Since he has accepted with aplomb, the role of international jet-setter, Molly now delights in recounting his adventures to human and monkey friends alike.
Part of his agenda for inviting his monkey business mates over for a sleepover was clearly to lock them in the same room and surround them with his wee tales.
I walked in on them just before bed time and, confident they didn’t’ notice me, sure enough, there was Molly, his big eyes bursting with enthusiasm as he recounted his kangaroo tales. That’s Kangaroo tales, not tails, that would be another story.
Man, they were big. Their ears were my size and one of them had this pouch thingy with a wee kangaroo nestled inside. All of us could have comfortably cosied into that pouch and there would have been room for more.
They stood upright on their powerful legs. I was awfy scared at first, but after a while I could see them picking out little seeds from the ground and chomping on them. I guessed that they were vegetarians and, of course no threat to me. They managed to extricate these seeds with their smaller front paws and straight in the gob.
All they did was sniff me. Mind you there was a lot of sniffing going on. I was told that just before dusk hundreds of Kangaroos descend on the township of Halls Gap in northern Victoria. It was like a wave of them, a gentle grey wave gradually passing through the town and into the campsite. I watched the other tourists ogle them, like me, feeling quite special to witness these glorious creatures so close and in so many numbers. My wee monkey heart was dripping with joy.
After a while the sniffing ceased and as they had arrived, they departed, a gentle creep back into the bush. Imagine that my friends, imagine that.
Earlier that day we had traveled from Geelong by the sea all the way here to the stunning Grampians Ranges in northern Victoria. I had never been in a car for longer than an hour, and that was only because of Glasgow traffic, so was surprised at how long this trip was taking. I was propped up for the journey, and got a significant dose of brown, dry, sometimes arid land. When the door flew open at Mortlake, our fuel and lunch spot, I had an experience I will never forget. Never!
You know those hand driers in the toilets and the jet of hot air they produce? Well, that is exactly what it felt like when we left the car. Forty-Two degrees declared the petrol station attendant, almost disappointed that it wasn’t any hotter. Yep 42 degrees she smiled, indicating that monkeys like me wouldn’t last five minutes in these temperatures. She was right.
Back in the car, the air conditioning ramped up to eleven, I reflected on the last temperature I experienced in Scotland, just before I left. Minus two degrees. From minus two to forty-two, there has to be some sort record in that. This is serious monkey business folks.
You know what tastes sensational on a bursting hot day? No idea said the monkey friends, used only to small intakes of water, usually derived from bananas or other fruits.
Well, I never thought it would happen, but the Australian owners of the Halls Gap Tavern introduced me to the quenching power of ice-cold beer. On my monkey mum’s grave, it is the only antidote for forty-two degrees. Trust me cobber’s, as they say in Australia. As an Ossie icon once said, “Do yourself a favour.” Molly Meldrum.
So, my monkey mates, I lay listening to the drone of the air conditioning unit, reflecting fondly on the rich and striking first impressions Australia had already delivered. I had smelled the breath of kangaroos, tasted the golden chill of Australia itself and traveled across a small chunk of this great dry land.
The mixture was intoxicating, enough to send this satisfied wee monkey happily to sleep.
Alan Forsyth Silcock 15th March 2019