It would be impossible for anyone who grew up in Australia to see the illustrations of May Gibbs’ ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’ series (first published in 1918) and not draw a smile. Her tales of gumnut babies, Banskia men, wise old kookaburras and other characters of the bush created a unique Australian mythology. With a pefect mix of fantasy and realism her little bush babies seemed ageless, living lives of their own – they went to school, had parties, went to the dentist, played sport and visited the seaside while defending themselves from the evil Banksia men, snakes and greedy fish. They were free-spirited and brave; qualities that related to Australia’s rugged landscape and lifestyle. When Australia was still finding its feet as an independent nation, with a shallow pond of ritual and history, Gibbs’ bushland fantasy gave Australian children a proud cultural identity they could relate to.

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (1918) May Gibbs

The Gum Blossom Ballet

The Artist Studio

The Found Mr Lizard at the Photographer’s

A Busy Highroad

At School with the Little Fish Folk

Little Obelia

Mr Kookaburra’s Dinner Party

Secondhand Houses

They Began the Homeward Journey

In Big Bad City

Ragged Blossom Dreams

The Banksia Men Make a Wicked Plot

The Cabstand