By ERWIN CHLANDA
Alice Springs’ own Chris “Brolga” Barns of Kangaroo Dundee fame is delighting an overseas TV audience of 15 million.
The first show, having taken Britain by storm, will soon be running in the USA, and the shooting of a six part sequel is about to start.
It’s free publicity for Central Australia upon which promoters, one might have thought, could build a dream campaign.
But it seems the massively funded yet chronically underachieving Tourism NT doesn’t want to know Brolga, a nickname given to him because of his long legs, now his chosen name.
He says CEO Tony Mayell and Commercial Manager Adam Coward came to see him six weeks ago “but I haven’t heard from them since.”
The Alice News has tried to get answers from Tourism NT for two days – no luck.
Says Brolga: “As I understood it, we agreed that this is massive and Tourism NT should have me as its poster boy.
“I was basically willing to do that. We were not talking abut costs, I was willing to do that because I love Central Australia and I want to promote it.
“The audience for Kangaroo Dundee this year will be about 15 million. It hasn’t gone out yet to America and Germany, France.
“We’ll do more shows now and these will go world-wide.
“I got 8000 emails in the last two months: ‘We are coming to meet you, Brolga, and see The Centre where Kangaroo Dundee was filmed,’ they are saying.”
So the one man promoter of The Alice, whose tourism industry is close to collapse, continues to live in his shed which doesn’t have electricity nor running water.
He is paid by the producers of the show when filming is in progress, but that’s not all year round.
All last year he kept the sanctuary closed for the filming to take place.
“I would have earned more keeping the sanctuary open to visitors.”
Between filming he is cleaning buses and doing night fill at a supermarket, with most of his earnings going to the care of his injured baby ‘roos.
About 1000 donors, mostly from the UK so far, have contributed $50,000 but this is in an account dedicated to a wildlife hospital which he will build on his 90 acre lot near the Alice airport, and he doesn’t touch that money for his own needs.
Brolga says $100,000 will be required. A commitment has been made for a 12×9 metre shed, starting with the roof. The walls will come later.
He won’t have an Xray machine but the hospital will be a sterile area for basic surgery.
At the moment Brolga has to pay for vet services if his charges require them: “Every time I have to sign a form accepting that it may cost me $1000,” he says.
“That’s more than I earn in a week.”
Brolga will make the hospital available to other wildlife carers.
“We need free vet care for wildlife. There is a lot of cruelty to animals in this region.”
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