Friday, October 30, 2009

Look at that Birdie in a Tutu

Our first trek in the "real" Australian bush, and by real I mean more than 10 km from Adelaide, was just over a year ago.
We headed up to the Southern Flinders Ranges.  I had a fitful night of sleep, nightmares of huge aggressive Emus chasing me down the track kept me tossing and turning.  When I described my dream to Mark, he didn't roll his eyes, but I could tell what he was thinking: "This is going to be a great day on the trail, she is going to jump at every little thing that moves."
We left Melrose, home to 2,000 people and a caravan park, and we weren't 5 kms away when we saw our first wild emu.  As we stopped the car all I could say was "Crap, they are larger in life."  I hoped this wasn't an omen of what was to come.
We reached Mt. Remarkable National Park and eagerly hit the trail.  The towering red cliffs of Alligator Gorge were awe-inspiring, with its rough and rugged walls.  As we left the sheltered gorge and headed out to the wider basin of the deep valley, Mark stopped to take off his jacket.  As I passed him he quietly chuckled.  I couldn't have been two minutes down the track when crashing out of the bush came two emus.  My first reaction was to scream, but all that escaped my lips was a hysterical laugh.  The two bumbling ballerinas, with their tutus swaying side to side, frantically raced down the track away from me.  Their awkward gait,  clumsy movements, and disproportionate body size in relation to knobby kneed, skinny legs, made me feel as though I had just come upon two large, fictional Muppet Characters rather than real live birds.   Large splashes of fresh liquid scat dropped on trail left no doubt that they were very real.


The emu, pronounced \ˈē-(ˌ)myü, -mü\ is native only in Australia, and is the second largest bird in the world after the ostrich.  They can grow between 1.5 to 2 meters in height and weigh up to 60 kg.  The large bird had an elongated neck and legs, but its wings are rather short. Hence they are unable to fly, but are able to run at relatively high speeds--in times of duress they can reach speeds of up to 50 km an hour.  Each foot has three forward facing toes.

Emu Footpring

Emus are nomadic and roam the countryside looking for food: fruits, seeds, growing shoots of plants, insects, or other small animals and animal droppings.  Normally they are solitary creatures, but they may live in flocks or pairs when there is a lack of food.

Mob Emus


  1. I have hardly travelled at all in this country. I like to think of it as something to look forward to rather than something to feel bad about.

  2. Hi Matthew, I am glad to hear that you are looking forward to your future travels in Australia--it is such a magical place.

  3. I love those mob emus and the one with tutu.
    That one was ready to dance.
    Where did you find these?

  4. I don't know how to sign my name Elaine except
    using anoymous

  5. Elaine, the pictures of the Emu's are from different places. It is fine to post as anonymous and sign your name at the end.