Bukit Ibam and ‘Kookaburra’

Since starting my blog a few schoolmates from Bukit Ibam have contacted me. Some have vivid memories. Some have returned to Bukit Ibam with their parents. It sounds like there is not much left of the place. Still it must have been nice to visit the place again. I went to Malaysia in 2007 for a holiday with my family. Mum and dad joined from India. We visited our old haunts in Kuala Lumpur, next stop was Genting Hills and finally Penang. It seems a pity that we didn’t do a detour and go through Bukit Ibam when we had the chance.

One of my main memories from my school days is reading Australian school magazines which Mr Coveney, our head teacher, used to bring for us. Aboriginal stories and adventures from the outback have left lasting impressions. Stories about Ned Kelly left us wanting more.

One of the messages I received mentioned the kookaburra song, which pleasantly surprised me. I too fondly remember the nursery rhyme.

“Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he
Laugh kookaburra laugh
Kookaburra gay your life must be”

Kookaburra, a bird native to Australia, is a kingfisher. The bird calls resembles a laughter and hence they are referred to as the laughing kookaburra. Fifty years on since first hearing the song, I can still remember the lines. I look up the rhyme today and find that the words have been changed in some of the versions. I still like the old version, the version I grew up with.

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