The Muddle-Headed Wombat
In 1941 the Australian Broadcasting Commission decided to nationalise its Children's programs, broadcast from Sydney with Ida Elizabeth Osbourne as its first producer. In 1942 she commissioned Ruth Park to write a dramatised series, The Wide–Awake Bunyip. The first episode was aired in January 1943, with "Joe" (Albert Collins) in the title role. When he died, in 1951, Ruth changed the title to The Muddle–Headed Wombat, with Leonard Teale the first to play the part. When Leonard left, John Ewart "Jimmy" made it his for the next 18 years. The part of his friend "Mouse" in both incarnations was played by the current female co-presenter. When John E. C. Appleton was made Supervisor of Children's Programs and keen to be involved, the part of "Tabby Cat" was created for him. The narrator throughout was "Mac" (Atholl Fleming). The popularity of the series (which ended when the Children's Hour was cancelled in 1970) led Ruth Park to write her Muddle–Headed Wombat books.
The Muddle-Headed Wombat books follow the Muddle-Headed Wombat and his friends, a good-natured, practical female mouse and a vain, neurotic male tabby cat. The characters call each other simply Wombat, Mouse and Tabby.
Wombat's speech is peppered with malapropisms and spoonerisms, e.g. treely ruly for really and truly, lawn the mow for mow the lawn and Cindergorilla for Cinderella. He has a bicycle with red wheels, of which he is intensely proud and which he anthropomorphises, e.g. complaining that it bit him when he accidentally injured himself trying to repair it.
The Muddle Headed Wombat series of books was published from 1962 to 1971 by Educational Press Pty Ltd , who commissioned Ruth Park to write books based on the radio show. Noela Young (died 5 April 2018) illustrated these books.
In 1971 the rights were transferred to Angus and Robertson Pty Ltd, who commissioned the later books and reprinted those originally published by Educational Press.
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat 1962 (ISBN 0207167338)
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat on Holiday 1964
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat in the Treetops 1965
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat at School 1966
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat in the Snow 1966
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat on a Rainy Day 1969
- The Muddle Headed Wombat in the Springtime 1970
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat on the River 1970
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat and the Bush Band 1973
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat and the Invention 1975
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat on Clean-Up Day 1976
- The Adventures of the Muddle-Headed Wombat 1979
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat 1979, contains:
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat on Holiday
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat in the Treetops
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat at School
- More Adventures of the Muddle-Headed Wombat 1980
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat is Very Bad 1981
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat Stays at Home 1982
- Richard Lane. The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama 1923–1960. p. 308.
- Signed copies of contracts between Educational Press and Ruth Park in the possession of this editor
- Copyright Registration Notices issued by the Commonwealth of Australia and by the Library of Congress
- "RiP Noela Young". Books + Publishing. Retrieved 6 April 2018.