It’s hard not to love the thrill of a First Time. Unfortunately, the more we experience in life, the more difficult it can become to feel that I’ve never seen/done/been before thrill. First Times are not a necessary part of life, but they’re an unavoidable element of travel. The other day I was most fortunate to experience three First Times within just a couple of hours: one ghost town, two Kookaburras and dozens of wild kangaroos.
When I think Australia, I think kangaroos. Amongst other thoughts. I like kangaroos so very much that if Australia was run according to my tastes, these cute creatures would be bounding all around all open areas at all times. Unfortunately, these purely Austrlian animals are not everywhere. I did get to hang out with bunches of them the other day, though, which marked the first time I have ever breathed the same air as a kangaroo.
With Matt and Sue, I traveled a short distance from where I’m currently staying in Western Australia’s south west to a town called Donnelly River. As soon as we pulled off the main road which led us to this tiny town in the bush, we spotted dozens of Western Grey kangaroos lying casually in the grass. We parked by the general store and got out. Clearly, these particular wild animals are extremely accustomed to humans, as we were able to pet and oooh and ahhh over them while they tolerated us without flinching an inch. Their tame nature ran so deep that several of them allowed me to get an up-close look at little baby kangaroos peering out of their pouches – awww. I’m not sure whether kangaroos have fur or hair, but as I petted these I was struck by their silkiness. I’d always imagined that kangaroo hair/fur would be coarse. Perhaps other kangaroos are not so downy soft. I have always thought kangaroos are cute, but these were just endlessly adorable beyond belief.
Donnelly River is also the first ghost town I’ve ever visited, a community that just simply stopped in the year 1978 when the mill at its center shut down. Today abandoned buildings still stand, apparently in the same state as when they breathed their last over 30 years ago. The general store which we parked by is the only business still open. Little houses still dot the road, homes given up by residents when the town died off and today used occasionally as vacation homes.
Also on this day I got to actually see my first two Kookaburras, a bird much plainer in appearance than its voice would lead you to believe. I’ve heard its long and wild laughter of a song nearly daily since I’ve been in Australia. These jungle-like bursts of sounds are so loved that The Kookaburra Song, penned in 1932 by a lady named Marion Sinclair, has grown to be beloved by Australians over the years. The Kookaburra’s laughter here in Western Australia is somewhat different than where I first landed in New South Wales, 4000 kilometers away. Apparently the great distance between the two areas prevents the little bird with the big laugh from singing exactly the same tune as its brother on the other side of the country. Here’s a too-short but very cool snippet of the call of the wild that comes out of the mouth of the Kookaburra in Western Australia.