In the wild
Cassowaries may be seen in the wild in and around the rainforests and coastal palm forests of North Queensland and sometimes even in cane and banana plantations. They may be seen at any time of day, but are most often encountered on roads and walking tracks in the early morning and late afternoon, usually seeking the shelter of the forest during the heat of the day.
The places you are most likely to encounter cassowaries in the wild are (north to south):
- Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Region
- Etty Bay and Coquette Point near Innisfail (Moresby Range NP)
- Around Mission Beach
- Edmund Kennedy NP
- Wallaman Falls (Girringun NP)
You might find the Bird Trails Tropical Queensland guide produced by Birding Tropical Australia helpful in planning your trip. Pick one up from a local visitor centre or download it as a PDF by clicking on the image.
BirdLife Australia North Queensland also produce some very handy downloadable brochures to the best birding locations across cassowary country (and beyond).
Never approach a cassowary, and if one approaches you, back away slowly, holding your bag or coat (etc) in front of you. Cassowaries, particularly males with chicks, have been known to behave aggressively towards humans. Never feed cassowaries, and drive slowly on roads passing through cassowary habitat, particularly where visibility is limited and vegetation grows close to the sides of the road.
If you aren’t lucky enough to see a cassowary in the wild, there are also many places to see them in captivity.
North Queensland (north to south)
- Daintree Wild Zoo (Daintree)
- Wildlife Habitat (Port Douglas)
- Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures (Captain Cook Highway)
- Cairns Tropical Zoo (Captain Cook Highway) staff member on the CRT!
- Birdworld Kuranda (Kuranda)
- Rainforestation Koala & Wildlife Park (Kuranda)
- Johnstone River Crocodile Park (Innisfail)
- Billabong Sanctuary (Townsville)
Many other zoos and wildlife parks, including Australia Zoo (Sunshine Coast), Brisbane’s Alma Park Zoo, David Fleay Wildlife Park (Gold Coast – managed by DERM, a member of the CRT), Taronga Zoo (Sydney), Melbourne Zoo, Adelaide Zoo, Perth Zoo, and Crocodylus Park (Darwin) also house Southern Cassowaries. Most of the birds in zoos and wildlife parks in Australia are captive bred or rehabilitated birds that could not be returned to the wild. Cassowaries can also be seen in many zoos and private wildlife collections around the world, particularly in Europe and the United States.
Filming and Research
Scientific research, educational activities, and commercial filming or photography in protected areas in Queensland require a permit. If you’re interested in studying or filming cassowaries in the wild, we recommend applying for a permit well in advance. The process may take a few months.