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Karak's Story

Chapter One

When the news reached Noisy Hollows on Stringybark Lane that Karak had been appointed Mascot for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, every cocky's chest puffed up with pride. The small community of South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoos was so happy. Karak's crest stood up high on his head. He looked so proud with his shiny black feathers and bright red tail.

"K-A-R-A-K, K-A-R-A-K," he called with his famous sound that had given him his name. "K-A-R-A-K"! Karak's huge cheeky grin was wider than ever. He was over the moon to hear about being the Mascot. He loved nothing more than to spread the word about sport and his beloved Melbourne.

He instantly hatched a plan.

He vowed to hit the highways and byways of Victoria and shout his news from the hills. "K-A-R-A-K! I'll get the word spreading from one tree to another," he said, while munching on his favourite stringy bark seeds, cracking them open with his powerful beak. He was so thrilled!

Some might call him a sticky beak, but he wanted to know all about the sports men and women visiting his country. If asked, he would think nothing of flying to all corners of the Commonwealth to spread the news about the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

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Chapter Two

Everyone in Stringybark Lane flocked to hear the news! Of course, no one was surprised that Karak had been appointed Mascot for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Karak was a local sports legend and well-known campaigner for the environment. He'd always been up for a challenge. Okay, he'd had a few misadventures, but everyone knew he had a big heart - and he was a great squawker...err...that is a great talker.

He had told everyone he could about the dwindling numbers of the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo; how there's very few left - so he's not unique, but there aren't many like him!

He's a rare find alright. A high flyer, and a top bird! He was renowned for his sporting prowess. He'd tried his hand at everything from swimming to athletics, gymnastics, cycling, table tennis and hockey. On several occasions he nearly made the top teams too! He loved his sport. He simply couldn't get enough of it. He was equally known for a rather devil-may-care attitude. The South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoos would squawk with laughter as they remembered the incident where he was disqualified from the local athletics carnival for flying over the high jump. He apologised, said it was an "accident" and the whole thing blew over. The high jump that is. A gust of wind came and blew it over! He could be a bit bird-brained. Then there was the time of when he really laid an egg. He was so excited about winning the local soccer tournament that he dive-bombed the Mayor! How he talked his way out of that one we'll never know, but it was soon forgotten. He always had that ability, to dust himself off and fly straight and true!

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Chapter Three

Karak was out of his tree when he heard about being the Mascot for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. As soon as he got the news he was straight to work.

He flew high in the air. He could see everything from up there, and his view told him exactly what to do. He flew straight down to the primary schools and started telling the children all about the Games.

"K-A-R-A-K! I'm so excited," he said, addressing a group of eager young kids. "Do you know that the Commonwealth Games will be the largest event of its kind to be held in Melbourne? It will take place from 15 - 26 March 2006. You won't believe how amazing it's going to be. There will be around 6,000 athletes and officials flying in from all the Commonwealth countries! There are 16 sports, 12 individual and 4 team sports. There will be more than 2,000 media and 15,000 volunteers helping the whole thing to run smoothly.

The Games will be held at world-famous Melbourne sporting venues like the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, Rod Laver Arena, the Multi-Purpose Arena at Melbourne Park, the State Netball Hockey Centre and several sites in regional areas."

The children stared wide-eyed. Karak wasn't winging it. He knew his stuff. When they found out that Karak and his family could disappear forever, the children were very sad. Karak was quick to lift their spirits. "K-A-R-A-K!" he said. "It's going to be alright. All we have to do is get together and plant a lot of Stringy-Bark Trees. Tell all of your friends. We'll be filling the skies in no time!"

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Chapter Four

As Mascot for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, Karak had many duties. As soon as he had finished telling the children in the primary schools all about the Games, he was out spreading the news around town.

By day he hit his favourite Melbourne cafes and flew out to the Grampians, the Great Ocean Road, the mighty Murray River and the Yarra Valley wineries where he called out the news from the highest peaks. He went to restaurants full of international flavours and aromas. He hit the skate ramps, impressing everyone with his skateboard skills and rapping with the kids. He was down with the flock, one hip dude, a bird of the people! He caught trams to St Kilda, Fitzroy and South Yarra to spread the news.

At night, he was out and about at his favourite watering holes. He even zipped into one of the hippest nightclubs to shake his tail feathers to one of Melbourne's internationally renowned DJs. Nothing too seedy though. Karak was taking his appointment as the 2006 Commonwealth Games Mascot very seriously. He's one cool cockatoo.

He wanted the whole country to know about the Games in Melbourne. He spent an exhausting day flying from Melbourne to Sydney. He went west at Brisbane and headed for the Northern Territory, crash landing in the desert. Then he took a night flight to Perth, zipped over to Adelaide, and crossed Bass Strait to arrive in Tasmania, enthusiastically spreading the news in every State and Territory. He may be taken to flights of fancy, but here's a bird with his claws firmly planted on the ground.

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Chapter Five

Karak was flying high. A South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo had been chosen as the Mascot for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games! It was time for an official function to take everyone under his wing. He called a big meeting at Federation Square and shouted from the treetops about the Games! He was so excited he fell off his perch! He was soon up again though, dusting off his feathers and laughing.

Of course, being an ambassador for the Games gave him plenty of opportunity to talk about the environment and the endangerment of his species. He wanted to represent all Australian endangered fauna. He felt that this symbolised the Commonwealth Games' environmental legacy, and he wasn't going to let the captive audience at Federation Square get off easy. Caw! He couldn't half go on about the South-Eastern Red Tailed Black Cockatoo! How he crowed about his species. "K-A-R-A-K!" he squawked. "We are a beautiful bird with a gleaming black coat, a spectacular head crest and a bright red tail. Sadly though, we are down to fewer than 1000 birds. Lack of food, plus predation and habitat loss have contributed to a decline in our numbers. We can't let this go on!"

But Karak was also quick to put a positive spin on things. "Australia has such a unique and wonderful flora and fauna. It's so special to the world in general, and very important to the ethos of the Commonwealth Games. We must protect it and preserve our heritage. K-A-R-A-K!" He never lets anything get him down. Good things are around every corner for this plucky bird.

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Chapter Six

With 71 nations competing in the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, representing over one third of the world's population, Karak saw endless opportunities as Mascot to spread the word about Melbourne community spirit and love of sport. "United By Dreams" was the Games' motto. Being a communal bird, Karak was hip to what it meant to be united. Flying high in the air he saw the hopes and dreams of all. He saw Australia's passion for sport, and Melbourne's distinctive sense of community and culture.

Melbourne has a society that is defiantly Australian and yet has a strong sense of worldly style. Melbourne is a modern, forward-thinking city and Karak knows where it's at. He was so excited about all Australians being involved in the Commonwealth Games! And he couldn't wait to show everyone from overseas how friendly Australians could be! Actually he couldn't wait to show off. This was a big opportunity for him to talk about his passions, but it also gave him the chance to be centre stage! He loved to be a star! "K-A-R-A-K! As Mascot I must surely be a big part of the opening and closing ceremonies," he said to himself. "But I'll also be the one everyone can look to for the true spirit of the Commonwealth Games!" He never got too cocky.

Is he the right bird for the job? Well, as he always said, "You've got to have a Karak!"

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