We were very lucky to see not one but three juvenile southern cassowaries on our day trip to Cape Tribulation.
"Here begun all our troubles" said Captain Cook, when the Endeavour scraped a reef near what he named Cape Tribulation in 1770 - and then hit a reef when he headed out to deeper water. The local indigenous people may well have said the words. Fast forward over a century, the forests around Cape Tribulation were given World Heritage Listing in 1988. And so the drive north from Daintree Village is narrow and winding and feels thickly-lined with dense rainforest sometimes on sheer slopes to or from the sea. It's also populated with serious road bumps to slow the traffic so that crossing cassowaries have a chance. Even so, we weren't optimistic that we would see one.
But then, as luck would have it...we stopped to explore at one of the many board walks in the forest, walking the steep hills in between the carpark and the walk. What a magnificent site. Here is a glimpse of part of the stream and the lush rainforest.
We'd heard some birds, but seen none (not unusual, especially in the rainforest, we find), so we headed back to the our car...and just as we were coming around the corner, here come three gangly teenagers. At first, we weren't quite sure what we were seeing, as we were expecting (or not expecting) a large black bird with a prominent horn and blue and red markings. We also would have been pretty nervous since tourists are warned to give these spectacular creatures a wide berth.
These three youngsters looked more like emus, although the early signs of horns were already appearing. They paid us very little attention - in fact, they simply walked around us and went on their way. Luckily, no mum or dad came behind, because to find ourselves between a cassowary and its chicks might have been a very different scenario. But what a great experience.
Shortly afterwards, we were also delighted to see a lovely wompoo fruit dove in the bush. We still haven't managed to see the rose-crowned variety on this trip, but we might yet.
And so we prepare to leave the Daintree, and head south. But we saw some wonderful birds and butterflies just walking around the village, and also on the Stewart Creek Road beyond the village. First. here is the (literally) brilliant Ulysses butterfly - when we arrived, there was one on the bright flowering tree just outside the hotel.
That same tree attracts a great deal of birdlife...
Spangled drongos, bee-eaters, swiftlets and chestnut-breasted mannikins were pretty plentiful down the Stewart Creek Road, kingfishers were easy to spot around the streets, and a whole host of bush stone curlews live in the school grounds.