If you want to spot one of these majestic prehistoric birds along the sweeping Cassowary Coast, head to Etty Bay.

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Mamu Nation, the traditional land of the Mamu people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


  • Spot a cassowary, often referred to as ‘the world’s most dangerous bird’
  • String up a hammock along the white-sand coastline
  • Enjoy a warm winter sunset on a quiet beach

Exploring The Cassowary Coast

As we drove down the quiet and windy Etty Bay Road and into the car park, I leaned over to Mitch and whispered, ‘Heck, is THAT a cassowary?!’ and pointed to a dark shape beneath a tree along the beach. 

He stopped the car and looked at me, wide-eyed. ‘Go, go, go!’ I said, giving him a hearty pat on the back. He opened the door and grabbed his camera, while I ran around the back to hop in the front seat and park the car safely. Equipped with his 600mm lens (you shouldn’t get too close to these birds), he softly padded over to a good viewing spot and started snapping.



Cassowaries have sharp claws, a hard noggin, and a bit of a temper, so it’s best to keep your distance when you see them. As long as you’re cass-o-wary (heh) and keep your distance, admiring these beauties from afar is safer for everyone.

Before arriving in Cairns, I knew very little about the cassowary. Weren’t they kind of like an emu? They just had funnier looking feet, right? Native to the rainforest of Tropical North Queensland, these birds are essential to the healthy functioning of the rainforest ecosystem.

When a cassowary consumes the seeds of a Ryparosa, a rare Australian rainforest tree, the seeds are 92% likely to germinate compared to just 4% otherwise!



The original inhabitants of the Cassowary Coast area are the Bandjin, Djiru, Girramay, Gulnay, Jirrbal and Mamu Aboriginal people. For the Traditional Owners, cassowaries were a prized source of food, with their feathers, claws, and bone used for ornaments and hunting tools. 

Of course, you’re not just here for the cassowaries. These quiet, sweeping beaches, with tropical palms and hammock-friendly trees are perfect to spread out for the day. Lay out a blanket, curl up with a book, and set up a picnic full of tropical fruit (you’ll find a huge array at Rusty’s Markets in Cairns). 

If Etty Bay isn’t showing you the cassowary goods, all along Cassowary Coast (from just south of Cairns to Cardwell), you’re in prime location to spot these magnificent birds

Essential Gear

  • Camera
  • Swimmers
  • Towel
  • Picnic for sunset
  • Picnic blanket
  • Camera with a good lens for snapping these creatures from a safe distance

How To Get There

It’s a 1.5 hours’ drive from Cairns to Etty Bay, however Cassowary Coast extends from south of Cairns to Cardwell.

Skill Level

You need to know the basics of Leave No Trace Principles. Don’t get too close to the cassowaries and definitely don’t feed them.

In fact, it’s best to keep food in the car or out of reach so they don’t try to have a taste! Remember cassowaries can be dangerous, so respect their space.

Distance Covered

100km in the car from Cairns


Explore Tropical North Queensland


Photography by @mitch.cox