As the ongoing drought continues to dry the country up, mobs of emus have begun wandering the streets of some rural Outback towns … to the delight of grey nomads and other travellers.
Natural historian Angus Emmott told the ABC that the emus are just doing their best to survive in trying conditions by visiting rural Queensland towns like Longreach.
“I’ve actually seen emus walking right up the main block, stopping all the traffic, walking back and forth and up the street,” he said. “There’s free and easy access to water and they eat insects like grasshoppers and crickets, and foliage and fruits — there’s not much of that left outside town now.”
The ABC reports that, when the birds come to town, locals offer them water and shelter and keep their dogs well clear … but they also take care not to let them get too domesticated, or risk them moving in permanently.
“You know things are getting a little bit tough when they turn up in our streets,” said Longreach Mayor Ed Warren. “Just give them right of way on the roads because that’s the way it is … I think that’s just common sense.”
Sadly, extreme drought is becoming something of a fixture and is driving emus and other native animals like kangaroos into towns more often. In 2015, Longreach was inundated with emus roaming the streets looking for food and water. And, in 2017, an emu invasion became a surprise tourist drawcard in the Queensland town of Quilpie.