Australian Natural Adventures

Wildlife, Nature & Soft Adventure Tours

Custom Australia, New Zealand & Pacific tours and travel


THE NATURAL HISTORY & WILDLIFE OF AUSTRALIA

grey kangaroos Australia

18 Days


This inclusive study tour covers Eastern Australia from the Great Barrier Reef and rainforests of tropical North Queensland to the mountains and plains of Victoria. Along the way participants will see many kinds of kangaroos, the unique platypus, koalas, rare marsupials, over 200 species of birds including parrots, bowerbirds, kookaburras and emus, and reptiles. A single reef on the Great Barrier Reef can have more species of fish and coral than the entire Caribbean, and a full day is devoted to this World Heritage Area. Two other World Heritage Areas - the Wet Tropics and Croajingolong National Park - are included in the itinerary. We spend two days in Sydney, with its Opera House, Bridge and beaches.

 

Itinerary

Day 1 - Los Angeles / Lost in Space
Check in at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport for your Qantas flight 176 departing at 11.55pm to Brisbane, Australia. Australia begins the moment you step aboard your Qantas flight. The Australian style is apparent—easy going, casually efficient and very friendly. Qantas is known for its excellent food and in flight service, so sit back and enjoy the hospitality, meal and a movie. (*D)

Day 2 – Lost in Space
Day lost due to the International Dateline, but regained on the return journey.

Day 3 – Brisbane / Cairns
A arrive or Brisbane, Australia at 7.55am this morning. After pass through customs and immigration transfer to Qantas flight 69 to Cairns, far North Queensland, leaving at 10.05am. On arrival in Cairns at 12.20pm we are met by our guide for the next few days. After loading our gear onto the luggage trailer of our small bus we head south and west Chambers Rainforest Lodge Queensland Australiato the Atherton Tablelands. We first travel through sugar cane fields, the main agricultural product of the region, then turn inland to climb onto the Tablelands, a rough plateau averaging 3000ft in altitude. Once extensively covered by rainforests, it has been partially cleared for crops and cattle, but much of the forest and its wildlife remain. A significant portion of this remaining forest is part of the federally protected Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, notable for rare and restricted wildlife and plants. Considered to contain the pademelon Queensland Australiamost significant occurrence of primitive flowering plants in the world, these rainforests give scientists the ability to step back to the origins of all flowering plants. These rainforests contain the highest concentration of rare and restricted species in Australia, and the greatest diversity of mammals. Our accommodation for the next two nights is The Chambers, a lodge set in the rainforest, and visited by a wide range of birds and mammals, right at our door. Dinner tonight is a barbecue at the lodge, and we are sure to be visited by pademelons, a small rainforest wallaby, and other locals.                             (*B,*L,D)

 

Day 4 – Atherton Tablelands
Today we explore the Tablelands; our precise itinerary is determined by the weather and our guide’s experience of current wildlife occurrences. We visit Lake Barrine, formed in the cone of an extinct volcano, and home to eels, turtles and rare fish. We often see pythons as long as 14 ft basking on the side of the lake, and waterbirds around the edge. Walks in the area’s rainforest may reveal Musky Rat-kangaroos, the smallest and most primitive of the kangaroo family. Either early this morning, this afternoon or tomorrow morning we’ll spend time at a rainforest stream, waiting for views of pplatypus Queensland Australialatypus in the wild. This egg-laying mammals was thought to be a hoax when first introduced to the scientific community. After dinner tonight we go spotlighting at higher altitude to find some of the mammals – most are nocturnal in Australia – including the black and white Herbert River Ringtail Possum, Green Possum, Coppery Brushtail and perhaps tree kangaroos, a true kangaroo which has taken to life in the tree. Reptiles such as the 8 inch long and bizarrely shaped Leaf-tailed Gecko may also be found, along with owls, frogs and even pythons.                       (B,D,)

 

Day 5 – Atherton Tablelands / Kuranda / CairnsGret Bowerbird bower Queensland Australia
We finish our stay on the Tablelands, then head into much drier rock wallaby Granite Gorge Queensland Australiacountry at Granite Gorge. Here we look for Rock Wallabies among the huge boulders, and may see the Great Bowerbird at its bower, complete with trinkets to impress potential mates. We have lunch (own expense) while looking around the country town of Mareeba - an opportunty to eat like a typical Aussie and to get some insight into the life of rural Australians. At nearby Kuranda we take the Skyrail down to the coast, a 1 hour cable-car journey through and across the top of the rainforest, giving sweeping views across Trinity Inlet to the Coral Sea, close-up looks at giant staghorn ferns in the treetops, and waterfalls below. At end of this journey we transfer to our accommodation near the Cairns waterfront. The evening is free to look around this interesting small tropical city, or perhaps visit the Esplanade for some shore-birding.               (B)

Day 6– Great Barrier Reef
Today you are introduced to one of the natural wonders of the world—Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a series of reefs extending for about 1,250 miles along the coast of Queensland, nearly to Papua New Guinea. Our destination today is the outer edge of the reef, where the coral formations present a barrier to the open sea. We anchor in the calm water immediately inside this edge for our first experience of this world marvel. As soon as we look underwater we see brilliantly colored fish, giant clams, and coral outcrops. Easy swimming in shallow water brings us over coral “bombies,” heads of coral with their assortment of fishes, and hard and soft corals. Parrot fish glean algae from the coral, and small and medium predators search for food. Schools of fish twist and flash between the outcrops. An occasional sea turtle may be seen. Lunch is a tropical smorgasbord on board. The diversity is amazing; there are more species of fish, invertebrates and coral on a single reef of the Great Barrier Reef than in all the Caribbean. Both snorkelers and certified divers are catered for (divers will need to bring their cards), and new or inexperienced snorkelers will be show the ropes by the experienced staff. We move to several locations for variety, and may see several species of seabirds during our day. We return to Cairns late afternoon, and the evening is free to look around this small tropical city.               (L)

Day 7 – T Cairns / Alice Springs
The first part of the morning is free for a final walk along the Esplanade, a swim in the pool or a quick shop before we return to the airport for our 11.45am Qantas flight 1949 to the center of Australia, Alice Springs, arriving at about 1.55pm. We are met and begin our exploration of this small city and surrounds, the heart of the Red Centre. Originally established as a telegraph station to serve the line running from Adelaide to Darwin to Asia, and hence to Europe, The Alice, as the town is referred to, has grown into a comfortable small city. The surrounding McDonnell Ranges and desert, and the clear and brilliant blue skies, provide a stunning setting. The Todd River runs through the city, but like most rivers west of the Great Dividing Range, it is dry most of the time. However, this doesn’t stop the locals from arranging boat races – they simply knock the bottoms out, and run the course holding their craft. As it is quite hot at this time of the year, our time spent outdoors is mostly late afternoon, and tomorrow morning. (B,*L),

 

 

Day 8 - Alice Springs / Uluru (Ayers Rock)
A very early start this morning to take advantage of the wildlife activity and the cool part of the day, as we head east of Alice Springs through the majestic East MacDonnell Ranges. After crossing the dry bed of the Ross River, we stop under the shade of as giant river red gum to contemplate the ancient landscape and have breakfast. Our morning will continue with short walks into some of the East MacDonnell Ranges most picturesque gorges, providing viewing of Aboriginal rock art and carvings. Later another short walk into Trephina Gorge provides spectacular views of this very special place that will live long in your memory of our visit to Central Australia. We return to Alice Springs in time for our short lunchtime flight (Qantas 1941 at 12.30pm) south to Ayer’s Rock, now mostly know by its Aboriginal name of Uluru. We arrive at 1.25pm, and check into our accommodation. We have some time to freshen up before heading off to Uluru itself. One of the most famous sights in Australia is the mystical vision of Uluru changing from red to purple to black as the sun sets in the outback. From our vantage point we watch this transformation, an event that has occurred unchanged for millions of years, watched by us today just as 40,000 years ago the ancestors of the Pitjantjatjara & Anangu people did. Most amazingly, these people are still living here today, in an unbroken chain, as we shall see.                    (B)


Day 9 - Uluru
Awake early this morning – before sunrise – to visit Uluru itself, witnessing the spectacular sunrise without rushing. Short walks enable us to view rock art, waterholes and some of the unique flora and fauna of Uluru. Our guides introduce the geology of Uluru and describe how plants and wildlife have adapted and survived in such a forbidding environment. They also describe deep the relationship of the Anangu people to Uluru. This place was shelter, provided water and is a tangible link with their creation ancestors. As we walk at the base we hear and see the creation time stories of these ancient people unfold, and see where the people lived and carried out ceremonies. Here the beliefs of the local people are embodied in one of the great places of this world. From a distance Uluru is spectacular; from close up it is powerful and deeply moving, and presents its exquisite and dramatic sculpturing. After our time at the base of Uluru we visit the nearby Aboriginal-operated Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre, to continue our understanding of Uluru and its people. We then return to the hotel in time for lunch (own expense). B

Late this afternoon we see another aspect of this red desert. Not as well known outside Australia as Ayers Rock, but also fascinating, is Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). These rounded tors are hewn from the same subterranean mass as Uluru itself, and present their own stories and mysteries. At Olga Gorge our guide describes the geology of the area and how it has evolved over millions of years. As we walk through Olga Gorge we learn how the Aboriginal people used the plants of the area in their daily life. As the sun sets the domes change color, just like the larger Uluru – same say the event is equal to Uluru’s own sunset show. Regardless, the clefts and shadows, and our special perspective, make this a unique event.                 (B)

 

Day 10 - Sunday, Janaury 15: Uluru / Sydney
The first part of the morning is free for a final look at this desert landscape. There are short walks to platforms in the nearby dunes where a longer perspective on the sunrise on Uluru can be had, and desert birds and lizards may be active. Also a short walk away is another cultural center, with a good range of souvenirs. Or the opportunity may be taken for a lie-in after several early morning. At lunchtime we fly east to Sydney, arriving late afternoon. After transferring, via a short city sights tour, to our downtown hotel we have to for an initial look at this famous harborside city. (L)

 

 

The Tour continues >>>>