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Something that stunned me earlier this year when we were camping in the Chilean Andes, was the lack of animals running around the campsite. As a local Australian, I am accustomed to fighting of wild animals from our BBQ dinner and listening to footsteps around the tent at night. After sensing that lack of wildlife in Chile, I now pay even more attention when camping here in Australia, to the wildlife around me and appreciate this special country even more.

Currently, we are camping our way around Queensland and we’re making a special effort to document the places where we saw the most amount of wildlife so that we can share them with you! Today though, I want to tell you all about where to find my personal favourite bird, the cassowary.

This prehistoric looking creature is the most dangerous bird in the world. No joke. When you see this guy you will understand why. They can grow to up to 2 meters tall and have huge feet for kicking. Cassowaries have a large ‘horn’ on their heads, however it is not hard and certainly not used for fighting or attacking. It is used for communicating. Their ‘horn’ acts as an ear that picks up the sound vibrations from other cassowaries and animals. There are many weird and wonderful things about Australia, and to me, the cassowary is one of them.

All this is very interesting, but I know that you mainly care about where you see wild cassowaries. So here goes. Cassowaries are very rare with only just over 1,000 left in the wild in Australia. They reside in the rainforest in Far North Queensland, along the coast from Mission Beach to Cape Tribulation.

We spent days and days Cassowary hunting in Mission Beach as we had been told that it is THE place to see wild cassowaries. Locals told up that these flightless birds wander through their backyards daily and made it sounds like you cannot walk down the street without tripping over them. People suggested places to us were ‘you are bound to see one’ and still after days of searching, came up empty. You may have better luck than us so I’ll share the local’s suggestions with you.


Licuala Rainforest Circuit Walk.
From Mission Beach, head towards Tully (you will need to drive or ride a bike as it’s a fair distance), then take the Lucinda Circuit Walk turnoff and continue down the dirt road for 1km. You will come to a carpark and picnic area where the Rainforest Walk starts. We heard many, many stories of wild cassowary sightings along this walk, and you can see why, the terrain is perfect for them! (infact the image on this article ‘where to see cassowaries in Australia‘ is taken at the start of this trail) We saw cassowary droppings, but sadly not the actual bird. Never the less, it was still a walk worth doing.

Lacey Creek.

We were told you are ‘guaranteed’ to see a wild cassowary on this walk if you get thee before 8.30am. This was the day after we walked the trail at about 10am. Again, the trail is worth walking just for the wilderness and views alone. However if you’re seeking a cassowary sighting, be sure to get there bright and early. To get to the Lacey Creek walking track, head out of Mission Beach towards El Arish (again, you will need to drive or ride a bike) and you will see the parking lot, well marked, on the right hand side of the road. For more info on both track, head to the Djiru National Park website.

Around the tip at Mission Beach. No joke, three locals told us that they regularly see a male and his chicks around the tip. We made three trips to he tip at different times of the day and saw no cassowaries.


Our last hope for a wild cassowary sighting was Etty Bay, which we planned to visit on the day we drove out of Mission Beach. Only about 45 minutes north of Misison Beach, Etty Bay is a small town with Etty Bay Beach home to only a caravan park and general store. It was here that we saw cassowaries! Not just one either, but 7. We pulled into town and within 30 minutes saw a male bird leading his 4 chicks from the beach across the road and into the rainforest. We were giddy and as we walked back down the hill towards the general store a female cassowary literally popped out of the rainforest behind us and wandered down onto the beach within meters of where we were standing. The female cassowary spent about half an hour walking the beach and caravan park looking for food, and we spent that half an hour following her (at a respectable distance) and taking photos. Very pleased with ourselves we drove out of Etty Bay soon after only to spot one teenage cassowary in the bushes as we drove out of town.

If you want to see wild cassowaries, go to Etty Bay!

cassowary etty bay3

If you’re further north however, don’t despair. Only about one hour north of Cairns is Mossman and the stunning Mossman Gorge, also home to many wild cassowaries. If you take the time to have a chat with the locals in the visitor’s centre, they can let you know where recent sightings have been and where you’re best chances are.

We’ve also heard first-hand stories of sightings in Port Douglas residential streets (45 minute north of Cairns) and in cabins at Cape Tribulation. Having just returned from a camping trip in Cape Tribulation, I can report that we did not see any personally, but the conditions are certainly perfect for a cassowary sighting.

These birds are rare, but do come close to humans for an easy meal from time to time, so they’re not impossible to photograph. I hope that everyone who wishes to gets to see wild cassowaries, as they may not be around for too much longer. They are extremely endangered and only live in small part of Australia that is constantly under threat from development and cyclones. But do remember that they are very dangerous animals. Never get too close and don’t even think about feeding them.

Monique Thorpe /

Hi travellers! I am Monique. My partner and I sold all of our belongings, purchased a car and tent and set out to travel Australia. We are documenting our travels, our money saving tips and campsite reviews on our travel blog, and hope that these articles will make your life and travels a little happier, easier and cheaper!

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