Camping with Cassowaries at Etty Bay
April 26, 2017
On our way with Cyclone Debbie
A low had been forming off the coast of Cairns, Far North Queensland in Australia and it had formed into a cyclone which they had called “Debbie” and it was due to hit the coast on either Monday or Tuesday, our weekend camping trip to Etty Bay with our new tent that we had planned was not looking good! We were going to be leaving on Friday afternoon, we had everything ready to go, the weather during the day had been a little bit hit and miss but come on there was a cyclone heading or way, should we really be thinking about going camping! Hubby had his doubts but I was keen so we decided to bite the bullet and go, we were only going just over an hour drive away so if the worst came to the worst we could drive home. When we left Cairns the weather was still okay but the clouds were building up and it was getting darker and darker, we were heading down to Etty Bay just south of Innisfail and as we were about 45 mins south of Cairns when the heavens opened and it started pouring down, now when it rains in Cairns it rains, camping wasn’t looking good but we pressed on. Just past Innisfail the clouds broke and blue sky was peeking though, things were looking up.
Setting up camp
We arrived down at Etty Bay which is a small coastal community with a glorious beach, a surf life-saving club, a shop come takeaway shop and a caravan park, it is very sweet. We checked in and had a choice of sites as most sensible people had stayed home, it’s all a little old school but really pleasant, it is quite a small caravan park with a separate grassed area for tents and small campervans. There is a toilet block (one for public use and one just for campsite tenants) that is cleanish but a little old, there is also a laundry but no camp kitchen. The campsites themselves are quite small so I imagine when its busy its quite cosy but as we had the place to ourselves it was great. The ground was very wet underfoot but we managed to set up and get ourselves organised, we had visited Etty Bay before so knew we could get something to eat on Friday night without having to cook, what we didn’t know was last orders were at 6 pm so an early dinner of fish and chips for me and a burger (which was really good) for hubby. We had an early night and wondered what might be in store for us in the morning!
The beach and cassowaries
We had a great nights sleep (for camping) and opened the tent door and what a glorious day and uninterrupted view of the ocean, bliss! We made a coffee and went for a nice walk along the beach, it’s such a beautiful spot. we called at the camp shop and got some bread and the paper and got our breakfast on the go, love a good camp breakfast.
We had finished clearing up and were sitting back relaxing reading the paper when we spotted a huge cassowary, well you can’t really say that it was huge as that is just the size they are. They are magnificent looking creatures, a little scary and they are an endangered species, She obviously had come for a look and to see what we had for breakfast, they are quite intimidating and hubby had heard that you should keep something between yourselves and the cassowary so that would have been a site and no doubt giving someone looking a good giggle at us doing the cassowary dance. We had left some bread under the table and she grabbed it and let me tell you, neither of us was going to argue with her, she bashed and ripped at the bag until she had got the bread out and proceeded to eat the entire loaf (minus a few slices that we had for breakfast). A local from the caravan park told us to shoo her away or she would hang around the whole time hassling us for food, have you ever tried to shoo a cassowary. Etty bay is known for a couple of cassowary’s that live in the area, when we were there-there was a little tour bus of people that had come just to hopefully spot a cassowary I still feel very lucky to have seen one that close up.
The rest of the weekend passed quietly with the sun beating down, gorgeous blue cloudless sky, a nice breeze and the odd visit from the cassowary. Unfortunately the stinger nets had been brought in due to threat cyclone Debbie so we weren’t able to go for a swim, mind you this didn’t stop everyone as there were plenty of folks that went into the water but I am a little wary of the little but deadly Irukandji and not to mention the crocodiles. Although the campsite was very quiet there was still a good number of day trippers on both Saturday and Sunday.
Feast of the senses
The main reason for going camping was to go to the ‘Feast of the Senses” this is held in Innisfail and as my hubby and I both enjoy food we thought we would go and visit and make a weekend of it. As the weather was so nice on Saturday and we were feeling so relaxed we decided to skip the Saturday activities, the main one being competing for the Guinness book world record for the longest banana split (they won) and just call in on our way home. Innisfail is a sugar cane/banana-growing region and got severely damaged in 2006 by cyclone Larry so I imagine that they were a little worried about cyclone Debbie. The festival was held in the main street and it had all been closed off and was full of local food stalls, it was very busy and extremely hot, there were stalls that were handing out free water which was fantastic. There was a variety of food to try but to be honest, it was just like a large outdoor food hall.
We had a very good wagyu pie but it was raging hot and we had to wait for an age to eat it and it was a little on the small side.
Innisfail has some great art deco buildings and is a lovely place for a wander.
From there we hit the Bruce highway and headed North and made our way home, we were very lucky indeed by missing the cyclone, unfortunately, others further south of us weren’t so lucky!