For a formal orentation to Fulbright, we travelled to Canberra for a few days, Australia's capital city and the seat of its federal government. We went for an hours-long hike to try to find kangaroos and were so excited to see a couple in the distance on our soggy hike. Then, upon boarding our train back to Sydney that day, we saw several kangaroos much closer than on the hike, including a baby, and two big ones that started duking it out!
From our hotel in Canberra, we took an uber up to the lookout at the top of Mount Ainslie, which is where several people told us to go hike if we wanted to see wild kangaroos. Dawn and dusk are the best times to see them, we were told, so we went fairly early. We spent some time on the various trails, aweing at the songs of the huge and colorful birds (more on this later), the vistas, the trees and plants we'd never seen before (more on this to come too), the dank heavy smell of animals we could tell were close at times, and trying to keep the kids as quiet as we could so we could attempt to see wild kangaroos.
After about 30 minutes, on the north side of the mountain, we saw a small kangaroo (or maybe a wallaby). We couldn't have been more excited! We heard it better than we could see it - and our eyes were better at spying it than my iPhone camera (I could not get a good photo of it as it blended in quite well with the surroundings).
We changed directions and headed back down the other side of the mountain. On our way down, we found another kangaroo - this one much bigger and easier to see with the camera. We stopped and watched it - and it stopped rustling around in the grass, stood up, and watched us in return. It was about 100 feet or so away - and it never moved closer or away from us. We watched it for awhile: it eventually tired of and stopped watching us, going back to rustling around with its head/face in the grass and wiping its ears with its paws.
Later that day, we boarded our train back to Sydney - an early evening train. While waiting for the train to leave the station, we saw a whole group ("mob?") of 6 kangaroos just over the fence outside the train - way more than we saw on our hours-long hike in the wild lol..There was a little one jumping around and following a bigger one (maybe its mother), two just hanging out in the grass with their paws down by their feet, and two others - the biggest ones - bounding around (using their thick muscular tail) - and then they suddently started fighting. It shocked us to see it, even though we know they can be aggressive and they box. We didn't get good photo or video - because we were so interested in just watching...but here is an excellent 4-minute video from David Attenborough of BBC Earth showing kangaroos, joeys in pouches, and how males fight. This is exactly what the fight we saw looked like!
Tess M.S. Neal
Sharing my sabbatical adventure in Australia with my partner and our two young boys. We are staying in Sydney for 4 months on a Fulbright Scholar Award.