Australia is home to hundreds of species of birds and many of them endemic to the region. These varieties of birds range from the smallest to the largest in the emus and cassowaries.
The emus are the second tallest bird in the world next to the ostrich. They can grow up to 190 centimetres tall and a length of up to 164 centimetres from bill to tail. Female emus are commonly larger than the males; they can weigh up to 60 kilograms.
They feed on various plants, seeds, and insects; and drinks plenty of water when they have the chance. But they can also survive without food and water for weeks. It commonly happens to the male emu when incubating the eggs for eight weeks during the breeding season. Females fight each other for mates and lay eggs. But it’s the role of males to take care of the eggs until they hatch. The male emus nurture their young.
With soft brown feather, long neck and legs, an emu can sprint and travel long distances. Although they cannot fly, their large tridactyl-toed feet enable them to run fast and swift.
The emu has a prominent place in Aboriginal mythology and creation stories. The bird has also become one of Australia’s cultural icons appearing with the kangaroo on the coat of arms, postage stamps, coins, and bank notes.
Endemic to Australia, they are all over the mainland. In the charming town of Halls Gap in the heart of the Grampians, emus and cassowaries freely roam in the swamps and grasslands.
Next to the emus are the cassowaries. They are flightless birds that can grow as tall as a human. Living mostly in the rainforests of north-eastern Australia, they are the third tallest bird next to the ostrich and the emu.
Female cassowaries are larger and brighter in colour than the males. They can grow up to 1.8 metres, but some female cassowaries can grow up to 2 meters tall. They weigh up to 59 kilograms. Having small wings and shaft-like feathers, they are agile runners that can navigate well in the rainforest, running up to 50 kilometres per hour with their wedge-shaped bodies.
Feeding on fruits, seeds, and grass shoots, cassowaries are known to be shy birds preferring to hide in the forests. But when provoked they can be fatal. They can chase, charge, and attack people using their sharp-clawed feet as weapons. With a powerful kick, they can injure humans and animals.
To spot cassowaries in the wild, the rainforests of north-eastern Queensland are the places to go.
Eco Platypus Tours designed a tour package that lets you explore the wilds of the Grampians and get up close and personal with the iconic emus.
Please check out our 1-Day Grampians National Park Tour.
Highlights of the tour includes passing through the historic gold towns of Beaufort and Ararat, exploring the natural beauty of the Grampians, learning about Aboriginal heritage and culture, encountering native wildlife, and visiting some spectacular lookouts and magnificent waterfalls.