Most in Hedland will know Lisa Rose as the ‘Roo Lady’ because when she’s not bottle-feeding tiny joeys, she’s rescuing them off the side of the road or releasing them back into the wild.
It all started 15 years ago, just after Lisa and her husband moved to Hedland, and a friend brought them a tiny joey weighing 115 grams.
She called him Jimmy, and after learning how to care for him and feeding him around the clock, he was eventually well enough to be released back into the wild. The following week, she had ten in her care, and since then, she has rehabilitated and released more than 760 kangaroos back into their natural habitat.
Her passion for rehabilitating wildlife, specifically joeys, led her to start Lisa’s Kangaroo Retreat, a not-for-profit organisation based on her property in South Hedland. Primarily self-funded, Lisa relies on occasional community grants and tourist visits to keep it afloat.
Lisa also works full-time at her cleaning business, so the organisation now takes on backpackers as volunteers or, as Lisa calls them, Joey Au Pairs. In return for volunteering, they get food and accommodation, and the three months count towards their regional work for visa requirements.
It’s a huge job looking after joeys around the clock, but Lisa says she wouldn’t change a thing.
“They’re just incredible creatures,” she said.
“They are so beautiful and loving, and they’re worth it – they are well and truly worth it.”
Lisa uses her sanctuary to educate the broader community about conservation – how to check a kangaroo’s pouch on the side of the road to see if there is a joey in it and how to remove it and bring it to her safely for rehabilitation.
“From Karratha all the way to Broome, you rarely see roos; they have often been culled.
“We need them for the environment, and we also need them for Indigenous food and culture.”
Patrycja Rosinska told Hedland Heroes that Lisa is a tireless volunteer using wildlife conservation to connect with the community.
“For many people and families, Lisa’s Kangaroo Retreat is a place where they can make new friends, be part of something, and contribute to the community,” she said.
“The Retreat is an important tourist attraction in the Pilbara, and Lisa herself is a very caring and welcoming person.
“The Retreat was and still is my happy place; volunteering there was one of the best and most rewarding experiences.”
Lisa is a passionate member of the Hedland community. She hopes to retire here one day and pass on the Retreat to someone just as committed and dedicated to rehabilitating local wildlife.