I have always thought fondly of the kangaroo.

That great Aussie thing that completely bewildered the first Europeans to set foot on the great southern land back in whatever year it was they managed to do that.

What would they have made of the kangaroo?

Probably a stew but we won't go there.


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The first bloke to start jotting down notes about this strange and ever so slightly daunting creature was Joseph Banks, who was sailing about the Pacific in the company of Captain James Cook - who had to beach the Endeavour for about six weeks to carry out repairs after scuffing the Great Barrier Reef.

Banks noted that the local aborigine folk called these creatures gangurrus, and in an entry he made to his diary he wrote it as 'kangaru'.

Of course the academics note this beast as a marsupial from the family of animals which come under the banner of macropods ... macropod meaning 'large foot'.

Which makes sense.

While over at Phillip Island in Victoria a couple of years back we went to a reserve where koalas sat sleepily up the trees and kangaroos bounced about looking for the next visitor to their enclosure who was holding a paper bag.

A paper bag with grain feed stuff in it which they adored.

Ooh they ain't 'alf big.

When they approach you hear those great feet booming into the ground but they always brake well and then lick and suck away at the handful of tucker you offer them.

I think we were in the company of red kangas although they also come in eastern grey and western grey models.

They are my friend now, because one thing I do not embrace, nor find in the slightest bit appealing, is the concept of self-drive cars.

It is very obvious the scientific and automotive communities are determined to produce these autonomous vehicles where you will be a passenger (prisoner) and it will do the starting, steering and stopping as it sees fit.

It will be programmed you see, and will be in communication with other autonomous vehicles carrying terrified occupants to determine where they are and where they should be.

Basically, you will have to trust their computerised senses.

And trust their development.

So then, after the relatively simple (in technical terms) computer at home started to freeze the other night how's that going to pan out?

So anyway.

One inspired manufacturer was doing some testing the other day and part of that testing involved driving in Australia.

And something happened which none of the boffins saw coming, or was prepared for.

A kangaroo crossed the path of one of the test vehicles and the computer aboard froze.

It failed to get an accurate fix on the thing ahead because one second it was on the surface and the next it was well into the air.

Then back on the surface then back in the air again.

All the billion-dollar self-drive technology in the world was not prepared for ... a gangarru.

I thought that was marvellous and raised a glass of VB (of course) to the devotion of the kangaroo in working to keep driverless cars in movies only.

I also take some solace in what we see today in this age of parking sensors, reversing cameras and automatic remote everything.

We see vintage cars.

Unfussed, unencumbered with technology and engines that sound like...engines.

So if the day ever arrives that a scientist can defeat the antics of a kangaroo I shall search the sales sites and get myself a 1990 Mitsubishi Lancer.

The one with the steering wheel.

While on this automotive rant, I have to point out there is the equal determination to phase out internal combustion engines and replace them with electric power plants.

All to do with keeping the skies free from burned gasoline particles.

But you still have to produce electricity, so I suppose coal-fired stations will help in that regard.

Although they'll pump out smoke won't they?

Naa, just fire them up at night...nobody'll notice.

If the electric autos do take over the showrooms then I hope the technical crews there at Volvo and Audi and wherever all remember to put decent (loud) horns in the things because you can't hear them coming.

There is a bright side to all this of course.

Motorcycle sales will go through the roof because they can not drive themselves and need a pilot.

Although out there on the great Aussie highway and "one on one" I think the errant red kangaroo may come out the winner.

Ahh, there's always something ...