Bottersnikes have green wrinkly skin, cheese-grater noses and long, pointed ears that go red when they are angry, which is most of the time. They are perhaps the laziest creatures in the world. They eat matress stuffing (preferably barbecued) and pictures of food out of magazines, and for sweets they like rusty nails and bottle tops. The Bottersnikes’ biggest fear is water, because they shrink when they get wet and have to be hung out to dry.
Gumbles, on the other hand, are the most friendly and cheerful creatures in the bush and can be squashed into any shape without being hurt. They are hopeless when they get the giggles.
Wakefield wrote four books about the Bottersnikes and Gumbles:
In 1996 the four books were reissued in an omnibus volume under the title The Complete Tales of Bottersnikes and Gumbles.
Gumbles in Summer and Gumbles in Trouble have particularly potent themes. In Gumbles in Trouble, Chank the Bottersnike decides to run a newspaper for his fellows on an old typewriter. The author uses this device to make a number of points about biased reporting and the workings of the media in general.
In the book Gumbles in Summer, the King of the Bottersnikes ‘dies’ of suspected food poisoning. The elite position of Kingship is up for grabs, and there are several strong and unconventional runners in the election race. The whole book is a play on politics, especially far-fetched promises, election campaigning, and votes.
For some reason these books have not been re-published since 1996, despite huge interest for many people of 25 and over now wanting to read these classics to their children.
Chank – By far the smartest Bottersnike (he thinks) and believes he should be King.
Gubbo – Chank's dull-witted but loyal sidekick.
The Weathersnike – The oldest and most learned Bottersnike. He has been forecasting weather since Halley's Comet and is often blamed for the bad weather he predicts.
Snorg – The laziest Bottersnike. Proudly the only one who can go to sleep hanging upside down.
Smiggles – The only ‘snike whose dreams become solid. Quite handy when you need something now, but has the unfortunate catch of the previous dream disappearing to make room for the next one whenever Smiggles falls asleep. Not very handy when you are a Bottersnike on a dreamed bridge and Smiggles is starting to doze.
Tinkingumble – A Gumble with very good ideas. Each time he gets an idea, a clear, bright 'tink' sound comes from his head.
Happigumble – The most worriesome and cautious Gumble, but likes fun as much as the rest.
Tootngumble – Toots unconsciously when danger is anywhere near.
Willigumble – The youngest, rashest and most danger-prone Gumble. Has a tendency to be rather tardy, which ends up coming in useful on at least one occasion.
Fixngumble – The best at working with his hands, whether it be alarm clocks, ladders or tape recorders.