Skippy, Our Friend Ever True
BY STEPHEN GROENEWEGEN
Our new online exhibition celebrates 50 years of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo with clips and compilations from the show, interviews with the cast, merchandise, music, advertisements, behind-the-scenes production materials and more.
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo is one of Australia's greatest cultural exports that became a worldwide phenomenon. At its height it was broadcast in 128 countries to an audience of over 300 million viewers.
Skippy is a part of our DNA. Just mentioning her name is likely to have you humming the theme song, one of the most recognisable TV tunes ever recorded.
The adventures of Skippy and ten-year-old Sonny (played by Garry Pankhurst) in Waratah National Park in Sydney unfolded over 3 series and 91 episodes (made from 1966–69 and broadcast 1968–70). A spin-off feature film, Skippy and the Intruders (1969), was released in December 1969.
'Golly, it's a flying saucer!'
This short compilation gives a taste of the kind of scrapes Sonny and Skippy got into:
'They're trapped down the mine!'
Waratah National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary was the television home to Head Ranger Matt Hammond (Ed Devereaux), his sons Mark (Ken James) and Sonny, and their friends Clancy Merrick (Liza Goddard) and helicopter pilot Jerry King (Tony Bonner).
They were joined each week by a cast of colourful characters, played by a who's who of Australian stars.
Plus some incredible animals, like Hector the emu and the wombat who makes an explosive impact in this short clip:
'Here we go, Skip!'
But the star of the show was always Skippy. She had some amazing skills, particularly when it came to her paws – which could open doors, operate a radio and pick up all manner of objects.
Then there was her unique language, consisting entirely of 'tch, tch, tch' sounds, in which she could communicate a great deal of information (or not much at all, depending on her mood).
And no matter what villainy found its way into the park, Skippy and her friends (but mostly Skippy) always managed to save the day:
More than a children's TV show
Skippy introduced Australia – and its wildlife – to the world. Not just a children's adventure series, the show carried strong environmental themes about protecting the bush and its inhabitants and also featured and portrayed Australia's First Peoples in a positive light.
So check out our new online exhibition, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.
'What's that, Skip? You want even more?'