On the road to Mission Beach in northeastern Australia, a lot of signs appeared indicating that cassowaries lived in the area. I really wanted to see one of these curious creatures but being so timid I knew it might be highly unlikely. Still, I kept my eyes peeled and waited eagerly in anticipation on the drive through the Queensland rainforest just in case I spotted one appearing out of the jungle. Further into the journey more signs popped up stating that there had been a recent sighting in the area, this made me even more excited! The cassowary is a flightless bird, although timid and rarely spotted they can be potentially dangerous. Found in northeastern Australia they can grow up to 1.8 metres in height, have brightly coloured heads with a casque on top and large clawed feet. The only one I saw was at the West Pennant Hills Koala Park in Sydney, I would have loved to have spotted one in the wild. Arriving at my campsite in Mission Beach for the night I explored the beautiful sweeping shoreline, paddled in the warm water and watched the sunset; always on the look out for this rarely seen bird. Retiring to the campsite for dinner and a beer I did a bit of research and discovered that cassowaries had been sighted on the beach at Etty Bay about 40 minutes drive from Mission Beach. So the next day I decided to get up early and move further up the coast. Etty Bay, reached by a small winding road is a beautiful secluded beach surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. With nothing but a small campsite and a café on the foreshore it proved to be a peaceful, idyllic spot for breakfast. I am glad I visited, but there was not a cassowary in sight! I did come across some information on the beach indicating what to do if you come face to face with a cassowary though. The main tip was to get something solid between you and this very large bird, such as a tree! The illustrations on the sign made me laugh; although I was not so sure after reading it how excited I still was about coming across this potentially dangerous prehistoric looking creature. It was time for me to move on to the next stop on my road trip, which was Cairns. Even though I didn’t spot a cassowary I have a lot of respect for this endangered bird; and don’t forget if you ever spot one yourself, find a tree!
For more information on cassowaries take a look at the Cassowary Recovery Team website. It has a lot of information on where to potentially see them, reporting a sighting and what to do if you come across an injured one.