There are few things more Australian than the story that took place on New Year’s Eve in Iluka, New South Wales.
Lillian Bee Young, 17, a rookie lifeguard and aspiring professional surfer, was watching over the beach at Bundjalung National Park with another lifeguard when a kangaroo hopped onto the beach, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s North Coast outlet reported.
It wasn’t unusual to see kangaroos, generally the eastern grey variety, in the area, but this one kept hopping very close to the water’s edge.
All of a sudden, the kangaroo hopped over a rock outcropping and plunged into the sea.
“We get quite a few kangaroos around,” Young told North Coast. “I guess it just hopped out of the bushes and there were fishermen on the rocks … so it sort of wanted to jump back and steer clear of them and then just got wiped out by a set.
“It was just drifting out and didn’t want to come in [to the beach] because it was sort of scared.”
It was a first for Young, who’d never performed any rescue before, let alone a rescue of a kangaroo.
“My other workmate — Carissa — and I,” Young continued, “we were sitting on the tractor and she goes, ‘Oh my god, there’s a kangaroo jumping off the rocks!’ and we were just figuring out what we should do … because we’ve never had that happen before.”
There were many beachgoers that day, and videos of the rescue have since circulated. In the videos, the kangaroo is mostly able to keep its head above water in the rough surf but struggles to get to shore.
Young went out on her rescue board to help the animal, escorting it back to the beach but giving it a respectable distance.
“I was trying to figure out how, if I needed to, get it on the board … but also it’s a wild animal … even though you’re helping I wouldn’t want it to hurt me or make it more stressed out,” she said.
“It was quite a windy day, very choppy. I paddled behind it and sort of guided it into the beach.”
Commenters on North Coast’s sharing of the video on Facebook mentioned that kangaroos generally are very good swimmers, but it looked as if the kangaroo on New Year’s Eve was avoiding coming in to shore because so many people were standing around watching.
One person who said she was there said it looked as if the kangaroo was getting stuck in a rip tide, making the situation even more tense.
At some point Carissa shooed the onlookers away so that the kangaroo could get up on the beach and back on dry land.
Other commenters wrote to say it was a good thing that Young didn’t approach the animal, as kangaroos are notorious for drowning other animals in the sea if they feel threatened.
“It was quite special,” Young told North Coast. “There were people cheering and clapping … and then [the kangaroo] was just sitting there up in the bushes, almost, I thought, as a thank you … it was really serene.
“I didn’t think that was gonna ever be my first rescue … a kangaroo at my local, but it’s pretty special!”
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