Twelve-year-old twins Ozzie and Fee and nine-year-old Pete moved from the city to their granny’s farm, the Pumpkin Patch. The children couldn’t believe the ridiculous name of the nearby village – Frogsville. Thrust into a new and totally strange way of life, how were they ever to fit in?

Granny's beloved, ancient farmhouse with its pumpkin patch and Milkshake the cow

The Pumpkin Patch farm, complete with pumpkins and Granny’s cow Milkshake.

Ozzie’s career as a singer was ruined. Fee, so proud to be the top student at her old school finds her new principal telling her that she will never amount to anything. And poor little Pete, such an angel but so lacking in confidence, becomes a laughing stock after disgracing himself at the Frogsville Show.

First the children badly misbehave in the hope that Granny will send then back to the city, but no way that was going to work. Bored, lonely and miserable what could they do next? The answer came in a most unexpected way.

‘As soon as the rain clears I will take you searching for pobblebonk frogs,’ Granny said one night. The children thought she was bonkers but it turned out such a creature did exist.

A Pobblebonk frog. This tiny creature measuring just 85 mm (3.3″) long is what began it all. And just how did this frog come by its strange name? It comes from its call that sounds like banjo strings being plucked…bonk…pobble…bonk. Pobblebonks are also known as  banjo frogs.

During the frog-spotting in Granny’s magic rainforest, the kids became fascinated with nature. Hey, this was a whole new world, even better than TV! As a result they set up the Pobblebonk Earth Detective Club. It gave them something to do.

Having received an inheritance, Granny supported the children’s venture. An old artists’ studio behind the house was converted into the beautiful Pobblebonk Detective Office. That will keep them out of my hair for a while, she thought.

The Pobblebonk Earth Detective Office had everything a detective could ever need. It even had bunks so the detectives could crash out while working on difficult cases.

One night soon after, a satchel landed on the wide wooden veranda. It contained a message from the Sherlock Holmes International Detective School. The children were not allowed to set up their precious Pobblebonk Earth Detective Club without proper training from the school, it said. And their behaviour must be excellent at all times. They must set a glowing example for other want-to-be detectives. Well that was one hard ask!

Meanwhile the detectives’ work led to a number of somewhat bizarre cases and adventures. Taught by Granny, a world expert on animal tracking, they became experts in the field of animal tracks and scats. (Scat is the word scientists use for animal you-know-what!) 

Two cases, PooDunnit? and Poo Dun the Break-In?, had the people of Frogsville gasping in horror. Playing with animal poo, they thought? It did lead however to an award for Young Scientists of the Year. 

Kids – poo do you think might have done this one? Look carefully – what can you see in it?

Granny was going to work on a cruise boat on the remote north-western Australian coast. The detectives went with her and solved the case of a rogue crocodile that was terrorising boats in the area. In so doing they saved the life of an innocent croc that hung around their boat and which everyone on board came to love.

As part of their preparation for the case, the Pobblebonk Earth Detectives went to meet some crocodiles in the Northern Territory first. Here they met Sweetheart (or rather his stuffed remains), Australia’s most famous crocodile.

Sweetheart created constant chaos in the lagoon where he lived. He had a thing about motor boats and fisherman. Many attempts were made to capture him so that he could be relocated.  Sadly, just when he was finally captured, he drowned. His remains were stuffed (that is a long story in itself) and he was exhibited all over Australia. Can you imagine the surprise of drivers crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge seeing a gigantic truck with poor stuffed old Sweetheart on it?

The people of Frogsville however, were rapt in the animals the children discovered in the course of their work. They begged the detectives to give a series of talks on Australian animals. Most didn’t even know that animals like the tree-kangaroo in this picture even existed. 

Yes, it’s true! Australia has two types of kangaroos that live in trees. Australia’s animals are different to those anywhere else in the world. Many other unusual Australian animals feature in The Pobblebonk Earth Detective Club.

For sure the detectives solved some tough cases, everyone agreed. The one thing they were really expert at, however, was getting into strife. Trouble was attracted to them like flies to a cow pat! Would their club that was now the most important thing in their lives survive or would the detective school shut it down?