Birding Tour Australia: from the Outback to the Wet Tropics


AN IDEAL FIRST BIRDING TOUR TO AUSTRALIA. A FUN, COMFORTABLE, AND COMPREHENSIVE TOUR OF THE EAST OF THE COUNTRY, FEATURING TOP-QUALITY ENDEMIC BIRDS AND MAMMALS. INCLUDES GREAT BARRIER REEF BOAT TRIP.

Dates and Costs:

 

29 October – 15 November 2024

Spaces Available: 1

Price: AU$16,307 / $11,356 / £8,966 / €10,467 per person sharing (5-8 participants).

Single Supplement: AU$2,088 / $1,454 / £1,148 / €1,341

 

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to base price when making final payments.

 

29 October – 15 November 2025

Price: AU$16,500 / $11,490 / £9,073 / €10,591 per person sharing (5-8 participants).

Single Supplement: AU$2,297 / $1,599 / £1,263 / €1,474

 

29 October – 15 November 2026

Price: AU$17,530 / $12,207 / £9,639 / €11,253 per person sharing (5-8 participants).

Single Supplement: AU$2,525 / $1,759 / £1,388 / €1,621


Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)


Tour Details

Duration: 18 days
Group Size: 5 – 8
Tour Start: Melbourne, Victoria
Tour End: Cairns, Queensland


Price includes:

All accommodation (as described above from Day 1 through Day 17)
Meals (from lunch on Day 1 until breakfast on Day 18)
Expert tour leader
National park/birdwatching reserve/protected areas entrance fees
Boat trips on the Daintree River and the Great Barrier Reef
Private transportation during the tour

 

Price excludes:

International flights
Airport transfers
Domestic flights within Australia during tour (Required Melbourne-Brisbane and Brisbane-Cairns. We can book these for you and provide costs to ensure that everyone is on the same flight – estimate about AU$800)
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing/etc. excursions
Visa if required
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts, laundry, internet access, phone calls, etc.
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing/monument excursions
Soft/alcoholic drinks (drinking water is safe from the taps, please bring a refillable water bottle)
Personal travel insurance
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)

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Eastern Australia: from the Outback to the Wet Tropics
October 2024/2025/2026

 

Australia, the island continent, is a remote landmass that drifted away from Antarctica tens of millions of years ago. Without significant volcanic activity and other mountain-building forces it is also the flattest continent, with the world’s oldest soils. Despite its lack of topography this incredible landmass is one of extremes. The Outback, the continent’s core, is a vast and hostile desert with unpredictable weather patterns that sometimes flush the landscape green. Along the edges more regular precipitation allows ancient rainforests, heathlands, and fire-resistant sclerophyll woodlands to grow. Due to its long isolation and harsh environments Australia is now home to birds of a different feather, including eight endemic bird families and a further seven shared only with neighboring New Guinea. About 300 bird species are endemic to Australia, making it second only to Indonesia in this regard. Throughout this country’s every extreme its amazing avifauna has shown the adaptability and resiliency to survive in even the most challenging environments. In addition, this avifauna is just dripping with charismatic species, from bowerbirds to parrots to fairywrens to kookaburras to cassowaries to lyrebirds. Throughout the course of this small-group tour we sample habitats ranging from the arid plains north of Deniliquin to the wet rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands in search of as many of these wonderful birds as possible, while also appreciating the many other unique plants and animals along the way.

The incredible birds and wildlife of eastern Australia: a virtual birding tour by Andy Walker (who guides our Australian tours). This presentation was part of the highly recommended SE Arizona birding festival hosted by the Tucson Audubon Society (also see their YouTube channel here).

Outback birding toursPink Cockatoo (formerly called Major Mitchells Cockatoo) is one of our spectacular target birds on this eastern Australia birding tour.

 

Our journey begins at the cosmopolitan city of Melbourne, Victoria in southeast Australia, visiting coastal heathland for several localized habitat specialists such as Gang-gang Cockatoo and Beautiful Firetail. Farther north and west towards the interior, arid mallee vegetation and saline lakes provide habitat for the mound-building Malleefowl, the impossibly blue Splendid Fairywren, the gorgeous Pink Cockatoo, among a host of other species. On one evening we make a special effort to observe the monotypic Plains-wanderer in the dry plains north of Deniliquin in New South Wales.

Outback birding toursWe will search for Plains-wanderer (a monotypic family) in the dry plains of New South Wales.

 

Following our time in New South Wales we will swing southeast through the sclerophyll forests of Chiltern and the temperate forests near Melbourne for targets such as Turquoise Parrot and Superb Lyrebird.

After an internal flight from Melbourne to Brisbane, Queensland, we drive up to the famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, nestled within a large tract of subtropical rainforest, for a totally new set of stunning birds such as Paradise Riflebird, Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Noisy Pitta, Albert’s Lyrebird, and Australian Logrunner.

On the last leg of our journey we visit the Wet Tropics of far northern Queensland to explore one of the world’s most ancient rainforests for key species such as Southern Cassowary and Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher. We also take a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef, where the colors and diversity of the fish and corals rival those of the birds, with a chance to swim with Green Turtles. Evening spotlighting sessions on many of these nights should also produce a host of endearing and unusual nocturnal birds and mammals, which may include Papuan Frogmouth and Barking Owl. Other target birds in the north include Great-billed Heron, Australian Bustard, Victoria’s Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Great Bowerbird, Golden Bowerbird, Fernwren, and Chowchilla to name a few.

Outback birding toursThe massive Southern Cassowary can be seen in northern Queensland.

 

During our time in Australia, we will also look for some of the country’s incredible and unique animals, including Platypus, Short-beaked Echidna, Koala, Red Kangaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Common Ringtail Possum, Common Brushtail Possum, Musky Rat Kangaroo, and Common Wombat. The birds in Australia are incredible, but so are the mammals, reptiles, and amphibians that we will see; they combine to result in an awesome wildlife-filled experience. This continent is a naturalist’s dream!

Sometimes we do this tour in the reverse order shown in this itinerary. Please confirm the route for your tour with us before purchasing your flight tickets.

For those wishing to continue exploring Australia (and we fully recommend it), this tour can be combined with our Birding Tour Australia: Tasmania Bird Tour – Tasmanian Endemics and the Orange-bellied Parrot tour.

 

 Itinerary (18 days/17 nights)

 

Day 1. Arrival in Melbourne

Non-birding day with your arrival into Melbourne airport, the rest of the day will be at your leisure. We will meet in our hotel near the airport for an evening welcome dinner together.

Overnight: Melbourne Airport Hotel

Outback birding toursThe gaudy Rainbow Lorikeet can be seen around Melbourne.

 

Day 2. Melbourne to Aireys Inlet

Over the course of the day we will enjoy some of Australia’s common and widespread, yet beautiful and interesting birds, such as Magpie-lark, Rainbow Lorikeet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Willie Wagtail, Laughing Kookaburra, and Australian Magpie.

We will drive around Melbourne to the world-famous Werribee Western Treatment Plant area along the coast. Included in the Ramsar list of Wetlands of International Importance in 1983, this extremely rich, huge area contains a network of sewage treatment lagoons, unmodified saltmarsh, creeks, and lakes, which host large numbers of both sedentary and migratory waterbirds. We will navigate a series of roads around this area, where water levels permit. Among a wide assortment of other species Freckled Duck, Pink-eared Duck, and Musk Duck will be top priorities, as well as the secretive Australian Crake and the highly localized Striated Fieldwren. The area is often great for raptors, and we may find Black-shouldered Kite, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australian Hobby, and Brown Falcon.

We then continue southward along the coast to Aireys Inlet for the night. Along the way a few stops may produce Southern Emu-wren, Black-tailed Nativehen, Black-fronted Dotterel, Cape Barren Goose, and White-winged Chough. Maybe we will even spot our first Eastern Grey Kangaroo along the way!

Overnight: Aireys Inlet

Outback birding toursThe localized Rufous Bristlebird is our top target at Aireys Inlet.

 

Day 3. Aireys Inlet to central Victoria

Composed of dense, low shrubs and scattered, twisted trees, coastal heathland occurs on impoverished soils with poor drainage. Despite the nutrient-poor soils, this habitat boasts a high diversity of plants as well as a unique community of birds that depend on them. We spend most of the morning exploring the scenic coastal heathlands of southwest Victoria, seeking out some of these species, such as Southern Emu-wren, Beautiful Firetail, and Rufous Bristlebird. Areas of taller vegetation may host the endearing Gang-gang Cockatoo, while a sea watch may yield Black-browed Albatross, Australasian Gannet, and other pelagic birds offshore.

As the day progresses, we drive inland into central Victoria for our first taste of box-ironbark forest, a habitat endemic to Australia. Because the component tree species in this habitat are such prolific flower and nectar producers, there is a correspondingly high diversity of nectar-feeding honeyeaters and lorikeets, including the normally scarce and local Purple-gaped Honeyeater, White-fronted Honeyeater, and Purple-crowned Lorikeet.

Overnight: Inglewood

 

Day 4. Central Victoria to Ouyen

After some brief morning birding around Inglewood we continue to the Ouyen area in northwestern Victoria. Along the way we will stop at Lake Tyrrell, a salt-crusted and mostly dry lakebed surrounded by saltbush and samphire. Despite its unlikely appearance this low vegetation is home to several charismatic birds, such as Orange Chat, White-winged Fairywren, and Eastern Bluebonnet, which we will target during our time here.

Founded in 1921, Wyperfeld National Park protects a significant tract of semi-arid mallee woodland and heathland. Depending on local conditions we may visit this site as we are passing. High on our list of priorities here would be the appropriately named Malleefowl, Southern Scrub Robin, Splendid Fairywren, and Southern Whiteface, and other birds of the dry Australian interior are also possible.

Outback birding toursA top target while in mallee habitat will be Malleefowl.

 

In the late afternoon we will arrive in Ouyen in the mallee habitat. Due to the number of secretive and highly sought birds here we will spend two nights and days birding the area, giving us plenty of time to try and connect with some of the arid area’s great birds like Malleefowl, notable for incubating its eggs in large nesting mounds.

Overnight: Ouyen

 

Day 5. Birding Hattah-Kulkyne National Park

As one of Australia’s largest and most pristine mallee reserves, Hattah-Kulkyne National Park boasts a wide variety of bird species that are much more difficult to see elsewhere, such as Mallee Emu-wren and Striated Grasswren. We will spend the full day birding within and around the park and town. In addition to the species mentioned above we will be looking for one of the most spectacular parrots in all of Australia, Pink Cockatoo. Hopefully the cockatoo will be accompanied by a rich and colorful supporting cast of dry-country specialties, such as Regent Parrot, Mulga Parrot, Crested Bellbird, and Emu. Possibly we will have our first look at the huge Red Kangaroo here too.

Overnight: Ouyen

Outback birding toursThe rare Mallee Emu-wren (it is considered Endangered by BirdLife International) can be found in Hattah-Kulkyne National Park.

 

Day 6. Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, travel to Deniliquin, and Plains-wanderer night trip

We will have another morning birding in the wonderful Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, where we will continue to seek out the area’s specialties, maybe including White-winged Chough, Apostlebird, Chestnut Quail-thrush, and many more. As the morning progresses, we will head out of Victoria into neighboring New South Wales. We will likely stop at Lake Tutchewop along the way, which, depending on water levels, may hold the elegant Red-necked Avocet and the dapper Banded Stilt.

Outback birding toursThe fairywrens are sure to be one of the most-enjoyed birds of the trip, this is a Splendid Fairywren, one of several fairywren species likely on the tour.

 

We will have a long day today, because during the evening we will go out to search for the bizarre Plains-wanderer, the sole representative of an endemic Australian family, most closely related to the shorebirds (but its closest living relatives are thought to be the seedsnipes of South America!). Although this species is the star attraction of this site, we may also encounter other birds, such as Inland Dotterel, Banded Lapwing, Stubble Quail, Little Buttonquail, Eastern Barn Owl, or Australian Owlet-nightjar on this nocturnal foray.

Overnight: Deniliquin

 

Day 7. Transfer to Wangaratta via Gulpa Island

After a late night we allow ourselves to sleep in before continuing our journey to Wangaratta via Gulpa Island and various other sites in the Riverina bioregion. Targets on this more laid-back day include the vivid Superb Parrot, the elusive Gilbert’s Whistler, and the striking White-backed Swallow as we aim to arrive in Wangaratta in the midafternoon. We will start looking for some of the birds listed for Day 8 if time permits.

Overnight: Wangaratta

 

Day 8. Wangaratta to Healesville

We will spend the morning birding in the beautiful woodland around the Warby-Ovens National Park which protects what is arguably the best flora and fauna assemblage of box-ironbark forest and woodland in Australia and forms an important link between the foothills of the Australian Alps with the plains of the Murray River. The trees which define this habitat produce an abundance of nectar when flowering, attracting birds from far and wide. The sounds of birds can be almost deafening during these times! Targets attracted to these blooms include Little Lorikeet, Black-chinned Honeyeater, and Painted Honeyeater. Elsewhere in the forest we search for the rainbow-like Turquoise Parrot, the bark-peeling Eastern Shriketit, the ground-dwelling Speckled Warbler, and more. We may even come across the unusual Short-beaked Echidna here.

After lunch we continue our journey southward to the town of Healesville near the city of Melbourne for the night. Here we will have a chance for some evening spotlighting for birds such as Greater Sooty Owl and mammals, possibly possums and gliders.

Overnight: Healesville

Outback birding toursParrots are sure to continually impress during this tour, this is Turquoise Parrot.

 

Day 9. Birding near Melbourne and conclusion of the “Outback” part of the tour

We spend most of the day at Bunyip State Park, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) east of Melbourne, birding wet sclerophyll forest and swampy heathlands. Within these mossy forests we hope to find several of Australia’s most charismatic and emblematic birds. Superb Lyrebird, an unrivalled mimic and the world’s largest songbird, will be chief among our targets. The forest and heathland communities are also home to Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Pilotbird, Olive Whistler, Eastern Whipbird, Flame Robin, Rose Robin, Pink Robin, Red-browed Treecreeper, Australian Rufous Fantail, and more. It is sure to be a wonderful end to the birding on this part of the tour. We will continue back to Melbourne, thus completing our circuit of Victoria, where we will spend the night in an airport hotel ahead of an early flight the next day.

Overnight: Melbourne

Rose Robin is one of the five gorgeous Australasian Robin species we can see around Melbourne.

 

Day 10. Transfer from Melbourne to Brisbane and to Lamington National Park

After an early morning flight we arrive in Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, to continue our tour. We first stop at a few mangrove sites near the airport itself, searching for the endemic Mangrove Honeyeater and Mangrove Gerygone. Nearby wetland sites often hold the elusive Spotless Crake, and we could obtain our first sightings of Comb-crested Jacana, Red-backed Fairywren, Torresian Kingfisher, and more while we search for them.

Afterwards we drive to the world-famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat at Lamington National Park. A colorful and interesting suite of birds attends the lodge gardens here, including Crimson Rosella, Australian King Parrot, Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Australian Brushturkey, and Wonga Pigeon. These birds are unusually tame and provide excellent opportunities for photography and our time here is always a major tour highlight.

Overnight: Lamington National Park

Outback birding toursGorgeous Regent Bowerbirds are often present around our rooms!

Outback birding toursThe Lamington area will offer us our first chance at seeing a bird-of-paradise; this being a Paradise Riflebird.

 

Day 11. Full day birding Lamington National Park

Situated in the heart of Lamington National Park, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is well-known for its rainforest location, diverse wildlife, and interesting history. Using the lodge as our base we spend the full day exploring the verdant network of subtropical rainforest trails in search of several spectacular birds unique to the area. Albert’s Lyrebird, Australian Logrunner, and Noisy Pitta inhabit the forest understory, while birds in the mid-story and canopy include Paradise Riflebird, Topknot Pigeon, Black-faced Monarch, and Green Catbird. We will make a concerted effort to see all of these species during our stay as well as leaving time to enjoy the site’s good variety of mammals, a good number of which only come out at night.

Overnight: Lamington National Park

 

Day 12. Transfer from Brisbane to Cairns, birding the Cairns Esplanade

We will have a pre-breakfast birding walk into the forest near our accommodation once again, where we will keep searching for new and interesting species, maybe finding a cryptically plumaged Bassian and Russet-tailed Thrushes or the gorgeous and rather cute Rose Robin. After another sumptuous O’Reilly’s breakfast, we drive off the mountain and head back toward the city in time to make our flight farther north on our tour of the Australian east coast.

When we arrive in Cairns, depending on the tide time, we might make the short jaunt from our hotel to the Cairns Esplanade to enjoy its variety of shorebirds, from the hulking Far Eastern Curlew to the dainty Terek Sandpiper. We are sure to see plenty of Torresian Imperial Pigeons, Australasian Figbirds, and Metallic Starlings flying around near our accommodation.

Overnight: Cairns

Outback birding toursA sighting of Beach Stone-curlew would be a highlight.

 

Day 13. Cairns birding and travel to Mission Beach

We will spend the morning birding at sites around Cairns, and may include visits to the Cairns Esplanade, Cairns Botanical Garden, and Cairns Centenary Lakes. We may also visit some sites a little further out of town, time permitting. A large list of species is possible featuring a wide range of birds. If the tidal situation is right, we can expect a lot of shorebirds, likely to include Great Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, and with luck, Beach Stone-curlew. In and around the trees along Cairns Esplanade, we may find Nankeen Night Heron, Bush Stone-curlew, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Varied Honeyeater, Yellow Honeyeater, and Hornbill Friarbird. Forested areas here may hold Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Australian Brushturkey, Brush Cuckoo, and Grey Goshawk.

After lunch we will commence our journey south towards Mission Beach. We will likely make a stop at Etty Bay along the way. Our main target in this area is the humongous and rare Southern Cassowary, the largest bird in Australia by weight.

Overnight: Mission Beach

 

Day 14. Birding near Mission Beach, travel to Lake Eacham

We will spend some time in the morning looking for Southern Cassowary. There are often other great birds to be found around Mission Beach, and we will try to locate these during the morning before departing and heading up into the Atherton Tablelands. Some other birds we might find while looking for the ancient dinosaur-like bird, might include Australian Swiftlet, Fairy Gerygone, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Spectacled Monarch, Black Butcherbird, Green Oriole, and Dusky Myzomela.

We will have a long day today, because during the evening we will go out to search for the bizarre Plains-wanderer, the sole representative of an endemic Australian family, most closely related to the shorebirds (but its closest living relatives are thought to be the seedsnipes of South America!). Although this species is the star attraction of this site, we may also encounter other birds, such as Inland Dotterel, Banded Lapwing, Stubble Quail, Eastern Barn Owl, or Australian Owlet-nightjar on this nocturnal foray.

Overnight: Deniliquin

Outback birding toursThe far-carrying call of Spotted Catbird will alert us to their presence.

 

By mid-morning it will be time to leave the coast behind. We will spend the course of the next two days visiting a variety of sites on the Atherton Tablelands, a fertile plateau hosting several habitats from high altitude rainforest to drier eucalypt woodland. Although we will keep our itinerary flexible, based on our growing trip list, we will likely spend time birding the cooler wet forest of Mount Hypipamee National Park, Lake Barrine, and the Curtain Fig Tree for species including Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Golden Bowerbird, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, and more. We can, with some luck, also find Victoria’s Riflebird and Spotted Catbird in the gardens of our accommodation at Lake Eacham, a wonderful spot itself.

Nocturnal activity is also often exciting here, and we will be sure to spend some time looking for a range of possums, gliders, and more, as well as for the diurnal Musky Rat Kangaroo. Here we will also have a search for the bizarre Platypus and unusual (and rather rare) Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo.

Overnight: Lake Eacham

 

Day 15. Birding in the Atherton Tablelands

The early morning activity around our accommodation is usually a wonderful experience and we will look for, and listen to Spotted Catbird, Victoria’s Riflebird, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Australian Golden Whistler, Grey-headed Robin, Superb Fruit Dove, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Macleay’s Honeyeater, Scarlet Myzomela, and Forest Kingfisher.

Outback birding toursOne of the other birds-of-paradise possible on this tour – Victoria’s Riflebird.

 

During the day we will visit the wetter higher elevations of the Atherton Tablelands, possibly trying to locate the shy Chowchilla and other targets like Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Tooth-billed Bowerbird and Golden Bowerbird. We will also look for any wetland sites that might support Magpie Goose, Sarus Crane, Brolga, Wandering Whistling Duck, or Plumed Whistling Duck and potentially shorebirds and other waterfowl (depending on water levels here and in other parts of Australia).

In the afternoon we will make our way northward into the much drier part of the Atherton Tablelands, stopping at various sites, which may include Granite Gorge Nature Park and Mareeba town. There will be no shortage of potential targets, such as Australian Bustard, Squatter Pigeon, Red-winged Parrot, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Spotted Harrier, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Great Bowerbird, and Double-barred Finch. After a long day of birding, we will arrive at our accommodation.

Overnight: Mareeba

Outback birding toursA bird of the dry country, we will be looking for Australian Bustard as we come off the Atherton Tablelands.

 

Day 16. Mareeba, Daintree River Cruise, and travel to Cairns

We will have a long day today. We will spend the early morning birding near to Mareeba and will make our way to the base of Mount Lewis. We will make a few stops along the way, for species such as Yellow-bellied Flyrobin and White-browed Robin. At the base of Mount Lewis, we will look for Lovely Fairywren, Superb Fruit Dove, Northern Fantail, and Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher.

In the afternoon we will start the journey down to the Daintree River, where we will have a late-afternoon boat cruise. By scanning the sandy banks and lush riverside vegetation from the comfort of our boat we will keep a sharp eye out for the bulky Great-billed Heron, family groups of Shining Flycatcher, the cryptically camouflaged Papuan Frogmouth, and flocks of the diminutive Double-eyed Fig Parrot – maybe even the rare Little Kingfisher.

We will stop for some dinner on our way back to Cairns, where we will arrive in the early evening and head to bed after what will have been a long and tiring, but bird-filled day.

Overnight: Cairns

Outback birding toursOne of the toughest kingfishers to find in Australia, we will hope to find the Little Kingfisher while on a boat trip on the Daintree River.

 

Day 17. Great Barrier Reef trip

We will spend the final full day of the tour on an enjoyable and relaxing boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is an ecosystem of many superlatives that no words can do justice. After an early breakfast we board a boat that will take us out to experience this incredible reef system. Our first stop is Michaelmas Cay, a tiny islet that hosts an impressive number of nesting seabirds. Sooty Tern, Brown Noddy, and Greater Crested Tern dominate, but Lesser Crested Tern, Black Noddy, and Black-naped Tern are also possible. Brown Booby and occasionally Red-footed Booby can be seen perched on man-made structures, while marauding Great and Lesser Frigatebirds often soar overhead. We will spend some time here enjoying the spectacle. Weather and sea conditions permitting, we should be able to land on the cay to get close-up views of these seabirds. There is also the likelihood of snorkeling here, but for this part of our reef trip the focus is really on the birds, though we will also keep our eyes peeled for dolphins and sea turtles.

Outback birding toursThe birds around Michaelmas Cay are outstanding, but the underwater life is just as mesmerizing. It’s well worth jumping in, with a great chance of finding a Green Turtle amongst a myriad of kaleidoscopic tropical fish.

 

After lunch the boat usually moves across to Hastings Reef, where there will be an option to snorkel, scuba dive, or take a glass bottom boat tour, all three options giving a wonderful opportunity to observe the plethora of shockingly colorful life below the surface. When we return to shore in the middle of the afternoon we will amble back to our hotel, looking for any birds along the Cairns Esplanade as we go (tide dependent).

Overnight: Cairns

 

Day 18. Transfer to Cairns Airport, tour concludes

Non-birding day with your departure from Cairns Airport.

Overnight: Not included

 

 

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

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Eastern Australia: From the Outback to the Wet Tropics Trip Report, October 2023

30 OCTOBER – 16 NOVEMBER 2023

By Andy Walker

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

 

Overview

This Eastern Australia birding tour started in Melbourne, Victoria on the 30th of October 2023 and ended in Cairns, Queensland on the 16th of November 2023. This Australian bird tour focused on Australian endemic birds and Australian endemic bird families found in Victoria (including a brief foray into New South Wales) and southern and northern Queensland.

 eastern australia report

Plains-wanderer was a big target on our Eastern Australia birding tour and proved a massive highlight, with three birds seen well. They formed part of an incredible evening birding session early in the tour, which was a tour highlight in its own right.

 

We recorded 379 bird species on this Australian birdwatching tour (three of these were heard only). The list of highlight birds seen is very long and included some of the best birds in Australia, including Southern CassowaryEmuMagpie GooseMalleefowlSpotted NightjarTawny FrogmouthSarus CraneBrolgaRed-chested ButtonquailBanded StiltPlains-wandererBlack-necked StorkGreat-billed HeronWedge-tailed EagleGrey GoshawkGreater Sooty OwlLesser Sooty OwlBuff-breasted Paradise KingfisherRed-backed KingfisherLaughing KookaburraBlue-winged KookaburraCockatielGlossy Black CockatooGang-gang CockatooPink CockatooSuperb ParrotBudgerigarNoisy PittaAlbert’s LyrebirdSuperb LyrebirdGreen CatbirdGolden BowerbirdRegent BowerbirdLovely FairywrenMallee Emu-wrenPainted HoneyeaterMacleay’s HoneyeaterRufous BristlebirdAustralian LogrunnerPied MonarchApostlebirdParadise RiflebirdVictoria’s RiflebirdFlame RobinRed-capped RobinBassian Thrush, and Diamond Firetail.

In addition to the great birds seen, we also found a nice selection of other animals, including 40 species of mammals, featuring highly sought species such as KoalaPlatypusRed Kangaroo, and Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo, 23 species of reptiles including Saltwater Crocodile and Boyd’s Forest Dragon, and numerous gorgeous butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and plants. Lists of birds and other plants and wildlife recorded during this Australian bird tour follow the report.

eastern australia report

Regent Bowerbird showed well while we were birding at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

 

Detailed Report

Day 1, 30th October 2023. Arrival in Melbourne

We arrived in Melbourne, Victoria in the late afternoon after completing our successful Tasmania bird tour, (trip report here). We had a delicious group welcome meal in the evening, discussing the plans for the coming few weeks of birding in Victoria, New South Wales, and southern and northern Queensland, Australia. The excitement was building.

 

Day 2, 31st October 2023. Birding Melbourne to Healesville

We headed through the northern suburbs of Melbourne, making a brief stop at a parkland, where we got some of the common Australian birds under our belt, with species such as Rainbow LorikeetEastern RosellaAustralian MagpiePied CurrawongGrey CurrawongNoisy MinerRed WattlebirdLittle Raven, and Magpie-lark all seen well, it was a great introduction.

eastern australia report

A pair of Rainbow Lorikeets were busy allopreening and allowed great views. A common but attractive bird in eastern areas of Australia and always a popular bird at the beginning of a tour.

 

Commencing our journey away from Melbourne city, we visited the beautiful Dandenong Ranges National Park, where we found our main target, the vocally magical Superb Lyrebird. While we were walking around the impressive and huge forest, we picked up many birds, including Crimson RosellaAustralian King ParrotSulphur-crested CockatooLong-billed CorellaAustralian Golden WhistlerEastern Yellow RobinLarge-billed ScrubwrenWhite-browed ScrubwrenGrey FantailEastern Spinebill, and White-throated Treecreeper.

After a wonderful lunch, we visited a wetland site, where we found Australasian DarterLittle Pied CormorantLittle Black CormorantAustralasian GrebeDusky MoorhenEurasian CootAustralasian SwamphenPacific Black DuckChestnut TealGrey TealManed DuckMasked LapwingGalahLittle CorellaShining Bronze CuckooLittle Wattlebird, and a pair of White-winged Trillers. We then moved across to a sandy hillside, where we found six beautiful orchid species, including Large Flying Duck OrchidEastern Mantis Orchid, and Purple Beard Orchid. After enjoying these great plants (and a few White-winged Choughs), we continued our drive to our accommodation for the night in Healesville, picking up Black-shouldered KiteYellow-billed Spoonbill, and White-necked Heron along the way.

After a wonderful dinner at our lodge, featuring minor distractions from White-naped HoneyeaterYellow-faced Honeyeater, and Eastern Spinebill, we went out for a rather enjoyable night walk. Top highlights from the walk included excellent looks at a Greater Sooty Owl, along with very good sightings of both Greater Glider and Yellow-bellied Glider. It had been some start to this Australian birding tour!

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We enjoyed some excellent views of Greater Sooty Owl while out on a night walk.

 

Day 3, 1st November 2023. Healesville to Chiltern

After breakfast we birded around our accommodation at Healesville, enjoying sightings of Gang-gang CockatooAustralian King ParrotCrimson Rosella, and Spotted Pardalote. We then drove up into Toolangi State Forest, where we found Flame RobinRose RobinRed-browed TreecreeperSatin Flycatcher, and more Gang-gang Cockatoos.

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Several Gang-gang Cockatoos were present in a small woodland.

 

After warming ourselves up with a hot drink, we visited the wetlands near Yea, where we added plenty of new birds to our growing list. Some of the top highlights included Bell MinerStriated PardaloteLeaden FlycatcherWhite-throated Gerygone, and Little Eagle. Driving north, we made our way to the Warby-Ovens National Park, a beautiful region. Here we had brief sightings of Turquoise Parrot, but also had great looks at Red-capped RobinHooded RobinLeaden FlycatcherWestern GerygoneVaried SittellaRufous Songlark, and Rufous Whistler.

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Red-capped Robin was also added to our rapidly growing Australasian Robins family list.

 

As we explored the area further, we found Crested PigeonGalahEastern RosellaSacred KingfisherLaughing KookaburraWhite-winged Triller, nesting Restless FlycatchersWillie WagtailGrey FantailWedge-tailed EagleWhistling KiteBrown FalconNankeen KestrelDusky Woodswallow, and Diamond Firetail.

 

Day 4, 2nd November 2023. Chiltern to Deniliquin                                         

A very long day, but one of the most enjoyable of the whole tour. We spent the morning birding around Chiltern-Mt. Pilot National Park and Warby-Ovens National Park, and the birding was great. We had excellent views of Painted ButtonquailPallid CuckooSacred KingfisherRed-rumped ParrotOlive-backed OrioleWhite-throated TreecreeperBrown TreecreeperWhite-winged ChoughYellow-tufted HoneyeaterFuscous HoneyeaterBlack-chinned HoneyeaterSpeckled WarblerJacky Winter, and Rufous Songlark. We also spotted Eastern Grey Kangaroo and Swamp Wallaby.

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An attractive Yellow-tufted Honeyeater from Chiltern-Mt. Pilot National Park.

 

After lunch we took a look at the mighty Murray River, here we found Nankeen Night HeronWhistling KiteCrimson (Yellow) RosellaNoisy Friarbird, and Little Friarbird. We then completed our drive from Victoria to Deniliquin, New South Wales.

Our late afternoon and evening birding was simply sensational. We stopped at some bushland that was featuring lots of flowering plants, just north of Deniliquin, where we found Australian Owlet-nightjarHorsfield’s Bronze CuckooBlack-shouldered KiteBlack KiteRainbow Bee-eaterGreater BluebonnetBlack HoneyeaterSinging HoneyeaterStriped HoneyeaterSpiny-cheeked HoneyeaterPied ButcherbirdAustralian Raven, and Mistletoebird. Driving north we picked up our first family group of Emus and shortly after had close perched views of a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles, with other species seen including Black-tailed NativehenAustralian CrakeRed-kneed DotterelWhite-winged FairywrenSinging (Horsfield’s) Bush LarkFairy MartinBrown Songlark, and Australian Pipit.

After our picnic dinner it was time for the main event, our night birding around a section of the Hay Plains, and it was amazingly successful. During almost three hours of spotlighting, we found 17 species of birds and ten species of mammals. The highlight birds were three Plains-wanderers (one female and two males), the main target of our night trip which showed very well (see the trip report cover image). The supporting cast was rather special too, and featured Red-chested ButtonquailLittle ButtonquailStubble QuailBanded LapwingTawny FrogmouthAustralian Owlet-nightjarEastern Barn OwlAustralian BoobookBrown Songlark, and Singing (Horsfield’s) Bush Lark. Mammal highlights included Red KangarooWestern Grey KangarooFat-tailed Dunnart, and Common Brushtail Possum.

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A massive bonus bird during our spotlighting session was this gorgeous adult female Red-chested Buttonquail.

 

Day 5, 3rd November 2023. Deniliquin to Ouyen                                             

After our late-night birding session the previous day, we made a later start today. After a relaxed breakfast in Deniliquin we birded near town, finding a number of parrots, including our main target for the morning, Superb Parrot. We also enjoyed sightings of Sulphur-crested CockatooLittle CorellaLong-billed CorellaGalahCrimson (Yellow) RosellaEastern RosellaRed-rumped Parrot, and Rainbow Lorikeet. Other birds here included Noisy Friarbird, Little FriarbirdWhite-plumed HoneyeaterBrown Treecreeper, and Sacred Kingfisher.

wetland near the town of Kerang was absolutely heaving with birds and was a special sight to see. We added loads of new birds to our list, including some good ones. Highlights here were Australian PelicanBlack SwanAustralian ShelduckPink-eared DuckHardheadHoary-headed GrebeGreat CormorantGlossy IbisWhite-necked HeronGreat EgretRoyal SpoonbillBanded StiltPied StiltRed-necked AvocetBlack-tailed Nativehen, and Whiskered Tern (along with lots more). A few small passerines were noted along the edge of the wetland, such as White-winged Fairywren and White-fronted Chat.

We continued our journey to Ouyen, where we arrived in the evening. Along the way we spotted CockatielBudgerigarGreater BluebonnetSpotted HarrierWhite-browed WoodswallowMasked WoodswallowBlack-faced WoodswallowSouthern WhitefaceRufous FieldwrenChestnut-rumped Thornbill, and Australian Raven.

 

Day 6, 4th November 2023. Birding Hattah-Kulkyne National Park            

We had an early morning birding session near Ouyen, where we found a beautiful pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters looking glorious in the morning light. We also found our first Purple-backed Fairywrens and White-browed Babblers of the tour here. Brown GoshawkFairy MartinWhite-browed Woodswallow, and Masked Woodswallow were overhead. Nearby, a Peregrine Falcon was perched up on a building and showed well.

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A pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters showed well in the glorious early morning sunlight.

 

After breakfast we spent the rest of the day birding in the mallee habitats of Hattah-Kulkyne National Park and connected with a range of specialized and localized species with the highlights including Malleefowl and Mallee Emu-wren. There were plenty of other good birds picked up across the day, such as EmuRegent ParrotMulga ParrotAustralian RingneckBudgerigarSplendid FairywrenWhite-eared HoneyeaterYellow-plumed HoneyeaterShy HeathwrenInland ThornbillCrested BellbirdGilbert’s WhistlerAustralian RavenApostlebirdSouthern Scrub Robin, and Chestnut-crowned Babbler.

After an early dinner we took a short drive from our accommodation and had the most incredible views of a pair of Pink Cockatoos, (formerly and until recently known as Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo). They dropped out of a tree and drank from a puddle at the side of the road a mere few meters in front of us, displaying their fantastic colorful crests! After the excitement of the cockatoo, we moved to a waterhole where, after a beautiful sunset, we found our main target, a Spotted Nightjar and then a Marble-faced Delma (an uncommon legless lizard). It had been another great day of birding in Australia.

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The views of Pink Cockatoo were simply incredible. What a stunning bird.

 

Day 7, 5th November 2023. Ouyen to Inglewood                                             

We left Ouyen in the early morning but didn’t get far from our accommodation before we made a stop to enjoy a pair of Fairy Martins sat on a phone wire. A couple of minutes later we found ourselves watching a pair of Pink Cockatoos, possibly the same pair we saw the previous evening. Further prolonged views of this most attractive of cockatoos were enjoyed by everyone. As we left Ouyen we found two more of our regional targets, firstly Red-backed Kingfisher and secondly White-backed Swallow. Both showed well, but the kingfisher was extra showy, perching close to us.

We moved down to the Sea Lake area, where, after breakfast, we visited an attractive pink lake. Here we enjoyed sightings of Rufous FieldwrenWhite-winged FairywrenBrown FalconLittle Eagle, and Orange Chat.

In the late morning we made the majority of our drive to Inglewood, our base for the night. We stopped at Mount Korong where we saw Spotted HarrierPeregrine FalconPainted Honeyeater, and several Diamond Firetails and many other birds. Closer to Inglewood we found a waterhole that was, for a while, heaving with honeyeaters. We found White-fronted HoneyeaterWhite-eared HoneyeaterYellow-plumed HoneyeaterYellow-tufted Honeyeater, and Brown-headed Honeyeater. However, the activity was suddenly curtailed by an unseen raptor that flew through the area. We moved on to a different patch of bush, where we saw Western WhistlerGilbert’s WhistlerPurple-backed FairywrenInland Thornbill, and Collared Sparrowhawk.

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Diamond Firetail is an attractive finch and we had good views of several birds coming to drink at a waterhole.

 

Day 8, 6th November 2023. Inglewood to Airey’s Inlet                                   

We left Inglewood in the early morning and made our way to a nearby seasonally flooded swamp. We spent a couple of hours scanning the area, finding several new birds and improving views of several others, including Red-kneed DotterelBlack-fronted DotterelMasked LapwingBlack-tailed NativehenRoyal SpoonbillYellow-billed SpoonbillAustralian ShelduckAustralasian GrebeWhite-necked HeronWhite-bellied Sea EagleWhite-breasted Woodswallow, and Rufous Songlark. We even had a great view of a Yellow-footed Antechinus out in the open.

After the wetland birding and breakfast we visited a couple of different blocks of forest, finding Brown GoshawkCrimson RosellaEastern RosellaEastern SpinebillYellow-tufted HoneyeaterFuscous HoneyeaterYellow-faced HoneyeaterWhite-browed BabblerBlack-faced CuckooshrikeGrey ShrikethrushOlive-backed OrioleMasked WoodswallowWhite-browed WoodswallowWhite-winged ChoughSpotted PardaloteWeebillStriated ThornbillBuff-rumped ThornbillVaried SittellaMistletoebird, and Scarlet Robin.

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Scarlet Robin gave us some good views.

 

After lunch we made the journey down to Airey’s Inlet. We stopped at the town of Lara along the way, where we had a great birding session. Top sightings here included Cape Barren GooseLatham’s SnipeAustralian CrakeAustralasian SwamphenRoyal SpoonbillMusk LorikeetPurple-crowned LorikeetLittle GrassbirdAustralian Reed WarblerGolden-headed CisticolaEuropean GoldfinchEuropean Greenfinch, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

 

Day 9, 7th November 2023. Airey’s Inlet to Melbourne                                  

The final day of our Victoria birding circuit (which included a brief foray into New South Wales), saw us start the day with some birding at Airey’s Inlet. We found our target Rufous Bristlebird, with several birds seen briefly at first, with lots of song, but then a pair of birds showed well in the scrub. A few Australian Gannets were noted offshore here. Because everyone on this tour had taken part in our Tasmania bird tour immediately prior to this tour, we opted to skip our usual other birding sites and target birds in the area as several of the usual target birds had already been seen well on the Tasmania tour. This decision allowed us to spend some extra time in the wonderful and bird-filled Werribee Western Treatment Plant (WTP).

Birding at Werribee WTP was excellent and we recorded over 85 species across a few hours at the site. The list of highlights is long (see the eBird list here), and included BrolgaCape Barren GooseMusk DuckBlue-billed DuckPink-eared DuckAustralasian ShovelerAustralian CrakeBaillon’s CrakeBuff-banded RailBanded StiltRed-capped PloverSharp-tailed SandpiperCurlew SandpiperRed-necked StintCommon GreenshankMarsh SandpiperBlack-tailed GodwitBar-tailed GodwitPied CormorantRoyal SpoonbillYellow-billed SpoonbillGlossy IbisAustralian PelicanGreat Crested GrebeHoary-headed GrebeAustralasian GrebeWhiskered TernSwamp HarrierWhite-fronted ChatGolden-headed CisticolaAustralian Reed WarblerLittle GrassbirdBrown Songlark, and Fairy Martin. Wildfowl and shorebirds were present in the thousands, and it was a seriously impressive sight. We could have easily spent a week going around the site!

After our birding at Werribee WTP, we said farewell to our local guide, Simon, who had once again given us some once-in-a-lifetime birding memories and a fun trip.

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Rufous Bristlebird was skulking in the undergrowth but came out a couple of times for some quick photos.

 

Day 10, 8th November 2023. Melbourne to Brisbane, Brisbane birding and travel to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat                                                                                                                 

We departed Melbourne for our flight to Brisbane in southern Queensland. Everything went smoothly and we arrived in the late morning. After collecting our vehicle, we took a short drive to the beach, where we had a picnic lunch and found the localized duo of Mangrove Honeyeater and Mangrove Gerygone. Our next stop was just to the south of Brisbane, where we found one of the top mammalian targets of the tour, Koala. We found two of them, a male and a female and got some nice views of these very special animals. To add to the exciting experience here, we also found a pair of Tawny Frogmouths at their nest, complete with two young nestlings. Around Brisbane we picked up several other birds, such as Channel-billed CuckooScaly-breasted LorikeetBrown Cuckoo DoveWhite-bellied Sea EagleBrahminy KiteTorresian CrowGrey Butcherbird, and more.

We left the city behind to commence our drive up into the mountains for our stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Along the way, we made a brief stop to look at a roost of Grey-headed Flying Foxes and Little Black Flying Foxes. As we made the final ascent up the mountain we spotted a pair of Glossy Black CockatoosWonga PigeonRed-necked Wallaby and Whiptail Wallaby. As we checked in to our accommodation, we were distracted by the magical sight of four Regent Bowerbirds (see photo in the trip report summary) sitting right in front of us. Add in the Australian King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas all around us and it was a pretty impressive welcoming committee!

 

Day 11, 9th November 2023. Birding at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat

We had a sensational day of birding at O’Reilly’s in Lamington National Park. We had an early start to maximize our time here and were handsomely rewarded. The first bird we saw in the morning was the highly localized Albert’s Lyrebird. It was a brief sighting of a shy bird, so we were left wanting a bit more. We moved to our next spot, where we had some really good views of several White-headed Pigeons, along with Eastern Yellow Robin and Australian Brushturkey. Both Regent Bowerbird and Satin Bowerbird were seen very well, as were Australian King Parrot and Crimson Rosella.

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Satin Bowerbird is easily found at O’Reilly’s Rainforest retreat and looks gorgeous in the correct light.

 

Entering the forest, we focused on the lyrebird and enjoyed a remarkable sighting of a pair of Albert’s Lyrebirds. The female gave some prolonged views as she foraged on the ground, then the male of the pair walked in, before it bounced up and flew high into a tree, where it continued to forage in a bird’s-nest fern, a remarkable and rarely seen behavior. After the lyrebird, which we watched for quite a while, we then also saw a pair of Noisy Pittas. As we walked to the restaurant for breakfast, we noted Wedge-tailed EagleTopknot PigeonPied CurrawongScarlet MyzomelaEastern Spinebill, and Red-browed Finch.

After breakfast we took a forest walk where we concentrated on good views of the local birds, and these included common birds like Grey ShrikethrushWhite-browed ScrubwrenYellow-throated ScrubwrenLarge-billed ScrubwrenBrown GerygoneBrown ThornbillAustralian Golden Whistler, and Eastern Yellow Robin. Highlights during this birding session included excellent sightings of Paradise Riflebird (a male giving prolonged views), Eastern WhipbirdRufous FantailBlack-faced MonarchAustralian LogrunnerGreen Catbird, and Bassian Thrush, not to mention the parrots and bowerbirds also enjoyed all morning! We found a giant Land Mullet (a very large skink) and just before lunch we saw our first Bush Stone-curlew of the tour.

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With patience, it is possible to get great views of the interesting Australian Logrunner in the forest at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

 

After a bit of a break in the early afternoon we headed back out onto the trails at O’Reilly’s for a brief walk. Again, we enjoyed many of the common birds of the area, but also spent time watching a female Paradise Riflebird and several Green Catbirds foraging in the tall rainforest trees. A Wonga Pigeon was walking around on a lawn, and we again had sightings of Albert’s Lyrebird. After another wonderful dinner at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, we took a walk back to our accommodation, finding Short-eared Brushtail PossumCommon Ringtail PossumRed-legged Pademelon, and a roosting Russet-tailed Thrush!

 

Day 12, 10th November 2023. Birding at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, travel to Brisbane then flight to Cairns.

We woke to a damp morning and were instantly grateful for the beautiful day we’d had yesterday, along with all of those great birds. As usual at O’Reilly’s, the great birds are never too far away, and right outside our rooms this morning we found several male Regent BowerbirdsSatin BowerbirdAustralian King ParrotCrimson Rosella, and best of all, a very showy male Paradise Riflebird. After a short walk, where we improved our views of Bassian Thrush, we had breakfast and reluctantly departed to Brisbane.

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Paradise Riflebird gave some very close views at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

 

Once back in Brisbane we caught our flight to Cairns in Far North Queensland. A whole new set of birds was awaiting us and after checking into our beachside hotel we had a brief birding session on the famous Cairns Esplanade where we found Australian SwiftletTorresian Imperial PigeonAustralasian FigbirdHornbill Friarbird, and Varied Honeyeater. The tidal state was not conducive for shorebirds, but there were three Black-fronted Dotterels and a pair of Masked Lapwings near our dinner restaurant.

 

Day 13, 11th November 2023. Great Barrier Reef trip and travel to Mission Beach

A walk along the Cairns Esplanade prior to our Great Barrier Reef boat trip gave us a few good birds, such as Pacific Golden PloverGreat KnotBar-tailed GodwitCurlew Sandpiper, and Australian Pelican along the beach, with Torresian Imperial PigeonNankeen Night HeronPeaceful DoveAustralasian Figbird, and Brown Goshawk all also recorded. There was also a gathering of several Bush Stone-curlews in a car park!

The reef trip was, as always, an enjoyable day with lots of interesting birds seen well, such as Bridled TernSooty TernGreater Crested TernLesser Crested TernBrown BoobyBrown Noddy, and more (many of these birds breeding on Michaelmas Cay). In addition to the great views of the seabirds, we also enjoyed sightings of Leatherback Turtle, and some spectacular reef fish. After getting back to Cairns in the mid-afternoon, we drove south to Mission Beach for the night and enjoyed a celebratory dinner together.

 

Day 14, 12th November 2023. Birding Mission Beach and Atherton Tablelands

Another enjoyable day seeing some of the top birds and wildlife found in Australia. We started the day in Mission Beach, where we quickly found a Southern Cassowary. It was a brief view of a male slowly crossing a road right in front of us before it just melted away into the forest. Incredible, and a sighting that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. After enjoying the Southern Cassowary sighting in Mission Beach, we picked up several other birds, such as White-throated NeedletailBar-shouldered DovePheasant CoucalBrush CuckooBush Stone-curlewOspreyRed-tailed Black CockatooAzure KingfisherForest KingfisherYellow-spotted HoneyeaterBrown-backed HoneyeaterDusky MyzomelaVaried TrillerFairy GerygoneOlive-backed Sunbird, and an impressive nesting colony of the vociferous Metallic Starlings.

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Yellow-spotted Honeyeater was heard and seen plenty of times during the day.

 

After leaving the coast in the middle of the morning, we stopped in at some rainforest, where we had sightings of Grey GoshawkSpectacled MonarchPied MonarchVictoria’s Riflebird (very briefly), Rufous ShrikethrushBarred CuckooshrikeCryptic Honeyeater, and Pale-yellow Robin.

We enjoyed some lunch at Lake Eacham, and afterwards took a short walk through some more rainforest, where we saw Tooth-billed BowerbirdSpotted Catbird (briefly), White-throated TreecreeperOriental DollarbirdGrey-headed Robin, and Macleay’s Honeyeater.

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The range-restricted Tooth-billed Bowerbird gave some good views at his bower.

 

After checking into our rainforest accommodation, we visited a quiet river, where we found another of the most-wanted animals in Australia, the Platypus. We enjoyed prolonged views as one foraged right in front of us. We saw quite a few interesting mammals here and back at our accommodation in the late-afternoon and evening, including Agile WallabyRed-necked PademelonMusky Rat KangarooYellow-footed AntechinusBush RatLong-nosed BandicootSpectacled Flying Fox, and Sugar Glider.

 

Day 15, 13th November 2023. Birding the Atherton Tablelands

We spent the day birding in the Atherton Tablelands, visiting a few different sites and habitats. In the morning, around our accommodation, we found Victoria’s RiflebirdSpotted CatbirdTooth-billed BowerbirdBarred CuckooshrikeWhite-bellied CuckooshrikeWompoo Fruit DoveBrown Cuckoo DoveGrey-headed RobinRufous Shrikethrush, and more.

After breakfast we moved across to the Curtain Fig Tree National Park where we marveled at the giant and impressive fig tree, complete with an attractive Boyd’s Forest Dragon and showy male Australian Golden Whistler. Nearby we found BrolgaSarus CraneSpotted HarrierBlack KiteWhistling KiteBlack-shouldered Kite, and Brown Falcon. A real treat was a Feral Dog (Dingo) which came purposefully through our view before disappearing into some tall vegetation.

Our next stop was the wonderful Hasties Swamp where we were greeted by thousands of Plumed Whistling Ducks and the highly anticipated Magpie Goose. Seeing and hearing vast numbers of these birds is always a thrill. At the swamp, we also found Wandering Whistling DuckHardheadGrey TealGreat EgretIntermediate EgretNankeen Night HeronSarus CraneBrolgaAustralian PelicanRoyal SpoonbillAustralasian DarterRed-kneed DotterelBlack-fronted DotterelSharp-tailed Sandpiper, and Forest Kingfisher.

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Forest Kingfisher was glowing!

 

After lunch and a short break, we visited a small patch of rainforest, where, with a lot of searching, we found a family group of the tough-to-see, Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroos. Another mammalian Australian tour highlight, for sure. After our dinner we went on a night safari, looking for birds, reptiles, and mammals, and it was highly successful. During a visit to some rainforest, we saw Lesser Sooty OwlBush Stone-curlewStriped PossumGreen Ringtail PossumCommon (Coppery) Brushtail PossumLong-nosed BandicootGiant White-tailed RatRed-legged PademelonNorthern Leaf-tail GeckoBoyd’s Forest Dragon, and Amethystine Python.

 

Day 16, 14th November 2023. Birding the Atherton Tablelands and Mareeba area

We started our day birding at Lake Eacham, getting the morning started with great views of Victoria’s RiflebirdSpotted CatbirdSuperb Fruit DovePacific Emerald DoveDouble-eyed Fig ParrotBarred Cuckooshrike, and many more top-quality birds.

After breakfast we left Lake Eacham for Mount Hypipamee. A stop along the way gave us Tawny GrassbirdGolden-headed CisticolaChestnut-breasted Mannikin, three huge Channel-billed Cuckoos, and the goliath Wedge-tailed Eagle at close range. On arrival at our next rainforest birding patch, we headed into the forest and staked out a Golden Bowerbird bower. We got brief views of an adult male, followed by a female, and then an immature male that gave brilliant prolonged and close views. Further exploration of the forest resulted in sightings of Amethystine PythonBridled HoneyeaterBower’s ShrikethrushMountain ThornbillAtherton ScrubwrenPied MonarchPale-yellow RobinPacific Baza, and Peregrine Falcon.

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Victoria’s Riflebird was the second bird-of-paradise enjoyed on this Australian bird tour.

 

After lunch we came off the fertile Atherton Tablelands and down into the drier zone around the small town of Mareeba. We visited Granite Gorge, where we had excellent close looks at the rather cute Mareeba Rock Wallaby, but also found some good birds, with the highlights (of which there were many), including Great Bowerbird (meticulously attending to his bower), Squatter PigeonPale-headed RosellaWedge-tailed EagleGreen OrioleOlive-backed OrioleYellow HoneyeaterLeaden Flycatcher, and more.

After checking into our accommodation on the edge of town, we birded at a site just outside Mareeba, where we added a few new species to our list, such as displaying Australian BustardsAustralian HobbyRed-backed Fairywren, and Blue-winged Kookaburra.

 

Day 17, 15th November 2023. Birding from Mareeba to the Mount Lewis area, Daintree River dusk boat trip, and travel to Cairns

We spent the morning birding in the dry habitats near Mareeba, where we saw Red-winged ParrotRed-tailed Black CockatooLemon-bellied FlyrobinWhite-throated HoneyeaterYellow HoneyeaterBrown HoneyeaterBrush CuckooSacred Kingfisher, and Blue-winged Kookaburra. An area of swamp was full of birds, including the giant Black-necked Stork and Brolga, along with Radjah ShelduckRed-kneed Dotterel, and lots more, including numerous Black Kites and Whistling Kites.

We followed up the dry country birding with some time in mixed eucalyptus and rainforest (which was also actually quite dry this year), where we found Lovely FairywrenNorthern FantailRufous FantailSuperb Fruit DovePale-yellow Robin, and Yellow-breasted Boatbill.

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A pair of Lovely Fairywrens were enjoyed on our final full day of birding on this Australian bird tour, this male showed very well.

 

In the afternoon, we had a final couple of rainforest patches to check, and we were successful in finding a pair of Papuan Frogmouths and then the spectacular Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, the latter a fresh arrival from New Guinea and staking a claim to his summer breeding territory.

The final birding of the day was on the Daintree River, where we enjoyed a dusk boat cruise, adding several new species for the tour, and improving views and photos of others, including Spotted Whistling DuckRadjah ShelduckPapuan FrogmouthGreat-billed HeronBlack BitternAzure KingfisherBrahminy KitePacific KoelGreen OrioleShining FlycatcherWompoo Fruit Dove (on a nest), and plenty more. Additional highlights included Green Tree Snake and Saltwater Crocodile sightings.

After enjoying our Daintree River boat trip, we drove back to Cairns for the final night of the tour. During our drive back to Cairns we discussed possible “bird of the trip” candidates, and it was very hard to pick a top bird given all the high-quality birds we’d seen over the previous weeks. Some of the favorites included (in no particular order!); Pink CockatooRed-backed FairywrenSouthern CassowaryPlains-wandererGolden Bowerbird, and Red-chested Buttonquail.

 

Day 18, 16th November 2023. Birding Cairns Esplanade and tour concluded with departure from Cairns

We had a final breakfast in Cairns and said goodbye to Steve, who had been an excellent and incredibly knowledgeable local guide during our time in Queensland. We had a final, short birding session along Cairns Esplanade as the tidal situation was perfect. Numbers of shorebirds were lower than is often the case at this time of year, but we added several new species for the tour, including Pacific Reef HeronAustralian TernCaspian TernFar Eastern CurlewEurasian Whimbrel, and Grey-tailed Tattler. We also gained some very close views of other species seen previously, such as Bar-tailed GodwitCommon GreenshankCurlew SandpiperPied StiltBlack-fronted DotterelSilver Gull, and Little Tern.

With our final birding session complete it was time for saying goodbye. It had been an incredibly fun tour, with lots of laughs along the way, as well as been packed full of some of the best birds of Australia and some of the most wanted mammals on the continent. A huge thank you to everyone for making this such a fantastic tour, I look forward to traveling with you all again soon. Trip lists for birds, other wildlife, and interesting plants follow.

eastern australia report

Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher was a final highlight of the rainforest element of this Australian birding tour.

 

Bird List – Following IOC (13.2)

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen. The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following BirdLife International: EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.

Common Name Scientific Name
Cassowaries, Emu (Casuariidae)
Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarius
Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae
Magpie Goose (Anseranatidae)
Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata
Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
Spotted Whistling Duck Dendrocygna guttata
Plumed Whistling Duck Dendrocygna eytoni
Wandering Whistling Duck Dendrocygna arcuate
Cape Barren Goose Cereopsis novaehollandiae
Black Swan Cygnus atratus
Radjah Shelduck Radjah radjah
Australian Shelduck Tadorna tadornoides
Pink-eared Duck Malacorhynchus membranaceus
Maned Duck Chenonetta jubata
Australasian Shoveler Spatula rhynchotis
Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa
Grey Teal Anas gracilis
Chestnut Teal Anas castanea
Hardhead Aythya australis
Blue-billed Duck Oxyura australis
Musk Duck Biziura lobata
Megapodes (Megapodiidae)
Australian Brushturkey Alectura lathami
Malleefowl – VU Leipoa ocellata
Orange-footed Scrubfowl Megapodius reinwardt
Guineafowl (Numididae)
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)
Brown Quail (H) Synoicus ypsilophorus
Stubble Quail Coturnix pectoralis
Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)
Spotted Nightjar Eurostopodus argus
Frogmouths (Podargidae)
Papuan Frogmouth Podargus papuensis
Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides
Owlet-nightjars (Aegothelidae)
Australian Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles cristatus
Swifts (Apodidae)
Australian Swiftlet Aerodramus terraereginae
White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus
Bustards (Otididae)
Australian Bustard Ardeotis australis
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Pheasant Coucal Centropus phasianinus
Pacific Koel Eudynamys orientalis
Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae
Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis
Shining Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx lucidus
Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus
Pallid Cuckoo Cacomantis pallidus
Fan-tailed Cuckoo Cacomantis flabelliformis
Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Rock Dove [Feral Pigeon] Columba livia dom.
White-headed Pigeon Columba leucomela
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
Brown Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia phasianella
Pacific Emerald Dove Chalcophaps longirostris
Common Bronzewing Phaps chalcoptera
Brush Bronzewing Phaps elegans
Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes
Squatter Pigeon Geophaps scripta
Wonga Pigeon Leucosarcia melanoleuca
Peaceful Dove Geopelia placida
Bar-shouldered Dove Geopelia humeralis
Wompoo Fruit Dove Ptilinopus magnificus
Superb Fruit Dove Ptilinopus superbus
Rose-crowned Fruit Dove (H) Ptilinopus regina
Torresian Imperial Pigeon Ducula spilorrhoa
Topknot Pigeon Lopholaimus antarcticus
Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)
Buff-banded Rail Hypotaenidia philippensis
Australian Crake Porzana fluminea
Black-tailed Nativehen Tribonyx ventralis
Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Australasian Swamphen Porphyrio melanotus
Baillon’s Crake Zapornia pusilla
Spotless Crake Zapornia tabuensis
Cranes (Gruidae)
Sarus Crane – VU Antigone Antigone
Brolga Antigone rubicunda
Grebes (Podicipedidae)
Australasian Grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae
Hoary-headed Grebe Poliocephalus poliocephalus
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Buttonquail (Turnicidae)
Painted Buttonquail Turnix varius
Red-chested Buttonquail Turnix pyrrhothorax
Little Buttonquail Turnix velox
Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)
Bush Stone-curlew Burhinus grallarius
Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)
Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris
Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)
Pied Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus
Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus
Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae
Plovers (Charadriidae)
Banded Lapwing Vanellus tricolor
Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
Red-kneed Dotterel Erythrogonys cinctus
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Red-capped Plover Charadrius ruficapillus
Black-fronted Dotterel Elseyornis melanops
Jacanas (Jacanidae)
Comb-crested Jacana Irediparra gallinacea
Plains-wanderer (Pedionomidae)
Plains-wanderer – EN Pedionomus torquatus
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Eurasian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Far Eastern Curlew – EN Numenius madagascariensis
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Great Knot – EN Calidris tenuirostris
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper – VU Calidris acuminata
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis
Latham’s Snipe Gallinago hardwickii
Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
 
Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)
Brown Noddy Anous stolidus
Silver Gull Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae
Australian Tern Gelochelidon macrotarsa
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis
Little Tern Sternula albifrons
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus
Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
Storks (Ciconiidae)
Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus
Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)
Australasian Gannet Morus serrator
Red-footed Booby Sula sula
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
Anhingas, Darters (Anhingidae)
Australasian Darter Anhinga novaehollandiae
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Little Pied Cormorant Microcarbo melanoleucos
Australian Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax varius
Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)
Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia
Yellow-billed Spoonbill Platalea flavipes
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis
Nankeen Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus
White-necked Heron Ardea pacifica
Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana
Great Egret Ardea alba
Intermediate (Plumed) Egret Ardea intermedia
White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra
Pelicans (Pelecanidae)
Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus
Ospreys (Pandionidae)
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus axillaris
Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata
Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides
Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax
Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae
Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus
Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus
Swamp Harrier Circus approximans
Spotted Harrier Circus assimilis
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
White-bellied Sea Eagle Icthyophaga leucogaster
Barn Owls (Tytonidae)
Greater Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa
Lesser Sooty Owl Tyto multipunctata
Eastern Barn Owl Tyto javanica
Owls (Strigidae)
Australian Boobook Ninox boobook
Rollers (Coraciidae)
Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera sylvia
Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae
Blue-winged Kookaburra Dacelo leachii
Forest Kingfisher Todiramphus macleayii
Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus
Red-backed Kingfisher Todiramphus pyrrhopygius
Azure Kingfisher Ceyx azureus
Bee-eaters (Meropidae)
Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Nankeen Kestrel Falco cenchroides
Australian Hobby Falco longipennis
Brown Falcon Falco berigora
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Cockatoos (Cacatuidae)
Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii
Glossy Black Cockatoo – VU Calyptorhynchus lathami
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo Zanda funerea
Gang-gang Cockatoo – VU Callocephalon fimbriatum
Galah Eolophus roseicapilla
Pink Cockatoo Cacatua leadbeateri
Long-billed Corella Cacatua tenuirostris
Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita
Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)
Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii
Regent Parrot Polytelis anthopeplus
Australian King Parrot Alisterus scapularis
Red-winged Parrot Aprosmictus erythropterus
Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonotus
Eastern Bluebonnet Northiella haematogaster
Mulga Parrot Psephotellus varius
Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans
Pale-headed Rosella Platycercus adscitus
Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius
Australian Ringneck Barnardius zonarius
Turquoise Parrot Neophema pulchella
Purple-crowned Lorikeet Parvipsitta porphyrocephala
Little Lorikeet Parvipsitta pusilla
Musk Lorikeet Glossopsitta concinna
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus
Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus moluccanus
Budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus
Double-eyed Fig Parrot Cyclopsitta diophthalma
Pittas (Pittidae)
Noisy Pitta Pitta versicolor
Lyrebirds (Menuridae)
Albert’s Lyrebird Menura alberti
Superb Lyrebird Menura novaehollandiae
Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchidae)
Green Catbird Ailuroedus crassirostris
Spotted Catbird Ailuroedus maculosus
Tooth-billed Bowerbird Scenopoeetes dentirostris
Golden Bowerbird Prionodura newtoniana
Regent Bowerbird Sericulus chrysocephalus
Satin Bowerbird Ptilonorhynchus violaceus
Great Bowerbird Chlamydera nuchalis
Australasian Treecreepers (Climacteridae)
White-throated Treecreeper Cormobates leucophaea
Red-browed Treecreeper Climacteris erythrops
Brown Treecreeper Climacteris picumnus
Australasian Wrens (Maluridae)
Lovely Fairywren Malurus amabilis
Purple-backed Fairywren Malurus assimilis
Superb Fairywren Malurus cyaneus
Splendid Fairywren Malurus splendens
Red-backed Fairywren Malurus melanocephalus
White-winged Fairywren Malurus leucopterus
Mallee Emu-wren – EN Stipiturus mallee
Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)
Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris
Orange Chat Epthianura aurifrons
White-fronted Chat Epthianura albifrons
Brown-backed Honeyeater Ramsayornis modestus
Black Honeyeater Sugomel nigrum
Dusky Myzomela Myzomela obscura
Scarlet Myzomela Myzomela sanguinolenta
Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis
Hornbill Friarbird Philemon yorki
Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculatus
Macleay’s Honeyeater Xanthotis macleayanus
Striped Honeyeater Plectorhyncha lanceolata
Painted Honeyeater Grantiella picta
Crescent Honeyeater Phylidonyris pyrrhopterus
New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris novaehollandiae
Brown Honeyeater Lichmera indistincta
White-eared Honeyeater Nesoptilotis leucotis
Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis
Black-chinned Honeyeater Melithreptus gularis
Brown-headed Honeyeater Melithreptus brevirostris
White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis
White-naped Honeyeater Melithreptus lunatus
Yellow Honeyeater Stomiopera flava
Yellow-spotted Honeyeater Meliphaga notata
Lewin’s Honeyeater Meliphaga lewinii
White-fronted Honeyeater Purnella albifrons
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops
Cryptic Honeyeater Microptilotis imitatrix
Varied Honeyeater Gavicalis versicolor
Mangrove Honeyeater Gavicalis fasciogularis
Singing Honeyeater Gavicalis virescens
Fuscous Honeyeater Ptilotula fusca
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater Ptilotula ornata
White-plumed Honeyeater Ptilotula penicillata
Yellow-faced Honeyeater Caligavis chrysops
Little Wattlebird Anthochaera chrysoptera
Red Wattlebird Anthochaera carunculata
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater Acanthagenys rufogularis
Bridled Honeyeater Bolemoreus frenatus
Bell Miner Manorina melanophrys
Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala
Yellow-throated Miner Manorina flavigula
Bristlebirds (Dasyornithidae)
Rufous Bristlebird Dasyornis broadbenti
Pardalotes (Pardalotidae)
Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus
Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus
Australasian Warblers (Acanthizidae)
Weebill Smicrornis brevirostris
Striated Fieldwren Calamanthus fuliginosus
Rufous Fieldwren Calamanthus campestris
Shy Heathwren Hylacola cauta
Speckled Warbler Pyrrholaemus sagittatus
Yellow-throated Scrubwren Neosericornis citreogularis
Large-billed Scrubwren Sericornis magnirostra
Atherton Scrubwren – VU Sericornis keri
White-browed Scrubwren Sericornis frontalis
Brown Gerygone Gerygone mouki
Mangrove Gerygone Gerygone levigaster
Western Gerygone Gerygone fusca
Large-billed Gerygone Gerygone magnirostris
White-throated Gerygone Gerygone olivacea
Fairy Gerygone Gerygone palpebrosa
Mountain Thornbill – VU Acanthiza katherina
Brown Thornbill Acanthiza pusilla
Inland Thornbill Acanthiza apicalis
Chestnut-rumped Thornbill Acanthiza uropygialis
Buff-rumped Thornbill Acanthiza reguloides
Yellow-rumped Thornbill Acanthiza chrysorrhoa
Yellow Thornbill Acanthiza nana
Striated Thornbill Acanthiza lineata
Southern Whiteface – VU Aphelocephala leucopsis
Australasian Babblers (Pomatostomidae)
Grey-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis
White-browed Babbler Pomatostomus superciliosus
Chestnut-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus ruficeps
Logrunners (Orthonychidae)
Australian Logrunner Orthonyx temminckii
Whipbirds (Psophodidae)
Eastern Whipbird Psophodes olivaceus
Boatbills (Machaerirhynchidae)
Yellow-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus flaviventer
Woodswallows, Butcherbirds & Allies (Artamidae)
White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus
Masked Woodswallow Artamus personatus
White-browed Woodswallow Artamus superciliosus
Black-faced Woodswallow Artamus cinereus
Dusky Woodswallow Artamus cyanopterus
Black Butcherbird Melloria quoyi
Australian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen
Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus
Pied Butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis
Pied Currawong Strepera graculina
Grey Currawong Strepera versicolor
Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)
Barred Cuckooshrike Coracina lineata
Black-faced Cuckooshrike Coracina novaehollandiae
White-bellied Cuckooshrike Coracina papuensis
White-winged Triller Lalage tricolor
Varied Triller Lalage leucomela
Sittellas (Neosittidae)
Varied Sittella Daphoenositta chrysoptera
Australo-Papuan Bellbirds (Oreoicidae)
Crested Bellbird (H) Oreoica gutturalis
Whistlers & Allies (Pachycephalidae)
Gilbert’s Whistler Pachycephala inornata
Grey Whistler Pachycephala simplex
Australian Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis
Western Whistler Pachycephala fuliginosa
Rufous Whistler Pachycephala rufiventris
Bower’s Shrikethrush – VU Colluricincla boweri
Rufous Shrikethrush Colluricincla rufogaster
Grey Shrikethrush Colluricincla harmonica
Figbirds, Old World Orioles, Piopios (Oriolidae)
Australasian Figbird Sphecotheres vieilloti
Olive-backed Oriole Oriolus sagittatus
Green Oriole Oriolus flavocinctus
Drongos (Dicruridae)
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus
Fantails (Rhipiduridae)
Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
Northern Fantail Rhipidura rufiventris
Grey Fantail Rhipidura albiscapa
Rufous Fantail Rhipidura rufifrons
Monarchs (Monarchidae)
Spectacled Monarch Symposiachrus trivirgatus
Black-faced Monarch Monarcha melanopsis
Pied Monarch Arses kaupi
Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca
Leaden Flycatcher Myiagra rubecula
Satin Flycatcher Myiagra cyanoleuca
Shining Flycatcher Myiagra alecto
Restless Flycatcher Myiagra inquieta
Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
Torresian Crow Corvus orru
Little Raven Corvus mellori
Australian Raven Corvus coronoides
Australian Mudnesters (Corcoracidae)
White-winged Chough Corcorax melanorhamphos
Apostlebird Struthidea cinerea
Birds-of-paradise (Paradisaeidae)
Paradise Riflebird Ptiloris paradiseus
Victoria’s Riflebird – VU Ptiloris victoriae
Australasian Robins (Petroicidae)
Pale-yellow Robin Tregellasia capito
Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis
Hooded Robin Melanodryas cucullata
Grey-headed Robin Heteromyias cinereifrons
Southern Scrub Robin Drymodes brunneopygia
Lemon-bellied Flyrobin Microeca flavigaster
Jacky Winter Microeca fascinans
Rose Robin Petroica rosea
Flame Robin Petroica phoenicea
Scarlet Robin Petroica boodang
Red-capped Robin Petroica goodenovii
Larks (Alaudidae)
Singing (Horsfield’s) Bush Lark Mirafra javanica
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
White-backed Swallow Cheramoeca leucosterna
Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena
Fairy Martin Petrochelidon ariel
Reed Warblers & Allies (Acrocephalidae)
Australian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus australis
 
Grassbirds & Allies (Locustellidae)
Little Grassbird Poodytes gramineus
Brown Songlark Cincloramphus cruralis
Rufous Songlark Cincloramphus mathewsi
Tawny Grassbird Cincloramphus timoriensis
Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)
Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis
White-eyes (Zosteropidae)
Silvereye Zosterops lateralis
Starlings, Rhabdornises (Sturnidae)
Metallic Starling Aplonis metallica
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Thrushes (Turdidae)
Russet-tailed Thrush Zoothera heinei
Bassian Thrush Zoothera lunulata
Common Blackbird Turdus merula
Flowerpeckers (Dicaeidae)
Mistletoebird Dicaeum hirundinaceum
Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)
Olive-backed (Sahul) Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)
Diamond Firetail – VU Stagonopleura guttata
Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis
Chestnut-breasted Mannikin Lonchura castaneothorax
 
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)
Australian Pipit Anthus australis
Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)
European Greenfinch Chloris chloris
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Total seen 376
Total heard only 3
Total recorded 379

Mammal List

Common Name Scientific Name
Felids (Felidae)
Domestic (Feral) Cat Felis catus
 
Canids (Canidae)
Feral Dog (Dingo) Canis familiaris dingo
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
 
Deer (Cervidae)
Sambar (H) Rusa unicolor
 
Old World Fruit Bats (Pteropodidae)
Black Flying Fox Pteropus alecto
Spectacled Flying Fox Pteropus conspicillatus
Grey-headed Flying Fox Pteropus poliocephalus
 
Dasyures (Dasyuridae)
Yellow-footed Antechinus Antechinus flavipes
Fat-tailed Dunnart Sminthopsis crassicaudata
 
Musky Rat Kangaroos (Hypsiprymnodontidae)
Musky Rat Kangaroo Hypsiprymnodon moschatus
 
Kangaroos, Wallabies, and Allies (Macropodidae)
Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo Dendrolagus lumholtzi
Whiptail Wallaby Notamacropus parryi
Agile Wallaby Notamacropus agilis
Red-necked Wallaby Notamacropus rufogriseus
Western Grey Kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus
Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus
Red Kangaroo Osphranter rufus
Mareeba Rock Wallaby Petrogale mareeba
Red-legged Pademelon Thylogale stigmatica
Red-necked Pademelon Thylogale thetis
Swamp Wallaby Wallabia bicolor
 
Cuscuses and Brushtail Possums (Phalangeridae)
Common (Common) Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula vulpecula
Common (Coppery) Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula johnstonii
Short-eared Brushtail Possum Trichosurus caninus
 
Gliders, Trioks, and Allies (Petauridae)
Striped Possum Dactylopsila trivirgata
Sugar Glider Petaurus breviceps
Yellow-bellied Glider Petaurus australis
 
Ringtail Possums (Pseudocheiridae)
Greater Glider Petauroides volans
Common Ringtail Possum Pseudocheirus peregrinus
Green Ringtail Possum Pseudochirops archeri
 
Koalas (Phascolarctidae)
Koala Phascolarctos cinereus
 
Hares and Rabbits (Leporidae)
European Hare Lepus europaeus
European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
 
Platypuses (Ornithorhynchidae)
Platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus
 
Bandicoots (Peramelidae)
Long-nosed Bandicoot Perameles nasuta
 
Old World Mice and Rats (Muridae)
White-tailed Giant Rat Uromys caudimaculatus
Australian Swamp Rat Rattus letreolus
Bush Rat Rattus fuscipes
House (Black) Rat Rattus rattus
House Mouse Mus musculus
 
Suids (Suidae)
Wild Boar (Feral Pig) Sus scrofa
Total 40

Reptile List

Common Name Scientific Name
Crocodiles (Crocodylidae)
Saltwater Crocodile Crocodylus porosus
 
Monitor Lizards (Varanidae)
(Gould’s) Sand Goanna Varanus gouldii
 
Australian Leaf-tailed, Thick-tailed, and Knob-tailed Geckos (Carphodactylidae)
Northern Leaf-tail Gecko Saltuarius cornutus
 
Geckos (Gekkonidae)
Common House Gecko Hemidactylus frenatus
 
Dragons (Agamidae)
Boyd’s Forest Dragon Lophosaurus boydii
Mallee Dragon Ctenophorus fordi
Eastern Bearded Dragon Pogona barbata
Lined Earless Dragon Tympanocryptis lineata
 
Skinks (Scincidae)
Pale-rumped Ctenotus Ctenotus regius
Robust Ctenotus Ctenotus robustus
(Eastern)Tree Skink Egernia striolata
Shingleback Lizard Tiliqua rugosa
Red-throated Rainbow-skink Carlia rubrigularis
Land Mullet Bellatorias major
 
Legless Geckos (Pygopodidae)
Marble-faced Delma Delma australis
 
Colubrid Snakes (Colubridae)
Green Tree Snake Dendrelaphis punctulatus
 
Elapid Snakes (Elapidae)
Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis
Mainland Island Snake (Tiger Snake) Notechis scutatus
 
Pythons (Pythonidae)
Amethystine (Australian Scrub) Python Morelia amethistina
 
Freshwater Turtles (Cheluidae)
Macquarie (Murray) Turtle Emydura macquarii macquarii
 
Austro-American Side-necked Turtles (Chelidae)
Eastern Saw-shelled Turtle Myuchelys latisternum
Northern Snake-necked Turtle Chelodina oblonga
 
Typical Sea Turtles (Cheloniidae)
Loggerhead Turtle Caretta caretta
Total 23

Notable Other Taxa List

Common Name Scientific Name
Australasian Tree Frogs (Pelodryadidae)
Brown Tree Frog Litoria ewingii
Green and Gold Frog Litoria raniformis
 
True Toads (Bufonidae)  
Cane Toad Rhinella marina
 
Swallowtails and Parnassians (Papilionidae)
Cairns Birdwing Ornithoptera euphorion
Orchard Swallowtail Papilio Aegeus
Lime Swallowtail Papilio demoleus
 
Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)
Monarch Danaus plexippus
Australian Painted Lady Vanessa kershawi
Common Brown Heteronympha merope
Great Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina
Yellow-eyed Plane Neptis praslini
 
Whites, Yellows, and Sulphurs (Pieridae)
Caper White Belonis java
Small White Pieris rapae
Imperial Jezebel Delias harpalyce
Spotted Jezebel Delias aganippe
Common Grass Yellow Eurema hecabe
 
Gossamer-winged Butterflies (Lycaenidae)
Saltbush Blue Theclinesthes serpentata
Common Imperial Blue Jalmenus evagoras
 
Skimmers (Libellulidae)
Blue Skimmer Orthetrum caledonicum
Common Glider Tramea loewii
Painted Grasshawk Neurothemis stigmatizans
Graphic Flutterer Rhyothemis graphiptera
 
Darners (Aeshnidae)
Australian Emperor Anax papuensis
 
Spreadwings and Allies (Lestidae)
Wandering Ringtail Austrolestes leda
 
 
Emerald Dragonflies (Corduliidae)
Tau Emerald Hemicordulia tau
 
Bluestreaks and Rockmasters (Lestoideidae)
Tropical Rockmaster Diphlebia euphoeoides
 
Ants (Formicidae)
Asian Weaver (Green) Ant Oecophylla smaragdina
 
Cockles (Cardiidae)
Small Giant Clam Tridacna maxima
 
Orchids (Orchidaceae)
Large Flying Duck Orchid Caleana major
Hornet (Tiger) Orchid Diuris sulphurea
Eastern Mantis Orchid Caladenia tentaculate
Spotted Sun-Orchid Thelymitra ixioides
Red Beard Orchid Calochilus paludosus
Purple Beard Orchid Calochilus robertsonii
Thin Pencil Orchid Dendrobium teretifolium
 
Bladderworts (Lentibulariaceae)
Fairy Aprons Utricularia dichotoma
Total 36

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

Birding Tour Australia: Eastern Australia – From The Outback To The Wet Tropics


Tour-Specific Information

 

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT AUSTRALIA CAN BE READ HERE

 

TOUR OUTLINE

This is a comprehensive birding tour of eastern Australia. The first leg of our eastern Australian bird tour starts in Melbourne, Victoria. It makes a circuit around the southeastern Australian state (including a brief foray into southern New South Wales, where we will make a nocturnal trip for the monotypic and extremely rare Plains-wanderer) before returning to Melbourne. The second leg of the tour sees us flying from Melbourne to Brisbane in southern Queensland; here, we will visit the fantastic O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. After our birding in Lamington National Park, we will fly north from Brisbane to Cairns (Far North Queensland) for the third and final leg of the tour. From Cairns, we will make a circuit of the fertile and rainforest-clad Atherton Tablelands and the adjacent dry country lower down in the foothills. While in Queensland, our tour also includes a boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef and a boat cruise along the Daintree River. We will finish up our eastern Australian birdwatching tour back in Cairns, where the tour will conclude.

This is our most popular Australian birdwatching tour. There are a lot of simply incredible birds possible on this eastern Australia birding tour (which also combines perfectly with our Tasmania bird tour, which many people choose to do). Top highlights include Southern Cassowary, Malleefowl, Superb Lyrebird, Albert’s Lyrebird, Brolga, Rufous Scrubbird, Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Golden Bowerbird, Great Bowerbird, Green Catbird, Paradise Riflebird, Victoria’s Riflebird, Australian King Parrot, Gang-gang Cockatoo, Pink (Major Mitchell’s) Cockatoo, Superb Parrot, Shy Heathwren, Striated Fieldwren, Mallee Emu-wren, Superb Fairywren, White-winged Fairywren, Striated Grassbird, Australian Logrunner, Chowchilla, Painted Honeyeater, and Diamond Firetail. This Australian bird tour also offers some excellent and emblematic Australian mammals, such as Platypus, Short-beaked Echidna, Koala, Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo, and Red Kangaroo. A high-quality list of reptiles, amphibians, and other critters can be enjoyed too. This is the best birding tour if you’ve never visited Australia before.

The Victoria section of this Australian bird tour may run in reverse to the order advertised in the itinerary, based on the availability of accommodation and local guides. On some occasions, we need to run the tour in reverse, e.g., starting in Cairns and ending in Melbourne with Brisbane in the middle. We will go to exactly the same places but just in the opposite order shown in the online itinerary. Please confirm the order of the route with us prior to purchasing your international flight tickets for the start and end of the tour.

 

DAILY ACTIVITIES, PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS, AND TOUR PACE

Our comprehensive eastern Australia birding tour moves at quite a fast pace. We will cover a lot of ground on this Australian birdwatching tour, with a big overland circuit of the western side of Victoria (starting and ending at Melbourne airport) and including a trip into southern New South Wales at Deniliquin. In Victoria, we will visit the towns of Healesville, Wangaratta, Ouyen, Inglewood, and Airey’s Inlet. We will take two domestic flights during our bird tour, Melbourne to Brisbane and Brisbane to Cairns. There will be less driving in Brisbane (southern Queensland) as most of our time will be spent on foot around O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, once we get there, after some birding in the Brisbane mangroves. In northern Queensland, we will take a boat trip onto the Great Barrier Reef, then make a circuit from Cairns south along the coast to Mission Beach, before coming inland and up onto the fertile Atherton Tablelands. After birding the tablelands, we will drop down to the dry north for a different set of birds, before finishing up back at Cairns after a boat cruise along the Daintree River. There is less driving in northern Queensland than in Victoria. This Australian bird tour will cover a wide range of habitats and a big trip list of 375 – 400 bird species should be expected.

In Victoria, we will have long drives of 4 – 6 hours on most days to get between different birding areas. In Queensland, we will have drives of 2 – 3 hours. We will usually have a pre-breakfast early morning birding session and then, after breakfast, do a little more birding in our local area before the heat increases and bird activity drops. We then move off to our next area. We will usually aim to make the drives across the middle of the day and break them up with lunch stops and restroom/coffee breaks.

The tour is generally considered easy to moderate in terms of physical exertion. However, the inland temperatures during the day, even during the spring period, could get high (see the “Weather” section below), so dehydration needs to be always considered a possibility, as does heat stroke and sunburn, etc.

In Victoria, we tend to make short and productive walks from our vehicle in a loop of up to 0.6 – 1.2 miles (1 – 2 kilometers/km), and we may make several of these a day. On a couple of occasions in Victoria, we are likely to make slightly longer walks of 2.5 miles (4 km). In Lamington National Park, we will spend most of our time on foot walking around the forest trails and roads (as well as mooching around the excellent retreat gardens). We will usually make a pre-breakfast walk of 1.2 miles (2 km), a post-breakfast walk of 3.5 – 5 miles (6 – 8 km), and then a late afternoon walk of a similar distance. All walks at O’Reilly’s are totally optional. If you’d rather sit in the garden soaking up the wonderful birds on offer, such as Crimson Rosella, Australian King Parrot, Regent Bowerbird, and Satin Bowerbird, that’s totally fine. In the tropical north of Queensland, we will make short walks of 0.6 – 1.2 miles (1 – 2 km) at different sites, and we might make several of these a day. We usually walk from our hotel to the quay to meet our reef trip boat, this is 0.6 miles (1 km). The trail at Mount Lewis is the hardest trail as it involves some incline and maneuvering around fallen trees and some rocks, but it’s still relatively easy, and we will take it at a slow birding pace. Walking in Victoria is often on fairly flat but rough (uneven) ground with rabbit holes and loose rocks, so care needs to be taken. In some areas, such as the mallee habitats, we will be walking in very spiky spinifex grass. Snakes should always be considered when on foot on the whole tour route.

We will make a few general nighttime trips for nocturnal birds and wildlife during the tour (weather permitting), as well as the specific Plains-wanderer trip (see details below). Most owling/mammal-watching sessions will last an hour or so, usually after dinner, and these are all optional.

 

TRANSPORTATION

We will use 12-seater minibuses on this tour; these will be collected in each city we arrive in and dropped back off there on our return. There will be limited baggage space, so please pack as lightly as possible for the tour (including within the seating area). We will have some long drives on the tour, particularly in Victoria (often on long straight roads). Some of the drives, particularly in Queensland, will involve long and windy mountain roads, so if you suffer from motion sickness, you might want to be prepared for that (e.g., the drive up to and down from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, the drive up and down Mount Lewis, and as we climb up and drop off the Atherton Tablelands). When we make our Plains-wanderer trip, the group might get split into two vehicles with our local guides; these might be 4×4 Toyota Hilux / Landcruiser-type vehicles. See the “Plains-wanderer Trip” section below for more information.

We will make two boat trips on this tour, see the “Boat Trips” section below, and we will also take two domestic flights during this tour, see the “Domestic Flights” section below.

 

BOAT TRIPS

We will take a boat trip out onto the Great Barrier Reef. This is not a private reef trip, and there will be up to around 30 participants on the boat. This is one of the smaller boats that goes to the reef, and it is usually the first boat there, which means we will likely get to Michaelmas Cay prior to too much disturbance. The boat has a no-shoe policy, so footwear should be removed upon entering. We will be out on the water from around 07:30 hrs. to around 15:00 hrs.

The boat has toilets, and we will have meals (a morning snack and lunch) and drinks onboard. You will need to bring your own personal water supply for the day, though additional drinks can be purchased throughout the day whilst on the boat. We will get on and off the boat in Cairns Marina, so this is a dry boarding/disembarking. There are opportunities for diving and snorkeling while on this trip – which is highly recommended. The reef trip company does not supply towels; usually, our hotel in Cairns will allow us to take a beach towel for the day for a small deposit.

The boat has a medium-sized lounge with air-conditioning as well as a top deck with seating (no aircon here, but there is often a cooling breeze). It is very easy to get sunburnt on this trip, so please bring plenty of suncream, as well as sunglasses (strong glare) and a sunhat. Swimwear is best worn on the boat as a base layer, and the reef trip company will provide wetsuits (necessary in “stinger season” – which refers to jellyfish present at certain times of the year). The reef trip company provides snorkeling equipment (including a limited supply of prescription masks – for a deposit payable/held on credit card). The reef trip company provides a health and safety questionnaire on arrival, and it is essential that you fill this out with the correct information. The reef trip company’s word on the boat is final, and your health and safety is their (and our) paramount concern.

We will usually try and land on Michaelmas Cay to observe the breeding birds at close range; however, if tidal or weather conditions prevent us from doing so, we will try and circumnavigate the island in a smaller glass-bottomed boat. The exact activities of the day are totally weather and tide-dependent. If you suffer from motion sickness, you may need to take medication for this trip. If we do land on Michaelmas Cay, it will be a wet landing and re-entry, usually up to ankles, rarely your knees; the boat can usually land against the sandy beach.

We will also take a boat trip on the Daintree River during the tour; this is a small boat, like a speedboat. We will journey along the wide Daintree River and then enter smaller, narrower tributaries that take us close into the mangroves, where we are seeking the rarer and more secretive species. The boat has a pop-up cover for the sun, but this inhibits viewing, so we usually try not to use it. We will be exposed to the elements on this trip, so a sunhat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are essential (as well as potentially a rain jacket/poncho if the weather looks threatening). Note on the larger river section we might move quite quickly, so watch out for your hat blowing off! The boat trip is usually around two hours in duration and often starts at dawn or ends at dusk, mainly depending on the tidal situation. Do not dangle your hands out of the boat into the water – there are Saltwater Crocodiles here – see the “Safety” section below.

If you’d like further information on either of these boat trips, please contact us.

 

DOMESTIC FLIGHTS

This tour requires two domestic flights (Melbourne to Brisbane and Brisbane to Cairns). The costs for these flights are not included in the tour cost. Once we confirm the tour, we will purchase flight tickets for everyone in the group at the same time to ensure we are all on the same flights. The additional cost of flights will be added to your tour balance payment, which is due no later than two months prior to departure. Please refer to the Australia general information document regarding important information on baggage allowance (including carry-on allowance). We usually try and make our domestic flights with Qantas or Virgin Australia as we have found they offer the best service.

 

PLAINS-WANDERER TRIP

While in Deniliquin in New South Wales, we will take a nocturnal trip to look for Plains-wanderer. Depending on the local situation on the vast grass plains these birds inhabit, we may drive around looking for the birds, or walk around to try and locate them. We are usually out searching from dusk until around midnight on this night and return to our accommodation after 1 a.m. (the following day usually gets a later start than usual!).

Walking around at night can be particularly disorienting, so it is essential the group always stays together. Small torches/head torches are essential for seeing where you are putting your feet, and if you have any balance/walking issues, a walking stick/hiking pole is also mandatory. It is very easy to trip and fall in this environment, so extreme care must always be taken. A decent supply of insect repellant is recommended for this trip as it can be quite buggy in some years. This trip is totally optional and if you would rather sit it out, that is fine, though this is one awesome and unique bird, so we do recommend joining the exploration if possible.

On this evening, we usually buy some food from a local bakery or supermarket and create a picnic dinner to be eaten on site or in our hotel rooms prior to departure.

 

LUGGAGE

Please pack as lightly as possible for this tour, noting the expected weight allowance of the domestic flights detailed above (and in the general information document on Australia) and the limited space inside vehicles. A medium, soft-sided, and robust duffle bag is likely to work best for packing in the tour vehicles and on the planes we will use. You will be expected to load and unload your own bags into and out of vehicles and as we move around airports. A lighter bag is likely to get less tiresome as we move around a lot on this tour, with lots of loading, unloading and repacking required.

We recommend a daypack is used to keep items that you wish to use daily when in the vehicle or when birding in the field (such as binoculars, camera, notebook, field guide, personal supply of water, snacks, umbrella, rain jacket, extra layers of clothing, etc.).

 

ACCOMMODATION

In Victoria and New South Wales (for one night), we mainly stay in hotels or motels, and in some locations, we stay in caravan sites, utilizing motel-type rooms. We usually change accommodations every night for this section of the tour, except for when we are in Ouyen, Victoria, in the mallee, where we spend two nights. We try to stay in the best accommodation available along our route, but these might still be fairly basic in some remote locations. All accommodation has ensuite bathrooms. At Melbourne airport, we will stay in an airport hotel. Most of the accommodation has Wi-Fi. Some of the accommodation offers breakfast, and we often get these delivered to our rooms the night before or in the morning itself. In some locations, we will eat breakfasts in cafés in nearby towns.

In southern Queensland, we will stay at the wonderful O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat for two nights. This is more upmarket accommodation than everywhere else we stay on the tour. This accommodation has ensuite bathrooms and is set in wonderful grounds for birding. We will eat breakfast and dinner in the retreat’s dining room and will have lunches in the café. There is free Wi-Fi in the lodge (usually just in the reception, bar, and restaurant areas).

In northern Queensland, we will stay at a nice hotel on the Cairns esplanade at the start and end of our circuit (luggage can be stored here until our return). For our circuit of northern Queensland, we will stay in a couple of hotels/motels as well as the excellent Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges (top-quality birds and wildlife right outside our rooms). Our accommodation has been chosen for the best access to quality birding areas. All accommodation has Wi-Fi and private ensuite bathrooms. We usually eat meals in nearby towns, rather than at our accommodation, e.g., in nearby cafés or restaurants/pubs.

 

WEATHER

Because this eastern Australia birding tour covers a vast area, including spring in Victoria as well as tropical Far North Queensland, you should expect quite a temperature range, and suitable clothing will be required.

In Victoria and New South Wales during the time of our tour, nighttime temperatures could drop as low as 46 degrees Fahrenheit (oF) (8 degrees Centigrade/oC); however, we have occasionally had colder. Daytime temperatures in the south could peak at 59 oF (15 oC), and at higher elevations (e.g., the hills around Melbourne and along the Great Ocean Road), it could take a while to reach that temperature. If there is a southerly wind blowing, it can feel much colder with the wind chill (the wind will be coming from Antarctica!). Daytime temperatures in central and northern Victoria and southern New South Wales can reach 86 oF (30 oC); on occasion (particularly if there is a warming wind coming from the northwest), the temperatures can be hotter than this.

In southern Queensland (e.g., Brisbane), it will likely be around 86 oF (30 oC) and usually feels hotter than we will have experienced earlier in the tour, potentially a little more humid too. Up at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, we will be at around 3,300 feet (1,000 meters); therefore, the temperatures are lower (it can feel cold here at night), and during the day, it is likely to be around 68 – 77 oF (20 – 25 oC).

Northern Queensland (e.g., Cairns) will see similar temperatures to those of Brisbane, but it will be more humid, particularly when we are inside the forest. It will be a touch cooler on the Atherton Tablelands as we will be higher up, and it usually takes a while for the sun’s rays to warm us up – particularly at Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges, where we are situated in a bit of a bowl. At Mareeba, it will be a similar temperature to Brisbane and Cairns but much drier. It will be very hot at Michaelmas Cay (e.g., 95 oF / 35 oC), with no shade.

The sun is strong across Australia, and care should be taken to avoid sunburn and dehydration.

 

SAFETY

We do not recommend walking around Cairns at night on your own for personal safety reasons. We will usually walk from our chosen restaurant in Cairns to our nearby hotel in the dark, but we will do so as a group. Please do not leave valuables (or anything at any time) inside the vehicle when it is parked to help reduce the risk of anyone breaking into the vehicle. Please keep a close watch on your possessions (e.g., bags, wallet, optics, etc.) when we are out and about in the city.

During the Far Northern Queensland section of this eastern Australian bird tour (e.g., once we start the Cairns section of the tour), we need to take care due to the presence of Saltwater Crocodiles that can occur in or near the smallest waterbodies; they can also be found up to 0.6 miles (1 km) away from water. At times, we will be birding within habitats that crocodiles inhabit, such as rivers (including inland rivers – “crocs” can occur over 124 miles (200 km) from the coast), coastal mangroves, and wetlands. Please do not stand close to the water’s edge or go anywhere near water at night. Crocodile warning signs are often in place and should always be adhered to. Please refer to the Croc Wise website for more information. We usually only see crocodiles when on our Daintree River boat cruise, but we could come across them in other locations, so it is best to read the information and be prepared (and do not dangle your hands in the water on the river cruise!).

Other general safety information, as referred to in the Australia general information document, should be considered, e.g., regarding snakes, etc.

 

WHAT TO BRING: CLOTHING AND OTHER ITEMS

The following is a list of useful items to bring on this eastern Australian birding tour and should be read in conjunction with the Australia general information document.

  1. A field guide to the birds of Australia. See the general information for our recommendations for this tour.
  2. Hiking pole or walking stick to help on the tracks and trails. While probably not necessary for everyone, a walking stick is compulsory for anyone who is unsteady walking, as we feel this is a safety issue. We don’t want anyone slipping on the trails or anywhere else. Please discuss with us if you are unsure whether you will need one or not.
  3. Torch (flashlight) and/or headlamp (headtorch), and spare batteries, necessary for when we are making nocturnal walks and when on our Plains-Wanderer
  4. High-concentration DEET insect repellant or similar.
  5. A flynet for your face is very useful in some years.
  6. A small personal first aid kit. See the suggested items from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here.
  7. Lightweight hiking boots are likely the best footwear for this tour. A set of sandals (flip-flops) and/or trainers would be useful for walking around some of the accommodations but are not suitable for birding time (consider snake bites, mud, slips, trips, falls, etc.).
  8. Quick-drying birding clothes (in suitable colors) are the best for this tour, and a good selection of clothing layers (including sweater/jumper/fleece/coat) are also recommended for time at the higher elevations and due to the potential for cool or even cold mornings in Victoria and at elevation in southern Queensland.
  9. Light rain jacket/poncho (and small umbrella) as rain could fall at any time and any location. Spring in Victoria could see rain showers or prolonged periods of rain if a weather system moves through. In Queensland, there is a slim chance of a tropical rainstorm (usually in the afternoon or at night, if at all). Thunderstorms (including hail) are not uncommon at the time of year we will be in Queensland.
  10. Some of the places we stay have swimming pools, and we will have excellent and highly recommended swimming opportunities on the Great Barrier Reef, so swimwear is recommended. The reef trip company provides snorkeling gear.
  11. A small hand towel or washcloth can be handy for cleaning and drying things when in the rainforest and also removing dust in drier areas. Not essential, but it can be useful.
  12. A dry bag to keep valuable documents in, such as passports, cell phones, wallets, etc., as well as cameras, if it rains or is dry and dusty.

Birding Ecotours

Download Eastern Australia The Outback tour Information

AUSTRALIA GENERAL INFORMATION

Andy Walker is one of the truly exceptional guides in the world of birding. His skill at hearing and then finding birds is amazing. Couple this with an innate sense of getting his clients into the best possible position to both see and photo the given bird elevates him from "competent" to "top notch." I have been with Andy twice and intend to search him out again.

Jay - On Andy and Australia

Took the "Eastern Australia: from the Outback to the Wet Tropics" tour, my first with Birding Ecotours. Itinerary fit my needs to a "T". Birds were spectacular and guides made a special effort at each stop to find the unique birds. Also bagged some fascinating fauna including tree kangaroo, platypus, koala, and echinda. Andy Walker was an excellent guide. He is personable with a great sense of humour. His ability to adapt to changing circumstances was excellent. He and his local guide knew the birds and terrain very well, optimized our birding time at each locale by knowing what key species occurred at each, and took pains to be sure everyone got on each bird.

Mike - On Andy and Australia

This is the best tour I've been on in my many years of international birding! Excellent guides, good food, great accommodations! Andy was the best guide I have ever had. Knew the birds cold, was able to call them in for photo ops, great on keeping us on schedule and getting where we needed to be, when we needed to be there. Can't say enough good things about Andy.

Ken - On Andy and Australia

Andy Walker was absolutely excellent. Knowledgeable, affable, organized, sense of humor, and attentive to everyone. I would go anywhere with Andy.

RT - on Andy and Australia

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