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Down UnderObservations: Kangaroos

On 30 May 2004 from Port Hedland, WA , trackback

Kangaroos are the quintessential Australian animals, and are prominently featured on postcards and in travel books (e.g. Lonely Planet. The main reason for this of course, is the fact that kangaroos only live in the wild in Australia, and there are quite a few of them here.

The first time I saw a kangaroo it was really fascinating, especially the way these creatures were bouncing around. But the novelty wears off, and by now kangaroos are mostly annoying, especially when driving at dusk or at night. That is the time when they are most active, and I saw a lot of them bouncing over the road, or simply sitting still in the middle of the road. They seem very suicidal as well, actually making an effort to jump right in front of the car. Apparently this behaviour is caused by kangaroos being blinded by car headlights, but I think they are simply suicidal animals. Either way, it is essential to watch out for kangaroos (and straying livestock, for that matter) when driving at dusk or at night. If it were not for quick braking responses we would have hit a few kangaroos driving up to Port Hedland. And hitting a kangaroo in a normal car driving 100km/h is dangerous, since at best they break a headlight, but at worst they jump and go straight through the windshield. That is one reason a lot of cars have bull-bars on them, to at least avoid broken headlights by kangaroos.

We also saw a lot of death kangaroos along the North-West Coastal highway up to Port Hedland. Most of these got killed by road trains: a truck with up to 3 (sometimes 4) trailers. These vehicles are so heavy it takes at least half a kilometre to stop when they go at cruising speed, so they do not even worry about kangaroos, the bull-bars in the front take care of them. We drove over one dead kangaroo though, between Geraldton and Carnarvon, and scraped a bit off it with the bottom of the car. So every time we got out of the car afterwards, there was this terrible smell of dead kangaroo, and the town of Carnarvon will always be associated with that in my mind (also because the name sounds like meat).

Nevertheless, kangaroos are still interesting to see when they are far from the road, and very cute when they are given bread and holding it with their little hands while eating.

 

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