I recently asked AJ to tell me, out of all the things we did in the Northern Territory, what was her highlight. Knowing her well I wasn’t surprised by her answer but by the same token I found it interesting. We saw so many beautiful places – Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Wangi Falls, and while she enjoyed those attractions, her top three highlights were the visit to the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs and the two visits we made to indigenous communities. We were so lucky to have unique experiences and today I’m sharing our visit to the wonderful Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs.
I need to rewind a little to tell you about how this came about. One night we were flicking through the channels trying to find a family friendly show in amongst the crime filled programs and news, which seemed similarly filled with violence. We happened upon the show Kangaroo Dundee. Kangaroo Dundee follows the story of a man named Brolga, the orphan joeys he rescues (baby kangaroos) and the adult kangaroos that remain at the sanctuary.
We were immediately hooked and each week we’d tune in to see more. Not only were we glued to the stories of the individual joeys, but we were struck with the selflessness of Brolga. Living in a basic shed with no electricity or running water he was dedicated to his kangaroos. In one episode we saw that Brolga was opening the sanctuary up to tours. AJ and I exchanged glances across the room and declared, “We HAVE to visit.”
This part of our trip to the Northern Territory was much anticipated. Knowing we were going to the sanctuary, AJ decided to help Brolga by raising some money. I’m all for teenagers thinking outside of their own world and looking to help others so she had our backing.
- AJ counting the money raised for The Kangaroo Sanctuary
The first fundraiser was a cake stall at her dance school. It was a lot of baking and about 4 hours of sitting around at the dance school convincing people to buy a treat. Fifty dollars was raised from that first effort and it was clear that if she was going to raise a good sum she’d have to do something more. AJ wrote letters to local businesses asking them to donate vouchers which would become part of a raffle. She did well getting two raffle prizes together and went door to door selling tickets around the neighbourhood. Generous purchases by friends and family meant that at the end of the raffle she had raised $700. By this time, she had set a target of $1000. Although we were close, it seemed like it may be out of reach. It’s hard to raise money if you are not a local sporting team or cause. Alice Springs is a long way from Sydney and we found not everyone is sympathetic to the plight of the kangaroo. Someone said, “Couldn’t you raise money for an endangered animal rather than an animal that many see as a pest?” Undeterred we came up with the idea of placing donation tins at local businesses. Tins went to the local takeaway shop, pizza store, two vet surgeries and a café. Between the tins and a generous donation of $100 from a family friend she made it.
AJ proudly handed over a card and cheque for just over $1000. What AJ wrote in the card is personal but what I took away from her words is that Brolga had shown her what sacrifice is and also that if you have a passion to pursue it. She admired his work and it spurred her into action. We need more role models like this for the current generation.
It was so wonderful to meet Brolga, who is just the loveliest man, and to see the wildlife hospital that is near completion. The money AJ raised was to help with the Kangaroo hospital. Brolga explained that the nearest wildlife hospital is 1,500kms away making it difficult to get treatment for the kangaroos. Currently Brolga has to take the kangaroos to a regular vet surgery and this can be an issue if he’s sitting in the waiting area with a kangaroo and a Rottweiler comes in for treatment!
Clearly, that’s far from ideal so he’s set about building a hospital at the sanctuary. Soon it will be possible to treat and rehabilitate the kangaroos onsite avoiding the problems associated with a regular vet surgery.
Tours of the sanctuary currently run on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays with strictly limited numbers. Kangaroos sleep during the day so the tours occur in the late afternoon when they all become active again.
The light at this time of day is just stunning. The golden glow and Central Australia’s colours at sunset are magic.
The Kangaroo Sanctuary’s mission is to educate people on rescuing and caring for kangaroos. After reading Brolga’s book I know that we will no longer drive past a dead kangaroo on the side of the road without checking its pouch.
You only have to take a look at the pictured joeys, Madeleine and Sebastian, to realise that these guys are rather precious and should be given every chance to live and thrive.
Walking around the Sanctuary we were happy to meet in person the animals that star in the series. Each one has a story as to how they were named and rescued and Brolga happily shares little snippets about their personalities.
No doubt the highlight for most visitors is getting to hold a joey. They are so cute.
Book your tour prior to getting to Alice Springs to avoid disappointment. The tours are limited to 30 people per tour and this isn’t flexible. You can read more about the tours and the Sanctuary here.
The bus transfer to the Sanctuary is not wheelchair accessible so you will need to arrange with the company to make your own way to the sanctuary (it isn’t far from Alice Springs).
There are no sealed paths but we had no problem getting around with BJ’s wheelchair on the compacted ground.
If you haven’t watched the show Kangaroo Dundee, it’s worth watching a few episodes before your visit.
I’m with AJ, this was definitely one of the best things we did on our trip. We all enjoyed the tour and even though BJ isn’t fond of furry animals he enjoyed meeting Brolga. AJ certainly had a rewarding and fulfilling visit and it is something she will never forget. A big thanks to Brolga and Tahnee for making it so special for her.
Even if you are on the other side of the world we recommend following Brolga and his roos on Instagram and Facebook, just search The Kangaroo Sanctuary Alice Springs. It is a guaranteed daily dose of cuteness.