It has been 100 years since Australia’s favourite gumnut babies Snugglepot and Cuddlepie first made their way into the hearts of children across the country.
They may be little but the two foster brothers created by author May Gibbs cemented themselves as part of Australia’s history from the get go, their adventures passed on from grandparents, to parents and children for years.
Still to this day the stories are read and re-read by families, their names forever enlightening little readers and teaching them about Australian wildlife.
It is all thanks to May Gibbs, one of Australia’s most treasured illustrators, artists and children’s authors. The creative and talented woman first brought the gumnut babies to life in 1913 after being inspired by the beauty of the Blue Mountains.
However, it wasn’t until 1918 when the first of the stories Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie was published. And it didn’t take long before it was picked up by eager little readers across Australia, the first, second and third editions selling out almost immediately.
The books were like nothing seen before and the way Gibbs described the importance of the Australian landscape and nature captivated audiences. The message, “humans, please be kind to all Bush creatures and don’t pull flowers up by the roots” highlighting Gibbs’ love for the country. She was passionate about conservation and passed on this message through her writing to those young Aussies who have most likely now read the stories to their grandchildren.
Of course the stories weren’t all happy and fun, because with good, there is always bad. The evil Banksia Men and Mrs Snake featured regularly in the gumnut babies’ adventures, always there trying to cause trouble.
Following the enormous following from readers, Gibbs continued with two more stories about the gumnut babies, Little Ragged Blossom and Little Obelia. Then in 1940, the three were compiled into one book, The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. This book has been sold thousands of times and to this day remains one of Australia’s most beloved children’s books.
Now 100 years later, Gibbs’ stories are being remembered through an exhibition, nestled in the gardens of Adelaide’s Carrick Hill.
The Story Book Trail, which is inspired by scenes from classic books including The Hobbit, Charlotte’s Web and Wind In The Willows, will feature a special section dedicated to Snugglepot and Cuddlepie for the next couple of months, the ABC reports.
“We didn’t have anything that had a uniquely Australian influence in the Story Book Trail,” Carrick Hill director Christine Schloithe said.
“So this [May Gibbs chapter] pays homage to Australian literature in a garden environment that reflects May Gibbs’ drawings, either as a botanic garden or in her story books.”