Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, the gumnut babies, is a much-loved children’s classic.
The story was created by May Gibbs, whose parents migrated from England to Australia in 1881 when she was four-year old. The family lived in Western Australia, but later in life May moved to Sydney, where she and her husband built a home at Neutral Bay. Called Nutcote, the house is now a museum.
The young May developed a deep love and understanding of the Australian bush, often exploring the countryside on her pony, Brownie.
Both her parents were proficient artists and May soon followed in their footsteps, the natural bush surroundings inspiring her paintings and sketches.
Just before she turned 13, May contributed a double-page spread to the West Australian newspaper, a pen and ink drawing called ‘Little Folks’, which showcased her exceptional talent.
She became a botanical illustrator and on three occasions returned to England to study fine art. While there in 1911 she was successful in having her first book published.
May’s work struck a chord with Australian people who identified with her portrayals of the local landscape and it unique fauna and flora. The fantasy world she created using these familiar elements delighted readers from that time forward.
Her most famous book, Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, was first published in 1918 – and has never been out of print since.
Modelled on the appearance of nuts from the eucalyptus (gum) tree, the two tiny gumnut characters decide to leave the safety of their treetop home to discover what humans look like.
[Above photo] Portrait of May Gibbs ca 1916. Source: National Library of Australia – nla.pic-vn4583514.
As their escapade unfolds, they encounter all manner of bush characters, including the villains of the story – the big bad Banksia men!
Touching the lives of generations of Australian children by bringing the Australian bush to captivating life, May’s beautiful stories and illustrations occupy a special place in Australian literature.
This 2015 coin is the first official Australian release to portray May Gibbs’ iconic bush characters. The reverse shows her charming illustration of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie sitting on a branch either side of their friend, Little Ragged Blossom.
Struck by The Perth Mint from 1/2oz of 99.9% pure silver, no more than 5,000 of these highly collectable coins will be released.
Each coin is housed in a themed presentation booklet making it an ideal newborn baby gift.
© THE NORTHCOTT SOCIETY & CEREBRAL PALSY ALLIANCE