When I arrived at Karoline and Peter’s house I thought it looked like exactly the kind of place where you might wake up to a kangaroo tapping on your bedroom window with its paw. It’s a single story timber construction with a veranda going all the way round, set in the rolling hills with not a neighbour in sight.
Of course the wild kangaroos don’t come right up to the house, but they do get pretty close, cheekily drinking out of the dam in the night. It seems amazing that there are these huge beasts living out there in the hills, somehow managing to stay hidden during the day. Karoline said that you sometimes see them sleeping under trees, so I stood on the veranda and scanned the hills for any kangaroo shaped lumps. Since I’d never seen a kangaroo before, only in photos, I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for.
When Karoline suggested that I go for a walk one evening to look for kangaroos, I didn’t really expect to see any. I set off up the hill with a pair of binoculars and a camera, into the half light. The birds were making a fearsome racket, screeching and yelling. I was worried they were going to dive bomb me. (At this time of year the male magpies get very aggressive. Peter told me they have 12 to 15 times as much testosterone as normal. Cyclists wear antennae in their helmets to keep them away and some people even put fake eyes or sunglasses on the backs of their heads because they won’t dive bomb you if you are looking at them. Apparently it’s no fun unless they have the element of surprise.)
I was walking along with my face pointed up into the tree branches, making sure the birds knew I had my eye on them, when a truck passed. I returned my gaze to normal level for a moment and just out the corner of my eye I saw something moving, and a kangaroo bounded out of the field to my left into some trees. I think I said “wow” out loud. I’ve been having a lot of “wow” moments here.
I continued walking to the end of the road, to a paddock where Karoline said the roos sometimes gathered. Over the shrieking birds I heard a sound like an elastic band twanging, faintly musical. I think it may have been some kind of frog. I waited for a bit as the evening got darker and noisier, then, since there was no sign of any kangaroos, decided to walk back.
When I was nearly at the house I stopped. I’m not sure why. I must have sensed something but when I looked around, everything was still. Then a shape separated out from the trees and peeled away, and I saw it was a kangaroo gliding like a carousel horse across the field.