52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History Week 9 Sounds

4 March 2011

Gunderson young familyI’m participating in the 52 weeks of personal genealogy and history challenge.

This week’s challenge is to describe sounds that take you back to your childhood. This one stumped me for a while as I couldn’t really think of any sounds that opened up memories. In fact I still only have one memory that I can write about.

I now live on the outskirts of Melbourne and there is not a lot of bush around us anymore. I don’t really hear too many bird noises out here – we do have some magpies, pigeons, sparrows, blackbirds and Indian mynas – but not the bird sounds of my childhood. In an earlier post I described how we had the bush behind us in Brisbane and how we use to feed the laughing kookaburras.

If there is one sound that triggers memories of growing up it is the sound of a kookaburra laughing. We used to hear them all the time, they seemed to be everywhere. It is one of the things I really like about visiting Brisbane and Mum still lives near a creek with the bush only a five minute walk down the street.

Whenever I am home we go for a morning walk along the creek and see all the birds, even scrub turkeys, the odd snake, lots of lizards, tortoises and most mornings we can hear at least one kookaburra laughing. As I watch the kids walk home from the school near me, I wonder how many of them have even seen a kookaburra let alone heard it laugh.

It is such an iconic Australian bird to me, and so closely tied to those childhood memories of feeding them, worrying about them in the storms, the hail and the wind. I have just done a Google search on ‘kookaburras’ and there are YouTube videos of laughing kookaburras, and an entry in Wikipedia and so on. Obviously I am not alone in my love and respect for this ‘sound’ from my childhood!


Shauna has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society. In 2009 Shauna received the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) Services to Family History Award for her achievements in Queensland, Canberra and Victoria.

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  1. I can hear the kookaburras outside in the trees right now. Although they don’t sound as pretty as the bellbirds that are competing with them I love their raucous laughter. When we wake we sometimes see the kookaburras peering in our bedroom windows from the verandah railing – they are curious characters.

  2. Nice! The kookaburra was my Mum’s favourite bird, so every time I hear one I think of her.

  3. Like you I include the sound of kookaburras laughing as a childhood memory. They also visited us for meat snacks. The NT kookaburras have a completely different sound -and we only hear them out bush.

  4. What a great childhood ‘sound’ memory. I live in the bush now and hear the kookaburras every morning just as I did in Brisbane as a child. But I don’t know if I would have been so clever as to associate this with a childhood memory. Well done!

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