Kangaroo Dundee: Meet Chris ‘Brolga’ Barnes, the top Aussie bloke who has become a surrogate mother to orphaned kangaroos (VIDEO)
Most people have heard of the Australian character, Crocodile Dundee. But few have heard of the man called "Kangaroo Dundee". But that will soon change for the animal lover who stars in a BBC documentary that follows his unusual life in the Australian Outback where he spends all his time mothering orphaned marsupials.
Kangaroo Dundee who is really Chris Barnes also known as 'Brolga' (an aboriginal word for stork), left his life in the city to move to the Outback and build a shack with no running water or heat. This is where he cares for the orphaned kangaroos that he comes across. He is a big man at 6'7" but to the kangaroos he is Mum, as he cares for them 24 hours a day. They go everywhere with him, to the grocery store, and they even sleep at the end of his bed.
Chris Barnes, who is in his 40s, started his new life 20 years ago after rescuing three joeys and realising they couldn't go back to the wild. He then decided to build his own sanctuary in the Outback. He single-handedly dug a 2.5 mile long trench and fixing more than 4,000 metres of chain-mesh to 450 hand-hammered fence posts. It took him 2 1/2 years working seven days a week to build the sanctuary in 45C degree heat.
All in all he has cared for over 200 kangaroos over the years. It is not an easy job where many times he is woken up in the middle of the night to tend to crying babies. The babies must be fed every 4 hours. He also has to patrol the perimeter of the sanctuary, making sure the animals are safe from wild dogs. To support himself and his sanctuary he works at stacking shelves and washing buses on the side.
His amazing story has been documented in the two-part BBC2 series 'Kangaroo Dundee'. The film shows him taking on three newly-orphaned and very vulnerable babies: Amy, Daisy and William. But it is all very much worth it to him. As he describes his role, "The first thing a kangaroo mother does is care for her joey. Without their mother, joeys are incredible vulnerable. I find, as a caretaker, that I have a much better success rate if I give the babies lots of love."
The biggest threat to Chris and his kangaroos is from the weather. As he puts it, "A bushfire is the closest thing to hell. If it got into the sanctuary it would be all over, the kangaroos would be burned alive - it would be the worst thing I could imagine. If one day that uncontrollable demon of a bushfire comes to the sanctuary I will take it on to protect my family and I will go down fighting.''