Join us for the trip of a lifetime, discover the unique wildlife of this exciting Antipodean destination and ‘meet’ some of the most fascinating birds and animals that you are ever likely to see.

This tour takes in the ‘best of the east’ from the tropical North Queensland to the deep south of New South Wales.

                                                       [RAINBOW LORIKEET]


Length: 22 days  - 14  Nights in Queensland plus 7 nights in New South Wales

Tour commences: Cairns  - October 23rd 2016
Tour ends: Sydney – November 13th 2016
Pace: moderate
Physical difficulty: easy
Focus: birding, general wildlife
Max group size: 10 + 2 leaders
Expected # of birds seen: 350 – 400

Price: Price does not include international flights or two internal flights ( Cairns to Brisbane and Brisbane to Sydney) Price is number dependent ranging from 8300 Aus.$ (minimum of 6 people) to 6500 Aus.$ (max 10 people).


This tour itinerary includes visits to:

  1. Cairns: Esplanade, Centenary Lakes, Botanical Gardens

  2. Great Barrier Reef:Michalmus Cay

  3. Cape Tribulation: Dubiji & Mardji trails, Cow Bay & Cooper Creek

  4. Julatten, Mt Lewis and Mt. Carbine

  5. Atherton Tablelands: Mareeba, Mitchell’s Creek, Hasties Swamp

  6. Wongabel State Forest, Hypipamie National Park, and Malanda

  7. Kuranda, optional Skyrail back to Cairns

  8. Brisbane: Port area, Lytton Manley, Sharp Park

  9. O’Reilly’s Lodge: Lamington National Park

  10. Sydney Harbour area: Royal Botanical Gardens: Boat trip to Manley

  11. Warriewood Wetlands, Long Reef Headland

  12. Royal National Park

  13. Blue Mountains

  14. Capertree Valley

  15. Wollagong and Barren grounds

  16. Pelagic trip to Browns Mountain  (off-shore island)


There are over 730 species to be found in Australia some 238 species are found nowhere else in the world, that is more endemics than any other country in the world. Alongside these endemics there are over 500 other species that are most likely to be ‘lifers’ for first time visiting birders. Expect to see between 350-400 species on this tour ranging from the gigantic Cassowary to the diminutive Weebill.


Queensland Itinerary for 2016

Day 1 – Cairns – Sunday October 23rd  2016

Arrive in Cairns and transfer to our hotel. We spend the rest of the day around Cairns including the Esplanade to look for waders roosting on the high tide. This famous birding location, only a few minutes’ walk from our hotel, is a hotspot for migratory and resident shore birds. Possible  migrants include Terek, Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpiper, Great Knot, Grey-tailed Tattler,  Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits and Red-necked Stints. Resident species should include Red-capped Plover, Masked Lapwing, Australian Pelican, Royal Spoonbill, Eastern Great, Intermediate, Little and Eastern Reef Egrets, Striated Heron, Australian Pied Oystercatcher, Gull-billed Tern, Silver Gull, Collared Kingfisher and Beach Stone Curlew.  Yellow Oriole, Rainbow Lorikeet, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Peaceful Dove, Mangrove Robin and Yellow and Varied Honeyeaters are found in the adjacent parkland and mangroves.

Also close to the centre of Cairns are found Centenary Lakes and the adjacent Botanic Gardens which contain rainforest, fresh water and salt water wetlands. Species seen include Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Australian Brush-turkey, Pacific Black Duck, White-browed Crake,  Peaceful Dove, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Papuan Frogmouth, Australian Swiftlet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Laughing and Blue-winged  Kookaburra, Rainbow Bee-eater, Black Butcherbird, Yellow-spotted and Brown Honeyeater, Hornbill Friarbird, Varied Triller, Australasian Figbird, White-breasted Woodswallow,  Spangled Drongo, Leaden Flycatcher, Magpie-lark, Metallic Starling and Olive-backed Sunbird.

                                                                                                  { METALLIC STARLING ]]

Late in the afternoon we could join the “4 o’clock club” on the Esplanade if the tide is right. This is a unique birding institution in Australia, a daily gathering of birders to look for waders. An after dinner walk along the Esplanade is a good opportunity to see Bush Stone Curlews.

Accommodation for 2 nights Full Board in Cairns.

Day 2 - Michaelmas Cay – Monday 24th  October 2016

We leave the hotel at 7.45am to drive to the wharf to board the Ocean Spirit for a relaxing cruise to Michaelmas Cay on the Barrier Reef. The cay is a breeding site for a number of seabirds including Common and Black Noddies, Crested, Lesser Crested, Black-naped, Little, Sooty and sometimes Bridled Terns, Greater Frigatebirds, Brown Boobies and Ruddy Turnstones.  There will be the chance to snorkel on the reef. Snorkelling gear is supplied, including some masks with prescription lenses, and wetsuits are available. You can scuba dive if you are certified but this is an additional cost. There is also a semi-submersible for underwater viewing. This is an all day cruise with a substantial lunch served on board.

                               { MICHAELMAS CAY -  BROWN NODDY, BROWN BOOBYS AND SOOTY TERNS }

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 3 - Daintree Village – Tuesday 25th October 2016

After a final sweep along the Esplanade to see if any new waders have flown in overnight we drive from Cairns travelling north to Daintree Village to our accommodation for the next two nights at beautiful Red Mill House. On the way we visit Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Village which provides a fascinating insight into Australian Aboriginal life.  At Daintree an afternoon walk down Stewart Creek Road and around the gardens at Red Mill House should produce some new sightings. Possible birds include Radjah Shelduck,  Emerald Dove,  Beach Stone Curlew, Pacific Baza, Brahminy Kite, Black-winged Stilt, Pheasant Coucal, Channel-billed Cuckoo,  Sacred Kingfisher,  Lovely Fairy-wren, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Torresian Crow, Fairy Martin and Nutmeg and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin. 

                                                           CHESTNUT BREASTED MANNIKIN

Two nights full board accommodation.

Day 4 - Daintree River and Cape Tribulation – Wednesday 26th October 2016

Before a beautiful breakfast overlooking the gardens at Red Mill House we join a local guide for a cruise on the Daintree River looking for local specialties including Mangrove and Large-billed Gerygone, Shining Flycatcher, Dusky Honeyeater, Macleay’s Honeyeater, Spectacled Monarch, Brown-backed Honeyeater, Little Kingfisher, Azure Kingfisher, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Papuan Frogmouth and Great-billed Heron. After breakfast we cross the Daintree River by ferry and travel along the Cape Tribulation Road visiting magnificent lowland rainforest at Dubiji and Mardja walking trails, Cow Bay and Cooper Creek river mouth. The highlight of the day would be an endangered Southern Cassowary but other possibilities include Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Red-necked Crake, Noisy Pitta, Whimbrel, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Pied Currawong, Topknot Pigeon and Silvereye.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 5 - Julatten and Mt Carbine. – Thursday 27th October 2016

This is a busy day with extraordinary diversity of habitats from lowland tropical rainforest to dry savannah. After an early morning walk down Stewart Creek Road we drive up the coastal range on to the Tablelands to Julatten to check in to Kingfisher Park, a specialist birders lodge.

We are staying for 2 nights so the itinerary will be determined by the weather. If fine weather is forecast we will  have a complete change of habitat by travelling a relatively short distance in to dry savannah country near Mt Carbine to look for Australian Bustards, Great Bowerbird, Squatter Pigeon, Pale-headed Rosella, Galah, Black-throated Finch, Apostlebird, Pied Butcherbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, White-throated Honeyeater, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Rufous Whistler, Bower’s Shrike-thrush,  White-throated Treecreeper, Black Kite, Little Eagle, Square-tailed Kite and Wedge-tailed Eagle.

En-route in both directions we will stop at Sides Road to look for Blue-faced Parrot Finch, Lovely Fairy-wren and Grey-headed Robin. 

Back at Kingfisher Park Platypus can be seen in the creek and there are many birds species in the lodge grounds including Noisy Pitta, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Pied Monarch, Spectacled Monarch, Pale Yellow Robin, Grey-headed Robin, Little Shrike-thrush, Yellow-spotted, Graceful, McLeay’s and Scarlet Honeyeaters.

Before dinner we will look for Barn Owls in a nearby park and after dinner spotlight around the grounds for nocturnal birds and mammals.

Accommodation: 2 nights at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 6 - Julatten and Mt Lewis – Friday 28th October 2016

As early as the light allows we drive up to the high mountain rainforests of Mt Lewis which is home to a range of species endemic to North Queensland including Mountain Thornbill, Golden Bowerbird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Chowchilla, Spotted Catbird, Fernwren, Yellow-throated Scrub-wren, Graceful and Bridled Honeyeater, Bassian Thrush and Pale-yellow Robin. We come back down for lunch followed by a drive around the Julatten area looking for a range of open country species including Red-backed Fairy-wren, White-naped Honeyeater, Golden-headed Cisticola, Tawny Grassbird, Brush and Pallid Cuckoo and species we may have missed the day before in the savannah.

                                                                                          SUPERB FAIRY WREN

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 7 - Atherton Tablelands – Saturday 29th October 2016

Start the day looking for Platypus in the grounds of the lodge.

A patch work of farmland, rainforest, Eucalyptus forest, woodlands, grasslands, creeks and lagoons the Atherton Tablelands is an old volcanic plateau and a hot spot for birds. Red-tailed Black Cockatoos are conspicuous along the roadsides near Mareeba. At Big Mitchell Creek we look for the elusive White-browed Robin and at Hastie’s Swamp a range of wetland species are found including  Black Swan, Eurasian Coot, Dusky Moorhen, Little Egret, Hardhead, Grey Teal, Pink-eared Duck, Wandering and Plumed Whistling Ducks,  Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, Australasian Grebe and Buff-banded Rail.

In the rainforests at Wongabel State Forest, Hypipamie National Park, and Malanda there is a chance to see Victoria’s Riflebird, Golden Bowerbird, Chowchilla, Eastern Whipbird, Large-billed Scrub-wren, Atherton Scrubwren, White-browed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, Eastern Spinebill, Eastern Whipbird, Fairy Gerygone, Rufous Fantail, Golden Whistler, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Brush Cuckoo, and Yellow-breasted Boatbill.  

In the evening we will watch a very special event, the arrival of Sarus Cranes and Brolgas at their roost in Bromfield Crater.

Accommodation: two nights.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 8 – Atherton Tablelands – Sunday 30th October 2016

A full days birding on the Atherton Tablelands including early morning birding at the Lodge and later at nearby Lakes Eacham and Barrine and the Curtain Fig should allow us to see lots of rainforest specialists including Victoria’s Riflebird, Superb Fruit Dove, White-headed and Brown Pigeons, Grey Goshawk, King Parrot, Crimson Rosella, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Barred Cuckoo-shrike, Eastern Yellow Robin and Satin and Tooth-billed Bowerbirds. In open country we will look for Eastern Koel, Dollarbird, Australasian Pipit, Cicadabird, Spotted Pardalote, Grey Shrike-thrush, Red-backed Fairy-wren,  Noisy Friarbird, Tawny Grassbird, , Red-browed Firetail, Australian Magpie. Great-crested Grebes live on Lake Barrine. On dusk there is a chance to see Eastern Grass-owls and Black-shouldered Kites hunting over fields. Tree Kangaroos are also a possibility.

Day 9 - Kuranda, Skyrail and Cairns. – Monday 31st  October 2016

We drive back across the Tablelands to Kuranda where we will have another look for Cassowary and if you choose you can catch the Skyrail, a gondala that takes you over the top of the rainforest canopy, back to the lowlands near Cairns.  En route from the Tablelands we visit Davies Creek National Park to look for White-browed Robin and Rufous Owl.

Back in Cairns for 1 night.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 10 –  Transfer to Brisbane and onto Lamington national Park – Tuesday 1st November 2016

Depart Cairns on an early flight for Brisbane. From the airport we start birding with a visit to the Port of Brisbane for Mangrove Honeyeaters and Chestnut Teal and other water birds then to the Lytton Manly Mangrove boardwalk for Leaden and Satin Flycatchers and Superb, Variegated and Red-backed Fairy-wrens. This is a rich area close to the airport and it is not uncommon to see 40 to 50 species in these two locations. At nearby locations Baillon’s and Spotless Crakes, Little Bittern and Comb-crested Jacana are possibilities. Travel to Lamington NP and en route look for Little and Long-billed Corellas, Galah and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.  Visit Sharp Park near Canungra to look for Platypus and a range of bird species including Figbird, Oriole, Noisy Friarbird, Azure and Forest Kingfishers, Kookaburra, Pale-headed Rosella, Buff-banded Rail, Double-barred Finch, Wood Duck and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo.

                                                                CRIMSON FINCH

 Three nights at O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


Day 11 and 12  - Wednesday 2nd & Thursday & 3rd  November 2016

Two  full days birding around O’Reillys targeting rainforest sp. including Regent Bowerbird, Green Catbird, 3 spp of Scrub-wren, White-throated Treecreeper,  Eastern and Pale-yellow Robin, Eastern Whipbird,  Grey Fantail, Albert’s Lyrebird, Noisy Pitta, Wonga, Wompoo, White-headed, Brown and Top-knot Pigeons, Paradise Riflebird, Logrunner, Bassian and Russet-tailed Thrush, Satin Bowerbird, Golden Whistler,  Brown Gerygone,  Spotted Pardalote, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill, Red-browed Finch, King Parrot,  Crimson Rosella, and Brown and Striated Thornbills.

 After dinner look for nocturnal animals including mammals (possums, bandicoots and pademelons) and Tawny and Marbled Frogmouths.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included. 


Day 13  - Transfer to Brisbane – Friday 4th  November 2016

Early morning birding before departing O’Reillys after breakfast  for the trip back to Brisbane via birding locations in the Lockyer Valley  that should add a few species including Grey Crowned Babbler, Blue-billed Duck and possibly Musk Duck.

Overnight in Brisbane.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


November 2016

Day 14 – Transfer to Sydney – Saturday 5th November 2016

Depart Brisbane for Sydney, transfer from airport to hotel. Lunch and an introduction to Sydney, its natural environment and various bird habitats. We then commence with a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens and a harbour foreshore walk to the Opera House. Characteristic local species include Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, Australian Magpie, Masked Lapwing, Cormorants and the chance of Buff-banded Rails and Powerful Owls.

                                                         [BUFF-BANDED RAIL]


We conclude the day with a ferry trip to Manly, enjoying the sights of Sydney harbour and its resident coastal bird species, with the likelihood of Little Penguins.


Day 15 - Northern Sydney – Sunday 6th November 2016


We drive north of the harbour to explore a variety of bird habitats, beginning at Warriewood Wetlands, which includes one of the best coastal swamp forests in Sydney. We can expect to see a variety of birds including honeyeaters, fairy-wrens, sittellas, cuckoos, waterbirds and possibly crakes and bitterns. In recent years a pair of Crested Hawks (Pacific Bazza) have also nested here.


We then travel to Long Reef, a coastal headland with an extensive tidal rock platform that attracts considerable numbers of seabirds and migratory shorebirds, including White-fronted Terns and Double-banded Plovers from New Zealand.


The day will also include a visit to some woodlands and open, or dry sclerophyll forests, regarded as Sydney’s ‘bushland’. Bird species include robins, thornbills, treecreepers and Crimson and Eastern Rosellas.


Day 16 - Royal National Park – Monday 7th November 2016


Today we travel south to the Royal National Park, the first national park in Australia and one of the oldest in the world, established in 1879. The park contains a variety of habitats and we visit several of these including a significant strip of sub-tropical rainforest as well as an extensive area of heathland.

We can expect to see Rock Warbler (endemic to NSW), Superb Lyrebird, Pilotbird, Tawny-crowed Honeyeater and possibly Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, Southern Emu-wren, Beautiful Firetail, Powerful Owl and (Greater) Sooty Owl.

                                                                      [ROCK WARBLER]


Day 17 - Western Sydney and Blue Mountains - Tuesday 8th November 2016


Depart Sydney to drive inland to the Blue Mountains, visiting several birding locations. These include Bicentennial Park - with migratory shorebirds, numerous waterbirds and other species such as Red-necked Avocet - and locations in the Blue Mountains where bird species include Gang-gang Cockatoos, Red-browed Treecreepers, Flame and Scarlet Robins, honeyeaters and possibly Glossy Black-Cockatoos.

Overnight in Blackheath

Day 18 - Capertee Valley - Wednesday 9th November 2016

We drive to the Capertee Valley, an area with a range of woodland habitats and some wetlands, surrounded by steep sandstone cliffs. The many bird species include Pink-eared, Musk and Blue-billed Ducks, Australasian Shoveler, Wedge-tailed and Little Eagles, Square-tailed Kite, Brown Falcon, Painted Button-quail, Common Bronzewing, Turquoise Parrot, Hooded Robin, Crested Shrike-tit, songlarks, honeyeaters, including perhaps the Regent Honeyeater, and Plum-headed Finch. Mammals include Wombats and Eastern Grey Kangaroos

Overnight in Capertee.

Day 19 - Return to Sydney - Thursday 10th November 2016

After looking for species that we have missed in the Capertee and Blue Mountains areas we return to Sydney.

Day 20 - Wollongong area and Barren Grounds - Friday 11th November 2016

Today we drive south of Sydney along the coast to the area of Barren Grounds Nature Reserve. Despite this unwelcoming name, this is a heathland area with good birds, including the critically endangered Eastern Bristlebird and the Ground Parrot, one of only five ground-dwelling parrots in the world. The area is also good for Southern Emu-wrens, Pilotbirds, Top-knot Pigeons and Crescent Honeyeaters. During the day we will also visit areas of the coastal escarpment, where Grey Goshawk are likely, and a coastal lagoon with large numbers of seabirds and migratory shorebirds.

                                                                [SILVER GULL WITH PASSING MIGRANTS - GREAT KNOT]


Day 21 - Sydney Pelagic - Saturday 12th November 2016


Today is an all-day optional pelagic trip from Sydney to Browns Mountain, a seamount 50 km east of Sydney. The waters around the seamount are some 600 metres deep and the upwelling at the seamount attracts a range of sea-life and pelagic birds. We should encounter a plethora of seabirds including Black-browed, Shy and Wandering Albatross, Great-winged Petrel and possibly Black Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-petrel, shearwaters including Wedge-tailed, Fluttering, Short-tailed, Hutton’s and Flesh-footed, and Arctic, Pomarine and Long-tailed Jaegers. A range of dolphin species and seals are also regularly seen.


Day 22 - Depart Sydney  - Sunday 13th November 2016










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