As you will soon realise, the irony of this story is that Australia Gift Shop sells Australian gifts, many of which feature the very-Aussie image of a kangaroo. In fact, we presently have 41 different product lines of Aussie gifts featuring the image of a kangaroo, as well as some small timber figurine of kangaroo hand-painted with Aboriginal art by Australian Aboriginal artists in Sydney.
By the way, 93% of these Australia Gift Shop gifts representing Australia are made in Australia. This percentage is rising because our business is moving towards solely and totally Australian-made Australiana / Aussie gift and corporate gift products. Our Aboriginal art products are 100% Australian-made, except for the Aboriginal Art Watches – whose movement components are made in Japan, and the Aboriginal Art Hip Flasks (currently being phased out) – which, under their Indigenous art canvas, are metal flasks made in China.
So let’s get on with the tale of the kangaroo. There is a vacant lot of about 200 acres just around the corner from Australia Gift Shop. It was formerly a sugar cane field in years gone by. After the cane was cleared just over 10 years ago, a small mob of kangaroos began frequenting this open grassy area.
Development continued in the streets adjoining the grassland and traffic increased in leaps and bounds because of a booming population in the seaside resort that is about 4 kilometres east of the vacant lot. As a result of the first 5 or 6 years of these changes (up until 2009), we often did not see a kangaroo for several days when we passed by the grassland. They would be hiding around the hill in the scrubby bushland. Sadly, some had also been hit by cars.
However, in 2009 and 2010, there were often three or four kangaroos grazing in the middle of the grassland in the morning. It warmed our kids’ hearts (and ours) when a few roos were spotted basking in the early morning sun in the middle of the vacant lot.
At that time, plans for the construction of a residential estate on the vacant lot were rejected by the council. By late 2010, the herbivorous marsupials had become confined to the small area of nearby scrubland.
Basically, it will be the beginning of the end for the local kangaroo mob when a vegetable and small crops farm was re-established on the parcel of land. We have not seen any kangas there for the last three to four years.
The pace of development is much faster than the hopping of any of our native kangaroos and they are unable to cope with the disorientation of resettlement elsewhere in the wild.
If grass is plentiful, they can survive in selectively built-up areas. We recently met quite a few of them hanging out in the grounds of the students’ residential college at the university in Rockhampton, a nearby city here in Queensland. The mob at the uni reminded us of the street gangs of monkeys that hang out in the botanical gardens in Penang in Malaysia.
The marsupials don’t pursue you for peanuts or bananas like the aggressive, street-wise simians in the beautiful Malaysian gardens. Nonetheless, kangaroos can be cheeky. We certainly witnessed evidence of this fact at Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast just south of here. It is the zoo where the late Steve Irwin, the Australian Crocodile Hunter, was based.
With an inner chuckle, I’m recalling the time at Australia Zoo about a decade ago when a big kangaroo sized up our youngest son, hopped with deliberation over to him and pushed him over in a daring stroke of bravado. The big grey female then simply turned away, before sedately and quietly hopping away with an imperceptible smile on its face.