One of the most enjoyable things about riding a pushbike is the fact that you and your vehicle are virtually soundless as you move along. This means that you can approach and pass close by all sorts of wildlife and they barely register your presence.
Another factor that contributes to the generally blasé attitude of many wild Australian animals is that they have evolved in an environment largely free of predators. A bicycle rider in this country probably has more opportunity to unexpectedly encounter wildlife than anywhere else in the world! I have come across many species, a few snakes (I move along pretty quickly then!), a 2m long goanna and numerous birds amongst other things.
In mid winter, it is dark when I ride home from work. My commute takes me through a semi rural environment which I know is inhabited by a small mob of two or three kangaroos. One moonless evening as I rode home, I was treated to a soft regular thumping sound off to my left. Sure enough, a quick glance revealed a large grey kangaroo, moving along parallel to me, a mere 2 metres to my left! Wow!
Kangaroos have a habit of pacing along with a vehicle and then suddenly cutting across in front. I was delighted to have such a close encounter with a big grey, but I have to confess, I had to suppress a giggle at the vision of ending up in tangled mess of kangaroo, bicycle and me! I slowed down and waited for it to make its move.
The kangaroo stayed with me for a about 30 metres and then as I had anticipated, cut across in front of me before vanishing into the dark. I did not see or hear the others on the mob, but they would no doubt have been about somewhere nearby.
How special was that?
(PS Apologies for using an image of a Grey Kangaroo from Tasmania, but this is the same species as the one I encountered, and, well, I did not expect to meet a kangaroo on the way home, so did not have a camera ready!)