We we got close to Mission beach the landscape changed into dense forest and along the roads the speed limits dropped and signposts warning of the cassowary became ever increasing. Mission Beach is prime cassowary territory for this endangered large, flightless bird, and we were all scouting the roads and ditches for potential danger. Major threats to the cassowary include severe reduction and fragmentation of it’s habitat, cars and dog attacks. We were not going to be one the contributors, so we drove very slow, to the annoyance of the cars behind us (tough). On arrival to our camping sight in Mission Beach we set up the tent for the last time, had a look at the local beaches, took a final group photo with the tent and car, and then went for a “final supper of the roadtrip” meal in town before bed!
The next day day we packed up the tent and all our equipment for the last time and headed on our final stretch of road towards Cairns. Before we left, whilst I was making a little breakfast, I was shocked to see the magnificent bird that is so rare and endangered standing metres away from me eating fallen fruit from a tree on the caravan sight. I didn’t even notice this bird until a man walked past and pointed it out. I ran back after taking a good look to get the others! We returned to the same spot and saw the bird had moved around the caravans and was having a look at some campers making breakfast. When it realized no scraps were to be had that day it continued along the edge of the caravan sight before disappearing into the shrub. I was so close to getting a REALLY good photo of this 1.5-2 metre bird, but when I pressed the shutter button the timer (still on from the day before) came on and I nearly kicked myself. I quickly turned off and on the camera again to stop the timer, changed the settings and managed to just about capture ONE shot of it before it walked into the forest. Evidence none the less, and such a wonderful experience! I hadn’t expected to be so lucky to see a cassowary on our only day in Mission Beach, considering how long it had taken us to see a wild koala on our roadtrip (which is relatively more common to the cassowary, I think). Did you know this flightless bird lays green eggs, and the chicks are brown and stripy?
2nd photo not mine, but I just wanted to show you how spectacular the bird looks! Copyright: Free content licence by Pa
After such an exciting encounter we set off towards Cairns, stopping on route to clean the car that was embarrassingly dirty, sandy and grubby, both inside and out. We took it through the car wash and then hoovered it out to satisfying standards so to not risk any extra charges for cleaning by the rental company. We arrived in Cairns and took a final look at the mileage, unloaded the car and gave back the keys. It felt slightly symbolic, but I think only us four could sense that. According to the milage we had since we first picked up the car in Sydney, travelled 5006 km. I still don’t understand how we did that, considering if you ask Google-maps how far the journey is it informs you that it’s around 3300 km. Of course, Google-maps isn’t including our car trips to shops and petrol stations, or driving around to sites and activities at each location, but still! If it is in fact true though, it’s quite impressive right? I’m pretty proud!