Love letter to Bandit: How Bluey's brilliant dad upped my game at playtime

Bluey's dad, Bandit, is a master of playtime in the hit animation series that teaches children and parents alike.
Bluey's dad, Bandit, is a master of playtime in the hit animation series that teaches children and parents alike.  Photo: ABC

Too many hours of ABC kids can do strange things to a mother's mind. After prolonged exposure, it's difficult to stop oneself fancying a bloke in a coloured skivvy, or switching to Play School because Teo is hosting.

It's not just me. The purple vs red Wiggle debate rages among Australian mothers groups, and more than 1500 people have liked a Facebook page dedicated to the presenter of Giggle and Hoot, called "I could Teach Jimmy Giggle a Thing or Two".

So perhaps that goes some way to explaining my latest crush on a cartoon blue heeler named Bandit.

Bandit plays on the trampoline with Bluey and Bingo.
Bandit plays on the trampoline with Bluey and Bingo. Photo:

I suspect I'm not the only woman who swoons over Bandit, from wildly-popular kids' series Bluey about a family of Australian cattle dogs living in the suburbs of Brisbane.

He's an archaeologist (sigh), a touch footy player (sigh) and is voiced by Custard frontman Dave McCormack, a heartthrob for daughters of the '90s. I'm also quite jealous of his house, a Queenslander cottage surrounded by poincianas.

But the most swoon-worthy thing about Bandit is the way he fathers.

The Heelers were designed as counterpoints to Peppa Pig's family, with its bumbling, overweight patriarch who occasionally shows improbable brilliance (he was once a ballerino) and its work-from-home mother.

Bluey does more than subvert these stereotypes. Bandit is a master of the art of patient, playful parenting.

He is a genius at kids' games. He rolls his Swiss ball towards his daughters in a play on Raiders of the Lost Ark. He pretends to be a magic claw. He has a game for every occasion, including when he's supposed to be working.


My kids laugh like drains throughout every episode. Sometimes, I hear wistfulness in their laughter. Or maybe that's my guilt talking.

You see, I struggle with play. I'm great when reading to them, and making sure they've brushed their teeth, but I don't know if I've ever invented a game. When my four-year-old asks me to play with her, I don't really know what to do.

So Bandit is teaching me. And he's providing a kind of syllabus, if you like, when he plays his games with his kids. I might be hopeless at inventing games, but I can rip off Bandit's ideas, and my kids will be just as happy.

Since Bluey came along, we often play 'keepy-uppy' with a balloon. They ask (constantly), "mum, what does 'xkhtyisut' spell?" And I'll pretend to fall asleep mid-way through a book, which can rescue their wandering attention.

So thanks Bandit, I owe you one. And maybe the swooning is less a result of the time spent watching ABC Kids, and more about my life-long tendency to have crushes on my teachers.