In April I made my second visit to Australia and at the top of my itinerary was a visit to the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs.
Australia is a huge country - sometimes it's hard to appreciate the true scale until you've been there. If you're blessed with several months to discover this great land then it's well worth opting for road trips and rail journeys to get you from one place to the next. As well as enjoying the scenery along the way, it really does allow you to get a true sense of distance.
Being somewhat short on time, I took several internal flights. Qantas have a monopoly on flights in and out of Alice Springs and as such prices are higher than you see between other cities. Thankfully I'd banked some Avios points and used those to help ease the pain. That said, there was no question about me visiting the Red Centre this time round and I'm so glad I did.
I wasn't going to risk going all that way and not being able to go on the tour of the sanctuary, so I booked well in advance; almost a year in fact but this was a little over cautious on my part. The coach picked us up from our hotel at about 4.45pm and after collecting all other passengers, drove to what felt like a secret location outside of the town.
At the end of a long drive we reached the shack that I had become so familiar with from watching Kangaroo Dundee - the place where I had seen little Rex and Ruby drink their milk and practise their hopping. We were met by Brolga and I couldn't help but feel a little starstruck.
Immediately it felt like a very personal experience. There were about 30 people in the group and Brolga addressed us in a warm and friendly way. He was relaxed and down to earth as he told us about the risks to kangaroos and what we can do to help if we came across one injured or worse, at the side of the road. First and foremost check the pouch to see if there's a little joey to be rescued. If so, taking care of the baby until you reach an animal hospital is relatively easy - find or create a makeshift pouch (such as using a pillowcase) and keep the joey warm and secure.
Brolga has numerous joeys at any one time, but only a couple are allowed to interact with visitors. The main aim is to realease the roos back into the wild and this cannot be done if they become too familiar with humans. Those that cannot be released will remain at the sanctuary and enjoy the 188 acre site that Brolga has purposely built to provide a good home for these animals.
On my visit I met little Terri and Nang and had the incredible pleasure of holding them both in their pillowcase pouches. Everyone had an opportunity to do this over the course of the tour, each taking turns to hold the roos for a minimum of 5 minutes at a time as we took a leisurely walk around the sanctuary meeting many other kangaroos as we went.
Being a keen follower of the sanctuary on social media it was amazing to meet some of the characters I had become so familiar with including Abi, Indi, Madeleine, Sebastian and of course, Roger. I was even lucky enough to feed a bottle of milk to Indi who I had watched grow up from a tiny little room into an adult. Despite being of an age when she no longer needs a bottle, she has managed to charm Brolga into continuing this ritual that she enjoys so much.
One of the things that is so special about the Kangaroo Sanctuary is that the roos come first. This is their home and they are part of Brolga's family. It's a privilege to be allowed to go on this private tour and see them is this environment.
To say I enjoyed this experience is an understatement. In fact, I loved it so much I went again the following evening. Luckily there were just two places available. It isn't the cheapest thing you'll do in Australia, but it's worth every penny and it's reassuring to know that you're supporting a good cause. If you love animals and you can make it to Alice Springs then I urge you to go.
The cherry on top of the icing on the cake was that being a sunset tour, we were spoilt with a beautiful sunset.
To find out more about the Kangaroo Sanctuary, what they do, how you can help and of course for details of the sunset tour, visit https://kangaroosanctuary.com/
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