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Mini Road Trip

As I mentioned in a previous post, Mum and I recently took a little road trip to Bunbury  for some much-needed rest and relaxation.  It was nice to get away for a couple of days, with no schedule to follow, no work to get through, and no dramas to stress us out.  It was such a lovely weekend and I think we both really needed it.

The weather was, unfortunately, pretty dreadful.  Cold, wet and miserable.  In the middle of Summer we had torrential rain, flooding and ridiculously cool temperatures.  It was so cold, I had to buy some extra warm clothes and shoes once we got to our destination.  I had planned on spending many hours at the beach (our favourite little motel is located metres away from the Ocean) but the weather was just too inclement.  We did have one afternoon where the sun shone for a few hours, and we were able to go beach-combing at Hungry Hollow and collect some lovely shells, have a paddle and soak up some rays.

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Sunshine at last!

I love the variety of shells at Hungry Hollow.  I try to take the ones I think won’t be used by  sea creatures for their homes or other purposes.  I like to collect the broken, smooth pieces of shell and any that have that gorgeous oil-slick colouration (mother of pearl to everyone else on the planet, I guess) on the inside.  I have great plans for the shells but then end up just keeping them because they’re so pretty and I can’t bear to use them.

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Nature’s Artwork

While the weather was fine we also visited the Bunbury Wildlife Park.  We’ve been there before and have been very impressed with the way the animals are cared for and housed, and how the kangaroos, in particular, have “quiet zones” where they can escape from the crowds.  It’s so important for animals in captivity to have places they can go to when they want time out.  They shouldn’t have to be on display all the time if they don’t want to.  The roos at the Wildlife Park seem very relaxed though.  They follow you around and come up to you for food and enjoy a good scratch on the chest or under their chins.

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Kangaroo – boop my nose!

I do love kangaroos.  Having had one as a child for a short period of time, I love their gentle nature.  Of course, the bigger males can be quite aggressive and dangerous at times (usually when a human being is getting too close or basically being an idiot) but the inhabitants of the park are all very calm and friendly.  I like to see them so un-stressed and chilled out.  They don’t even startle when a group of noisy children come in, which to me means they are not anxious or have any need to be afraid.  Do I wish they were out in the wild?  Yes, of course.  But these parks are also important for teaching people about native fauna and how we need to look after them and protect them.  Many of the critters in the park are orphans, hand-reared after their mothers were killed on the road, in dog attacks, and other accidents.

I love getting up close with them.  My Mum was a bit more nervous than I (she was attacked, rather badly, by a large roo, years ago when I was child) and so didn’t get right in their faces like me, although she did feed them and give them a pat.  But I have always been annoying and like to get right in the middle of the action ha ha.  I wouldn’t do it if they were weren’t so calm and friendly.  One of them actually grabbed my arm and pulled me back in when I stopped scratching his chest 🙂

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Photo-bombing!

Another lovely little spot we visited was Mulberry House.  Just gorgeous.  Pretty things to buy and look at – room upon room of vintage-inspired treasures, in a 1900s building.  Each room is themed and just so delightfully arranged with floor-to-ceiling goodies.  You can also have afternoon tea there (we didn’t indulge this time) and enjoy some home-baked cakes and other treats.  My Mum ended up buying some lovely fat quarters in beautiful country/cottage colours – pale pinks, greens and cream.  If you’re visiting Bunbury, be sure to pop in here – you won’t be disappointed.

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I’ll have one of everything, thanks!

This is a bit random, but I had to show a pic of this beautiful Crepe Myrtle, standing proudly outside a small antique store.  How gorgeous is it???  I can’t believe how bright that pink is.  It was almost TOO bright to look at.  I’m glad the sun came out long enough for me to take this photo.  It wouldn’t have looked so spectacular if it was bedraggled and dripping with rain (which I would also have been, most likely).

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Crepe Myrtle.  Ridiculous show off.

So, a lovely, relaxing trip that recharged our batteries and gave us some respite from life.  I’m looking forward to going back again later in the year, if I can.  Which probably means more kangaroo cuddles.  If I’m lucky 🙂  (and the kangaroos, less so, ha ha!).

Thanks for stopping in – hope you’re having a happy day x

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Bandy-Cute

Hello, everyone 🙂  I meant to post this a few weeks back but got sidetracked… My Mum turned 70 in November and she had several little get-togethers to celebrate.  On the Sunday afternoon, we met my brother and his family for afternoon tea at a large garden nursery, which also has a delightful cafe and children’s playground.  It’s a very popular spot and can get very busy so we were lucky to get a table for all of us in a nice sunny spot.

As we drank our tea and baby-cinos (obligatory for the four munchkins) and scoffed cake, we were joined by another guest – a Southern Brown Bandicoot  (or Quenda).  These little guys are normally quite shy and tend to come out at dusk, to forage.  Our visitor is was well known to nursery staff, apparently making guest appearances on a regular basis, in order to pick up any table scraps and crumbs left by lunching customers.

img_4257He (I’m going with “he” for now) was happy to wander around our table, under our feet and chairs, and wasn’t the least bit disturbed by the children or my attempts to take photos of him.  I even got to stroke him, which he didn’t seem to mind at all.

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He was wiry to the touch, and very solid (he eats well :)) and about the size of a small cat (with albeit shorter legs).  Bandicoots have long claws, used for digging out underground food items (they are omnivores and will eat insects, fruit, lizards, seeds, mice – pretty much anything they can get their paws on!) and are marsupials (meaning they have a pouch that they carry their babies in).  They live alone, rather than in social groups, and have a running style described as a “gallop” rather than a hop or a scurry.

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We were delighted to have his company and hope to see him again if we visit the nursery. It’s so nice to see wildlife, of any kind, and I’m always very grateful to be able to experience them close up and in a non-captive way.  I guess these little guys are learning to adapt to being part of our community and losing some of their shy ways.  Survival is survival, after all.  I just hope that this particular fellow is healthy and protected and doesn’t come to any harm, being around human beings so much.  He seemed happy enough though – very fat and not stressed at all.  He’s probably living the dream and wondering why other bandicoots are bothering to hunt for their own food in the bush.  As his “people” are solitary creatures, it’s unlikely he’s going to let anyone else in on the action.  This territory is his and his alone!

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Have you had any close encounters with a wild critter lately?  I’d love to hear about it 🙂

Thanks for stopping by x

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Critter-Sittin’

This weekend I took some time out of my box-packing schedule to house-sit for my Aunt and Uncle.  They’ve both been dreadfully unwell the last couple of years and my poor cousin has been run ragged looking after them and making sure they’re ok.  She lives several hundred kilometres away so she is forever travelling to and fro to take them to medical appointments and make sure they’re looked after etc.  Every week she drives over 300km both ways to stay with them.  It’s been a very stressful time for all concerned.

Anyway, my cousin decided it would do everyone some good if she arranged a little weekend getaway, now that my Aunt and Uncle were well enough to travel.  My Aunt, though elderly and not in very good health at all, is a very outgoing lady and not one for sitting around doing nothing.  After a long period of recovery from a very serious illness she is pretty much going stir crazy, just being at home and having to “take it easy” all the time.  So a trip away, just for a couple of days, would be just what the doctor ordered.

My Mum and I happily agreed to house-sit for them.  Although I had SO MUCH packing and organising to do at home, it was actually a nice break from all that and gave me some much needed down time.  My Aunt and Uncle have three lovely furry family members – Heidi, a tricolour Rough Collie, Sox, a black and white moggie, and Fibber, a white pony – and so, of course, they were the main priority.  Heidi is an absolute delight – she is loving and gentle, but also fun and playful (she has the biggest box of toys I have ever seen!) and she is a great companion.  She’s pretty happy to just stay by your side most of the time and doesn’t ask for much, other than a few bouts of tug-o-war or “rub my belly”.

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Sox has always been a bit of a devil child – very wild and bad tempered – but she has mellowed a lot in the last couple of years and is now very placid and will give you a smooch if she’s in the right mood.  She makes me laugh because she actually asks to be put to bed at night.  Come 6pm and she meows and gets you to follow her to her “bedroom” (the laundry) where she has every mod-con available, including a cosy bed inside the linen cupboard.  She gets fed, you close the door, and that’s her done for the night.  In the morning, you let her out but she takes her time actually getting up and isn’t in any hurry to rise and shine.  She has the most amazing, upside-down, heart-shaped markings on her face/muzzle.  So pretty!  I’m glad she’s settled down too, because I don’t like to think of her being ill-mannered with my Aunt and Uncle.  She apparently even had a lap the other night with my Uncle, which was a first!

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Fibber is a gentle little pony with a nice temperament.  She unfortunately has laminitis , which is an inflammation of the soft tissue structures that attach the coffin or pedal bone of the foot to the hoof wall.  Very nasty, painful, and can be fatal.  Proper management is essential.  Fibber’s diet is very strict (over-feeding can often result in laminitis) and she is stabled in deep sawdust to give her a comfortable standing position.  Care of her hooves is obviously very important and she has a regular farrier who makes sure her tootsies are in tip-top condition.  She wears little covers over her hooves that help to protect the damaged parts and she is not lame or suffering at the moment.  She put up with my fumbling efforts at putting her covers on at night and whinnied at me across the paddock when I was bringing her food bucket.  Last night was quite stormy and so she was a bit nervous and jittery, but I managed to get her settled and comfy in her stable with her dinner and a warm coat.

She’s actually going to be moving down to the coast, to stay at my other cousin’s equestrian centre.  I think it will be good for her – she will have more company and my Aunt and Uncle will know she’s being cared for.  Her little stable has already been built – it’s really just waiting for when my Aunt and Uncle can bear to say Goodbye to her.  They themselves might be moving to be nearer to my cousin, so it won’t be Goodbye forever, and at least Fibber isn’t going to live with strangers and have an uncertain future.

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So, a nice, relaxing weekend, albeit with extra responsibilities (which I didn’t mind at all).  I am so looking forward to getting my own cats – I have missed being a “proper” animal person.  Having grown up with so many animals around me, I’ve felt like a bit of a fraud the last few years, not having any pets at all, due to renting and ex-hubby being allergic to cat and dog fur.  Be prepared for many, many posts about cats and all things feline-related in the future!  You have been warned! 🙂

I hope my cousin, Aunt and Uncle had a lovely time away.  They’ve all had a rotten couple of years, health-wise, and I know my cousin is really struggling to keep everything together (why does one sibling always carry all the responsibilities?).  I’m glad I could help out, even just for a short time and I hope it gave them a much needed, well deserved break, and some respite from worrying about their health and life in general.

Have a happy day, everyone.  Take care of your four-footed family and friends 🙂

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House Sitting & House Hunting

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been house-sitting this week for a friend (SR) from work, and looking after her two gorgeous wuppets, Sam and Chloe.  They are delightful but a bit nuts (as you would expect from two young labradors!).  I had forgotten how much work dogs are – I don’t mean that in a bad way – and how guilty I feel when I am not entertaining them ha ha.  I stayed home a lot because I didn’t want them to be alone too much and the weather was awful so I wanted them inside in the warm and dry.  I mean, how can you look at this face and put him outside in the cold and wet weather???…….

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They were really good anyway and just liked to be with me, whatever I was doing.  because it was such miserable weather, I actually stayed indoors a lot and watched TV (which I NEVER do normally) – lots of cooking shows and decorating shows and things that basically made me want to eat a lot and paint stuff ha ha.  Sam and Chloe were happy to nap and hang out in the lounge room, with intermittent play times – lots of ball-throwing and mad chasey games around the backyard – before taking another nap.

There is nothing cuter than a sleeping dog 🙂

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Besides house-sitting, I’ve been madly house-HUNTING.  Which is anxiety-inducing and stressful.  I never thought I would be in the position to buy my own home and so I think I haven’t really prepared myself mentally for it.  Everyone keeps telling me how exciting it is and I’m just thinking how scary it is.  And then I feel guilty because I should be grateful I get to even consider buying a house, when some people don’t know where they’ll be sleeping tonight, let alone for years to come.

But I have to think of my future security and the fact that I will probably not be able to afford rent in the decades to come.  I have to put my big girl pants on and be brave and make the commitment and BUY SOMETHING.  But it’s hard.  Borrowing all that money is hard.  Figuring out what neighbourhood to live in is hard.  Making a decision is hard.  I don’t make decisions, I avoid them.  I can’t even decide what colour socks to wear, let alone where I want to live.

Of course, where I will live is very much dependent upon what I can afford.  Which isn’t much.  I can’t afford to buy in my own neighbourhood here, which SUCKS big time because I love it here.  So I am looking at nearby suburbs and faraway suburbs and suburbs I have never even heard of before.

I nearly put an offer on a townhouse last week.  I was all ready to do it.  And then I panicked.  Majorly.  Anxiety-Attack Central.  It didn’t feel right and it all happened too quickly and the seller wanted to settle by the end of June and I have to get out of my rental lease and it will cost me a fortune to do that and AAGHAHAGHGHHHH!  Basically, I had a bit of a conniption.  So, no offer was made.  I will re-look at the property in a couple of months time.  If it’s still there, I will reconsider.  But I think it will sell as it was a pretty good price and in good condition etc.  I regret it a bit, but am also relieved I didn’t go through with it when I wasn’t feeling 100% sure.  I felt the way I did just before I got married – and we all know how THAT turned out!  Sometimes you have to go with your gut.

So, it’s back to the drawing board.  I have banned myself from looking at places for the next couple of months, until I am nearing the end of my lease here.  Then I will be ready, emotionally and financially.  Or I will just find another excuse to not bite the bullet and buy.  It’s just scary.  I’m not good with scary.  I never trust my own instincts with things so don’t know when I am making a sound judgement.  Adulting is hard!

All I know is that I want to feel safe and happy in my home, have room for a cat or two and be able to get to work without too much hassle or commuting time.  If I can win Lotto in the meantime and afford a nice neighbourhood with maybe a cafe strip and pretty streets, that would be a bonus.  Maybe near the River or Ocean, with some friendly-but-not-nosey neighbours and my own lovely garden…I don’t ask for much 🙂

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Gecko

Had a death in the house this week… This tiny little gecko decided to meet his maker, under a pile of my crafting supplies (which I am sure will be my fate someday).  So sad.  I had seen him earlier in the week and had desperately tried to catch him (which also involved me having a conversation with him whereby I tried to convince him he should come out so I could take him outside) but he had disappeared into my book shelves.  Then, when I was clearing up on Sunday, I found his little corpse in between some sheets of scrapbooking paper  😦

Look at his tiny little toes!  Those pretty, gem-like and almost metallic eyes!  The patterns in his skin!  So sweet.  I don’t think he was long gone…his body was still soft and pliant.  I’m glad I didn’t squish him – he wasn’t flattened or anything like that.  Just looked like he was sleeping really.  He may have just gotten dehydrated, stuck in my house, or maybe he was already sickly.  But he’s so tiny!  And perfect!

Apparently geckos are nocturnal and eat insects.  That’s about all I know.  Other than them being cute.  I did have a much larger one in my shed a while back and he scared the living daylights out of me.  He leapt off the wall as I opened the door and basically flung his tail at me.  Which was a bit horrifying.  I (again) was having a conversation with a reptile – “Please keep your tail!  I don’t want to eat you!”- but to no avail.  His tail wriggled and flipped for ages by itself as he ran off into the undergrowth.  Icky!

I’m not sure what kind of gecko this one is.  I guess he’s just some sort of common house gecko.  Let’s go with that.  He wasn’t wearing a name tag.  You can look at some other kinds HERE if you’re in to that sort of thing.

I’ve kept him for now, as my brother sometimes does resin art and uses, ahem, dead things.  But, besides that, he (the gecko) seems too lovely to get rid of.  I’ll bury him if nothing else.  He deserves that, and will go into the earth or be dinner for other critters.

RIP little dude x

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This Week

This Week

It’s been a busy week, starting with last Friday night, when I stayed at my Aunt’s house.  My Uncle is very ill in hospital and my family and I are taking it in turns to stay with my Aunt, just so she isn’t alone at night.  She’s perfectly able to take care of herself, but she is worried and stressed and sad – much better if she has company.  It was actually really nice staying with her.  We got to chat and catch up, which is something we hardly ever get to do.  She’s awesome 🙂  As children, we always loved her because she was the one adult who would always listen to us and not think we were silly or whatever.

So I got to hang out with her and her pony (Fibber), her cat (Socks) and collie dog (Heidi).  They’re all lovely and such good companions for her and my Uncle.  Socks was a bit of a wildcat in her younger days, but has mellowed a lot in recent times.

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Heidi is a pretty, gentle girl who just wants to be with you all the time.

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On Saturday I went shopping with my Mum.  We had lunch out and bought some presents for my brother (it’s his birthday this weekend).  We also went op-shopping and I got some nice skirts and tops (which I drew into my art journal).

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On Sunday, I had a lazy day at home, pottering around, doing lots of laundry (as it was sunny and warm outside) and trying to tidy up my wreck of a house.  I finished off some jewellery a friend had ordered – mostly repairs and revamps of stuff I had already made for her (that she will insist on wearing in the ocean and swimming pools so they fall to pieces).

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I must admit I spent some time on the couch, dozing a bit, too.  Sundays were kinda meant for that, right?

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I did go for several walks this week, so at least I can feel less guilty about my exercise routine.  On Thursday, I went to my cousin’s for dinner.  She, my two nieces, and I, went for a nice evening walk and then did a 7-minute home workout (she has an app on her phone that yells at you in a drill sargeant voice).  I am so unfit, but at least I didn’t die or pass out.  My legs and arms hurt though haha.  I had a horrible migraine yesterday and I think it may have been from the tightness in my neck and shoulders (from attempting pushups).  See?  More proof that being healthy is dangerous to your health! 🙂

I got to cuddle my nieces’ guinea pigs, Charlotte and Ella.  They are adorable, and relatives of my own beloved Roderick.  They are very well behaved little piggies – quite happy to sit on a towel on the floor, munching on a food treat while the girls pat them or give them kisses.

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Yesterday, in the afternoon, I went for a walk, to try and clear my head and get rid of the migraine that was threatening to split my skull open.  My library assistant had recently discovered a path through the nearby bushland, so I decided to check it out and go for a stroll.  In hindsight, probably not the best idea, going into the bush on your own – next time I will try and go with a work-mate.  The day was beautiful – cool but sunny and bright and it was so peaceful and calm in amongst the true and other plants.  I thought I might see a snake (as we had one outside work this week) but I didn’t, just heard some rustling, which could have been anything from a lizard to a mouse.  Not a lot of wildflowers in there but a few pretty ones were spotted.  The bright colours stood out against the brown barks and dried leaves, grasses and shrubs.

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The only wildlife I saw was a cheeky Willy wagtail, bobbing about on the path in front of me.

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It was a nice way to spend half and hour.  Didn’t get rid of my headache, but still nice anyway.  The path went for miles and miles so I couldn’t explore it all, but will go back another time.

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When I got back to work, I decided to head home early (with some pushing from my assistant) as my head really was splitting and I just needed to lie down in a dark room somewhere.  As I was leaving, I saw these two pink and grey galahs in the trees outside our car park.  They let me get quite close, to take photos, before flying off into the trees further into the bush.  We are so lucky to be surrounded by so much natural bushland and to experience a few visits from native fauna.

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I went home, took my migraine pills and then slept for 18 hours.  Isn’t that terrible?  I slept and slept and didn’t wake up until mid morning.  Still a bit “foggy” in the head, but better than yesterday.  Hope it will be gone by tomorrow so I can get on with some things.  My Mum and I are staying with my Aunt again tonight and tomorrow we will visit my brother.  Then the whole weekend will be gone and it will be back to work (boo hoo).  I’m seeing a rheumatologist this week for my stupid painful finger and hand.  I hope it is nothing nasty…

Hope you’ve had a happy, healthy week 🙂

Kangaroo Pause

Kangaroo Pause

I am so behind in posting this…  Last week, I took my Mum and her UK friend down South for a few days.  I was determined that Betty (Mum’s friend)  would see some Australian wildlife and countryside.  I’ll talk about the trip itself, and other stuff we did, in future posts but, for now, this one is about the lovely kangaroos we were lucky enough to meet at the Bunbury Wildlife Park.  I’m not usually in to the whole “meet-and-greet” scenario at animal parks.  Mostly because I feel it puts undue stress on the animals, especially if their enclosures do not allow them to “escape” from people or have hiding spots.  Kangaroos in particular do not respond well to stress.  However, at this particular park, I felt that the majority of the critters and birds were able to get away from people if they wanted to and had plenty of hiding spots and off-limits areas where they could chill out in solitude if they wanted to, have a siesta in the sun, or just be unsociable, if that’s what they felt like being.  That put my mind at rest somewhat.

Besides that, I really LOVE kangaroos and desperately wanted to pat one.  We had one when I was a child (it sadly did not survive into adulthood) and my Aunt has several on her property that are tame, so it’s not like I’ve never been close to them.  But it is always nice to be able to touch and see them up close.  They are such beautiful, gentle creatures and it is such a privilege to be allowed into their space.

We were given a small bag of feed upon entry to share with the various animals and birds in the park.  Gone are the days of feeding wildlife bread (ugh! so bad for them!) or those packaged pellets that I’m sure are not very exciting to the average critter.  We had a mixture of different grains as well as seeds and plant fibres.  This way, it was suitable for everybody and wherever you dropped it, it was sure to be enjoyed by one inhabitant or another.  Parrots, ducks, wallabies and emus all shared the food, picking out the bits they liked.

The first kangaroo we encountered was a young Western Grey.  She was happy to approach us and gladly accepted handfuls of the feed.  Betty was glad to get this opportunity (she felt she would never live it down if she came all the way to Oz and didn’t get to feed a kangaroo!).  The young female gently held Betty’s hands while she munched on the food. She was soft and beautiful.  Western Greys have course brown-grey fur, with darker paws.  They have pale underbelly fur and have longer forearms than some other species of kangaroo.  They have lovely long eyelashes 🙂

The males can reach up to 6-7 feet in height (which is a bit scary if you come across them in darkness whilst out on a walk.  been there, done that!), while the females are much smaller. Their average lifespan is 9-15 years, although they have been known to live to 20 years in the wild.

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Nom Nom…

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Look at those lashes!

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Just Chillin…

The next fellow we encountered was a young male Red Kangaroo.  The Reds are the largest species of Kangaroo, with the males often reaching in excess of 7 feet tall when standing fully erect.  They are powerful and muscly (just type “muscled red kangaroo” into Google).  This is reflected in their fighting style, with males generally getting into wrestling matches rather than adopting a kick-boxing style like their Western Grey counterparts.  If you get “hugged” by a Red, you know about it.  Luckily for us, this boy was very friendly, gentle and not interested in battling anyone.  He stayed with us for ages, eating the feed and enjoying a pat.  The fur of the Red is softer and the hairs shorter than the Grey’s – it is velvety to the touch, somewhat like a cross between rabbit fur and lambswool.  They have distinctive black and white markings on their muzzles and have short forearms.  They have quite a broader-shaped head than a Grey and their large ears can rotate in all different directions.

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Look at this handsome fellow!

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More nom noms…

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Hello there!

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This is me getting all up in his grill.  He didn’t mind.  I scratched his chest, he licked my arms.  We had a thing going.

We saw lots of beautiful animals at the Bunbury Wildlife Park, but I am very fond of the kangaroos.  I was so glad we could give Betty the opportunity of seeing some in the flesh – not just in the wild as we whizzed past in the car, or dead on the side of the road (so many – it’s so sad 😦 ) and that she got to feed and touch them.  I would recommend the park.  It was clean and spacious and, most importantly, the animals seemed happy and well-cared for.  Of course, it is nicer to see them in the wild, doing what they were born to do but, on the other hand, it’s nice to be able to get close to them and say Hello.

If you’re visiting the South West of Western Australia, take some time to visit and spend an afternoon with our beautiful native marsupials.  The more people get to know them, and experience their gentle natures up close, the more they will be protected and respected in the wild.  As humans, we take over their habitats and then wonder why they make a nuisance of themselves on the roads and on farming properties.  We need to ensure they can stay safe in the wild, unhindered and un-harassed by so-called human progress and development.

And don’t call them Skippy.  They don’t like it 🙂