Cristy Burne

Author, editor, science writer


My favourite 4am start: one year of Ellie the giraffe

Time is flying and I can’t believe school is already finished for 2018!

I’m still recovering from being on NSW-time for Russ the Bus, and all this getting up early each day reminded me of my favourite super-early start: it was in 2017, and it was 4am.

Giraffe Correspondent

I was Crinkling News‘ Giraffe Correspondent, in charge of waking up super-early to catch the arrival of Ellie the giraffe to Perth Zoo. It was the chance of a lifetime, so I gave the kids the choice to come too. They opted to join me, voluntarily waking up at 4am to be part of the excitement. Go kids!

Ellie was late to arrive, which meant we were a little late for school, but it was all worth it! Here’s the story I wrote for Crinkling: I hope you think of Ellie next time you’re planning a road trip 😉

EllieNullaborSignCrate.jpgTall order

By Cristy Burne

At 3.2 metres tall, Ellie’s short for a giraffe, but there’s no way she’d fit into an aeroplane.

That’s why she travelled by road from Australia Zoo in Queensland, to Perth Zoo in Western Australia, crossing four states and clocking up 4510 kilometres.

“It’s the longest-ever road trip for a giraffe in the world,” says Andrew Stubbs, operations supervisor for transport company Toll Group. “We left Brisbane Monday [September 18 2017] lunchtime and arrived in Perth Thursday [September 21 2017] morning.”

Every kilometre of Ellie’s trip was carefully planned over many months. The team arranged for power lines to be lifted, traffic to be held back, and even for the lights to stay green.

“The idea was to get her here as quickly as possible, and as safely as possible,” says Perth Zoo’s Danielle Henry.

Mobile homeDelivery.JPG

Incredibly, Ellie spent the entire journey standing in her crate.

“Giraffes don’t really sleep for long…they just have nanna naps,” Ms Henry says. “And they don’t generally lie down, because then they’re susceptible to lion attacks.”

Ellie didn’t even break for a toilet stop—keepers just cleaned her crate on the go.

“Australia Zoo spent around four months getting her used to the crate, and making that a really positive space for her,” says Ms Henry. “They fed her in it, they got her used to walking in and out of it.”

80,000 giraffes in the wild

Ellie’s just 16 months old [at time of arrival], but she’s already an important part of the Australasian Giraffe Breeding Program. Zoo staff hope she’ll eventually breed with Perth Zoo’s bull giraffe, Armani.

“All the zoos work together to try and save this species,” says Ms Henry. “There’s probably only about 80,000 of them left in the wild.”


This story originally appeared in Crinkling News. 

Thanks to Perth Zoo for the images.

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Bigger outdoors, teenage pencil sharpener, and butts of the joke: Scribbler’s Festival Schools Program is go

The lineup for next year’s Scribbler’s Festival schools program has been announced, so in this, the last week of school for 2018, it’s time to start planning for 2019! Yeee ha!Program.JPG

The festival is hosting so many incredible creators, thinkers and presenters on that list, including WA creators Meg McKinlay, A J Betts, Kylie Howarth and Kamsani Bin Salleh, plus interstate guests and international guests Philip Ardagh, Alison Lester, Jacqueline Harvey, Eddie Woo, Megan McDonald, Kate and Jol Temple, Matt Stanton, Renée Watson, Jeremy Lachlan, Zoë Norton Lodge  and Georgia Norton Lodge, Sha’an d’Anthes, Celine Kiernan, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki….and ME!

You can download the full program or get more info here.

Session grab.JPG

The family program will be released in February with events held over Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 May.

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“This is the best day ever!” Reporting from Russ the Bus

I’m back from my tour! And I had an absolute ball.

I was lucky enough to spend a week touring Newcastle, Gosford and Maitland on board Russ the Story Bus as part of outreach by Sydney Writer’s Festival.

I had the distinct and unusual pleasure of travelling with:

  • Intrepid Wrangler and Chief Organiser Vanessa Hutchins, and
  • Wizard of All Things Bussery and High Five Guru Isaac Gallagher.

Together we’d roll into a school, unpack the bus, and introduce classroom after classroom of kids to their challenge: Step on board Russ the Bus, select a book from its laden bookshelves, and take the book home–to keep!

“This is the best day ever!!!!”

You should’ve seen their faces and witnessed the jumping up and down when we announced that. Every time, the earth moved. What a privilege to be the Bringer of Such Good News!

I also did mini meet-the-author shows at each school, sometimes to hundreds of students all at once, sometimes class by class. Each time it was a whole bus-load of fun 🙂

THANKS SO MUCH to Sydney Writer’s Festival, and especially Amelia Lush. Thanks to all the schools and teachers who hosted us so generously. And huge thanks to Vanessa, Isaac and of course to Russ for such a super week. I LOVED IT!


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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Maverick and Ralph…and Kellie Byrnes

I’m out and about with Russ the Bus, which is uber-exciting! I’m missing my own pooch, so it’s a perfect time to cue a huge round of barking to welcome back…

Dogs of the Rich and Famous!!!!

Today’s hounds are Maverick (the sook) and Ralph (AKA Destructo), assistants to Australian picture book author Kellie Byrnes.

Me and the boys.jpgAbout Maverick and Ralph

Age:  Maverick just turned 11 years and Ralph is almost 9.

Breed (or best guess): Maverick is a Border Collie x Heeler (with a mixture of other things thrown in, particularly Huntaway, Kellie thinks).

Ralph is a Kelpie x Blue Heeler (with perhaps some Belgian Shepherd in the mix, Kellie thinks, based on his big thick lion’s mane!).

Assistant to: Author Kellie Byrnes.

cloud+conductor+small.jpgKellie Byrnes is a children’s author, freelance writer, blogger, book reviewer and presenter. Her debut picture book, Cloud Conductor, was released in May 2018, and her next picture book, Yes! No. will be published in late 2019. Kellie also writes early readers and junior fiction novels, and is slowly working her way up to longer works!

Check her out on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

Help or hindrance?

“The dogs both help and hinder me in my writing,” says Kellie.

“As for helping, I come up with most of my story ideas and plot devices when I’m out walking them (many include dogs, of course!). If I’m having a problem with a manuscript, I take the boys for a walk and have usually sorted it out by the time I get back.

“I find that having a break from work, and hanging out and playing with them, clears my head and improves my mood, too. They’re always happy and loving, and it’s impossible to be cranky or stressed when they’re around, being playful and cheeky!

“Something that’s both a help and a hindrance is when I’m working on my computer at night and they’re inside, and think I should finish. If I haven’t stopped to give them attention after a while, they take it in turns coming into the office and bumping my elbow so that I can’t type, or pushing their heads into my lap and staring at me.

“Ralph also likes to give me a bit of a soft nip on the arm if I still don’t get the hint, or he ‘talks’ to me, making short little sighing, yipping sounds which get increasingly louder over time! Maverick also does a lot of sighing, sitting right at my feet, if I don’t get up!

“All of this distraction is a help though, too, because the dogs remind me to stretch and have a break and hang out with them more.”

Fave toys and games: Maverick’s favourite toy is a ball: “Any ball,” says Kellie, “as long as someone is throwing it to him. This is his favourite game, along with being chased, and wrestling!

“And since he’s a complete sook, he will take being patted and cuddled for hours on end. He thinks he is a lap dog, even though he’s 30 kgs. He still seems like a puppy in many ways!

Ralph’s favourite game used to be chasing after balls too, but he has bad knees now, so he’s not allowed. “He adores being given toys to tear apart though,” says Kellie. “His nickname is Destructo. Thankfully he is well behaved and doesn’t try to tear apart other things in the house (god help him if he touched my books!).

“Having said that though, when I bring home stuffed toys or puppets to use at school visits, and he sees them, he does everything he can to let me know he wants them!”



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“Remarkable and timely” “funny and informative”: reviews that make me smile

It’s only a week till I blast off with Russ the Bus into Newcastle and Gosford.
Wooo hoo! I can’t wait!

I’m really looking forward to meeting hundreds of kids and teachers and having a fantabulous time!

It’s also only five weeks till Christmas (!!!???!!!)

If you’re wondering how to give the gift that keeps on giving, give a book to a child you love.

And if you need some book suggestions, I humbly (not so humbly? :-)) present two recent reviews, below. (Want more book recommendations for kids? Check out this amazing event at the State Library of WA.)

Writers spend a lot of time alone in our own heads. We’re always wondering if what we’re writing will ever be read, or liked, or used to help inspire readers to live bigger, braver, more informed lives.

So THANK YOU to all of you who take the time to review our work and help get our stories and ideas into the hands of the young people we write them for.


And now, on with the book reviews… 🙂

Magpies review.JPGZeroes & Ones (2018)
In Magpies magazine

Despite its catchy title and attractive cover featuring a squat, colourful, friendly robot, it is the subtitle The geeks, heroes and hackers who changed history that really best sum up this remarkable and timely book.

Within its five detailed chapters, information is fed to the reader in a series of compact, information-rich fact boxes, with the author’s amusing, hip writing style being sure to resonate with young, switched-on readers.

She reminds them that this is their future and encourages and challenges them to decide how they are going to carry on the digital revolution which they will inherit.

It introduces and outlines the motivations of all the major players to date (e.g. Turing, Jobs, Assange, Zuckerberg, etc.) but more importantly explains how and why the inventions and computer advances which have developed in the last few decades have grown into the overarching behemoth of technology which we all share today.

The unusual combination of colours (black writing of difference sizes and fonts presented on alternating white and yellow background) is striking, and the few illustrations of photographs which accompany the text serve mainly to break up the information and occasionally to simply clarify.

Readership? As well as the obvious group—upper primary and lower secondary readers of both sexes—I would recommend this captivating book to everyone who has held a digital device of any kind in the past twenty years!

This intriguingly delightful book is utterly absorbing—and every so slightly scary!

Highly recommended.

Russ Merrin

Kids Reading Guide review

Off The Track (2018)
In Kids Book Review

Harry thinks he’s in for the worst weekend ever when he has to go hiking and camping. No phone to play with?!

Little does he know of the fun, scary, crazy adventure that awaits!

This is a funny and informative story about getting away from it all.

Kids Book Review 


Thank you!!!! And wish me luck with Russ the Bus!


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A Bibb Track adventure writing competition for young writers

DB_OffTheTrack_WEB 400x200.pngDo you know a young writer who’d love to try their hand at an exciting short story?

I’ll be judging a competition for young writers who’d like to win a signed copy of my latest novel for kids, Off The Track.

What you need to do:

Write a short story about your adventure on the Bibbulmun Track and send it in to for a chance to win.

Closes: 23rd November 2018
Word Limit: 500 words
Theme: Your Bibbulmun Track adventure
Prize: We’ll be giving away a signed copy of Off The Track to two major prize winners. Runners up will receive a special activity sheet, book mark and more. Plus, entries will be published on The Bibbulmun Track Foundation website.

With thanks to The Bibb Track Foundation:
I’m thrilled to be working with The Bibbulmun Track Foundation on this….

Off The Track was inspired by my family’s own adventures and blisters and marshmallows and hills and dales and uplifting fresh-air experiences on the track.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to hiking by my parents when I was just a kid, and my kids are lucky enough that we also take them hiking. The Bibb is one of our favourite places to go…

Real adventure, right on our doorstep. How lucky are we?!?!?

Bibbulmun Track Cristy Burne.jpg