Saturday, June 4, 2011



Living in Australia as we do, we are all of us naturally proud of our three K’s, Koalas, Kangaroos and Kookaburras.

Our grand-kids from an early age enjoyed feeding our resident Kooka’s; greedy little souls ever ready for a handy morsel from small fingers.  The birds, not the kids...

Even when our children, daughter Jenny and husband Chris relocated to Cuenca in Ecuador to open a cafe, they named it after a favourite Australian icon, the Kookaburra...

You could say my family has a close affinity to Kookaburra’s which is why I was especially drawn to a recent story in our local newspaper, The Courier Mail.


Aussies are used to driving long distances, we think nothing of hopping in a car to visit friends hundreds of miles away.  Mind you our highways aren’t all that crash hot, not when you compare them with  the autobahns of Germany or the huge freeways of America.

And though we like to think of ourselves as being careful and responsible drivers we are sometimes responsible for some of the road kill we pass along the way.  I mean, most times we can’t really avoid it, kangaroos especially; they seem to have absolutely no road sense whatsoever. 
So when we do hit an animal, especially one in the bush where let’s face it they do belong,  we’re filled with an incredible sense of shame and loss.

Which brings me to the story of the unfortunately, or appropriately named Bruce Wham of New South Wales who last week was on his way to Brisbane in Queensland via the New England highway, a lengthy journey necessitating an overnight stopover.

Now when Bruce says he was obeying the speed limit I believe him; as events were to prove he couldn’t possibly be an irresponsible speed freak.  Nice, kind men like him simply don’t risk their or anyone’s, or for that matter anything else’s life or limb simply to get somewhere in a  god almighty hurry.

As Bruce told reporter Brian Williams covering the story, he was cruising along at 100 km/h when ‘...there was a bang and I thought, uh oh, there’s one dead Kookaburra.’

A bit further on stopping for petrol in Tenterfield a passerby  noticed a bird stuck in the honeycomb patterned grille of Bruce’s Mazda 6.   The bird was motionless and onlookers thought it was dead.

Dark by now, Bruce heaved a sigh of regret and continued on to Stanthorpe where he decided to stop for the night.  Hopping out of his car and staring at the bird still locked in the grille he thought for a moment it had moved but then locals took a closer look and said no, that Kooka was one stone dead bird.

Next morning Bruce continued on to Brisbane and  on arrival decided he couldn’t avoid it any longer, he would just have to remove the carcass and clean up the front of his car.

But when he took another look he found a very much alive and extremely angry Kookaburra firmly entrenched in the  grille work.

An urgent call to the local RSPCA,  Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,  a removal job on part of the cars grille and the bird’s 25 hour ordeal was over.

RSPCA Officer Leonie Rickard with Gorilla the Kookaburra
And surprisingly considering the impact, the cold night and the hours spent whizzing through the countryside the bird had suffered very little damage, basically just a cut wing.

Bruce thinks the Kookaburra, named Gorilla in honour of the damaged grille,  must hold the land speed record for birds from Scone to Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Gorilla the Kookaburra will spend the next week recuperating at the RSPCA , but one wonders how he will explain his absence to his mates back home.  

 For that matter, will they even believe him?


A happy postscript to the story:
Kookaburra's mate for life, and there was a natural concern that Gorilla's partner might be fretting; especially when Bruce Wham recalled seeing two Kookaburra's dart in front of his car just before the collision.

With donations to cover the flight, an RSPCA volunteer will accompany the recovered Kookaburra back home as early as next week.

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said there was an excellent chance the birds could be reunited.  'Kookaburra's are territorial, but even though their territories are large, several kilometres, Gorilla should be able to find her'. 

"A happy ending for a love story', Beatty added.  And by the way the newspaper donated a welcome $500 to the RSPCA coffers.


Next:  Quakers 8 and the Civil War.