Kangaroo Dundee: Meet a man who lives all on his own in the bush with ‘roos

Aussie Chris ‘Brolga’ Barnes has dedicated his life to rescuing and raising orphaned animals. We speak to him ahead of his new BBC show about facing aggressive males, being called a "wacko" and getting lonely in the wild...

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Some people call Chris ‘Brolga’ Barnes a “wacko” or “hermit”. He lives on his own in a shack in the bush, near Alice Springs, where he runs a kangaroo sanctuary and cares for ‘joeys’ 24-hours a day. During a new six part BBC series,  Kangaroo Dundee (8.30pm, on November 29 on BBC2), he will let us into his world and teach us more about these fascinating creatures. We’ll meet the aboriginal locals who have helped Barnes, and taught him how to survive in the outback, plus lively ‘roos like Roger – an alpha male with a big personality. We catch up with Barnes ahead of the series…

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What is about ‘roos that you love, and why this species over another?

I love kangaroos because they are just so different to other animals. I just love watching joeys in the pouch and seeing the love of mum and baby. They are amazing athletes, with a bound of up to eight metres in length.

If you weren’t out there caring for these animals, what would happen to them?

If we, as wildlife carers, were not looking after the orphans, I would hate to think what would happen. I would assume they would most likely die.

What’s the most challenging part of living with kangaroos?

Leaving the backdoor open 24-hours a day. I do this so the joeys can come inside and out at will. Kangaroos are nocturnal, so they are often active when I am asleep. But leaving the back door open means other animals come inside my shack, such as scorpions, snakes and mice.

Can kangaroos be dangerous? 

Yes. Roger, my alpha male, is extremely aggressive. I am just getting over an attack from last week, where Roger struck me out in the sanctuary. I am a little cut up, but I still love him. He is only defending his territory and harem.

How do you communicate with kangaroos, do you think they fully understand you?

I communicate by just ‘tching…..t..t..t’ This is just a made up sound that sounds similar to a kangaroo talking, but is something I do with the babies when I am feeding them. It’s a sound that I continue to use as they are older, because they feel comfortable with it. Otherwise I talk to them in a comforting voice, not a manly strong voice.


Visit the Australian outback with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details


What do locals think about what you do?

Some people think I am a bit of a wacko, while others tell me to never stop what I am doing because the kangaroos need me.

Do you ever get lonely out there all on your own?

I never get lonely out in the bush. I always have my kangaroo family, plus good friends. I am not a hermit, as some people imagine. I’m just someone who can talk to nature and feel completely at home with the animals.


Visit the Australian outback with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details


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Watch Kangaroo Dundee at 8.30pm, on November 29, on BBC2