Urban myth or reality?
Once upon a time, Skippy was our Merribrook Retreat pet kangaroo. A huge strong and cheeky male, this gorgeous creature, some 18 years ago endeared himself to all. Perhaps some of you can remember him-up on the lodge verandah, nibbling my then young garden, scaring startled guests along the villa paths.
Once he held two bemused children hostage on their top bunk. He had entered the villa looking for biscuits-he had developed a passion for sweet food (not that we would offer him biscuits today, being more ecologically aware!!) The children were too scared to climb down and endured a long siege awaiting the return of their parents. All the while Skippy consumed the entire contents of their Christmas biscuit tin.
A passion for biscuits grew into a passion for beer, wine and ultimately champagne. In Villa Two, one spring a charming representative of Moet and Chandon was enjoying a magnificent Merribrook sundown.
The Moet was chilled, the glasses poured. The Frenchman stretched lazily on his wisteria clad verandah. Suddenly Skippy arrives on the scene. With grace and experience, he reached for the champagne flute and elegantly drained the glass. The startled Frenchman came running to us at the Lakeside Lodge. I have seen everything now, even Moet drinking bush kangaroos
I believe this story lives on in France to this day!
However we all realized our Skippy was becoming too familiar, too human. What of his own kind, his own life in the wild? We took him about 100km from Merribrook deep into the State forest and bid him a fond farewell. We thought often of him over the past 18 years.
This is now where the urban myth or Merribrook reality comes into play. My youngest daughter and I were walking over the new stone bridge by the waterfall and the dogs disturbed the biggest old roo I have seen in years. Actually, the biggest since Skippy went away. Strangely the roo, albeit cross with the dogs presence did not hop away. Instead we fled, a little confused and fearful from this strange encounter.
Next morning the very same large old male kangaroo was feeding close to the road. I wound down my car window- he was barely two feet from me. I questioned aloud,
Who are you, old boy? That afternoon I walked down to the old Western Grey who was now very close to Villa 6 verandah. It suddenly came to me. Was it, is it?
I walked up to him, looked him in the eye firmly and asked, Are you Skippy, the Moet drinking bush kangaroo? To my greatest joy his eyes sparkled, his ears twitched and his nose snuffed and He leaned into me.
Skippy, Skippy, you have come home.
I looked for Skippy the next morning, and the next morning. Where are you, Skippy?
The days turned into a week. The guests told me of a strong smell near Villa Six. On walking deep into the creek vegetation, I found dear Skippy, peacefully asleep, sadly dead.
On recounting Skippys story to my wonderful neighbour who has raised orphan kangaroos for years and has lived close to nature for almost six decades, she told me some startling facts.
Yes, kangaroos especially males do go home to die.
Yes, kangaroos can live in excess of 20 years.
And yes, Skippy, the Moet drinking bush kangaroo never lost his love for his early Merribrook home and travelled over 100kms to return home to die.