The prevailing discourse of quality in early childhood education in Australia and internationally supports the idea that everyone, from families to educators, policymakers, researchers and politicians, wants high-quality early childhood education programs for all young children. This dominance is so pervasive that it becomes difficult to think about quality in any other terms, putting limitations on what it is possible to think when it comes to quality early childhood education. In an attempt to suspend the habitual and contested assumptions associated with the mission for quality, this article aims to move beyond what these discourses make it possible to think and imagine by traversing some of the territory as it exists currently in Australia. As part of this, we adopt an exploratory approach where we try and imagine otherwise. We do this by presenting a vignette, a rich description of a child/pipe/sand event, which we work through using the National Quality Standard in Australia and a brief Darwinian encounter. The intention is to use what is familiar (observation, quality measurement) and make the familiar less familiar in order to create niches for variations and alternative imaginings of quality .