I love birds. I do. I fancy the owl to be my favourite animal. But fatally aggressive, endangered birds larger than myself do not inspire a great confidence in my safety. This fear is how one day became known to my husband as “The Day Haylee Tried to Climb a Car.” To his great delight, he managed to film the entire incident.
Driving into South Mission Beach, about 140kms south of Cairns in tropical northern Australia, you are met with many ‘Beware of Cassowaries’ signs. I was on alert on the road because I had been forewarned.
However, on this fateful morning I was standing over a camp stove making coffee and the rain had finally caught up with us. We awoke under a sagging canopy full of water and thanks to good fortune rather than good planning, the tent on our rental car was canvas. We managed to stay completely dry.
The air was still very muggy despite the rainfall and under a blanket of humidity we drink our coffee. All was quiet and still.
Then, while packing away the breakfast dishes and waiting for the caffeine jolt to take effect, I turned around to find a fully-grown cassowary trying to eat the scraps from the bag in my hand!
It was yet another notch on the trip’s unexpected animal encounter tally board; I had already been bitten on the toe by a possum (yes, you read that correctly) and was saved from treading on a snake by a quick thinking husband who stopped me just in time.
There were many beautiful moments that made that particular Down Under journey truly rewarding. There were days when covering so many thousands of kilometres confined in a car with one other person seemed insane. It became very easy to start counting bad arguments as well as coastal towns as they all start to blur together.
While the cassowary encounter does not exactly feature highly on list of favourite travel moments, it is certainly way up there on my husband’s.