The unofficial symbol of Australia and boasting proportions that seemingly defy logic, the beguiling kangaroo can be found in the wild in many parts of Victoria, including areas close to Melbourne.
The kanga tale
The red kangaroo has the distinction of being the world's largest surviving marsupial and can grow to two metres tall and weigh 90 kilograms. Early explorers were taken aback by these creatures with deer-like heads that stood upright like men, and hopped like frogs.
The kangaroo's long tail is mainly used to control the balance when moving at slow speeds. The short forelegs are handy for food intake, and also in combat (see the legend of the Boxing Kangaroo). Kangaroos are vegetarians, existing on grasses, nuts, seeds and leaves. Babies, called joeys, look out from their mothers pouch after six months, and emerge into the world at nine months. On average, kangaroos live for around six years in the wild, or well over 20 years in captivity.
Victoria's fertile landscape is more receptive to the smaller eastern grey kangaroo. You'll also spot their smaller relatives, wallabies, around the state. Kangaroos are shy and retiring by nature, and in normal circumstances present no threat to humans.
Where to spot 'roos
In Victoria, there are plenty of opportunities to spot kangaroos in the wild.
In the Great Ocean Road, you can play a memorable game of golf alongside relaxing kangaroos in the natural bush setting of Anglesea Golf Club. Meet roaming kangaroos in Tower Hill State Game Reserve, which sits inside an extinct volcano. You can even walk with wildlife under the stars.
Notch up a magical moment at dusk from your campsite in the Grampians or in Gippsland's Wilson's Promontory National Park, watching a mob of eastern grey kangaroos graze and bound off in unison when startled.
Close to Melbourne, kangaroos can be seen in the You Yang Ranges, and even in the Yarra and Dandenong ranges.
The Melbourne Zoo features a fabulous Australia enclosure, with kangaroos lolling in a replica of their natural habitat, while Healesville Sanctuary boasts a mob of red kangaroos.
"Kangaroo crossing" signs are commonplace around Australia, as a collision with a vehicle is capable of killing a kangaroo and harming the car and its occupants. Kangaroos dazzled by headlights can often leap in front of cars, so it's important to keep an eye on the roadside, especially at twilight.