Where Ya Goin’?

Grab some marshmallows, buckle up and get ready to go on a rollicking, rhyming adventure through the Australian outback and beaches via the pages of Where Ya Goin’? This picture book is written by Steve Heron, illustrated by Matty Mitchell and published by Wild Eyed Press. You’re in great company with a cast of Australian animals, who join an adventurous echidna travelling to Dunedoo to meet a kangaroo having a barbecue. On his travels Echidna meets up with some iconic Australian animals who board Echidna’s rickety bus. There is a guitar playing galah, a stylish emu well known for her famous billy brew, a weary wombat nonetheless in a party hat, an unlikely pair in Koala and Dingo who play gumnut bingo, a snake that bakes, the coolest Lizard and Skink you ever did see adorned in sunnies and pink zinc, a crafty croc, a  Bandicoot selling kiwi fruit , a parrot chomping on a carrot and a watermelon loving Pademelon. After a long day of making new friends and travelling, the sun sets and the animals arrive at Dunedoo to be greeted by a chilled kangaroo and joey sporting some green and gold aprons with tongs in hand. This is hospitality at its finest as the kangaroo welcomes all of echidna’s friends that were made on the way and were not expected at the barbecue. Each of the animals contributes to the BBQ and together they create a fabulous celebration which sees everyone party late into the night.

This story, written in humourous verse, celebrates friendship, acceptance as well as the beauty and power of coming together. The relaxed interactions between the lively characters are friendly and warm. Echidna enthusiastically welcomes each animal aboard the bus. Despite the differences in personalities being evident, everyone is accepting and sees the value in each of the animals joining the adventure.

This book is brimming with Aussie colloquialisms. It also features quintessential outback scenes including red dusty roads and a country servo as well as an Australian beach. There are some specific Australian places mentioned (for example, Woolloomooloo and Dunedoo) and references used when travelling (down the track, not too far; headed to the back of nowhere and past the black stump).  

The double page spread vibrant illustrations bring the story to life. The lively and expressive personalities of each of the characters shine through in the illustrations. The pages are a feast for the eyes – the colour, details, endearing characters and amusing inclusions will engage readers and have them laughing.

I think my daughter summed it up best when we finished reading this book together the first time and she said “this book is a hoot”. Although this book had us laughing, we also appreciated the way all of the animals were open to possibilities, adventure and making new friends. Differences between the animals were obvious, yet everyone accepted each other and this diversity was seen as a strength as it made the experience all the more rich, rewarding and fun

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