In tropical Queensland, especially in the area around Mission Beach, it is possible to see one of the most unique and intriguing birds. They are big, flightless, and somewhat resemble a dinosaur. This is the cassowary, a protected species of bird with a bright blue neck and a red wattle.
It was my favorite Australian bird until I discovered the lyrebird >>
If you come to Mission Beach, which is a popular day trip from Cairns, there is a small chance you will see this bird, but usually it would be on the side of the road. Be careful when driving in this area as these birds have been known to jump out on the road and cause accidents. In fact, I saw one almost get hit when I was driving through the area last year. The roads are lined with signs warning drivers to keep an eye out specifically for the cassowary. However, if a bird is running up to its max of 31 miles per hour out of the forest, it would be extremely hard to catch until very late, especially given their dark body color.
Like emus, the cassowary can be just about as tall as a human, and even though they are seemingly shy, their giant talon claws (5 inches in length) can inflict injury when necessary. Therefore, it is not advisable to try to pet or feed a live cassowary.
The Big Cassowary statue has been build in Mission Beach for good reason. It stands 5 meters tall at the shopping complex near Wongaling Beach, and unlike a live cassowary, this one is safe to pet!
See more of Australia’s “big things” in this article discussing 9 others in detail.