Written by Emma Moss
It was a quieter day we were having. We’d finished a few big musters, the yards were empty and the head stockwoman and I went to check some fences. There was a bit of a drama in the last muster. The guy riding the motorbike that day didn’t go to the place exactly discussed with the chopper pilots the night before and confirmed that morning. To be fair, I don’t think anyone’s’ 3.30am brain is super on fire but perhaps clarification could have been beneficial to this situation. Said motor bike rider was in the wrong paddock and took a bit to get back on track. It’s worth noting that the paddocks are a few thousand acres. It was too wet for us to all get to where the pilots needed help in the horse truck. McLeods daughters moment, we unloaded the horses and cantered across the paddock to get there before motorbike man. The muster finished smoothly but as well as checking fences that day, we decided to check the gates involved in the afore-mentioned suspected motorbike detour to avoid any further dramas.
After checking fences, the fastest way to check one suspected gate was through the middle of a paddock, so off we went. In the middle of the paddock, pretty well in the of nowhere when we saw some dust on the same road as us.
We were very curious of the green wagon approaching us in white Landcruiser country. As we got closer we could see something tied to the top of the car, piled rather high. Well for specific measurements, the pile on the roof was 3 kangaroos high and 4 wide. The closer we got, the more our curiosity grew. A bit closer now, we could see about five people in the front seat and a lot more in the back – just like those car ads you see on TV where people keep on getting out of the car. Starting to slow down we could see two pieces of bailing twine holding the kangaroos, only just stopping them from falling off.
Head stockwoman originally from New Zealand and myself of south-east Queensland were unaccustomed to such sights. Many questions were in our heads, “Who are you?”, “What are you doing in the middle of nowhere?”, “What were you planning to do with so many roos?”, “How on earth did you pile the roos up so high?” are just a few that come to mind.
We pulled up near each other, rolled down the window greeted with the question “Hey, you got a smoke?”. They were out of luck for cigarettes however we did proceed to chat for about 15 minutes to discover that they were from the local indigenous community about 150km away.
Now, leaning on their window, I could also hear something in the back of the car. At first it sounded like maybe their car was just not running optimally. It was a clicking sound. I am no car expert by any means, but it wasn’t a sound that any car should make. I couldn’t be rude and ask about their cars motor functions, but I kept listening.
One of the kids in the back saw me looking and smiled. She turned around and picked up something. It was a joey, one of many. She picked up one with hair – which means they’re a bit stronger than the ‘pinkies’. They asked if I wanted one and I, of course, could not say no.
A little boy joey, I thought I would be original and call him Joe. We technically had a ‘no pet policy’ but I thought since it was an acquired animal in need of care, duty of care and our manager being a good bloke, I could get away with it.
Joe stayed with us for a few weeks. I got lactose free milk powder and milk and did a lot of research into caring for joeys. Luckily, he already had hair so its pretty much like having a baby at 1 year old. Skip all the boring sleeping and straight into engagement and fun things (sorry if I’m not allowed to say that). He followed me around while I did my washing, I made a pouch for him which hung in the shade in the yards while we did work there, and in my room if we were around the homestead. After a week he was toilet trained and I was so in love. He came to Fitzroy Crossing Rodeo with me. He didn’t super love all the noise at the start but meant he wanted more cuddles which was ok with me. Sadly, I had to give him to another lady as my manager didn’t want to make too many exceptions of the no pet rule other wise we might “end up like a zoo in the desert”. And that is how I met Joe.
First cuddle with Joe.
Joe making friends.