The Red Kangaroo in Central Australia


Paperback - July 2016 - AU $39.95

eBook - July 2016 - eRetailers Google Books Kobo

A unique insight into one of Australia’s most iconic land mammals.

The red kangaroo is at the heart of Australia's ecological identity. It is Australia's largest terrestrial land mammal, the largest extant marsupial, and the only kangaroo truly restricted to Australia's arid interior. Almost nothing was known about the ecology of the red kangaroo when Alan Newsome began to study it in 1957. He discovered how droughts affect reproduction, why red kangaroos favour different habitats during droughts from those after rains, and that unprecedented explosions in red kangaroo numbers were caused by changes to the landscape wrought by graziers. Most importantly, he realised the possibilities of enriching western science with Indigenous knowledge, a feat recognised today as one of the greatest achievements of his career. + Full description

First drafted in 1975 and now revised and prepared for publication by his son, The Red Kangaroo in Central Australia captures Alan's thoughts as a young ecologist working in Central Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. It will inspire a new generation of scientists to explore Australia's vast interior and study the extraordinary adaptations of its endemic mammals. It will also appeal to readers of other classics of Australian natural history, such as Francis Ratcliffe's Flying Fox and Drifting Sand and Harry Frith's The Mallee Fowl, The Bird that Builds an Incubator.

Recipient of a 2017 Whitley Awards Certificate of Commendation for Pioneering Zoology

- Short description


"Alan Newsome was one of Australia’s most distinguished ecologists. This book, written with his son Thomas, is Alan’s original and definitive account of the iconic red kangaroo, but it is equally an enthralling story of personal discovery, exploration, and the joys and challenges of field research in Central Australia. It encapsulates the work of a true pioneer, and deserves to be very widely read."
Professor Chris Dickman, University of Sydney

"I am personally delighted that this book has been published, and in the broader world it fully deserves an honoured place in the Australian zoological literature."
Ian Fraser, Natural History Book Reviews, #22, July 2016

"Alan's prose exudes a flair and love of his subject rarely seen in modern scientific writing. It's refreshing to come across a book not only steeped with data, but also language that reflects the sheer amount of knowledge of the landscape the author was working in. Consequently, The Red Kangaroo makes for an incredible read, regardless of the reader's background, whilst also standing out as an important contribution to Australian natural history and science."
Billy Geary, Wild Melbourne (blog), 4/10/2016

"The Red Kangaroo in Central Australia is an engaging and informative book that draws the reader into the world of a curious ecologist. Seeking answers to questions that had practical applications at the time, they hold even greater layers of significance now."
Nancy Cushing, Historical Records of Australian Science, 27(2), 2016, pp. 230-231

"This gem of a book about Australia’s iconic symbol, the red kangaroo... will serve as an inspiration to younger field-oriented mammalian ecologists and equally admired by more seasoned ones... Thomas Newsome has masterfully polished his father’s incomplete manuscript by adding appropriate photographs from Alan’s slide collection, maps scaled to geographic descriptions, and quantitative tables that document results and conclusions... Together, the authors provide an informative and provocative read about a truly remarkable mammal."
Dick Macmillen, Journal of Mammalogy 98(3), April 2017, pp. 906-907


Paperback | July 2016 | $ 39.95
ISBN: 9781486301553 | 176 pages | 200 x 130 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Colour plates, Illustrations, Photographs

ePDF | July 2016
ISBN: 9781486301560
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • Provides an in-depth look at one of Australia’s most iconic land mammals and the wonder of red kangaroo biology
  • Details working life in Central Australia during the 1950s and 1960s along with the unique link that Alan established with Australia’s Indigenous Aranda people
  • A rare insight into the experience of scientific discovery, especially in the unforgiving environment of Central Australia



1. Introduction
2. Landforms, climate and vegetation
3. Distribution and abundance
4. Reproduction
5. Food and water
6. Sociology
7. Ecomythology

Colour plates

View the full table of contents.


Alan Newsome (1935–2007) was a pioneering ecologist. He was the first to conduct extensive studies on the red kangaroo in Central Australia and he became internationally celebrated for his research on other mammals in Australia and abroad. This book captures Alan’s thoughts as an early career scientist tackling difficult questions in a harsh environment.

Thomas Newsome is Alan’s son. A Fulbright Scholar in 2013, his research includes studies on the ecological role of top-order predators. His interests in the red kangaroo stem from living in Central Australia between 2005 and 2011, and the fact that the red kangaroo is a key prey item for Australia’s top-order predator, the dingo.