They also sport a hollow crest on top of their head, which may have some roots back to prehistoric dinosaurs. Junchang Lü, an author from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, pointed out in a study of physical similarities between dinosaur species and cassowaries found that the crest was a multi-purpose tool for protection, and as a form of communication and expression of reproductive fitness.
The Dreaming Trail, El Arish Mission Beach Road
This path encounters a few streams while meandering in the lush rainforest.
Mitre 10, Corner of Dewer Street
Lime green building - known for cassowary crossings
The South Mission Beach Transfer Station
The only reason a backpacker would go to the local dump.
Beachcomber Coconut Holiday Park
Campers have caught the birds on video strolling the beach during the early morning
Nice beach for swimming, regardless if you spot a cassowary or not.
Here's a copy of local Mission Beach artist Liz Gallie's tips for cassowary safety:
- Slow down. The biggest threat to cassowaries is cars, so please heed the slow down town mentality and enjoy the surroundings.
- If you spot a cassowary while driving, don’t stop abruptly or you too could become a statistic.
- Early morning is the best time to see a cassowary. Grab a coffee, some mosquito repellent, a chair, find a place of big nature or a walking track and wait quietly.
- Find a quiet spot near a water source – cassowaries love to access water.
- Don’t look for the red or blue of the neck; the bright colours disappear in the rainforest. Scan the bush for the black mass or listen for the sound of twigs snapping as these heavy birds trek through the forest.
- Don’t feed them. It’s not only illegal, you will build an expectation of food (and maybe a karate kick). Worse, human food can cause cassowaries to die.
- Never approach chicks – no matter how cute they are – they have angry-bird papas.
- Visit during the mating season in June or through to December when the small stripey chicks hang with their dads.
- Check out the Mission Beach Cassowaries Facebook page where the locals share their latest sightings.