At Baradine in north-west NSW near the Pilliga scrub they have a roster to make sure the airport tarmac is kept clear of kangaroos so emergency and care flights can land safely.
The Baradine Airport Committee has been shooing roos off the town’s tarmac for years, but in the last few months with the drought sinking in, roos are moving en masse in search of water and food, and the committee has had its work cut out to clear the runway.
In May, one emergency flight had to be turned around because there were so many roos inside the airport’s fenced compound. The roos still manage to get in through holes in the fence.
Committee chairman John Farrell said it was “a lot harder” to get the roos off the tarmac. “I went out there the other night to check on the lighting and I saw 16 roos. I rounded them up and out of the airport. When I came back an hour later there were 21 roos there.”
The committee divvies up the airport roster into two people on for a three-month period, who are on call 24/7 to make sure planes can land in safety. The committee has radio contact with incoming planes. Baradine gets about two medical flights a month, mostly from the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
In May, an RFDS flight was told to go around before landing because there so many roos to round up.”We had to send him round again so he was able to land,” Mr Farrell said.
“We have a good fence but the roos still manage to get through. They are a lot harder to get off the tarmac than previous years.
“Now the roos have come right into town and we often see them in front yards – we’ve hardly seen that before. Mostly they are looking for water. Water has become the big issue out here and dams are very low. I have been in Baradine 51 years and have been working in the agricultural sector most of that time and I’ve never seen it this bad. Water is the major concern for us now.”