A screech and a thump were my only whisper of warning.
I sighed. Another suicide.
I rounded the corner. The humped body of the big buck kangaroo sprawled like a sleeping seal by the side of the road. No other animal has a death-wish quite like a kamikaze kangaroo.
– Belinda in Water and Fire
Kangaroos are just too cute and cuddly to kill people. How could a hopping herbivore harm someone?
Welcome to Western Australia, where 90 kg of buck red kangaroo, bounding along in 8 m long strides up to 1.8 m high at 50 kph, can write off a car and seriously injure the people inside it. They come seemingly out of nowhere and when you swerve to miss them…chances are you'll hit something else or risk losing control of your car.
According to Australian car insurance companies, more than 200,000 car crashes in Australia each year were caused by kangaroos – around 75% of all car accidents. That doesn't include the number of kangaroos that were hit by trucks or cars with bull or roo bars on the front, ensuring the vehicles weren't damaged in the collision. One in six – 17% – of Australian drivers have hit a kangaroo with their car. Others, like me, have been lucky enough to have some very near misses.
Including one on my first trip to Braeside, the house where Dr Aidan Lannon in Water and Fire lives.
A kangaroo came out of nowhere, bursting from the bush on one side of the road. It cleared the bonnet of the car and hightailed off into the bush on the other side.
“There goes Lucky,” Aidan said.
I struggled to understand. “The kangaroo's name is Lucky?”
Aidan laughed. “Any kangaroo I don't hit is called Lucky.” – Belinda in Water and Fire
Unlike Aidan, I didn't name the kangaroo that flew over my car, though she was probably just as lucky. Most kangaroos don't survive collisions with cars. Kamikaze kangaroos, indeed.
Water and Fire will be released in paperback on 16th November – only four days to go.