As you know I love animals – and one animal I always wanted to see is the kangaroo. So when I travelled to New Zealand 13 years ago I had a stopover in Sydney for four days and took the chance to go on a trip to the Blue Mountain National Park. Here I saw lots of cute grey kangaroos who were quite used to visitors and you could get really close to them. The grey kangaroos are of course much smaller than the red ones, but the red ones can only be found in the arid areas of Australia. So seeing a red one in real life (and not just in a zoo) is still on my list of animals I want to meet. And for this I would have to fly out to Alice Springs.
A few weeks ago I watched the two-part documentary “Kangaroo Dundee” on the BBC about the amazing rescue work of Brolga (Chris Barnes), who lives in Australia’s outback in Alice Springs. Brolga rescues orphaned and injured red joeys, he often finds on Australia’s roads and gives them a second chance by raising them like a kangaroo mum would.
He started his Baby Kangaroo Rescue Centre in 2005 and has now got his own wildlife sanctuary, which he built in 2009-11. His rescued mob of 25 kangaroos enjoys 90 acres of untouched bush land. Brolga, who looks a bit like Australia’s answer to Patrick Swayze, lives in very basic accommodation which resembles a shed and shares it with kangaroo babies day and night where he is constantly tending to the needs of his vulnerable charges.
Kangaroos, similar to baby elephants, take a lot of time to grow and need a lot of warmth and motherly love, so Brolga keeps them in pillow cases to simulate the mum’s warm and safe pouch. The film followed him rescuing baby William from his dead mum’s pouch who was killed on the road to his final release back to the wild.
The little fella didn’t stay alone for long though as Brolga’s aim is to eventually release his “babies” back into the wild – and this works best when they are in a little group. Soon William was joined by Daisy and Amy.
I don’t want to give away too much of the documentary as I am sure you can catch it on BBC IPlayer or repeats – suffice to say there are lots of cute moments, funny moments (when his alpha male Roger keeps running after Brolga – an adult male can grow over 5 feet tall and can potentially kill you, so Brolga has to take extra care to protect himself when he meets Roger) but it also has sad moments too.
What is interesting is simply the way he works and how he organises the release of his kangaroos to which he refers to as his family. His sanctuary is home to 25 kangaroos, which, for various reasons, couldn’t be released into the wild. However they have lots of space and can not only lead a happy kangaroo life but also serve as “teachers” to those kangaroos fit for release (i.e. those who are not injured and in a group).
Of course, I wanted to find out about Brolga after watching the programme and found his website which looks like it has been just set up. You can donate money to sponsor his rescue work and what is great you can also visit his sanctuary and meet the kangaroos. Follow this link for some reviews of this experience – all very positive.
I hope one day I get the chance to go there. And I will certainly plan to create some kangaroo jewellery (for humans obivously).