The Great Kangaroo-Spotting Expedition

“We need to see a kangaroo while we’re in Australia,” I told my mum when we arrived at her place on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. “Miss M is Australian and she’s never seen one.”

We could just start driving west. Central Queensland is full of kangaroos. But it seems like such a bother. And I still wasn’t sure about how agreeable Miss M would be to the concept of car seats.

There are also plenty of kangaroos at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo but it would be A$153 for the three of us or A$94 if Mum stayed home. That seems like a ridiculous amount of money just to see a kangaroo.

(Don’t get me wrong — Australia Zoo is fabulous. And worth the entry fee. We’re just on a budget at the moment.)

Mum thought for a moment. “There’s kangaroos at the university,” she said.

And so the great kangaroo-spotting expedition was born.

The expedition was scheduled for “sometime this trip” … because I didn’t know when I’d be up for an early morning adventure. And I know kangaroos usually feed at dawn.

As we were setting off on the great wave-jumping expedition at Mooloolaba, I noticed a tiny tourist information booth on the edge of a car park near the beach.

I consulted the wise old bloke inside.

He told me there was a mob of kangaroos that lived at the University of the Sunshine Coast. He said you could see them in the mornings and in the afternoons. (Ooooooh… afternoons. So much easier.)  He even gave me directions.

“They’re usually in the grassy area between the two buildings,” he said.

(Wait – a university that has only two buildings???)

So that very day, Miss M and I set off on our expedition.

I’d never been to the university before. Thankfully it was well-signed and after swinging this way and that around roundabouts we got there.

“Hmmm … between the two buildings,” I thought to myself as I turned into the road leading to the campus.

I saw some buildings. And there … in the distance … on the grass … were some grey-ish lumps that I recognised as kangaroos.

“Yay! We found them!” I announced.

“Yay!” said Miss M from her carseat in the back. “Will they eat me?”

Reassured that she wouldn’t be eaten because kangaroos only eat grass, we set off across what seemed like a playing field marked with “wildlife reserve” signs.

As we walked I explained to Miss M that we couldn’t go too close to the kangaroos because we might scare them. And we didn’t want to scare them because they can rear up on their tails and use their back legs to knock small people over. (In the case of bigger people and bigger kangaroos, they can hold you with their front paws and disembowel you with their powerful back legs. But I didn’t really want to go into so much detail with a three-year-old.)

I told Miss M that a kangaroo knocked me over when I was little when I went too close to one (because I wanted to pat it).

And then there we were. Right in front of some kangaroos, who were eating and scratching and loping and lounging. Doing all the kangaroo-y type things that I find adorable.


We got close enough to see that one of the four kangaroos had a joey in her pouch.

We sat on a park bench and watched the kangaroos while overhead chirruping budgies and lorikeets swooped by. In the distance, a magpie dropped its liquid notes from high in a tree.

kangaroos at Sunshine Coast University

It was a very Australian moment. And it was completely free. I didn’t even have to pay for parking because the university term hadn’t started.


11 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Shalu Sharma says:

    Kangaroos are fascinating animals. One of its kind. I didn’t realise that you can find them near buildings as well, I thought you will find them in forests or marshlands etc.
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..10 things you will hate about India

  2. I would be just as excited as your little girl to see a kangaroo. And I believe it would at the top of my to-do list as soon as I stepped off the plane.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Grandeur of Buenos Aires: The Buildings

  3. budget jan says:

    How wonderful that Miss M got her Australia “kangaroo” fix. How nice of the tourist booth man to tell you about this free and personal way to watch kangaroos. So glad it went well (no disemboweling).
    On a different note, did you ever get your luggage back. I retweeted the message.
    budget jan recently posted..Fantastic Friday – Cordoba Spain has Mustard Coloured Walls

  4. […] I hadn’t thought about Lone Pine or that photo for years. Not until my new IRL friend Tracey mentioned the place, saying it was a far cheaper Australian animal experience than Australia Zoo (which I briefly considered going to on our great kangaroo-spotting expedition). […]

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