good news coming out of hairy-nosed wombat corner was cause for celebration among a dedicated group of Queensland scientists who have been coaxing the marsupial back into the land of the living.

Fifty years ago, there were only about 35 hairy-nosed wombats in the wild. Today, thanks to a carefully planned conservation program, their numbers have risen to about 300. And while there’s still a way to go before they’re taken off the endangered species list, it’s a great start.

For the past 30 years, the Epping Forest National Park in central western Queensland has been a designated hairy-nosed wombat habitat – fenced off from predators – including wild dogs – and a space where the hairy-nosed wombat – who loves to dig burrows – can dig to his or her heart’s content. 

I’ve stuck a link in today’s episode notes to a news story about the northern-hairy nosed wombat – which very happily features photos of the critter. Be warned: once seen, you will fall in love.



Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops – and today we’ve landed in Italy, where a human who thinks he’s a hobbit is recreating the fictional world from his favourite books. A hobbit, for those of you who have not yet read J.R.R. Tolkein’s best-selling books The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, is an imaginary creature about half the height of a human. In the books, hobbits are peaceful folk who wear bright colours, walk around barefoot, and live in underground houses in the beautiful countryside. Sounds pretty nice, right? That’s what Italian pastry chef and geologist Nicolas Gentile thought, so he bought a piece of land and started building a sustainable hobbit life for himself, his family, and fans of the books. Last weekend, Nicolas and friends, all dressed as characters from the books, walked 200km to Mount Vesuvius, where he threw a ring into the volcano’s crater—just like Bilbo Baggins, the main hobbit in the books, did. Although luckily for Nicolas, there were no dark lords or elves or wizards… which is what the fictional hobbits had to deal with. 




It’s teen time at the US Open tennis tournament this year – with the tournament being dominated by some of the youngest players to ever make the finals. 

As we speak, Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez is playing her quarter final match – vying for a place in the semis – and all at only 19 years of age.

To get to today’s quarter final match, Leylah – who is ranked 73 in the world – smashed and lobbed her way past defending champ Naomi Osaka and world number 17, Angelique Kirber. 

She joins 18 year old British tennis sensation, Emma Radacanu in the quarter finals. Emma hasn’t lost a set at the tournament yet.

And flying the flag for teenage boys at the US Open is Spain’s, Carlos Alcarz – who will take to the centre court just after 10 this morning, in a quarter final showdown with Canadian Felix Augur Aliassime.  The world number 55 easily beat world number three Stefano Tsitpas to make this morning’s final – making him the youngest male since 1963 to make the tournament’s top eight. 




Donald Duck, Daffy Duck, Jemima Puddleduck … a duck that talks is not all that strange in cartoons and books, right? 

But what about in real life?

Because that’s what visitors to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve just outside of Canberra have stumbled upon after one of the resident ducks has started to imitate his human keeper.

Ripper is a male musk duck – a species that is renowned for its ability to imitate sounds it hears. Much like a lyrebird or a parrot. Scientists studying musk ducks have been monitoring Ripper for a few months and were astonished to hear him repeatedly exclaim ‘you bloody fool’ – a phrase they believe he picked up from his caretaker. Ripper is apparently also very good at imitating the sound of car doors closing. 

I’ve stuck a link in today’s episode notes to a recording of Ripper letting rip with some fruity human language .. with the obvious warning that the language might be a little strong for some kids.




Here’s a question for you … what does a pavlova, a kebab, a mullet fish and a baby all have in common? They’re all characters on the upcoming season of The Masked Singer, that’s what! 

But who is hiding behind the masks? That’s the question that’s going to be on the lips of all Australia next Monday when the new season kicks off.

And who better to ask than Dannii Minogue – the fabulous judge and pop-singer extraordinaire – who has very kindly agreed to take the Squiz Kids hotseat and answer YOUR questions!

That’s right: Dannii – who started her singing and dancing career on kids talent show called Young Talent Time, waaaaay back when your parents were little – and who has since gone on to be an actress, a chart-topping pop singer, an author and a fashion designer – is ready to tackle whatever question you have for her. Did we mention she’s a big fan of Squiz Kids?

Take a look at the links to the Masked Singer promo video and Dannii’s website in today’s episode notes for inspiration. Then get sending your questions to [email protected]. How exciting! 



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

  1. What sort of a duck is Ripper the talking duck?
  2. In which country does the man who thinks he’s a hobbit live?
  3. Which marsupial has been brought back from the brink of extinction?




It’s September 8 …. it’s International Literacy Day .. celebrating the importance of books and reading and writing .. if you’re near a book today, open it up and lose yourself in it. 

It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today … Maral from Fairfield Heights, Isabel from Northbridge, Iknyen from Dee Why, Lucas from Castle Hill, Hamish from Kempsey, Isabel from Northbridge, Ruby from Canberra, Maisie from West Footscray, Riley from Bonner, Sophia from Springwood, and Hannah from Bella Vista. 

Belated birthday shout outs go to….Phoenix from Munno Para, Eli from Springwood and Tennyson from Tennyson.

Plus!!  … Because our friends in Victoria, Canberra and NSW are in lockdown – we’re sending out Home Learning Herograms …. 

A herogram goes to class 4JK and their teachers Mrs Judd and Mrs Klein at Mount View Primary School in Glen Waverley.   Maya in class 2KW at the Miles Franklin Primary School in Canberra sends a herogram to her teacher Ms Witherdin and says thank you for making all the video calls so much fun. And Hannah from class KCS – also from the Miles Franklin Primary School sends a herogram to her very kind teacher – Ms Stewart. 

A shout out goes to  Arabella, Frankie and Oscar from Kambala Girls School in Vaucluse who are very dedicated to their home schooling programs. Also thank you to their teachers Mrs McCloud and Miss Spork. 

Another home learning shout out to the wonderful Mrs Kale at Hornsby North Public School – who is keeping everything fun and interesting during lockdown – from all of the year 4 students. 

Plus a classroom shout out to 6N at The Springfield Anglican College in QLD who fortunately are NOT in lockdown.


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1.  Musk duck
  2. Italy
  3. Hairy nosed wombat