Wanda the wallaroo lived with her parents near the Australian outback in the plains of the Top End. She had beautiful gray fur on her back and a ghost-white belly.
Wanda loved to play in the grasslands, jump with her friends, and listen to her mum's stories. But more than anything, she loved to explore. So, one day, Wanda decided to go on a grand adventure.
"I'll hop and hop until I can't hop anymore," Wanda thought. "Then I'll stop, take a rest, and see what I can see."
After a quick meal of plains grass, she started off. She passed the spot where her friend Sarah lived and the watering hole where she drank and bathed. She saw the small pit where she often played, and considered stopping.
"I mustn't," she reminded herself. "I'll never have a grand adventure if I don't keep going." So she continued on.
Wanda hopped for a long time, until she arrived in a wooded area and could no longer see her home. Her legs were tired, so she rested, just as she had planned. It wasn't long before she fell asleep under the tall trees.
After sleeping for a few minutes, she was awoken with a start by a series of pokes in the side of her left leg. She looked down and saw a small animal with a pointy snout, its body covered with hairs and prickly spines. It was sticking its long tongue out into a nearby log.
Wanda knelt down. "Hello, Little Echidna. What are you doing?"
"I'm having lunch." The little creature pulled his tongue, covered with termites, quickly into his mouth. "What are you doing, Miss Wallaroo?"
"I'm exploring. I've never been this far from home before."
"Well, have fun, but don't get lost." The echidna burrowed further into the log. "The woodlands can be tricky."
"Thank you. I will," said Wanda.
Wanda hopped deeper into the woodlands until she heard a loud screeching sound from above. She spotted a beautiful multicolored bird with a small orange beak.
"I've never seen you before, Miss Wallaroo." The bird preened her feathers. "I'm Reina the Rainbow Lorikeet. Where is your mum?"
"I'm Wanda, and she's at home, over across the plains." Wanda stood up tall. "I'm exploring."
Reina giggled, then flew and landed on Wanda's shoulder. "I see that. Do you need directions home? I can see much further from the top of the trees than you can from down here on the ground."
"No thank you, Reina. I will find my own way when I'm ready to go."
"All right." Reina flew back into the tree. "Just take care that you don't get lost."
Wanda wandered through the forest, looking around at the different animals and plants, chatting along the way. Finally she was ready to end her adventure. But she didn't know how to get home. The plains were completely out of sight.
Wanda started to cry. "How will I ever find my way?" she whimpered.
She looked up again and saw a small, fuzzy, silvery-gray animal gliding through the air from one tree to the next. It had a black stripe on its back and a mouse-like face.
She hopped to it. "Excuse me, Mr. Sugar Glider, do you know how I can get back to the plains and to my mum and dad?"
"I'm sorry, Miss Wallaroo. I live among the trees in the midst of the forest." He looked around. "I don't know where the plains are from here. But I did see my friend the emu just around that bend. She spends time in the plains, and is quite fast. Maybe she can help you."
Wanda's eyes brightened. "Thank you, Mr. Sugar Glider."
Wanda hopped as fast as she could. A tall, shaggy, gray bird looked up from her insect lunch as Wanda approached.
"Is that you, Wanda? What are you doing out here?"
Wanda could hardly believe it. It was her mum's friend Ellen. Wanda put her head into Ellen's.
"I went exploring, and I was having so much fun that I got lost." Wanda looked into Ellen's eyes. "Can you help me get home? I promise I'll never do this again."
Ellen nodded. "Of course, dear Wanda. I'm sure your mum and dad are worried."
"Oh thank you, Ellen, thank you." With Ellen leading the way, the two animals traveled through the woodlands, out to the plains, and back to Wanda's family among the grasses of the Top End.
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