Every Easter, all of the Australian animals would gather in Bilby’s small burrow for the biggest and most special event of the year. The Big Bush Easter Egg Hunt. Each year, Bilby would leave the eager animals waiting in his burrow and would go out into the bush to hide all of the eggs.
At least, until last year. All of the animals began to argue. The hunt became less fun. Everyone was too competitive. Half of the animals quit, saying that if no one could have fun together there was no point of the Big Bush Easter Egg Hunt.
This year, only Echidna, Dingo, Wombat, Big Red Kangaroo, Small Grey Wallaby, Platypus and Native Hen came to Bilby’s burrow for the egg hunt. As per usual, while Bilby hid the eggs, the animals again began to argue and boast. “I’m going to find the most eggs,” Dingo declared.
“No, I am,” Platypus argued.
“No, ME,” Small Grey Wallaby shouted! “I’m the fastest!”
“I’m the biggest!”
“I’m the best!”
“No, I am,” all of the animals argued.
Echidna, a shy and peaceful little creature with chocolate-coloured fur and sandy golden spikes sat in the middle of the arguing with his little webbed feet over his ears. He didn’t like arguing at all. In fact, he had only come to the egg hunt this year because his best friend Koala had promised to come with him. However, Koala wasn’t there.
Echidna approached the arguing animals, shyly, as always, and told them, “Koala is missing. We should all go find her together.” “No WAY,” Big Red Kangaroo said stubbornly. “You’re just trying to trick us,” cried Platypus. “What? No. Koala is missing!” Echidna yelped. Wombat scowled. “When we leave, you’ll go find the eggs and keep them for yourself.” Echidna cried desperately, “This is not a trick! I need your help!” All of the other animals agreed with Wombat and refused to go with Echidna. Echidna, being a shy creature, stopped arguing. However, he didn’t give up.
When Bilby returned, all of the animals except Echidna raced outside. Instead, Echidna walked up to the kind old Bilby. “Bilby, I think I will have to miss the egg hunt this year,” Echidna said. Bilby looked sad, for the egg hunt was one of the only things that made him happy. If everyone left, he couldn’t run it anymore. “Oh……Okay,” Bilby sighed sadly.
“I will be back when I find my friend,” Echidna said firmly. Bilby looked hopeful. “Okay, good luck!” he waved his small black, pink and white tail in farewell. Slowly, Echidna waddled off.
He waddled far and wide. He crossed rivers, climbed mountains, risked close encounters with dogs, humans and feral cats. Anything to find Koala. Soon he began to grow tired. He thought he could not go on for much longer, but he knew he had to help his friend, so he kept waddling forward. Echidna’s determined attitude paid off, for he found Koala on a highway, about a mile away from Bilby’s burrow. She was in trouble.
She was injured and limping, on a road with thousands of cars hurtling towards her. Echidna froze. Koala needed help, but cars were big, and cars were very scary, and he was only a small echidna. Still, he knew he had to do something. As he watched, something changed inside of him. He no longer felt shy and scared. He felt…angry. Angry at the cars for hurting his friend. Angry at the other animals for not caring….and angry at himself for letting his fear get the best of him, preventing him from helping Koala.
He waddled out onto the road. SKID!!! A car screeched to a halt in front of him. He continued on, feeling braver. Still, the cars continued to stop for him. He was no longer scared. Not at all. He kept going until he reached Koala. “Echidna!” she cried. “Ow,” her leg looked sore and she could hardly walk. How would he move her safely off the road? “I’d carry you home,” Echidna said, “but I’m too spiky!” “Then what do we do?” Koala asked. She looked terrified.
A car in front of them honked grumpily. Echidna didn’t know that cars were machines. He, and most of the bush animals, thought they were living creatures. Alive, and dangerous. Koala jumped, but Echidna still did not flinch. “Don’t worry, I’ll think of something,” he said. He tried. He really tried, but he didn’t. The cars got angrier. All hope seemed lost.
But then… “Coming through,” said a voice. The voice belonged to a human. Humans were scarier than cars. Everyone knew that. Echidna still did not run, and Koala couldn’t. As the human got closer, Echidna saw she had kind eyes. That she was a friend. “Let’s get you to my surgery,” the veterinarian said.
Meanwhile, all of the bush animals returned to Bilby’s burrow. Their arms/paws/beaks full of chocolate eggs, bragging about what eggs they found and seething about the eggs that they lost. Bilby didn’t say anything. The animals sat down and when Bilby finally spoke, his voice was teary. “Ever since I was a little Bilby, I loved chocolate eggs. Every Easter, I loved hiding these eggs so you could find them. It filled me with joy. Now I realise it was not the Easter eggs that made me so happy. It was seeing you help each other hunt for the eggs and be filled with such joy when you found them. Together,” he sighed. “Now the hunt does not give you that joy anymore, so it doesn’t give me that joy,” Bilby continued. “The game became a competition. All you cared about was if you had more than anyone else, and it has driven everyone away.”
All of the animals realised this was true and began to feel sad. “So now I realise that there is no more point of the Big Bush Easter Egg Hunt. I will no longer hide eggs for you. This is the last egg hunt,” with that, he slowly, and sadly, hopped off. The animals felt shocked – and guilty. They knew what they must do.
Echidna was set on the ground by the kind vet, Koala beside him. Koala’s leg already looked better, after surgery. Echidna had been kept in a small enclosure whilst Koala was treated. Later, the vet released them both near the highway where she had found them (but not too near.) “The egg hunt will be over,” Koala said sadly. “Let’s go back anyway, just in case,” Echidna said.
When they arrived at Bilby’s burrow, they were astonished at what they could see.
They were in the middle of the festival. Around Bilby’s burrow, fun was everywhere. There were games and market stalls all around. Running the festival were Dingo, Wombat, Big Red Kangaroo, Small Grey Wallaby, Platypus and Native Hen, who had seemed so vain and selfish at the egg hunt. “EASTER GAMES OVER HERE!!” Dingo called. “HEY! Echidna!” Platypus called from an egg-decorating stall. “You found Koala!” Echidna, who used to be so shy, found himself calling back; “YEAH! You should have seen us! There was a car and a human and a…….” He darted over to tell Platypus the whole story. Smiling, Koala continued to walk through the festival and soon she found Bilby, sitting on a throne, under a banner which said, ‘Easter King’, weeping with joy.
Now there is a new tradition in the bush for Easter. Echidna, Koala, Bilby, Platypus and their friends organise the great ‘Easter Festival’, to get everyone together for Easter. It is held every year around Bilby’s burrow. Everyone comes to see it together and it is the most fun, the most enjoyable and the most delicious festival in the bush.