Sausage sizzle showdown: Conjola’s fighting kangaroo

A relaxing Christmas getaway to tranquil Lake Conjola turned bloody when a heroic father battled a kangaroo over a sausage sizzle.

Matthew Chenhall from Elderslie was walking behind his two daughters Holly, 11, and Amelia, 9, along their rural property at Lake Conjola on Christmas Eve.

A hissing and growling kangaroo stopped the daughters’ in their tracks as the two-metre kangaroo stood tall and acted aggressively.

Mr Chenhall was worried by the size and peculiar behaviour of the kangaroo.

“My first thoughts was ‘this is a big, big kangaroo’,” he said.

“I had never seen one behave like that, standing up all tall and it definitely got my attention.”

I felt the nails go through my ear.

Matthew Chenhall

Nine-year-old Amelia threw her sausage sizzle in an attempt to lure the kangaroo away, but this only fueled the macho kangaroo’s hunger.

Mr Chenhall then threw himself between the hungry kangaroo and his girls, before the kangaroo got him in a headlock position, tore his ear and broke his ribs. 

“I felt the nails go through my ear,” he said.

“It was a very powerful hit and quite painful.”

A total of 12 stitches were required to repair the ripped ear.

A total of 12 stitches were required to repair the ripped ear.

Stuck in the headlock for up to 15 seconds, Mr Chenhall got his left arm free and landed a fist onto the boxing kangaroo’s chin.

“I managed to get away push the kids towards home and the kangaroo was still standing there, hissing.

“When we got back to the family home the kids were hysterical.”

His mother called an ambulance and he was taken to Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital, where a plastic surgeon treated his torn ear with 12 stitches.

Mr Chenhall returned to the Lake Conjola home at 4am on Christmas Day.

After visiting Lake Conjola and the South Coast for nearly 10 years, Mr Chenhall said he is still comfortable to walk through the rural property.

“I think it was just one of those freak occurrences, something had certainly agitated it before we got there,” he said.

Paramedics working on the hero of the moment, Matthew Chenhall.

Paramedics working on the hero of the moment, Matthew Chenhall.

WIRES chairperson of Mid-South Coast Sandy Collins warned people not feed wild animals.

“This is an extremely rare incident, with nothing of the sort reported to WIRES in the past number of years,” she said.

“We always recommend people do not feed wild animals as it encourages them to have contact with people and they may become reliant.”


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