By ERWIN CHLANDA
As the third season of Kangaroo Dundee is about to hit TV screens world-wide, the family of stars has had a major addition: Three camels are being groomed to play lead roles in season four.
But far from being beasts of burden with tourists on their backs, they will be the stuff of yarns about the hero’s devotion to his animal mates.
What seems sure is that the story about the lanky, jovial bushman Chris “Brolga” Barns, who built a sanctuary for orphaned joeys, including several kilometres of tall fencing, with his own bare hands, is going to leave Blue Hills in the shade – and on a global scale.
The British program makers (BBC2) first took their home audience by storm, followed by the USA and Europe, about 100 countries all up, including Australia, where the second series has been airing over the past couple of months.
The kangaroo hospital nearing completion will be part of the unfolding story which, of course, is still under wraps. Up to 100 joeys will be treated and raised there.
The paddock accommodating the sanctuary in the southern part of the town will grow from 36 hectares to about 70, and will get a big viewing platform.
That Brolga’s partner, Tahnee Passmore-Barns (pictured with Barns above), is the general manager of the booming Centre Bush Bus is another fortuitous fact: Luxury coaches are now being added to the company’s fleet to take visitors, in groups deliberately limited to about 50, to the three-hour sunset tours of the sanctuary.
Ms Passmore-Barns also appears in the show.
The impact of the heart-tugging show is becoming the town’s prime tourism draw-card. Brolga says it has 275,000 Instagram followers – “heading for a million” – and is consistently the town’s number one attraction on Trip Advisor.
And today Chief Minister Adam Giles announced a $50,000 grant for the camel enclosure – a turn-around from the situation only three years ago when Tourism NT showed little interest in the venture.
Brolga – so called because of his long legs – recalls this without bitterness: The local tourism industry is on its way out of the slump, the NT government is doing its best to help, and of course, his growing TV fame will play quite a role as will the sanctuary which will become “the best wildlife attraction in Australia”.
Big camels join little 'roos to help Alice boom
By ERWIN CHLANDA