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A Bunch of Battlers

Chapter 7 – Excitement in the Sand Hills
It was just after dawn on the third day of their stay in Hattah
Lakes National Park. Billy squatted beside the lake, his toes
squelching in the soft mud. All around him were his little toys,
and he was earnestly working at excavating a pond for his plastic
duck.
Pelicans swooped, skidded, and squabbled on the surface of the
lake. Billy stopped to watch. He was enchanted by them.
Enormous sand hills rose behind the spot where they had set up
camp. Huge ghost-gums ringed the lake, giving homes to many
different birds and possums.
The children were enjoying a few days lazing about the lake
before, as Pete put it, they got into serious business. By this he
meant looking for work and a more permanent camp-site. Pete
had planned to go to Mildura on the following day to check out
about fruit picking work and to see if there was any reply to his
letter to the Correspondence School. It was a long way – 130
kilometres for the round trip, but Pete knew, that on his own, he
could do it with ease.
They had spent the past few days playing and exploring the park.
A game they never tired of was jumping off sand hills, to land half
way down and slide and tumble to the base. This day dawned as
peaceful as others had.
At around noon a family with two small children set up a large
tentontheothersideofaclumpoftreesfromthechildren’s
camp. Billy watched them from a narrow hollow nearby – it was
about 1 ½ metres deep and 8 metres long, and just right for
playingat‘spies’Whenhewastired of that game, he went back
to the lake.
Late in the afternoon Pete noticed that the pelicans had left the
lake, and, looking up, he saw that the sky had changed colour – it
was shades of grey and pink. Robyn noticed at the same time
that the air was still and there was no noise – no birds calling, no
insects trilling.
 
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