Endemic to Australia, the emu is the second-tallest bird in the world… and it never takes a backward step.

Endemic to Australia, the emu is the second-tallest (and AT would contend goofiest-looking) bird in the world, reaching up to 2m in height. It’s the unofficial national bird of Australia and appears with the red kangaroo on our Coat of Arms and on the 50c coin.

This grey coloured, long-legged, flightless ostrich look-alike is common throughout Australia, although it of course avoids heavily populated areas. It’s capable of sprinting as fast as 60km/h and uses its strong legs to kick any attackers.

The emu has existed in Australia for 80,000 years and plays an important part in Aboriginal mythology (the creation myth of the Yuwaarlaraay, for example, tells of how an emu egg was thrown into the sky to create the sun). Once an important source of meat, today emu oil is still used to treat aching joints and inflamed skin.

Where // Emus exist throughout Australia, but Victoria’s Tower Hill is a great place for spotting them up close. www.worngundidj.org.au

Did you know? // There were once three different emu species, but Kangaroo and King Island emus were hunted to extinction at the end of the 19th Century.

 

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