Cliff gets a roo-d road awakening

pic lead - main pic of Cliff Sweeting and his car and a secondary pic of Cliff and his wife Gill

A FORMER Hartlepool man has had to hop to it and take anti-crash measures - to stop kangaroos from smashing into his car.

Forget the idea of roos being cute and cuddly, they’re really giants of the roads Down Under which can cause serious problems, says expat Cliff Sweeting.

And to protect himself as he travels to work, ex-town man Cliff has had to fit ultrasonic whistles on his car to scare them off.

Cliff and his wife Gill, who is also formerly from Hartlepool, live in the Australian town of Whyalla which is a town of 22,000 people.

He is currently in training as a corrections officer at Port Augusta Prison.

Cliff said: “It is an excellent job, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the challenge. Even though I have to drive 50 miles to work each day, it’s well worth it.

“The major problem on the drive, is avoiding kangaroos. They bound out of the bush and into the road without warning. They’re hard to avoid at 70mph.

“I have already collided with one, and escaped with only minor damage to the car.”

Cliff escaped uninjured but the kangaroo died instantly.

Cliff said: “I’ve had to fit ultrasonic whistles to my fenders, to scare them off the road.”

The problem is more than just a quirk of Australia’s roads, it can result in tragedy.

Cliff explained: “Kangaroos are not the cute, cuddly tourist icons that people imagine. “Some of the big males are 7ft-tall and weigh over 100kilos. If you hit one when it is sitting on the road, you have a chance.

“Major or minor panel damage will result, but you personally will survive.

“But if you hit a ‘roo in mid-bound, and this heavy animal comes crashing through your windscreen, it is not a good outcome. People have died in such incidents.”

Cliff and Gill first hit the Mail headlines in December 2010 when we told how the couple were set to marry in a miracle romance.

The pair had been childhood sweethearts until 1969 when, after the death of his mum, Cliff, then 22, was forced to travel 10,000 miles to Australia to help his dad cope with bringing up the rest of his siblings.

His last words to the then 18-year-old Gill, as they said their goodbyes at Hartlepool railway station, were “I love you and I always will.”

They never saw each other again until 40 years later when it emerged that Gill had also moved to Australia.

They eventually rekindled their relationship and married in Whyalla, Australia, in January last year, before re-affirming their vows in Hartlepool in June 2011.