Starting in the Tropical North this 21 day tour begins in Iron Range we drive down Cape York to the Wet Tropics area around Cairns before flying down to the south east of Queensland around Brisbane and the Lamington plateau. From here we driving west over to the Channel country and Bowra Station in the southwest of Queensland.
There are some long drives over bumpy roads involved in this tour.
Accommodation varies on this tour from comfortable mid range hotels and motels to roadhouses, bed and breakfast establishments and shared houses.
Day 1: Fly to Iron Range in the north of Cape York and meet with guide. This is the furthest south point for many of the New Guinea birds and home to Palm Cockatoos, Eclectus Parrots, Fawn-breasted Bowerbirds, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Magnificent Riflebird, Frill-necked Monarch, White-faced Robin, Green-backed Honeyeater, Yellow-legged Flycatcher and more. Seawatching off Portland Roads can also be productive with Brown Boobies, frigatebirds, Crested Tern etc.
Day 2: Morning spent birding the tropical rainforest and woodlands around Iron Range. After lunch we can visit the nesting tree of the Eclectus Parrots, and should see many other of the New Guinea specials such as Trumpet Manucode and Yellow-billed Kingfisher.
Day 3: Day spent birding around Iron Range National Park with visits to a number of different sites including Cooks Hut in search of Green-backed Honeyeater, Northern Scrub-robin, and other skulkers.
Day 4: First part of day spent around Portland Roads, where we can see the Fawn-breasted Bowerbird and Mangrove Robin. In the afternoon a visit to Chill Beach should provide a good selection of new species and we can observe the spectacular swirling flight of thousands of Metallic Starlings coming in to roost n dusk. In the evening we can try some night spotting with chances of Cuscus, Marbled Frogmouth and Rufous Owl.
Day 5: Leaving the Iron Range area we will head south to Musgarve and Lakefield National Park birding on the way. Musgrave is the centre for breeding Golden-shouldered Parrots and we would hope to arrive in time to look for them late afternoon.
Day 6: Another chance for Golden-shouldered Parrot and then an exploration of the northern end of Lakefield National Park. There are a number of lagoons with waterbirds, and the grasslands hold many finches including the Star Finch. If we are lucky the Red Goshawk may show itself.
Day 7: Leaving Lakefield we will head south towards Julatten and Kingfisher Park. Noisy Pittas can often be seen in the lodge grounds.
Day 8: An early start takes us out on the Daintree dawn boat cruise for Great-billed, Heron, Black Bittern (summer only), Little Kingfisher and saltwater crocodile. Come back via Mt Lewiis which gives gives us our first look at mid to high altitude Tableland species such as Tooth-billed Catbird, Mountain Thronbill and Chowchilla.
Day 9: Spend the early morning around Cassowary House looking for Cassowary, Victoria’s Riflebird, Black Butcherbird, Macleays’ Honeyeater, Spotted Catbird, musky rat- kangaroo and other rainforest species. We then head towards Mareeba where the dry country holds, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Pale-headed Rosellas, Squatter Pigeons, Black-throated Finches, Rufous Owls and more The Mareeba area is also a good place for macropods with Eastern Grey Kangaroo and the delightful Mareeba Rock Wallaby. Travel on to the Atherton area.
Day 10: Full day exploring the high altitude Southern Tablelands such as Mt Hypipamess where Golden Bowerbird and Fernwren will be target birds. This is a good area to see Platypus and also with luck tree kangaroo.
Day 11: Full day exploring the mid level Southern Tablelands sites such as Hasties Swamp, the impressive Curtain Fig and the Crater Lakes where we hope to see Bowers Shrike-thrush, Lewins Honeyeater, a variety of monarchs,whistling ducks and cranes Evening spotlighting for mammals and night birds can occur today.
Day 12: Full day exploring the Cairns area.
Day 13: Take the early flight to Brisbane and spend some time exploring the wetland areas around the airport for rrive in Brisbane, meet with guide and slowly make your way up into the Green Mountains stopping at some great sites along the way. Wetlands with Wandering Whistling Duck, Comb-crested Jacana and possibly Baillon’s Crake, tidal flats where we can find Far Eastern Curlew, herons and terns and mangroves home to Mangrove Gerygone and Collared Kingfisher which can all be found in close proximity to the Brisbane CBD. If time allows Koalas can often be found at Daisy Hill. Pretty-face (Whiptail) Wallaby and Red-necked Pademelon may also be seen on our way up into the mountains. Drive up to the Lamington Pateau in the Green Mountains and O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Day 14: Full day exploring the O’Reilly’s area Before breakfast, you will quietly stroll paths near O’Reilly’s Guest House in the hope of seeing Albert’s Lyrebird working leaf litter on the rainforest floor; Brush Turkey and Red-necked Pademelon (a small kangaroo) will certainly be encountered. Stunning male Regent Bowerbird its relative the Satin Bowerbird and gaudy parrots should provide a riot of colour around the guest house. On further rainforest walks we will seek Southern Logrunner, Noisy Pitta and Zoothera thrushes on the ground and Crested Shriketit, Rose Robin and fruit-doves in the mid-storey and canopy. On a side road we will break into tall, wet eucalypt forest where Spotted Pardalote, treecreepers and very occasionally Spotted Quail-thrush and Glossy Black-Cockatoo can be found. At night there may be a chance to look for Southern Boobook and Sooty Owl.
Days 15: We will check out and depart O’Reilly’s straight after breakfast and descend to Canungra where a quick side track should place us in colonies of Bell Miner and (possibly) Grey-headed Flying-fox. A 1.5 hour drive follows, taking us past the outskirts of Brisbane and Ipswich to the Lockyer Valley, were we will visit a selection of sites determined by season and weather. Short stops at small, permanent artificial wetlands in farming areas around Gatton can yield Plumed Whistling-Duck, Magpie Goose, Pink-eared Duck and sometimes Blue-billed Duck and Freckled Duck. In shallow marshes and ponds we may encounter Royal Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis and Black-necked Stork and in some seasons also Australasian Shoveler, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, White-necked Heron and Red-kneed Dotterel, with a chance of Australian Painted Snipe. On one or more of the Valley’s reservoirs we should find Great Crested Grebe and Caspian Tern, with a good chance of Cotton Pygmy-goose. In open habitats we may see White-bellied Sea Eagle, Black Kite and possibly Black Falcon as well as Cockatiel, Pale-headed Rosella and Red-rumped Parrot. The farmland of the Lockyer Valley is aso home to a large number of bush birds. Target species will include Grey-crowned Babbler, Noisy Friarbird, Fuscous Honeyeater and Variegated Fairy-wren with a chance of Speckled Warbler, Little Bronze-Cuckoo and (in season) Channel-billed Cuckoo. Square-tailed Kite can sometimes be seen gliding over treetops. We may see Double-barred Finch, Striated Pardalote and Blue-faced Honeyeater in open habitats.
Day 16: After an early breakfast, we will drive south to Warwick and Stanthorpe, stopping occasionally for raptors, parrots and grassland birds such as Musk Lorikeet, Eastern Rosella and Horsfield’s (Singing) Bushlark. In the afternoon we visit Girrawean Nastional Park We will amble along quiet country roads with remnant woodland (eucalypt dominated) beside cleared fields with rock outcrops, to search for Dusky Woodswallow, Diamond Firetail and Brown Treecreeper with a good chance of Turquoise Parrot and Yellow-tufted Honeyeater. Later the tour will head to the Glen Lyon area, or similar mixed woodland patches, hoping to add more bush birds such as Scarlet Robin, Little Lorikeet and White-eared Honeyeater. Common (additional) species around our accommodation will likely include Red Wattlebird and Eastern Rosella.
Day 17: We will check out soon after breakfast and drive inland to Sundown National Park, passing through farm (grazing) land and arriving no later than mid-morning. At the Broadwater Area, we will walk one or two easy trails looking for Diamond Firetail, Turquoise Parrot and Hooded Robin with a chance of Painted Button-quail. After a picnic lunch we will drive to Coolmunda where the local reservoir may yield some inland waterbirds such as Black Swan and Blue-billed Duck if not seen earlier in the tour, as well as possibly Blue-bonnet and other parrots. The remainder of the journey takes us to Goondiwindi on the State border.
Day 18: After early breakfast and check-out, our journey will continue westwards through remaining Brigalow Belt country to St George; on the way there is a chance of Square-tailed Kite and we’ll probably be flushing Common Bronzewing along the road, as well as Apostlebird and White-winged Chough, two mud-nesters. On the Balonne River at St George we can hope to see White-breasted Woodswallow and noisy Little Corella. Pressing on, we are likely to see more Cockatiel when passing through cotton-growing areas. After lunch at Bollon, we will be well into the Mulga Lands and can expect to sometimes see Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo as we drive. Spotted Bowerbird and Red-winged Parrot are possible in each Mulga Lands town. If we arrive early enough into Cunnamulla we may take our first look at the Warrego floodplain habitats around town and visit the Bowra Sanctuary office to register our plans for the next couple of days.
Days 19: Well before sunrise, we will drive 30-45 minutes into Bowra Sanctuary to seek the elusive Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush, which commonly calls at sunrise. After a snack breakfast, we will look for more common birds of the stony mulga rises including Splendid Fairy-wren, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill and possibly White-browed Treecreeper. Depending on the time since rain last fell here, seasonal visitors such as Rufous Songlark, Crimson Chat and White-browed Woodswallow may be widespread in semi-open areas at Bowra. We will have a picnic lunch beside a gum-tree timbered waterhole hoping to see flocks of Budgerigar, and a passing Black-breasted Buzzard, with a slight chance of Grey Falcon. Later, we will hunt for Hall’s Babbler in certain patches of mulga and round out the day at the hot bore overflow beside the visitor facilities where flocks of Plum-headed Finch and Zebra Finch frequently gather. Bourke’s Parrot come to drink at sunset. Return to our motel in Cunnamulla.
Day 20: On our second day at Bowra we may start early again from Cunnamulla if wanting to see the quail-thrush; otherwise make a more leisurely start after breakfast. Effort will focus on target species missed the previous day and on complementary habitats. Additional species we may find include Australian Bustard, Spotted Harrier and White-winged Fairy-wren in grassland or sparse shrubland; Red-backed Kingfisher and White-backed Swallow near creek banks where they nest; and Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Red-capped Robin, Crested Bellbird and White-fronted Honeyeater in wooded and/or shrubby habitats. Black-eared Cuckoo and Black Honeyeater may be present seasonally. Red Kangaroo, Australia’s largest macropod, can be expected at Bowra. After dinner back in Cunnamulla, we may consider night-spotting for Spotted Nightjar and Barking Owl.
Day 21: Morning around Cunnamulla then head to the airport where you will say goodbye to your guide and take the 1350 flight to Brisbane arriving at 1705.