As you hike along the trails of the Grampians, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, and various other animals and birds dot the wild, their natural habitat.
Upon reaching Halls Gap located in the heart of the Grampians, you will see myriads of kangaroos, wallabies, and emus wandering around. Young kangaroos hop and sometimes you may chance two male kangaroos boxing, asserting their power over against the other.
At the Halls Gap Zoo, you can hand feed the kangaroos. You can also see some of your Australian fluffy favourites, the lazy, cuddly koalas.
In this blog, I focus on two iconic Australians: the roo and the emu.
In Australia, kangaroos outnumber people. In 2011 alone, there were an estimated 34.3 million kangaroos recorded. Hey, that was 7 years ago. Australia’s population as of 2016 is 24.13 million.
Here’s an old tale: An Englishman who visited Australia for the first time asked a native, “What is the name of that strange animal?” A GuuguYimithirr speaking local replied, “Gangurru” (I don’t understand you.) And the Englishman understood him at once. Hence, the name kangaroo.
Of course, that is a myth.
The kangaroo is a marsupial endemic to Australia. It is the largest of the macropod or large foot species; the smallest is the wallaby. The medium sized is creatively called a wallaroo. A wallaby’s body measures 45-105 cm in length and the tail 33-75 cm.
Having large feet used for hopping, a kangaroo has powerful hind legs and a muscular tail for balancing. A kangaroo can grow up to 2 meters or 6 foot 7 tall and weighs 200 lb or 90 kg for a large male.
A male roo is called a buck, a boomer, a jack, or simply an old man. A female roo is called a doe, a flyer, or a jill. A young roo is called joey. But when a large number of old men troop to the city court they’re called a mob!
The kangaroo also appears on the Australian coat of arms and on Australian currencies, making it one of Australia’s cultural icons. When you hear the word Australia you would immediately think of the boomers.
The second Australian cultural icon is the emu, which is also the second largest bird next to the ostrich. Endemic to Australia, you can find emus on the mainland, most especially in the Grampians.
Having soft brown feathers, long neck and legs with 3-toed feet, an emu measures 6.2 feet or 1.9 meters in height. Although emus could not fly they could travel great distances because they can sprint at 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph). That’s pretty fastfor a giant bird.
Emus feed on plants, seeds, fruits, and insects but they could also go for weeks without eating. They’re not frequent drinkers but when given the chance they would drink to their heart’s content.
Do you know that a female emu fights with others for a mate? They can mate many times in a season and they also lay several clutches of green and speckled eggs.
The male emu does the fair share of incubating the eggs until they hatch in about eight weeks of which they do not eat resulting in weight loss. A dad emu takes care of the young until they reach maturity after about six months. An emu can live up to 20 years.
The emu also appears on the Australian coat of arms and 50-cent coin making the giant fowl, which features prominently in Aboriginal mythology, a cultural icon.
Emus are peace-loving, but if you threaten them you could end up receiving a powerful kick. Thus, be gentle to these lovely, no flight risk birds that rely on their speed and powerful feet to avoid their predators.
So, if you happened to visit the Grampians don’t miss the pouch potato joey and the caring emu dad. Or, while hanging out in the open you could invite an emu for a couple of drinks!
Check out Wildlife Tours Australia’s tour packages to the Grampians. For a start, you may want to book a 1 Day Grampians National Park Tour. Or if you wished to stay longer, try our 3 Day Great Ocean Road and the Grampians Tour.
By Kelvene Requiroso, content writer and member of the SEO team of the Melbourne-based Get Lost Travel Group.