Title: Kangaroo Dundee
Author: Chris ‘Brolga’ Barns
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Biographies, Conservation
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
5th sentence, 74th page: Back to working seven days a week, dealing with massive overheads, busting my back, sweating like a pig.
When Chris Barns, AKA Brolga, stopped at a roadside to tend to a kangaroo lying there, he found that she was already dead – another victim of speeding cars in the remote Australian outback. But as he gently moved her body, he discovered still tucked up within the pouch a tiny pink baby kangaroo, injured but alive. So began an extraordinary and life changing journey.
Brolga’s deep love and respect for animals went back to childhood, but for years he had led a nomadic life drifting from one job to the next never settling. This moment was a turning point. Brolga tenderly nursed the baby joey back to health and realised that if he could save one orphan then he could save another.
Over the years Brolga has watched how kangaroo mums care for their young. He now uses what he’s learned to give these helpless creatures a second chance; feeding them, bathing the, doing everything a mother would.
Living simply in a one-room tin shack in Alice Springs, this tough, 6’7″ Australian has dedicated his life to painstakingly caring for his kangaroo ‘mob’ before releasing them into the sanctuary he has created.
Here, Brolga describes life with the joeys and how through his care and love for them a lifelong bond is created. We meet Roger and Ella and the other kangaroos, and come to understand how this unique relationship between one man and these beloved animals not only saved their lives, but gave purpose to his.
I’ve had this book on my shelf for ages. I went looking for Australiana books while I had a friend over from overseas and just thought that this looked a little interesting. The other night I decided to pick it up. Which was great, but also a mistake. I didn’t put it back down again. Something about the familiarity of our beautiful country, Brolga’s passions and the great Aussie voice completely reeled me in and made it just impossible to put this down. Or sleep. Even though I was absolutely buggered…
My family has always rescued birds (and the occasional possum) found on the side of the road. So many of the things that Brolga goes through are kind of familiar. The heartbreak of losing something because of human stupidity, or just a simple accident. And the joy at nursing something back to health, just to return it to the wild and a life that they can now live. It’s all familiar, and incredibly heart-warming to read about in someone else’s words.
This story takes you all along the western coast of Australia, to the Top End, and back down to central Australia. Mostly throughout the outback and more intense parts of our country, but I loved the vividness and realism of Barns’ descriptions. This is definitely a book that I’m going to be recommended to others, and reading a few more times.
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