In August 2013 I went on holiday with my girlfriend Rach and her family on a trip to Australia. We travelled around the country, starting in Perth before going on to Alice Springs, Ayres Rock, Cairnes, Sydney and Melbourne before travelling home via Singapore. We were there for 3 weeks but one evening out stood out way above the rest – our trip to The Kangaroo Sanctuary.
Before the holiday Rach’s mum and dad had seen a show about a man in Australia who looked after baby kangaroos and told Rach. She immediately looked him up online and found this article on him and saw this image…
For some reason before going we didnt look up the show so all we knew was he kept kangaroos in pillow cases, was named Brolga, and HE KEPT BABY KANGAROOS IN PILLOW CASES.
We were to be picked up at around 6pm, while it was just starting to get dark. The 6 of us were sat outside the hotel not knowing what to expect, when a minibus pulled up to collect us. We were expecting maybe to go to a few different hotels and pick up other people, but it was just us booked on.
We got to the santctuary and pulled up to a tiny red hut and out walked this giant 6 foot 7 man holding in his arms a baby joey wrapped up in a pillow case who introduced himself as Brolga. Rachs mum and dad immediately got excited and took over the conversation, telling Brolga at around 100 miles an hour how we were huge fans of the show. Brolga was clearly used to dealing with people who’d seen the show, and told us how we’d soon be meeting some of the real stars of the show like Ellie, and especially Big Roger! At this point me and Rach were looking at each other wondering whether Roger was a kangaroo or a man!
Brolga told us that while we were with him in the sanctuary one of us would always be holding the joey Anna, with each of us getting a chance to hold her. However there were rules – Brolga would decide who would be holding Anna, and he would decide when to move her between people. Only the person holding Anna could touch her. First to hold her was Becca, as it was her birthday.
Brolga explained that as it was still a little early the Kangaroos were still asleep, so first we would get a chance to meet some aboriginal women, and talk to them about their culture and the way they lived. Through some prompting we got to learn a bunch about the weapons they would use in the bush.
But after talking to them for a good amount of time, we heard some noises behind us. The kangaroos were up and they wanted to say hello!
At this point Rach got her hands on Anna and immediately got way over excited.
Brolga then took us into the actual sanctuary itself and introduced us to the various characters that we would learn about more when we watched the show when we got home. There was Ellie, whos been with Brolga so long that he could even show us the baby in her pouch
Brolga is a really excellent guide as well, talking to us about the various stages the kangaroos go through in their life, about the reasons he had for setting up the sanctuary and answering our various mundane and often repetitive questions about trees, termite mounds, and the dingos. Finally though, I got a chance to hold Anna. Needless to say this became my profile picture on facebook as soon as I got home!
Having got my hands on Anna, Brolga now said it was time for us to meet Roger. Rach and I still weren’t sure who Roger was going to be, but Brolga explained about how he has to keep the males and females in separate areas. Roger was the alpha male, a kangaroo who had been with him since he was a joey and now wasn’t any more scared of humans and so it had become necessary for him to stay at the sanctuary as he wouldn’t be able to survive properly in the wild.
But my favourite description of Roger was
“He’s as crazy as a cut snake”
To give us an idea of how crazy Roger was, Brolga got into the cage with him.
Enjoy Rach’s commentary on the video with the “holy shit” “oh my god” and off camera there was a “what do we do if the kangaroo gets him????” However she was soon distracted as Brolga offered her the chance to feel Rogers muscles.
We spent around 3 hours at the sanctuary with Brolga, giving us lots of details on his life, how things effected him when he got the TV show, how Australians took to the show, and even about things in Australia that we didnt know about – like the Dingo fence
The one negative about the sanctuary is that it ruined any other zoo for us – after going to Brolgas sanctuary and seeing how he looks after and genuinely loves the animals it made our visits to other zoos in Australia seem wrong, seeing the conditions they were kept in in comparison to the Kangaroo Sanctuary. If you ever go anywhere near central Australia and don’t visit the sanctuary then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Brolga is an amazing tour guide and left us with some lasting memories and an experience that we will never ever forget.
Edit : With BBC 2 now reshowing Kangaroo Dundee and its new series Im getting a few hits about Brolga and does he have a girlfriend. Well when we visited we were told YES he currently has a girlfriend who handles a lot of his social media stuff, and he doesnt spend as much time living in the Shack as he did when the show was on. I also asked Brolga about the weirdest fanmail, and he said theres been a few marriage proposals. 🙂