Teenage emus in the Outback

by | Aug 14, 2017 | Guide Diaries, Maximum Wildlife, Mungo Outback Journey, Tours

As a Wildlife Guide I’ve worked with wild Emus in the Outback for a long time. They are gentle, brave, curious birds with a sense of fun.

So when an Aboriginal friend suggested that I sit down next time I see an Emu and watch what happens, I was intrigued.

Emus are curious,” he said, “they won’t be able to resist checking you out.”

He was right. So now, for years I’ve been sitting down on the job where Emus are concerned. It works, and its great fun.

Recently at Mungo National Park in southern NSW I was wandering lazily about a campsite in the midday sun. It had been a big morning of serious birdwatching, and I was tired.

So the sight of a huge family of Emus walking through the Outback Mallee trees gave me a great excuse to sit down on the red sand.

Immediately, 17 black heads on long necks snapped in my direction. Milliseconds later, they were headed my way.

As the family approached I saw that they were mostly teenagers – aged around 6 months old. At that age they are almost as large as adults, but more playful and curious.

Dad was with them, but stayed at the back. He, no doubt, had seen humans before and was unimpressed.

The forward guard kept changing – each teenage emu trying out the spot in the lead.

Mungo Emus

At about 3 metres from me they stopped. Watch: YouTube Video emus

A soft whistling sound came from them – a sound I’ve rarely heard. But then, I’ve rarely been so close to such a large family of wild Emus.

They looked down their beaks from their lofty height and pretty much said “She’s not very exciting, is she? Dad said we were wasting our time. Hmmmph, let’s go. ”

Teenage emu chick

Moments later they were gone, elegant silhouettes walking through the Mallee trees.

I was smiling from ear to ear.


Sitting down, or at least staying still works very well with a lot of Australian animals. As most of Australia’s wildlife is not dangerous, it is usually safe to stay still and watch. Moving around makes you obvious, and can be intimidating to most animals.

Read about another time we stayed still and had a close-up with a Water Python

If you want to enjoy wild Australian animals, be patient. Or travel with an experienced Wildlife Guide who understands animal behaviour – amazing experiences become more likely when you know what to look for.

4 day Mungo Outback Journey






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