"Okay, these must be some kind of joke on tourists." Well, after nearly two weeks of looking for these damn big birds, I was feeling a bit bamboozled here in Australia. Was this their version of a Snipe? Big Foot? Yeti? Loch Ness Monster?
The signs were seemingly everywhere around the jungles. They were up North of Cannes around Cape Tribulation. They were South of Cannes around Mission Beach.
Yeah, this wasn't THE big bird; that yellow one from Sesame Street. No, we wanted to see an actual Cassowary in the wild. If you have never heard of them, well, welcome to the club. I hadn't either until we came up to the Queensland territory in Australia. These birds weren't your typical Kangaroo or Kuala. No, these were large Ostrich like birds with heads like some prehistoric rooster or lizard.
Now Australia has its share of strange sports:
And even strange notions in the minds of tourists that want to go there:
And Cassowaries fit right into that strangeness. But they were also were reputed to be quite vicious. There were stories floating around about hikers terrorized by one not far away. Okay, sure, these stories always seemed to emerge when alcohol was involved but if you've ever tasted the local water in that area of Australia, you'll know why everyone drinks too much.
We spent days uncounted up North of Cannes in the Cape Tribulation area. We saw a great many amazing areas and things but in terms of local creatures, nothing but jungle chickens (more on those in a later post), lizards, snakes and oversized cockroaches.
Cassowaries are ancient birds and their numbers are very small. Unfortunately, a lot of them have been killed from motorists. No, not some movie "Death Race with Cassowaries" notion where motorists get points for kills. It's a bit like hitting deer in America or Europe. Well, not quite as common as deer. Kangaroos in Australia, yes, they are pretty common and get hit a lot but Cassowaries are not and still they get hit a lot.
Our last destination in the area was a bit South of Cannes in the area of Mission Beach. It was the one destination I got tricked while making reservations ahead of time via the internet. What looked like a beautiful spa like natural setting turned out to be more of a trailer park screaming-kids disaster so we didn't stay as long as was planned. That too merits a separate post. We did manage to see a lot of beauty along the way.
Suffice it to say that this was our last opportunity to see one of these mythical creatures. Just as we'd sort of given up, right there next to the road we came upon a father and two baby Cassowaries. What incredible luck! Yes, these are birds you wouldn't want to piss off out in the jungle!
It's interesting that the Dad does all of the caregiving for the babies. I wonder if male Cassowaries get the child support in cases of divorce? Nevermind...I digressed. We shot some splendid video and a bunch of photos and left them alone, happy in the ability to have been fortunate to witness something you literally have to go to Australia to see. For nowhere else on Earth can you witness a Cassowary in its habitat.