nulla cover

All the men of the area have mysteriously disappeared, lured away by Bulogen Dhung – the bad spirit of Mount Badoran. Desperate to find their father, Susan and Johnny Telford set off in search of him. On their way to Mount Badoran, they meet an Aboriginal boy called Nullagundi, who is also looking for his father.
Helped by the Bush Creatures Society of Animals, the three children form a rescue team.

Will Susan, Johnny and Nulla be brave enough to enter ‘Mad Dody’s’ cave? Will Nullagundi – helped by the good spirits of Mount Badoran hiding in the stalagmites and stalactites – find the courage to do what needs doing to destroy this evil caveman, rescue the missing men and bring back peace to the ancient land?

Will Nulla …? Will he …?
  Based on a Musical Play for children called Nullagundi, which Joyce Berendes wrote for her then Children’s Operetta Group some years ago, Nulla and the Purple Poison Plant is a fantasy story set in the early 1900s, somewhere in Australia’s bush country in the horse-and-buggy days.

In Store Price: $19.95 
Online Price:   $18.95

ISBN: 978-1-921731-47-1   
Format: Paperback
Number of pages:177
Genre: Children's Fiction
Cover and Illustrations: Christine Young


Author: Joyce Berendes
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2010
Language: English


About the author

Former Actress, Dancer and Playwright Joyce Berendes, came to Australia as a skilled and seasoned performer. While living in Brisbane she started a Children’s Operetta Group, based on the one she worked for in Holland. She has written several one act plays for children and wrote the book and lyrics for two children’s musicals.

Joyce Berendes is also the author of three adult novels.

Her first novel The Fourteenth Day was nominated for the Sisters in Crime, Davitt Crime Writers’ award, while the publishers’ first print of her second novel And then came the Rain – a thriller/love story set in Karumba at the Gulf of Carpentaria – sold out within four weeks of the book’s launch in 2008. Her third novel Matters of Choice was released in 2009. All three novels were published by Zeus Publications.

She is currently working on her fourth novel.


About the Illustrator


Artist, illustrator and graphic designer for many years, Christine Young has worked on several books for tertiary education and a series of books for Australian Children’s Songs by Surprise Gold Books.

As an artist Christine works in acrylic and watercolour, although a graphic designer experienced with the electronic media for illustrating, she prefers to illustrate her books with the authentic medias of paintbrush, paint and paper.

Christine continues her career as a graphic designer and as an artist currently working on commissioned paintings.


The Story Teller


The rain poured down, a typical summer storm, noisy and excessive.

 ‘It can’t rain at my party!’ Sophie Foster called out when the first fat drops had bounced off the back patio. It was her eleventh birthday, and the family had hoped to have the birthday lunch under the poinciana tree in the back garden. Five of Sophie’s best friends were coming, as well as her grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins, and of course her twin brothers Ronny and Mick, and her younger brother, John. For once her brothers had helped to make the garden look really cool and all three of them were looking forward to the party.

Parties are so much easier to manage outside, her mother had suggested, and Sophie liked the idea. They had put out coloured lights amongst the flowering bushes and trees and had blown up some balloons and hung them all over the garden. The clothes hoist had been transformed into a brightly coloured maypole with streamers and flowering garlands – the result was beautiful. And now … she found it hard to believe when at the last moment, big, fat, dark clouds shut off the sun and they had to shift everything inside in a hurry.

Deeply disappointed but trying not to show it Sophie welcomed her guests indoors. Even though her mother had made the table look extra nice with all the goodies, and she was pleased to receive her presents, somehow she couldn’t manage to enjoy herself. She blew out the candles on her cake, they played some of the usual games and did some dancing and stuff like that, but Sophie’s mind wasn’t on it. For some reason she kept glancing out through the misty windows at the rain slashing at the streamers and garlands that had taken them so long to make. She noticed that most of the balloons had burst, but strangely enough, the coloured lights were still switched on and twinkled and sparkled through the sheets of rain as if to mock her. Then the doorbell rang and when she opened the front door, there, looking like a drowned rat, was Great Uncle Telford … and in one big swoop all her disappointments were forgotten.

Sophie loved her mother’s old uncle; he was one of her favourite people. At ninety-three years old he was as bright as a button. He lived with his seventy-year-old daughter in a retirement village where he kept all the rest of the retirees entertained with the most fantastic stories about his life. As an aspiring author, Sophie too loved listening to his stories. She often tried to write them down when she came home so she wouldn’t forget, thinking she could maybe use them later when she’d write her famous novel. The ones she liked best of all were about his youth, when he and his sister and mum and dad were living on an enormous cattle station away out in the wilds. When there weren’t any motorbikes or helicopters to muster the big mobs of cattle and when everything was done with horses. In those days they slaughtered and ate their own beef and drank milk straight from the cow. It was like another world, something out of the book she was going to write.

Great Uncle Telford used to go to school every day with horse and cart driven by his older sister. If he was to be believed, they used to have the most fantastic adventures. She wondered sometimes if all those incredible stories were actually true. Anyway, who cared? They were terrific tales and she adored him.

‘Hey, look who’s here, Mum!’ Sophie yelled happily as she quickly pulled the old man inside and helped him remove his raincoat and hat. ‘Mum told us you weren’t coming, Uncle Tel, because you thought it was all going to be a bit too much for you.’ She gave him a big hug before she led him inside. ‘I’m glad you changed your mind though; the party’s slowing down a bit, and I hope you’ll tell us some more of your stories.’

‘Now that,’ Uncle Telford said, ‘is exactly what your Dad told me when he rang me …’

Sophie threw her dad a surprised look and he gave her a conspiratorial wink, which made her feel good. He must have realised she hadn’t been able to get into the swing of things for some reason and he had known exactly what to do about it.

Uncle Tel – as she called him – was still talking while her father helped him settle into a comfortable chair and her mum gave him a cuppa and a slice of Sophie’s birthday cake. ‘He said that you’d all eaten and drunk your fill and had more than enough of party games and dancing, and with the miserable weather outside you’d probably be happy to listen to one of my yarns. So here I am, how could I refuse, great storyteller that I am … it will be an honour to spin one of my tales for my great-niece and her friends on her eleventh birthday!’

Look at him, Sophie thought grinning, he loves it when everyone listens to his stories, he’s having a great time. He really looked the part though, old and frail, his once-curly red hair almost gone, leaving a gleaming bald head with tight tiny white curls at the side. Yet his beard was full and wavy and came almost down to his chest and his eyes still sparkled in his tanned wrinkled face. He sounded in great form; she was looking forward to it and knew just the story she would ask for.

‘So,’ the old man said between bites of the sweet sticky cake. ‘I wonder …’ He licked his fingers one by one and smacked his lips as he looked at the kids that were now gathered around him. They were mainly the younger ones; the twins and some of the older cousins had withdrawn to the computer room, not all that interested in sitting there listening to the old man ‘waffling on’ as they thought. They didn’t realise that before long they would all dribble back in, and they’d be hanging onto his words just like the rest of the company and be just as enthralled.

‘I wonder,’ Uncle Tel said again, his eyes gleaming as he raised his eyebrows at Sophie, ‘I wonder which story it is that you’d want me to tell you.’

Sophie knew he was teasing her; she and Uncle Tel had been through this ritual before. He enjoyed this little game and she didn’t mind; he knew exactly which story she was going to ask for, she was sure of it.

‘I wonder, could it be …?’ Uncle Tel smiled.

‘Nulla and the Purple Poison Plant!’ they said in unison.

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