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10 October, 2020

Weekend Getaway - Cassowaries: The birds that time forgot

The north of Australia is renowned for two of the world’s most pre-historic living creatures, crocodiles and cassowaries.

By Peter McCullagh

It would be fair to say that there are many residents, whilst familiar with both icons of the north; who have not actually seen neither a crocodile nor a cassowary in the wild. 

The Southern Cassowary can be found here in the lush rainforests in the regions surrounding Cairns. Standing two metres tall with a crowning casque on their head, the cassowary is classified as one of the most dangerous birds in the world. Here’s a few tips to bear in mind, when you confront your first cassowary. 

The cassowary is a large, wild and potentially a very dangerous animal. Keep your distance, show caution, resist the temptation to feed them and never approach their chicks. 

So where’s the best spots to find a cassowary in the wild. Not surprisingly three of the top four spots to see a cassowary happen to be in the Cassowary Coast. 

 Head south from Cairns, 100 kilometres and you will find Etty Bay. Located 15 kilometres south east from Innisfail, Etty Bay is a peaceful town with a beautiful soft white-sandy beach. 

The best time to spot the Southern Cassowary is early mornings or late afternoons, where they can be found strolling peacefully on the beach. 

The drive from the highway to Etty Bay can also be a time to spot a cassowary, so please exercise caution in your drive, slow down and be aware of these magnificent birds, they have zero road sense and you would not want to kill one on your expedition to spot an endangered Southern Cassowary. 

If you head further south on your quest to spot the elusive bird in the wild, you can take in the sights of Mission Beach The Djiru National Park in Mission Beach has the Licuala Fan Palm Walk. 

This easy 1.2 kilometre loop track is another great place to spot the elusive cassowary. You walk through lush rainforest, abounding with Instagram-able photo opportunities and the big plus is the opportunity to spot a cassowary in its rain-forest environment. 

The Licuala Fan Palm Walk is 15 minutes by car from Mission Beach and a little under 2 hours from Cairns. If you do head down to Mission Beach, head further south to South Mission. Virtually any of the major roads around South Mission will be great places to spot a cassowary. 

 The ideal viewing time is early morning or late afternoon. If you want to head north of Cairns, head to the Daintree where you can also see cassowaries in the wild. 

The Jindalba Boardwalk in the Daintree is a sensational place to explore the Daintree as well as a great spot to spot these elusive birds. The Daintree is approximately 3 and a half hours drive north of Cairns and is world renowned for its beauty and heritage.


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