Whistling a happy tune at this year's Ekka

The man with the bird whistles played his whole repertoire to us.

There was a duck and an owl and a kookaburra and a myriad of other breeds.

Each required careful use of the tongue and air. The whistles may look like simple wooden tubes, but they were masterful in their mimicry.

This was the sample bag our grandson was never going to get. He may have been ours for a day at the Ekka, but this could have been a one-off if certain rules involving the intake of sugar were shamelessly broken. We didn't mind skipping the mayhem of the showbag pavilion, focusing instead on the pigs and the cows and the chickens.

The day-old chicks resembled little puffs of fairy floss on double stick legs, the pigs almost squeeled as they flew down the slippery slide in the racing pigs show and the goats were not sheepish about nudging for food at the animal nursery.

But right now, I had birds and bird whistles in my scope. We were embracing the full gamut of bird.

The full birdcall repertoire took about five minutes to play. The man carefully washed each pipe, articulating the sounds magically.

I asked my grandson which one he liked and he said he liked the "bird one".


I gently asked the man to play the sounds again, so I could purchase our five-year-old Ekka companion the correct pipe. I told my grandson to raise his hand when he got to the sound he liked.

He chose the kookaburra, the trickiest to play and even trickier to make it sound like a kookaburra. The man had warned us early on that of all the birdcalls, the kookaburra was basically a no-go for children whose age was less than two digits.

The man told me if he couldn't get a note out of it, he would refund us the money.

My grandson gripped the trilling pipe with his fist and never even tried to blow.

It was when we were embracing our first piece of solitude while going home in the car that he decided to give it a blast.

His was no laughing kookaburra, but there was a definite duck sound.

Second blow confirmed that this duck may have been feeling a bit agitated and was happy to crow about it.

His father now has the instructions for kookaburra birdcall 101. Bring on the laughter, kookaburra fuelled or not.

- Linda Muller