On my way home the other week I watched the ute in front of me hit a giant roo. I stopped in case the driver was a woman on her own, like me, and she needed some help. Two women got out of the ute, and neither had their phone so I called the Wildlife Association for them. While I was speaking to someone on the other end the roo died, and the women decided to ‘honour it’ by putting it on their compost heap. I watched in awe as they picked it up like it was not the biggest mammal I have ever seen and threw it on the back of their ute. “Thanks for stopping,” they said as they drove away.
I managed almost five years in the country without hitting anything, nothing live at least; just a parked car and the water metre out the front of our house. I’ve been lucky, because there are so many roos on the road between Newstead and Castlemaine. I’ve done 80,000kms in the three years since we bought my car, almost exclusively on this road. Everyone tells me it’s only a matter of time. I was thinking this when I hit one.
It bounced off my left bumper and landed under a fence. I hoped it was dead but as it was just outside of Newstead, I was only doing 60. I waited for it to get up and hop away. It stayed at the fence. I called the Wildlife Association. The woman who answered explained that Bruce, the volunteer who lives in Newstead was away, so I’d have to wait for someone from further afield to arrive. They might be a while.
So I started to cry. The roo was very much alive but obviously in a great deal of pain. I didn’t think I could watch it for much longer but I thought it was a bit rude to turn away. A few drivers stopped to check that I was okay and when I told them that I had hit a roo, they asked about my car. Which made me cry more. I called my husband who was trying to have a sleep-in after a week of early starts.
“Hey Baby, what’s up?”
“I HIT A ROO!”
“Is it dead?”
“No. But I think its legs are broken.”
“I’ll come and sort it out.”
“What do you mean sort it out?”
“Knock it on the head.”
“But it’s just had its legs broken. I think it will be fine. I’ll just wait for Wildlife to turn up and they’ll take it to the place.”
“The rehabilitation place. For the kangaroos with broken legs.”
“I’ll go get my hammer.”
On days like this it is glaringly obvious that my husband and I have had vastly different upbringings.
While Chris was looking for his hammer, Bruce the Newstead Wildlife volunteer turned up. He hadn’t left to go away yet. I sighed with relief when his ute pulled over, a Wildlife Association sticker on the passenger door.
He took my hand and aske dif I was okay, even though my legs weren't broken. Then he looked at the roo and said, “I’ll just knock it off” and went back to his ute and pulled out a gun.
I decided not to mention the rehabilitation place because by now I realised I was a silly, delusional city girl who would be doing 20 in 60 zones from now on. Instead I thanked him for coming so quickly and asked if it was okay if I didn’t hang around to watch him ‘knock it off.” We said our goodbyes and as I walked back to my car I heard the shot.
I checked my bumper. I couldn’t see any damage apart from what I had done when I hit the water metre.
When I lived in Sydney I was followed from my apartment to Stanmore station early one morning. A guy in a hoodie pulled a knife on me and dropped it. We stood staring at each other for what felt like hours, then he picked up the knife and ran off. I went to work like nothing had happened and it didn't occur to me until several days later to report this to the police. I just thought it was part of living in Sydney. At the police station, I started the story like it was no big deal, but then I started shaking and it took months for me to venture outside by myself again. Hitting a roo is obviously no where near as traumatic, but for us blow-ins the first time is a little confronting, so if you're driving between Newstead and Castlemaine anytime soon and you find yourself having to overtake an i30 doing 80kms under the speed limit, apologies.