BROLGA TO THE RES­CUE

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV -

Not many peo­ple would be game to look a 2m tall, dom­i­nant male kan­ga­roo in the eye. Not many peo­ple could.

At about 200cm, Chris “Brolga” Barnes is in the unique po­si­tion of fac­ing off daily with Roger, the boss of a kan­ga­roo mob who live at his sanc­tu­ary out­side Alice Springs.

“I’m not av­er­age height,” says Barnes, 42, star of the show Kan­ga­roo Dundee.

“So when I’m stand­ing up with my big male kan­ga­roo, when he’s back on his tail, I’m look­ing him in the eyes.”

Barnes is there to nurse sick and in­jured kan­ga­roos and while he will­ingly plays with Roger, the big­gest of his brood, he’s aware of the dan­ger.

“You don’t want to get within kick­ing range of Roger,” he says. “Just his hands can scratch you up badly.

“Re­cently, he gave me six stitches in the groin. You’ve got to un­der­stand that big male kan­ga­roos have the po­ten­tial to dis­em­bowel you.”

It’s a soli­tary ex­is­tence for Barnes, a for­mer tour guide who has lived up north since 2005. With only the barest ne­ces­si­ties in his home, he runs a kan­ga­roo ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre and res­cue ser­vice which has saved more than 200 joeys.

Thanks to his un­usual line of work, he was a fi­nal­ist for the Aus­tralian Of The Year in 2014, he’s writ­ten a book, and the rangy an­i­mal ac­tivist has been painted for the Archibald Prize.

But none of this im­presses the tiny joeys, who he nurses in pil­low cases, a sub­sti­tute for their mother’s pouch.

“Amy, Ella, Abby, Molly … they are my chil­dren, I grow them up as my chil­dren with all the love,” Barnes says. “I feel that almost by giv­ing them a hu­man name it helps you as­so­ciate with them more.”

De­spite his fam­ily of roos, it’s a one man show for Barnes. And while he en­joys hu­man company, he doesn’t miss it.

Kan­ga­roo Dundee’s Barnes and a joey.

Chris

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