Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hop, Skip and a Jump

While surfing the net hoping to find something to do during my last week before meeting Roger in Cairns, I struck gold.

When we first came to Alice in March, I read about the Kangaroo Sanctuary, but unfortunately it was closed while a BBC TV show was being filmed called Kangaroo Dundee.  It popped up again in my search, got great reviews, so I booked myself on one of the evening tours.

Brolga, the Aussie who began the sanctuary a few years ago has been passionate about educating people about animals since he was a teenager.  His knowledge, commitment and love of Australia's iconic animal is evident from the moment he met our small group with a 4 month old joey snuggled in a pillowcase and held close to his chest.

He explained many joeys survive in the pouch when the mothers are hit by cars on the road, and that people are encouraged to check if they come across a dead kangaroo. Joeys are brought to the sanctuary and carried around to simulate being in their mother's pouch until they are old enough to thrive in the mob (a group of kangaroos).

I was thrilled to be able to carry Rosie around.
It's too bad the woman chopped Brolga out of the shot but at 6'7" he looked like the Friendly Giant.  I, on the other hand, was probably closer to Rusty. 
That silly grin I get when I'm having one of those "I can't believe I'm doing this" moments!
Very high on the cuteness scale
Rosie was just happy to be cuddled and I was happy to comply.
As part of the education component, Brolga has Aboriginal women share their knowledge of hunting kangaroo and the weapons that have since been replaced by rifles.  Prolific breeders, it is estimated there are 50 million kangaroos in Australia, and each year 10% of them are killed.  Only Aboriginals and government licensed shooters are permitted to hunt them.

Women talking about hunting in the past, and present 
Huge boomerangs like this used to be used to hunt kangaroos
The grandchild of one of the women carrying a wooden implement that serves many purposes --- sort of like an Aboriginal version of a Swiss Army Knife.
She was captivated seeing her face in my camera
The Sanctuary is only opened for 2 hours, 3 times a week and all but a few of the 30 kangaroos are free to roam the 90 acres.  Brolga brought a pail of feed as a treat, but most of the time, they forage as they would in nature.  Brolga built an electrified fence around the perimeter to keep dingos out as they are kangaroo's primary predator.

In the cool of the evening, we went on a walkabout as the kangaroos became more active after the heat of the day, which on the day I went, was 41C.

You can see how important the tail is in making a perfect tripod.

Snack time!

Here's a mum with a Joey taking a peak from the pouch
It is clear that Brolga has a special relationship with the kangaroos, but he is very aware they are wild animals and have the potential to injure or kill.  During the evenings he has tours, four males are separated in an large enclosure with the alpha male called Roger, who can be very aggressive.

Brolga with the alpha male, Roger

Roger stretches to 7 ft tall and is extremely powerful
Kangaroos have really lethal toenails that are part of their defense 

The landscape reminded me of Botswana
Sun setting as we headed back from our walk
The Kangaroo Sanctuary is the real deal.  Loved it.  And I still have that silly grin on my face when I look at these pictures.

While I was in town I saw a poster about the Mbantua Festival and when I checked on their website, found they were looking for volunteers.  

I went to the orientation evening, and came away volunteering to help at a BBQ for 300 people on one night, and to help out on the weekend.  Finding some place to volunteer always puts a skip in my step.

The festival was held at the Telegraph Station, where Alice Springs originated, and where many of Australia's Stolen Generation were housed and schooled. 
Volunteers BBQ'd snags (sausages) and chops by torchlight --- reminded me of when I cooked in the Kalahari! 
The BBQ was for survivors of the Stolen Generation and their descendents who had come to see a play about that time in history.
The original job I volunteered for had been taken over by some enthusiastic Aboriginal volunteers, so I was teamed up with 3 young, adventurous young women who are working in Australia and we manned the Ticket Booth.

While I didn't get a chance to visit the exhibits, I learned something about the Aboriginal community.  I saw how young and old volunteered over the 5 day festival that served as a celebration and way to educate others of their culture.

Up until today I saw very few doing anything other than walking in groups around town, and it is no secret the social issues that plague their community.  It was wonderful to see another side of them.
Back row:  Sonia and Franziska  Front row:  Me and Kormala
I also ran into another volunteer from Calgary!

So my bags are packed, and I am more than ready to jump on a plane to meet up with Roger. 

Over the last 35+ years we have spent lots of time apart, but we are so much better and so much happier together.  Not sure if our theme song should be Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After all These Years", or Debbie Boone's uber-saccharine hit of the 70s that we played at our wedding, "You Light Up My Life".

I think maybe it is a bit of both.

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."
Mignon McLaughlin

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