I got off the night bus at 4.30 am just outside the town of Mission Beach on the east coast of Australia. The bus departed and I was faced with two options, right or left? I picked up my backpack and set off in the direction of town, or so I thought.
Half an hour later I saw two vans parked in the empty road, one van facing the direction I was heading, the other back the way I came. The drivers were talking to one another through open windows, I walked up and asked if I was heading in the correct direction. Obviously I was not and one of the drivers offered to take me into town.
The man who gave me a lift was the owner of the local newsagents and gave the low down on the area. I asked him about the cassowaries and if I had a chance of seeing one, considering the fact that my stay in Mission Beach was only for the day. He replied with’ “Not a chance mate!”. We arrived in town, it was now 5.20 am and he sent me over the road to the local cafe. The legendary lady who owned it happily agreed to make some breakfast, even though they were not due to open for another 2 hours!
The whole reason for my visit to Mission Beach was to catch up with my friend Benjamin and Stine from Denmark, two of the best people I have ever met in my entire life! The hostel they were staying at wasn’t answering the phone, and was not going to open till much later on in the morning. I asked the gent who gave me a ride in how far away the hostel was, “Seven kilometers that way!”, and he gestured down the road, “there’s only this one road so you can’t go wrong, you sure you wana walk that far!?”
I replied, ” How am I supposed to photograph a Cassowary unless I go looking for one?”
While walking along the road, I noticed a ‘nature’ trail off to the right. Looking at my map I could see that it looped back onto the road after one kilometer. This nature trail was more like a faint path amongst overgrown jungle! I kept my eyes fixed to the floor as I was in my flip flops and lord knows what I could have stepped on, but my eyes should have been pointing forward. I had walked straight into a Golden Orb weaver perched on its web. Luckily the spider was on the other side of the web and the web didn’t break! Stepping backwards I could see the full scale of the structure, it spanned the entire path! Ducking underneath I continued until I reached the road.
Six kilometers down the road I gave up on any chance on seeing one of these secretive birds, it was a long shot after all. Then as I rounded the corner there it was! I was extremely nervous knowing full well some of the weaponry these animals possess, but it was quite clear it had no interest in me and I managed to get a few pictures before it sauntered off into the forest.