Kangaroo emblems and popular culture
Kangaroo emblems and popular culture deals with how the kangaroo has become a recognisable symbol of Australia, both within Australia itself, and internationally. It also deals with the various uses which have been made of the image and name of the kangaroo.
European first encounters
The kangaroo was considered a unique oddity when Captain Cook's HMB Endeavour arrived back in England in 1771 with a specimen on board. Over time it has come to symbolise Australia and Australian values.
Joseph Banks, the naturalist on the Endeavour voyage, commissioned George Stubbs to paint a portrait of the kangaroo specimen. When the official account of the voyage was published in 1773, it was illustrated with an engraving of Stubbs' kangaroo. From that time on, the kangaroo quickly came to symbolise the Australian continent, appearing in exhibitions, collections, art and printed works across Europe.
It took a long time for the kangaroo to achieve official recognition in Australia. Despite being a "declared noxious animal" because of its reputation for damaging crops and fences and competing with domestic animals for resources, the kangaroo finally achieved official recognition with its inclusion on Australia's coat of arms in 1908. The kangaroo is now popularly regarded as Australia’s unofficial animal emblem.
The kangaroo has appeared on coins and emblems, been used in logos, architectural decoration, the decorative arts and public art, been a mascot and used in the naming of sports teams. Kangaroos also appear in books, television series, films, cartoons, anime, games and songs.
Kangaroo emblems and logos
The kangaroo and emu are bearers on the Australian Coat of Arms. It has been claimed these animals were chosen to signify a country moving 'forward' because of a common belief that neither can move backward.
Two red kangaroos serve as bearers to the Coat of Arms of Western Australia.
Australia's national airline, Qantas, uses a bounding kangaroo for its logo. The kangaroo has always been part of the Qantas logo, and the airline has previously been known informally as "The Flying Kangaroo".
Warships of the Royal Australian Navy have red kangaroo symbols (based on the kangaroo on the reverse of the Australian penny) fixed to either side of their superstructure or funnel. This originated during the Korean War: as the destroyer HMAS Anzac was repeatedly mistaken for a British warship, her executive officer had a brass 'weathervane' in the shape of a kangaroo made and mounted to the ship's mainmast.
The red kangaroo is the animal emblem of the Northern Territory.
The kangaroo is the official emblem of Northern Territory Police.
British clothing and headwear company Kangol, known for its berets, features a kangaroo in its logo.
Kangaroos and coins
The kangaroo has been featured on coins on the pre-decimal Australian pound and decimal coins of the Australian dollar. The kangaroo appears on the pre-decimal penny and half-penny coins. Five kangaroos are featured on the one dollar coin.
Kangaroo mascots in Australia
The Boxing kangaroo – mascot for the Australia II team in the 1983 America's Cup. This rendition of the kangaroo has become a sporting icon, known informally as the green and gold "Sporting Kangaroo", and is highly popular with cricket crowds and international sporting events which feature Australian participation.
Matilda, the mascot at the 1982 Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, was represented by both a cartoon kangaroo and a 13-metre high (42 feet 8 inches) mechanical kangaroo (which winked at the spectators during the opening and closing ceremonies). The 'medal', which was worn by both the cartoon and mechanical versions of Matilda, features the 1982 Commonwealth Games logo — a stylised representation of a kangaroo bounding (in "flight") – similar to the pose of the kangaroo featured on the pre-decimal half-penny coin.
The first uses of Kangaroo ornaments as architectural expression appeared during the Victorian era. This was at first limited to the use of the coat of arms on buildings; however, kangaroos soon became used as decorative motifs on their own in some commercial buildings, particularly in Melbourne.
It was the Federation architecture, however, which brought native ornamentation into the mainstream, so that kangaroos began to be mass-produced as ornamentation on domestic houses in the large cities, as part of an Australiana movement and effort to create a uniquely Australian style. Examples of this decoration include the ornamental terracotta tile capping on residential roofs. Reproduction products using Kangaroos are still used today.
Public art and sculpture
Kangaroo motifs have been used as a form of public art.
Notable examples include:
Eastern grey kangaroo sculpture in the City Botanic Gardens
Kangaroo ornaments on a Victorian lamp post at the Royal Exhibition Building
Petrie Tableaux sculpture in front of Brisbane City Hall
Eastern Grey kangaroo sculpture in the City Botanic Gardens
Kangaroo and joey sculpture at Queens Park in Ipswich, Queensland
Decorative arts and design
An early depiction of a kangaroo on an item of decorative art is the Macintosh & Degraves Token Shilling 1823. Another early example is the Garret salver. This item of Tasmanian colonial silver incorporates a kangaroo, an emu and wattle branches in its design.
The kangaroo has continued to be incorporated into decorative designs by craftspeople and designers in Australia and elsewhere in the world. The Terence Lane kangaroo collection at the National Museum of Australia consists of more than 150 objects and ephemera in a wide range of styles produced over a period of 150 years. The collection ranges from a one-metre-high Doulton ceramic kangaroo umbrella stand to small items of jewellery.
Television and films
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, star of the 1960s Australian children's television series.
Wake in Fright is a 1971 movie which includes a controversial kangaroo hunting scene containing graphic footage of kangaroos actually being shot. In a more comical vein, the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee features a scene in which the title character frightens away kangaroo hunters by making them think that a kangaroo is shooting back at them.
Kangaroo Jack is the title character of an American film of the same name.
A giant kangaroo is featured in the movie Welcome to Woop Woop.
Kangaroos are also mentioned in the Peter Allen song "Tenterfield Saddler".
Kangaroos are also mentioned in Holden jingle "Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars".
Kangaroos are also mentioned in the songs "Christmas Where The Gum Trees Grow", "Christmas in the Scrub" and "The Five Days of Christmas".
There is a "Sour Kangaroo" in the Dr. Seuss tale Horton Hears A Who!.
Kidding Kangaroo in the Sweet Pickles book series by Ruth Lerner Perle, Jacquelyn Reinach and Richard Hefter.
One of the several intelligent races described in the fantasy novel Shadowkeep, written by Alan Dean Foster, are high-bounding, fun-loving marsupials, known as "roos" and obviously meant to be intelligent kangaroos.
In several Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons, Sylvester the Cat is beaten up by Hippety Hopper the baby kangaroo, who always accomplishes this feat after escaping from the captivity of humans who have attempted to take him to a zoo in assorted American cities and whom Sylvester believes to be a giant mouse.
In the British punk style comic strips Tank Girl, the protagonist's boyfriend is Booga, the mutant anthro-kangaroo. There are some other minor kangaroo characters. In the U.S. movie Tank Girl, slightly based on the comic strips, the protagonist is assisted by Rippers - mutant kangaroo genetically engineered supersoldiers (and Booga is among them, of course).
Dot and the Kangaroo was a cartoon juxtaposed on a film of the Australian bush.
In The Simpsons episode "Bart vs. Australia", Homer and Bart try to escape from a crowd in the pouches of two kangaroos, which they ultimately cannot because of the kangaroos' pouches being filled with mucus.
In the Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil episode "Bwar and Peace", Brad talks about his Australian self, who afterward was punched, and the kangaroo appears before and during his wedding with the girl he is with. Kick also interacted with the kangaroo.
In the fifth season of The Flintstones, the Rubbles adopt Hoppy, a pet hoparoo (a Stone Age version of a kangaroo) from Down Under, for Bamm-Bamm.
Dunkaroos are a snack in the U.S. which used to feature a talking kangaroo in commercials and on product containers.
Video games and other games
Kao the Kangaroo and its sequels are a Polish video game series involving an yellow/orange kangaroo in a boxing uniform as its protagonist.
Sheila, a female kangaroo of the video game series Spyro the Dragon.
The Animal Crossing series features kangaroos as possible neighbours.
There are at least three homonymous fairy chess pieces called kangaroo.
Austin of The Backyardigans is a young kangaroo.
In Warriors of Virtue, the five main heroes are kangaroos.
In the Pokémon franchise, Kangaskhan is a Normal type based on a kangaroo with reptilian features. Breloom, a Grass and Fighting type, is also partly based on a kangaroo with mushroom and boxing features.
Chimera Punch, a kangaroolike monster in Tokyo Mew Mew.
Kangaroos and sports teams
The kangaroo features prominently in sport. Australian sports teams with nicknames derived from the kangaroo (and wallaby) include the following:
Australian national teams
The Australian national rugby league team is nicknamed the Kangaroos.
The Australia national rugby union team is nicknamed the Wallabies.
The Australia national association football team (men's) is nicknamed the Socceroos.
The Australia national under-20 football team is nicknamed the Young Socceroos
The Australia national under-17 football team is the Joeys
The Australian Women's field hockey team is nicknamed the Hockeyroos.
The Australian national ice hockey team is nicknamed the Mighty Roos.
The Australian men's national basketball team is nicknamed the Boomers.
Australian domestic teams
Stomper is the mascot for the professional wrestling promotion Impact Wrestling.
Weatherford, Texas High School's mascot is the Kangaroos
The Samoa national Australian rules football team is nicknamed the Kangaroos.
The kangaroo has inspired a number of place names in Australia. They include:
- Kangaroo Point
- Kangaroo Point - (Brooklyn)
- Kangaroo River - (Clarence Valley)
- Kangaroo River - (Shoalhaven)
- Kangaroo Valley
- Harper, Melissa and White, Richard (eds) (2010). Symbols of Australia, p. 28-29, UNSW Press, Sydney: National Museum of Australia Press, Canberra. ISBN 978-1-921410-50-5
- Symbols of Australia: Kangaroo, National Museum of Australia
- Harper, Melissa and White, Richard (eds) (2010). Symbols of Australia, p. 24. UNSW Press, Sydney: National Museum of Australia Press, Canberra. ISBN 978-1-921410-50-5
- Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: About Australia – National Icons Archived 19 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Harper, Melissa and White, Richard (eds) (2010). Symbols of Australia, p. 25. UNSW Press, Sydney: National Museum of Australia Press, Canberra. ISBN 978-1-921410-50-5
- Qantas: The Kangaroo Symbol
- Tourism Australia: Using the Brandmark
- Australian Made | Australian Grown
- Cassells, Vic (2000). The Destroyers: their battles and their badges. East Roseville, NSW: Simon & Schuster. pp. 11–12. ISBN 0-7318-0893-2. OCLC 46829686.
- "1982 Commonwealth Games Mascot," Australian Commonwealth Games Association
- Kangaroo soft toy mascot: Red Cross Hut, Rouelles, Australian War Memorial
- Photograph: Australian nurse with a kangaroo mascot, Harefield, England, Australian War Memorial
- Macintosh & Degraves Token Shilling 1823, Museum Victoria
- Garrett salver, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
- Terence Lane kangaroo collection, National Museum of Australia
- "Wake in Fright - BBFC Insight". British Board of Film Classification. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- Croft, David B. (1991). Australian People and Animals in Today's Dreamtime: The Role of Comparative Psychology in the Management of Natural Resources. New York: Praeger. p. 32. ISBN 0-275-93908-1.
In Australia's latest version of the bush hero, Mick "Crocodile" Dundee, we find an explicitly totemic being who is a poacher turned conservationist as he chases away a group of kangaroo shooters at the behest of his American girlfriend.