Kangaroos in the bush


Kangaroos in the bush

Young red kangaroo greeted us minutes after we arrived

Alice Springs most significant historical landmark is the historic telegraph station three kilometers north of town where the repeater station was set up by Charles Todd, postmaster of South Australia  in 1872.  This was one of the most historical events in Australian history,  establishing telegraph lines from the Australia’s Top End (at Darwin on the Indian Ocean) to Adelaide, 2400 kilometers to the south.

The telegraph station was in operation for 60 years as part of the Overland Telegraph Line.  It was later converted into a school for aboriginal children and became a national park in 1963.

Watching us carefully

Today the Telegraph Station is one of Alice’s major tourist destinations.  It is several buildings on a slope over the dry bed of the Todd River in a barren landscape of red boulders and soil, scrub brush, gum and acacia trees, a perfect environment for red kangaroos to come after the heat of the day has passed and graze along the dry river bed.

Kangaroos grazing at sunset at the telegraph station

The area resembles a remote outpost in America‘s Old West, somewhere in Utah or Wyoming where the terrain is the endless dust, scrub brush, heat, and barrenness.  We felt somewhat at home, since we grew up in the mid-West, a couple states north of Utah and Wyoming.

It is remote locations like Utah, Wyoming, and the Outback that adventurous pioneers cross to link to civilization and eventual settlement.

Kangaroo country around telegraph station

Grazing kangaroos

Grazing in telegraph station grounds

Dry Todd River bed

We walked from the grounds onto the dry, sandy bed of the Todd River which winds from the MacDonnell Range through Alice Springs and eventually the Simpson desert.  Kangaroos were hopping across the river bed, digging for water, and climbing in boulders on the other side.  We approached a few who kept an eye on us, letting us get only so close, then they would hop away into the boulders or the scrub brush.

Wary kangaroo keeping an eye on us

One young kangaroo was busy digging a pit in the dry river bed for water.  After he hopped away, we walked over to see that he had dug down about a meter, piling up the sand along the side.

Later that evening after we had moved down the river bed, he returned, watching us before he went down into the pit to resume digging.

Hopping across the sandy river bed

Digging for water in dry Todd River bed

Hiding in plain sight

Kangaroos blend into the environment so well you have to watch for movement. Their camouflage is their greyish red coats which are natural colors in the Outback.  Kangaroos have no natural predators except hunters who try to track them down in the bush.  That’s why there are many million of them.  They survive in the bleakest, hottest areas, resting in the shade during the heat of the day, coming out at dusk to graze and move through the red desert.

In fading daylight at the telegraph station, it was sometimes hard to see them.

See her in the center?

Blending into the landscape

Hiding in plain sight

Bedding down in the bush

We saw three or four younger kangaroos resting in the bush.  They watched us, then rose when we came closer and hopped away to the cover of a rocky bluff.

Pair of young reds, probably females

Watching us approach

Hopping for cover

We saw the largest kangaroo walking back toward the station, an old male hiding in the brush.  He watched us, then hopped into boulders on a hill and disappeared.

Old male red on guard

Seconds before he hopped between boulders and disappeared

It was thrilling to see so many kangaroos around the telegraph station.  Almost everywhere we looked we saw them hopping, hiding in the bush, grazing, or digging in the river bed.

At dark, we left the telegraph station, driving slowly to avoid hitting one who might venture on the road.  Many kangaroos are killed on the roads every evening, blinded by headlights.

Our evening at the telegraph station was our third encounter with kangaroos, the largest marsupials in the world.  They’re magnificent creatures, beautiful, rugged, and unique in the animal kingdom.

The last kangaroo we saw that evening, in the caretaker’s yard

* * * * *

In addition to this travel blog, I write international thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels.

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5 responses to “Kangaroos in the bush

  1. Interesting, how did they get there? They’re marsupials which means someone had to carry them on a ship to England. And then released in the wild. Sound like a nature story there. Any idea when that happened?
    Thanks for your comment, Andrew.

    Like

  2. Ah, that OLD kangaroo looks familiar, with all that hanging skin! And the last one with the baby! Seems we can’t resist those big ears/eyes/nose and the way they dangle their front paws, like meerkats. Are they drawn to the telegraph station by the grass?

    Like

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