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Authors: Katrina Nannestad

Red Dirt Diary 3

BOOK: Red Dirt Diary 3
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To Bloss, Sniff and Mouse


Monday, 16 April — Start of term two

Today is a very important day in the history of Hardbake Plains. I am so excited!

Mat, Ben and I are starting a newspaper for our big year seven English project. Hardbake Plains has never had a newspaper before. Not even when the population grew to 237 people during the wool boom of the 1800s.

At first Matilda Jane the Mature wasn't going to help. She really wanted us all to create a fashion magazine called
Matilda's Wardrobe
. But then Ben sat on her for one and a half hours and she kindly agreed to do the newspaper instead.

We have already decided that it will be called
The Bake Tribune
. Other papers have grand names like
The Herald
The Chronicle
The Proclaimer
so we reckon Hardbake Plains' first ever newspaper should have a special name.

The Bake Tribune


The bake tribune

However you write it, it looks terribly important. It's bound to be a success.

Tuesday, 17 April

Our new teacher is arriving on Friday.

The school has had a lot of trouble getting someone to take Miss McKenzie's place while she's in Scotland. Everyone's saying it's because we are so far out west and such a tiny town. But I know it's because people are scared of Wes and Fez. Everyone here is used to them — a bit like people who live in the Swiss Alps are used to avalanches, or people in Kenya are used to lions. But to the outsider, Wes and Fez would seem terrifying, dangerous and strange.

Mr Cluff doesn't make the place look so good either. He's been such a gloomy guts since Miss McKenzie left. He mopes
around like a zombie with a toothache. Not a welcoming sight.

I really thought Miss McKenzie would be back by the start of the new term, but she hasn't even mentioned coming home. She might be Scottish by birth, but she really does belong here at Hardbake Plains. She fitted in from the day she arrived. As Dad said, Miss McKenzie became as Aussie as a cockatoo eating a lamington in a gumtree.

We had an executive meeting for
The Bake Tribune
today. Hopefully the first edition will be out in a few weeks. I am going to be the editor and chief reporter. Ben will be the designer and printer. Mat is having trouble deciding on what she wants to contribute, because she is an expert in
many areas — fashion, romance, skin care, romance, diets, romance, boarding school, romance … I suppose she'll sort it out sooner or later.

Petal, my duck, will have to be the editor's paperweight. She has started coming to school with me again. Poor old Mrs Whittington, who lives in our shearers' cottage, gets quite confused at times. She tried to bake Petal for an early Christmas dinner last week, so I don't really feel like she is safe at home without me.

Wednesday, 18 April

Mat has decided that she will write a romance serial for
The Bake Tribune
. She is not quite sure what to call it yet, but it's certain to be something totally embarrassing, like ‘Safari into Love' or ‘Colliding Hearts'.

She said her trip to the Dubbo Zoo in the school holidays with Warren from Warren has given her plenty of ideas for the love scenes (smirk, blush, giggle …). Apparently she had a million romantic experiences in a single day. Warren grasped her hand every time they were near the tigers (I think that shows he's a big, fat scaredy pants, but Mat assures me it's a sign of deep affection). He gazed into her eyes
five times
near the camels, and kissed her cheek behind the elephants.

Ben was busy doing an online maths challenge and thought Mat said Warren had kissed the cheek of an elephant's behind. Ben has always thought Warren from Warren sounded like a real nerd, but now he's not so sure. Anyone brave enough to kiss an elephant on the butt has Ben's total respect and admiration.

Two days until the new teacher arrives …

Thursday, 19 April

Talked to the whole school about the paper today. They were really excited and liked the idea of being able to contribute their own stuff. Banjo said he'd write some poetry. Tom said he would do a survey like they have on TV in the mornings. Wes and Fez said they would write a regular column on manners (???).

I had a huge argument with Mat this morning. She was drivelling on and on about her romance story so I pointed out that newspapers were meant to print stuff that was
, not just daft stories about women who were so desperately in love that their brains shrank to the size of peanuts.

Mat said that
could hardly be a decent journalist and editor because I would make the entire newspaper about farms and sheep and wheat. She said a good editor would have a wide range of interests,
romance and girly stuff.

Ben told us to shut up because he was winning an online maths challenge against a girl called Cindy from Menindee, and if he lost he'd sit on both of us until our eyes popped out.

Spent my English lesson researching how to be a great journalist. The main thing is to be
adventurous and have
a wide range of interests and experiences
. Matilda Jane the Mature was right! I hate it when that happens!!!

So I took a journalist's oath, right in front of Ben and Mat. I held my favourite pen and notepad in the air and said:

‘I, Blue Weston, will be open to trying new things, no matter how scary, dangerous, lame or embarrassing they may seem.'

Ran around the back yard with Wes and Fez all evening, wearing a tea cosy on my head and balancing slugs on my nose. Not
idea of fun, but an oath is an oath …

Friday, 20 April

The new teacher has arrived. His real name is Mr Sanders but he likes to be called the Colonel. He's living in Mrs Whittington's old cottage just across the road from the school.

The Colonel is tall and skinny with white legs, knobbly knees and bushy grey eyebrows. He wears shiny black hiking boots and baggy shorts with enormous pockets.

He used to be a Scout leader and wants to do outdoor adventure activities with us — abseiling,
archery, fire making and a whole heap of other stuff that Mum would
not want Wes and Fez to learn about. Even though abseiling sounds exciting, I'm not sure that having the Colonel here is such a good idea. It's awfully lonely without Miss McKenzie, but some knobbly-kneed old Scout leader is hardly going to fill the gap.

Spent lunch time learning to be a worm whisperer. Sam Wotherspoon thinks cheerful worms are the key to a thriving vegie patch, so he is trying to talk his worms to happiness. He said we have horse whisperers and dog whisperers, so why not worm whisperers?

I can think of several pretty good reasons why not, but I
taken the journalist's oath, so I lay on my stomach in the dirt, digging up worms, tickling their tummies and telling them how clever they are. Mat and Ben sat on the veranda steps laughing at me, but I felt proud to be having a new experience.

Saturday, 21 April

Wes and Fez spent the morning repainting the sign at the front gate. Everyone knows the Westons live at Hillrose Poo, but Mrs Welsh-Pearson
changed the sign to ‘Hillrose Park' before Miss McKenzie's wedding-that-never-quite-happened. Mum and Dad said we should leave it that way, but it just didn't seem right. It was too fancy.

Anyway, today Wes and Fez changed it back to Hillrose Poo and painted a brand-new brown blob.

‘It's really cool, Blue,' said Wes. ‘It's the biggest poo I've ever seen.'

‘Except for the poo that elephant did at the circus,' said Fez.

They emailed a picture of it (the sign, not the elephant poo!) to Dougal, Miss McKenzie's little brother, in Scotland. I hope Miss McKenzie sees it and realises how much she misses us all. She has to come back soon, surely … and hopefully before the Colonel gets too settled in.

Sunday, 22 April

Tennis at the Sweeneys' this afternoon. Mum and Mrs O'Donnell beat Mat and me. We should have won by heaps but Mat was too upset to focus on her game. Warren from Warren had sent her an email last night asking why Ben Simpson from Hardbake Plains Public School thinks he kissed an elephant on the bum at the Dubbo Zoo.

‘It's so totally embarrassing,' Mat cried. ‘Now Warren thinks I told everyone that he likes kissing elephants' bottoms when really he likes kissing me on the cheek.'

I told her not to worry. She just needs to email Warren and explain that it's difficult for Ben to tell the difference between Mat's face and an elephant's bum. It's a common mistake that anyone could have made.

Mat wasn't comforted by this at all. In fact, she seemed a little bit cross.

Oh well, at least I tried.

When we got home, Mrs Whittington was halfway down the driveway, wandering towards the front gate. She was carrying a steamed golden syrup pudding. Our pigs Gertrude, Mildred and Doris were walking slowly by her side. I think they were keeping watch over her.

BOOK: Red Dirt Diary 3
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