The day was nearing a close, and the twilight had begun to creep over the fields and hills. I had been secretly hoping all day it would happen, and I had been on the lookout for even the quickest of glimpses.
I was starting to lose hope, thinking he didn’t want to find me.
Out of nowhere, he finally appeared- big, muscular, and strong, just like I had hoped for.
And he was hopping.
Yes, I am talking about my first kangaroo sighting. Sure, I had seen them in captivity, mesmerized by their sweet faces, baby joeys, and effortless movements. But to see one in the wild is pretty awesome.
To most Australians, I am aware this sounds really boring. There are more roos than people on this continent, they cause damage on the roads at night, and are a dime a dozen. But to me, it was as exciting as spotting a white rhino on an elite African safari. The kangaroo is so archetypically Aussie, once you find your first, you will finally feel like you have arrived.
As we continued our drive home though past from the Jenolan Caves, past the Great Dividing Range and the Megalong Valley, I couldn’t believe my luck. After having been in this country for several months, I thought maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe I was not worthy of a kangaroo to grace me with his presence. Not ten minutes later another sighting- we passed a pasture -on first glance it was filled with cows, but on closer examination it was a (pack? herd? gaggle?) of grazing kangaroos.
(Just to clarify, no, Australian cows look nothing like kangaroos- I ought to wear my glasses more often.)
Earlier that day at the Jenolan Caves, a fantastic natural wonder of hundreds of caverns, I had seen an even more elusive creature, the platypus, who made his home in the creatively named Blue Lake, shown below. These guys are apparently very rare, and many Aussies who have lived here there who lives haven’t come across one in the wild
A side note on the Jenolan Caves: they are far away from anything and everything, slightly overpriced, and the weather there is very cold (although the caves themselves retain a pleasant temp year-round). That being said, they are spectacular and well worth the effort to get there. Our eccentric tour guide recounted, while standing in a particular cavernous cave, how it was often used for concerts and musical performances, due to its natural acoustics. He happened to have John Denver on one of his tours on occasion, who then treated the rest of the tour group to a spontaneous rendition of “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. This brings to mind two things: (a) that such a thing could bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened American expat in attendance and (b) how long has this guy been a tour guide for? (Below, Lucas Cave- not the site of Denver’s serenade, but very pretty and the best photo of the day)
But I digress: back to the animals. The platypus was an interesting sight to be behold (remember, this is a creature so odd that when the first explorers of Australia sent one back home for examination and further study, the British Museum thought it was a hoax), but he just can’t compete with the beauty and iconic status of a kangaroo bounding through the plains.
And I’m willing to bet John Denver thought so too.