One of my daughter’s friends takes care of wallabies and kangaroos who have been orphaned, usually because their mother was hit by a car. Kylie lives in boulder country, along a dirt track, and shares her house with a number of macropods, mainly grey kangaroos, but also swamp wallabies and red neck wallabies. Two tiny ones live in cloth pouches in clothes baskets under doonahs. Five live in a play pen in the corner of the living room. Two peep out of cloth pouches hanging from a frame. Two more are in the yard outside until evening chills the air, when Kylie picks them up and transfers them inside. A mother with a joey in her pouch hovers round kangaroo pellets and eyeballs a willy wagtail. There are more granite hopping below the house. She shows us the body of a really tiny hairless wallaby, ears still close to the head, rescued from a pouch and still attached to its mother’s teat, too small to survive.
Kylie’s knowledge is encyclopaedic and she’s always adding to it as new problems arise. When the animals in her care are ready to be released into the wild, she puts them in the outside pen, leaving the door open so they can test the outside world and return if they need to. Gradually they stay away permanently.
At the moment Kylie is at maximum capacity. The night-time feeding regimes means she is getting very little sleep, and her charges cost a heap to look after – special macropod pellets and medicine when they are sick don’t come cheap. But she is passionate about her role and such passion somehow breeds energy.