Roo Rage

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ROO RAGE

From my experience daily driving long distances from my country village of Ardlethan in Australia’s Riverina district to Wagga Wagga, 110 kilometres south. https://www.waggawaggaaustralia.com.au I was not surprised to read that 5% of all crashes in Australia are into animals.

Photo by YIanni Johns
Riverina Highways. Photo by Yianni Johns

Out of that five percent the greatest number of animals you are likely to collide with are kangaroos.https://www.bushheritage.org.au/species/kangaroos On a recent trip to Melbourne I was on the road just before dawn. Not a good time to be on the road because that is when Kangaroos are on the move. This night on the stretch between Jerilderie to Tocumwal, a long flat road, I found there were hundreds of kangaroos grazing at the roadside. I could see them in the rim of light from my headlights.

Every twenty or thirty meters a roo sat looking at me in my brand-new car, seemingly ready to launch into a hop, directly into my path. You hit the horn hoping to disperse these beautiful creatures, they either ignore you and if you are lucky hop away. Or like in a lot of cases they will hop directly in front of you. I have met people living out here who have been driving along and BANG! A Kangaroo on route from A to B hops slap bang into the side of the car, lots of damage.

Recently I encountered a Big Red Kangaroo standing in the middle of the road as I came over a hill, he was muscular like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I managed to stop but hoped and prayed that whoever was behind me could stop in time as well. I hit the horn, the roo looked at me as if to say, ‘is that all you’ve got?’ Then bounded away only to reverse its direction, placing it directly in front of me again. Most nerve wracking.

In a scene reminiscent of that great Australian TV show “Skippy” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060025/  the roo bounded along beside me, on the opposite side of the road, for several hundred meters. Such a magnificent sight, then he disappeared into the thick bush. In times of little rain and like we have had in Australia severe drought kangaroos gravitate to the roadside to eat the fresh grass that sprouts near the road. It’s very dangerous for roos and car drivers.

In my area Road Safety advisers are urging drivers not to swerve to avoid these animals but stop straight ahead, this is why when driving on the long flat open roads here you leave a lot of space between you and the car in front. Driving at night is a sure way of encountering a kangaroo but the worst times to be on the road are dusk and dawn. The animals are very hard to see at these times.

If you have to drive at night try to get yourself a good strong set of spotlights or L.E.D. Light bars, these will give you a bit of time to see the roos in the dark.

I have a set of ultrasonic whistles the brand name is Shoo Roo. These devices are relatively cheap, and they stick to your front grille in the airflow. The whistle they make is inaudible to humans, but you will notice the roo will stand and try to discern the sound and in a lot of cases will hop away from the car. But sometimes they don’t and will jump in front of you.

If you do encounter roos on the road slow down, don’t trust them it could cost you an expensive repair. Signs kangaroos are in the area are unfortunately freshly killed roos laying on the road or to the side of the road. Be careful when driving over a crest there could be dead roos on the road. Be aware and alert at all times while driving in the bush.

You see a sign with a picture of a kangaroo on it be ready to take evasive action. Something to remember too is kangaroos travel in packs, one afternoon pre dusk I encountered a roo bounding on to the roadway in front of me, it got across the road in about three hops. Thinking that was it I accelerated until I saw movement, it was another roo following. There were three more following them. So be ready for things like that.

Kangaroo Sign. Photo by Yianni Johns

If you are driving a hire car in the country at night make sure you take the insurance package. Most importantly make sure the hire car insurance covers you driving at night. In some places in Australia the insurer will not cover the car for night driving because of the dangers of smashing into animals.

If you hit an animal like a roo get your car off the road there are many trucks travelling at top speed out here in the bush. I will let your imagination take care of those outcomes. Although this story is about kangaroos there are many types of animal encounters you can experience on Australian roads.

Yianni Johns roadside with echidna. Photo Kristen Johns

There are cows, sheep, horses in the Snowy Mountains, wombats who will destroy your car if you hit them. Koalas and today I saw on the road an echidna.  There are hundreds of bird types. After the rains beautiful parrots will drink from the puddles on the road, so be careful. If you hit an animal on the road you can get help if they are still alive by contacting, Wires on 1300 094 737. https://www.wires.org.au

Phone number with country code, like +1 for the US.

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Have fun driving in Australia.