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  • Kaia Colestock

Day 3: Cattana Wetlands & Kuranda

Updated: Jan 6

Next up was a spot recommended in every bird-finding guide: Cattana Wetlands. First sign to greet us was a crocodile warning. Oh. right. We’re not in Kansas anymore! A leisurely stone walkway guided us around a mosaic of ponds and wetlands. Habitat was created in an attempt to restore a quarry mine. We began to note that Australia is extremely wildlife-conscious and makes a concerted effort to value critical habitat.

View of one of the main ponds at Cattana. In the distance are some green pygmy-geese with Pacific black ducks. In the foreground, comb-crested jacanas tiptoe gingerly on lily pads. The lilies are more than sufficient to support the weight of a jacana.

The best surprise of the day was running into my first wallaby, a small version of a kangaroo. This one was as surprised to see me as I was to see it. But we got over the shock and enjoyed each other’s company.

Onward to a town called Kuranda, nestled in the rainforest of the mountains northwest of Cairns. We are on a mission to find a southern cassowary, the 3rd-largest bird behind ostrich and emu, but also one of the most aggressive. If you’re lucky enough to spot one, you give it a lot of space. We took a brief walk through Kuranda’s local rainforest and ran into the first azure kingfisher.


Foraging in a shallow creek, it had jurisdiction over a section of the forest.


There are no shortage of brushturkeys in Australia. They use their feet to scrape the leaf litter, looking for interesting treats. No cassowaries today, but the week is young.

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