A close-up shot of a Southern CassowaryA quick trip to Cairns and the Daintree River. A great part of Australia, and a place I had not been to since 1995. My primary goal was to see a Southern Cassowary, as I had missed out on seeing these magnificent birds on my previous tips to the region.

I have visited Cairns twice before, once in 1993 and then again in 1995. On both occasions I was fortunate to see some remarkable wildlife, each time with some very special memories. Twenty years is definitely too long between visits, but priorities change when families are growing.

On this trip to Cairns, I was travelling with my wife and son. Sadly, we were only able to have five days there, and there were some key species I wanted to try and see and, hopefully, photograph. I would need a bit of luck!

One of my target species was the Southern Cassowary. This large flightless bird is one of two native to Australia, the other being the Emu. The Southern Cassowary is the heavier of the two, and the male can be very aggressive during the breeding season, especially if he is caring for his young chicks. These birds are endangered, and are restricted to the rainforests of far north queensland, from just south of Cairns to the tip of Cape York.

I decided to stay at a place called “Cassowary House” in Kuranda, around a 15 minute drive to the north of Cairns, thinking that the name might indicate that these birds might be regular visitors there, but also because a friend of mine had previously stayed there and saw one.

My luck was in, and I got to see a solitary female bird in the rainforest next to the main house on the property. I then found out that the owners put food out for her each day, so she would often come by for a free snack. She was a very confident bird and came right up to me as I sat on a chair watching her.

Definitely the highlight of the trip, but I was fortunate to see and photograph a large amount of wildlife in and around Cairns and as far north as the magnificent Daintree River. Below is a small selection of some of my favourites: