1st Prize Winner - Grades 4-8

December 2021


Judges’ comments: A remarkable story from such a young author. We found Scarlett’s writing imaginative, original, and beautifully presented. We loved that the adventure starts with a book at the Unley Libraries and were fascinated with the origins of Heywood Park.

Unley Adventures

by Scarlett McCurdie

Unley adventures - child and cat sitting on a cloud

Chloe was an outgoing, young girl who lived in a cosy, quaint cottage in Unley. Seeking more thrill and excitement in her life, Chloe was easily bored, but one day things changed. On one of her regular visits to the local library, she browsed in the adventure section and found a book that looked strangely different. Immediately she borrowed it. The rest of the day crept by at a snail’s pace while she trudged around the city doing last minute jobs. 

When the time finally came, slow and cautiously, she peeled back the front cover. The brightest light shined out of it. Her best friend in the world, Ginger the cat, jumped and meowed as Chloe shielded her eyes. The light disappeared and in its place a note appeared. ‘Please help us save Unley.’ Chloe was shocked and so was Ginger. Unley was in danger! 

Chloe packed a bag eagerly, ready to take on any challenge that approached. She slumped on her bed next to Ginger, waiting for something to happen. Suddenly the book’s picture changed. Books were viciously floating everywhere, snapping. Chloe and Ginger knew that it was their time to go, so they secretly dived inside the book. 

Miraculously, they appeared on the scene shown in the book, all the way back to 2001. It was Monday, 9am which meant that the library was closed, so they found an entry through the roof. According to the book, they must find the non-fiction section and locate the clue for the next stage of their quest. After they navigated the maze of bookshelves, snapping books trying to prevent them from getting anywhere, they found the non-fiction area. Luckily in this zone, the snapping books were forbidden to go. “Now all we must do is find the hidden clue,” recalled Chloe to herself. What could it be? “You know, Ginger, I think we have to retrieve a book from this library symbolising our next challenge...” Chloe looked in the original book for her next instructions. “At Unley Oval?” Chloe’s certainness had turned into confusion. 

“Unley Oval... dogs! I know where to look,” declared Ginger. “The dog’s section!” 

Immediately, they searched for the dog section and found one rather bulky book at the back. “Found it! I think?” called Chloe. Thank you, Chloe, Ginger thought. Open it, were the words in Chloe’s mind and that’s exactly what she did. They scrambled through the pages, near the end, finding a pretty piece of gem sparkling. A small crack glistened in the sunlight from the nearby window. They both gasped. It was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen! ‘It most certainly must be it,’ Chloe and Ginger thought. Chloe seized the gem and held it high. They watched in awe as the books around them flew back to their places. Chloe and Ginger felt like superheroes, but they didn’t stop for long. They knew there was still more to be done. They grabbed their possessions and leaped into the book again. 

Suddenly they found themselves at Unley Oval surrounded by a large crowd of around 20,000 people watching a football game. Chloe read from her book again... ‘At Unley Oval, you must find the buried treasure in the playground.’ They peeked over the scorer’s shoulder. 9th of June 1924, Sturt v Norwood it said. “Let’s run,” the two said. They both raced as fast as they could towards the other side. Finally, they were in the playground, desperately digging. Ginger came across a chest. “Yippee,” they cried. Inside... another piece of gem and a map. The pair connected the two gems together and carefully studied the map. It showed their past and future journeys. Without discussion, they jumped back in the book and found themselves 80 days later inside St Augustine’s Church.

They gazed at rows of seats, set up like hurdles. The map pointed at a cushion without telling where, so the two looked on every seat before coming across a ripped pillow with another gem inside. They both tried to grab it, then they saw a note. What happened here on this exact day? It questioned. “Errr... 28th August 1924. It’s the day St Augustin’s became dedicated!” Chloe realised. Ginger grabbed the gem and fell through the book, followed by Chloe. 

Heywood Park was the next destination. They arrived there in present time. ‘You must complete this course!’ a sign said. They raced across, then stopped a quarter way through because an invisible border was in their way. A voice boomed. “A fight about Heywood Park broke out. When was it held?” 

“I know! The 1920s,” Ginger remembered. They raced on until the next stop appeared. This time the invisible voice asked, “What was the fight about?” 

Chloe and Ginger found the right place in the book from the library and read: ‘The battle was about saving Heywood Park for the Unley community.’ When they arrived at the third border, the now-familiar voice said, “What caused the battle?” 

“When William Haslam, who owned Heywood Park, died, the Unley Council wanted to buy the land and use it as a park, but not everyone agreed,” they responded. Ginger and Chloe heard the voice one final time. “What came to be the solution?” The thoughtful silence extended for at least a minute. “Didn’t Mayor William Langham raise money?” wondered Ginger. “Yes, and he then bought Heywood Park!” Chloe exclaimed.

Excited but exhausted, they finished the course. At the end a ‘Finish’ sign held the final gem. On the last page of the book, it said, ‘Put together.’ So Chloe and Ginger held the gems together. As a beautiful light shone out, two gold medals appeared round their necks. The chaos had gone, but no one knew. They were secret heroes, and the secret still lives today.

Unley adventures - hand drawn cat

Unley Adventures - hand drawn map

Chloe wanted an adventure – and she got one.
Ginger and Chloe set off through the book travelling to the past and secretly saving Unley.