At the top of the to-do list when you visit a country with interesting and unusual native animals is to spot them in their natural environment, writes Rae Roadley.
Australia boasts some doozies, animals with peculiar design features that call only the lucky country their home: kangaroos, wallabies, emu, koala bears and numerous lesser-known critters such as the wombat that recently starred on the programme Doctor, Doctor . Plus dingos, crocs and all those poisonous snakes.
Then there are immigrants running wild: Camels, donkeys, horses, even red foxes. In the Northern Territory, buffalo, cattle and goats are pretty much out of control on massive stations.
We saw plenty of livestock both alive and dead on the roadsides. The air pressure around a massive road train would probably be enough to kill. By the end of the month that it took us to drive from Darwin to Perth, my spotting record of live examples of the main players was grim.
We'd seen crocs of all sizes from a safe distance and had watched wallabies bounding into the bush in national parks near Darwin then camped near hordes of cute, live ones at Fitzroy Crossing.
We spotted two big red foxes dead on the roadside, wild horses in small herds, camels and some donkeys. No wombats, koala or wild camels. We also saw a string of camels wearing red saddles heading to the beach at Broome where they're ridden by tourists. They walk 4km to and fro daily.
Kangaroo proved tricky. It's possible some roadkill we concluded were wallabies may have been small roos. They come in various sizes and, by the end of our road trip, I'd seen only a smallish one grazing on a roadside.
The farmer and Mike had met one – probably the same one - on morning walks on Bullara Station near Shark Bay, which is famous for its sealife. I'd done the same walk, but no kanga for me. At Shark Bay we saw dingo warning signs, but no evidence of the dogs themselves.
In a national park campground, we read about Esmeralda, the green python who lived there with many offspring (not dangerous to humans, but keep clear), but didn't see her or her whanau. Unless the squirming snake being taken into the bush by a distant ranger was a green python.
One day we spotted an emu grazing with sheep. The danger times for vehicle vs beast incidents are dawn and dusk, but it was mid-morning when one of these big birds gave us the biggest fright of our adventure.
We'd just watched dolphins at oddly named Monkey Mia and were near the small town of Denham when an adult emu charged across the road a few metres in front of us. Even now I can still see its flouncing plumage. Scary but also a thrill. Only the farmer's quick reflexes saved it.
After returning the campervans, we set off in a hire car off for the wine country of Margaret River. En route all but me spotted kangaroos enclosed in a paddock with high fences. They weren't raiding pasture, but were being farmed themselves.
And so far this was the only way I'd seen kangaroo. Karen had taken the plunge at a supermarket and the farmer barbecued kangaroo with some trepidation.
The meat was dark with no fat – like venison. We feared it might be gamy and dry, but I have news for you: the most recognised cute animal in Australia tastes scrumptious. My second Skippy meal in a Fremantle café tasted equally yummy.
By then I was thinking it was a good thing I'd had no chance to gaze into the dark, liquid eyes of a roo and regret that its cousins had surrendered their lives for my dining pleasure.
But still. It would be good to see a big red.
Then on our last day heading north to Perth Airport, we spotted oodles of them grazing in fenced fields. Ambition achieved. Like the emu grazing with sheep, they were obviously doing a pasture raid having long ago worked out that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. One big bound and they're in.