Birding Tour Australia: from the Outback to the Wet Tropics
Dates and Costs:
05 – 22 November 2021
Spaces Available: 2
Price: AU$10,545 / $8,519 / £6,182 / €7,124 per person sharing (6-8 participants).
Single Supplement: AU$1,731 / $1,399 / £1,015 / €1,170
* 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.
17 November – 05 December 2022
Price: AU$11,810 / $9,541 / £6,924 / €7,979 per person sharing (6-8 participants).
Single Supplement: AU$1,938 / $1,566 / £1,136 / €1,309
30 October – 16 November 2023
Price: AU$13,228 / $10,687 / £7,755 / €8,937 per person sharing (6-8 participants).
Single Supplement: AU$2,405 / $1,943 / £1,410 / €1,624
Duration: 17 days
Group Size: 6 – 8
Tour Start: Melbourne
Tour End: Cairns
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 and transfers (possibly shared) to and from the airports
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)
Featured Guide:Andrew Walker
Australia: from the Outback to the Wet Tropics
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).
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, and the evocatively named Major Mitchell’s 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
We 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.
The 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 set of tours preceding and following this one: Australia: Tasmania – Endemics and the Orange-bellied Parrot, Australia: Northern Territory – Top End Birding, and Western Australia: Southwest Specialties. From 2022 you can also join our new Northern Territory – Alice Springs Birding tour (it will fit perfectly between our Top End and Western Australia tours). All five of our Australian birdwatching tours could be combined into one long tour, or you could just do one or two (or more!), whatever suits your time. We can also arrange further extensions (e.g., sightseeing trips to Sydney, Uluru, etc., and pelagic trips) if you wish.
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
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.
The gaudy Rainbow Lorikeet can be seen around Melbourne.
We 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 or Koala along the way!
Overnight: 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.
Beautiful Firetail inhabits low shrubs in central Victoria.
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.
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 lake bed 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.
A 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.
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, Major Mitchell’s 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.
The 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.
The 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, Eastern Barn Owl, or Australian Owlet-nightjar on this nocturnal foray.
Day 7. Transfer to Chiltern via Gulpa Island
After a late night we allow ourselves to sleep in before continuing our journey to Chiltern 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 Chiltern in the midafternoon.
Day 8. Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park to Healesville
Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, established in October 2002, 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, Painted Honeyeater, and perhaps, with considerable luck, even the Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) Regent Honeyeater (this site being one of its last strongholds, but it is still exceedingly rare here). Elsewhere in the forest we search for the rainbow-like Turquoise Parrot, the bark-peeling Crested 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.
Parrots 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, 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.
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.
Overnight: Lamington National Park
Gorgeous Regent Bowerbirds are often present around our rooms!
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 Russet-tailed Thrush 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 may also check a short stretch of mangrove forest nearby for Mangrove Robin and Varied Honeyeater, localized habitat specialists. We are sure to see plenty of Torresian Imperial Pigeons, Australasian Figbirds, and Metallic Starlings flying around near our accommodation.
Day 13. Great Barrier Reef trip and travel to Kuranda
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 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.
The 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 midafternoon we will jump into our van and head into the rainforest to the west of Cairns to the Kuranda area, where we will spend the night.
Day 14. Birding near Kuranda, transfer to Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges
Our main target bird for the morning, and if we are successful, likely to be a ‘bird of the trip’ contender, is the humongous and rare Southern Cassowary, the largest bird in Australia by weight. Cassowary House has hosted a family of these imposing birds for many years. While we venture to a nearby rainforest road in the morning for our first shot at a variety of new fruit doves, monarch flycatchers, and honeyeaters, we will remain in contact with our lodge host, should a cassowary venture into the gardens. Other visitors to the Cassowary House feeders include the normally reclusive Red-necked Crake as well as Pacific Emerald Dove and Macleay’s Honeyeater. We might also get lucky and see the local Victoria’s Riflebird (a bird-of-paradise) displaying in and around the lodge gardens.
In the late morning we continue our journey southwest to the Atherton Tablelands, but not without stopping at a couple of wetland sites for Sarus Crane and Brolga, Wandering Whistling Duck and Plumed Whistling Duck, and other open-country species. We 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. There will be a lot of targets to fit into the next couple of days, so expect long days as we try to connect with as many of them as possible. 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 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. Nocturnal activity is also wonderfully 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.
Overnight: Lake Eacham
Day 15. Birding Atherton Tablelands
On our second day in the area we make our way northward along the much drier eastern edge of the Atherton Tablelands, stopping at various sites, which may include Granite Gorge Nature Park, Mount Carbine, Lake Mitchell, and the Maryfarms Road. Much like on the previous day there will be no shortage of potential targets. Australian Bustard, Squatter Pigeon, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Spotted Harrier, Blue-winged Kookaburra, and Great Bowerbird are only a sample of the many wonderful birds we may encounter today. After a long day of birding we settle in at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge for the next two nights.
Present in the dry north, we will be on the lookout for Blue-winged Kookaburra.
Day 16. Birding Mount Lewis and Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge
The signature species at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, is fully migratory in this part of its range, arriving to nest in November with the onset of the rainy season. We carefully time this itinerary to coincide with the arrival of this spectacular kingfisher to the Atherton Tablelands.
A small area of rainforest in an otherwise agricultural landscape is an amazing sight, and this small block of habitat is home to some remarkable species. We will find lots of new birds here with some target birds including Papuan Frogmouth, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Graceful Honeyeater, Pied Monarch, Superb Fruit Dove, Forest Kingfisher, and Noisy Pitta. The high-altitude rainforest at Mount Lewis offers another chance at Golden Bowerbird and several very restricted-range endemics such as Fernwren, Chowchilla, Mountain Thornbill, Atherton Scrubwren, Blue-faced Parrotfinch, and more. Evening spotlighting on the lodge grounds may produce Lesser Sooty Owl or Barking Owl and the possibility of some more interesting mammals and reptiles.
Day 17. Daintree River Cruise
We will need an early start today to arrive in time for our dawn cruise along the scenic Daintree River. 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.
Back on dry land we will search the surrounding forest for Lovely Fairywren and the sandy beaches for Beach Stone-curlew before driving south toward Cattana Wetlands in the afternoon. Here we hope to obtain views of the vivid Crimson Finch and the retiring White-browed Crake.
Upon arrival in Cairns we pay an afternoon visit to the Cairns Botanical Gardens and Centenary Lakes. This lush park is home to a rich assortment of birds, including Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Bush Stone-curlew, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Black Butcherbird, and more. As the afternoon wears on a variety of woodland species, such as Rainbow Bee-eater, Brown-backed Honeyeater, and Yellow Honeyeater, become more active, often bathing on the edges of a freshwater lake. We will enjoy a final evening meal together with the difficult task of choosing the ‘Bird of the Trip’, never an easy thing to do in Australia.
One 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 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.
Torresian Imperial Pigeon
This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.
GENERAL INFORMATION – AUSTRALIA
Your passport must be valid for a period of at least six months after the date of your arrival in Australia. Please make sure that there is at least one completely empty page available in your passport. Please also bring a photocopy of your passport, to be kept in a different location from your passport in case of loss/damage.
Visa are required, but different rules apply depending on your nationality. Please check http://www.australia.gov.au/help-and-contact/faqs/visas-and-immigration.
We strongly recommend that you purchase medical and trip cancellation insurance to protect yourself against accidents, medical issues, illness, loss of valuables or luggage, etc., and travel interruptions or delays of all kinds.
Please consult your doctor regarding any vaccination requirements. All travelers should be up to date with routine vaccination and boosters (e.g. tetanus). There is no risk of yellow fever in Australia; however, there is a certificate requirement if travelers have visited/come from the following countries: http://www.who.int/ith/2015-ith-annex1.pdf?ua=1. Some travelers may require Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, and Rabies certification.
Sunscreen should be carried, and a hat should be worn to protect from the powerful rays of the sun, with sunglasses to help prevent glare. A plentiful supply of water should be carried at all times to maintain hydration.
Please make sure that you are covered with medical insurance in case of an emergency while on this trip. Without insurance the cost of medical care can be extremely high. Please notify us at the time of registering for this tour of any medical conditions you think we should know about (including allergies, heart conditions, epilepsy, etc.). This will greatly help us to cater to your needs and facilitate emergency services if required.
The currency is the Australian Dollar, AUD (currently weak against the GBP and USD). Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, including for drawing cash from ATMs (as everywhere, bank charges may apply). Note: USD/GBP cannot be used for purchases. We will be able to exchange or draw money at the airport upon our arrival and in the various cities we pass through.
Australian seasons are the reverse of the European/North American seasons, but the same of South America/Southern Africa. The summer months in Australia are from December to February, the fall months are from March till May, winter is from June to August, and spring is from September till November.
North Queensland and the Northern Territory are located closer to the tropics and generally have warm and humid weather all year round. New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia, and Perth all experience the four seasons during the year. In Tasmania the weather is colder than on the Australia mainland because it is closer to Antarctica (this can often be a result of the wind chilling the actual temperature).
During this tour a wide variety of weather (particularly temperatures) is to be expected. It may feel cool at night in Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales, with night-time temperatures dropping to around 8oC/46oF. Day-time temperatures during the tour can range from 15oC/59oF in Tasmania to 30oC/86oF in northern Victoria, with similar temperatures in Northern Queensland; however, Queensland is much more humid and rainfall is likely at some point.
240V, three-pronged plugs used, ITA Type I. Adaptors are needed for overseas appliances.
LENGTH OF DRIVES
There are a couple of days on which there are long drives; unfortunately this is a standard feature in this huge continent-country. Drives are broken up where possible with birding stops, stops for refreshments, etc.
WHAT TO BRING
This is not a fashion statement trip! Casual and informal dress is fine in the hotels/motels. Loose, lightweight field clothing works best, with a warm fleece or jacket for cooler weather. Shorts and T-shirts are fine – it’s what the locals wear! You will also need to bring some warmer clothing, certainly a minimum of a warm fleece and a rain jacket. Rain is always a possibility in October/November, so an umbrella and/or rain gear is always useful to have. Early mornings can feel a bit chilly in some areas, so come prepared, especially in the south (Tasmania/Victoria), which can have the wind coming straight from Antarctica.
Sunglasses, sunhat, and sunscreen (rated SPF 30 or higher) are essential. A pair of trousers or a long skirt and a long-sleeved shirt should be included to help protect against forest vegetation and the sun. Swimwear can be brought as there are swimming pools at some of the hotels/motels, and we will have time at the Great Barrier Reef, where optional swimming is possible.
We would recommend lightweight walking boots when out on foot. You might like to consider sandals/trainers (tennis shoes) for use in the vehicles and for walking between your room and restaurant in the hotels and lodges.
Do not forget – Binoculars, prescription drugs (also bring the generic names for these drugs), toiletries, prescription glasses (and a spare pair), insect repellant, sunscreen and sunglasses, camera, flashlight, batteries (for electronic equipment and chargers for re-chargeable batteries if required), converter plug set if needed and plug adaptors, alarm clock, money pouch, field guide(s), daypacks. Your guide will have a Swarovski telescope; however, if you have your own scope it is recommended that you bring it too.
Key documents and cash – Passport, your travel or health insurance card – photocopies of which can be carried by the tour leader in case of emergency, credit cards – see info above, USD, EUR, or GBP can be exchanged into Australian Dollars if you prefer not to simply draw from ATM’s. You will need cash for drinks, gifts, tips, items of a personal nature, etc., which are not included in the tour cost.
Due to restricted space in the vehicles please pack as lightly as possible. A medium soft-sided duffle bag (not the hard-sided cases) works best for packing in the vehicles. This allows us to better fit the bags. Please bring a daypack for items that you wish to use or need on a daily basis.
There are a great many poisonous creatures (and plants) in Australia, and extreme caution should be taken while out and about (e.g. check your boots each time before you put them on, watch where you put your hands and feet, do not touch or approach any wildlife, specifically snakes, spiders, etc.). It is advisable to familiarize yourself with these poisonous species prior to your tour (there is a range of data online, but see here for example). Sturdy walking boots are essential to give feet and ankles added protection. It is important that you follow your guide/leader’s advice, and if you see any snakes, etc., the information has to be passed on as quickly as possible so that everyone is aware of the potential danger.
Australia is generally a safe place to travel. However, as anywhere in the world at this time, it is advisable to take care and remain cautious and observant for the unexpected.
Australia is part of the British Commonwealth, and English is widely spoken. Local Aboriginal peoples have a huge number of languages; however, it is unlikely that we will need to speak these on this tour.
The Australian Bird Guide – Peter Menkhorst et al. (2017). Bloomsbury Publishing.
Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (Eighth Edition) – Ken Simpson and Nicolas Day (2010). Viking (NB Helm have now published an undated version of this book).
Finding Australian Birds: A Field Guide to Birding Locations – Tim Dolby and Rohan Clarke (2014). CSIRO Publishing.
A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (Ninth Edition) – Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight (2012). Harper Collins.
The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds (Second Edition) – Slater et al. (2012). New Holland.
Birds of Australia: A Photographic Guide – Campbell et al. (2014). Princeton University Press.
Several of the above publications are available to download as Apps for mobile phones. These apps also include bird sounds to complement the illustrations.
A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia (Third Edition) – Peter Menkhorst and Frank Knight (2011). Oxford University Press.
A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia (Fourth Edition) – Steve Wilson and Gerry Swan (2013). New Holland.
A wide-range of CDs with bird songs are available online or as Apps and are a recommended tool for learning bird calls. In addition it is possible to download bird calls from the excellent Xeno Canto website http://www.xeno-canto.org/.
Andy is a superb guide with a wonderful knowledge of birds and where to find them. He is enthusiastic and keen, great company and a real pleasure to bird with. Our Australian trip was very successful in terms of sightings and also really enjoyable. Andy played a big part in that with his superb organisation, excellent birding skills, easy-going nature and positive attitude. I would happily join Andy on a birding trip again and hope to be able to do so later this year!
Janice, Kent – UK