The Great Australian Spelling Bee finds it’s top 18

in the first episode of The Great Australian Spelling Bee saw nerves and excitement run high as Australia’s brightest young spellers stepped into the arena for the first time and 18 spellers advanced to the next stage.

Boasting courage, ingenuity and extraordinary skill, 36 spellers between the ages of eight and 13 mesmerised with their spelling smarts.

Luca, nine, from South Australia was the first to cement his place in the Top 18, leaving good friends Alistair and Max B to fight it out for a spot. In the end, Alistair progressed with the correct spelling of “upheaval”.

Next under the spelling spotlight were 10-year-old girls Katelyn from NSW, Quinn B from South Australia, Zoe from Queensland and South Australia’s walking dictionary, Ava.

While Zoe and Ava breezed through their first words, Katelyn tripped up on “insolvency”. Quinn B also failed to spell her word correctly, leaving Ava and Zoe with a place in the Top 18 – and a blossoming new friendship.

The final round of the evening saw a tense tussle between the competition’s youngest spellers. After Quinn M tripped on the word “obsolete”, Rory, Joel and speed speller Zachary went head-to-head in a mammoth eight-round traditional spelling bee challenge.

Despite a tight battle, Joel from Western Australia was sent home on the word “abeyance”, while Zachary from NSW and Queensland’s Rory joined the Top 18.

Queensland has a total of six spellers through to the Top 18, New South Wales five, Victoria three, and South Australia and Western Australia each have two contestants.

On Sunday the Top 18 must test their team skills as they step into an intergalactic world to compete in Show and Spell, a team challenge with a space theme.