Tim and I rented a car towards the end of the week and drove 2 hours south to Kangaroo Valley to take in the scenery, stay at a cute B&B and hopefully see the animal for which the valley was named. However, Amy suggested that we stop at the Symbio Wildlife Center on the way down in case we weren't able to find 'roos and other animals in the wild, just so we could say we saw some. I'm not normally all that into zoos, but Tim and I did have a great experience in the kangaroo area at Symbio:
Not only were we able to get really close to the kangaroos (if we had bought food, we could have fed them, apparently), but we were able to see that one of the kangaroos had a joey in her pouch, and I was able to capture it feeding from the pouch as well as going in and out of the pouch... super cool.
Did you know that kangaroos are permanently pregnant, but can time when the baby actually makes its way out of the womb? In times of drought, the mom will hold onto the little dude and halt his growth (diapause) until food sources are more readily available, at which time she'll let him out and he will crawl up and get inside her pouch, where he'll nurse until he can leave the pouch (even then he's in and out of the pouch, nursing but also eating grass, until such time as his mom kicks him out permanently and closes up the pouch to him.):
This quick video shows how alien-like the joey looks as it wiggles around in the pouch. Creepy!:
After we finished up at the zoo, we kept driving to Kangaroo Valley. After a beautiful, albeit quite twisty drive (during which we saw an echidna, a spiny anteater, skitter off the side of the road, narrowly escaping a future as roadkill), we arrived and dropped our stuff at the Tall Trees B&B. On the innkeeper's recommendation, we then headed to the Bendeela campground, where she assured us we would definitely see wombats (more on them in the next post) and hopefully see kangaroos since it was dusk and they would be pretty active.
Our first wild kangaroo siting was this random guy, creepily staring at us from the edge of the woods... look very hard and you'll see him (you may have to enlarge the photo). He's quite far away.
After that, we saw more and more kangaroos bopping around in the distance, camouflaged quite well by the grass:
Then, to our delight, we caught 2 of the kangaroos boxing, doing judo-esque moves and occasionally kicking each other. Based on some info we learned later in the trip, we believe it was probably 2 young males practicing their moves. Juvenile males learn to box from their moms, but don't start practicing the judo/grabby business until later (and then practice with each other, not their moms), and they only kick once their tails have grown sufficiently strong such that they can lean back on it and kick both legs out.
It's hard to see in these photos, but there are two roos grappling with each other right at the top of the grass, just right of center:
I was able to get some video, though, that seems a little more clear. Sorry for the wind noise in all of the following videos- it doesn't look like it, but it was super windy and really cold. Also, please forgive the less-than-riveting commentary:
In this photo I got the kangaroos in the back, with a wombat wandering in the foreground:
Tim and I were standing and watching near a fence separating this grassy area from the picnic area where the grass was freshly mowed. Slowly but surely the kangaroos above began to inch towards the fence, trying to make their way into the mowed area. At the same time, kangaroos were coming out of the woods behind us and gathering at the mowed area... in total there were probably 60 or so kangaroos (the group is called a "mob"), we think all Eastern Greys.
Then the kangaroos behind the fence decided we were harmless (we had been standing there harmlessly for like a hour waiting patiently) and made their move. Despite the fact that they could probably have jumped the fence, they chose to scoot underneath it in order to get over to the mowed area. Later in the week we learned that kangaroos love to eat the tender new grass shoots that pop up after mowing, so it makes sense why they were so excited to get over to the mowed area:
Here's a photo of the rising moon over a bunch of kangaroos just waiting by the fence for us to get the hell out of the way so they could hop over to the grassy knoll... you could practically hear them tapping their toes at us:
And in these videos you can see how the area around us had turned into the kangaroo superhighway... one after the other they came under the fence and bounded towards the grass, some more wary of us than others:
(Bigger version of this video linked here.)