Australian Natural Adventures

Wildlife, Nature & Soft Adventure Tours

Custom Australia, New Zealand & Pacific tours and travel





Nature-loving  Divers



September 14 to October 8, 2010



Day 1 – Tuesday, September 14: Salt Lake City/ Los Angeles / Lost In Space
Begin your Australian wildlife journey by flying from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. Make your way to the Tom Bradley International Terminalm, where Australia begins when you step aboard Qantas flight 108 departing at 11.50pm. The Australian style is apparent—easy going, casually efficient and very friendly. Qantas is known for its food and service, so sit back and enjoy dinner and a movie. However, as this meal will be served about an hour and a half to two hours after take-off, it will be very late, and you may want to eat before boarding -even Qantas food is not something to hang around for. The best variety of restaurants is found at the rear of the Tom Bradley Terminal. You may want to put a prepared Do Not Disturb sign on your seat and go to sleep. If you do want to stay up wine, beer and spirits are included with the meal, and there are over 400 video, movie, tv and game options on the tivo-style entertainment system, linked to the seat-back screen in front of you.


Day 2 – Wednesday, September 15: Lost In Space

Lose today due to the International Dateline, but regain it on your return journey.


Day 3 – Thursday, September 16: LIS /Sydney/ Brisbane/ Hervey Bay
Arrive in Sydney at 7.25 this morning, pass through customs and immigration, then take a taxi into the Rocks area for a quick look at the harbor, bridge and Opera House. The Rocks is the convict-era historic part of Sydney, and includes Australia’s oldest building. A walk in the nearby Botanic Gardens will give classic views of the Opera House, Bridge and Harbour, and likely get you a dozen or so life birds including swans, parrots and honeyeaters, while several large trees host a colony of flying foxes. The noise should give away their location, or just ask a visitor. Return to the domestic airport for your 2.05pm Qantas flight to Hervey Bay via Brisbane, arriving at 5.50pm. Taxi to your hotel, with views across the marina.       (*B,*S)


kingfisher bay resortDay 4 – Friday, September 17: Hervey Bay
Hervey Bay is one of the best places in the world to observe Humpback Whales, as the females bring their newly born calves to feed and fatten for a few months. At 7am board your boat for two half day whale watches. After the second tour you are dropped at Fraser Island, your home for the next three nights. Kingfisher Bay Resort is a very comfortable lodge, but still built and operated on ecolodge principles; it even has a worm farm for recycling. There are walks from the main lodge, and each morning there is a bird walk around the immediate area. Sunsets from the beach looking over the strait between the island and the mainland are stunning, and occasionally a dingo is seen.


dingo fraser islandstream and rainforestDays 5 & 6 –Saturday & Sunday, September 18 & 19: Fraser Island
These two days are available for more whale trips, and exploring the island. Fraser is the world’s largest sand island, and is very unusual in having well-developed rainforest growing on pure sand. Small perched lakes are also present, ranging form crystal clear water to tannin-stained. Due to the many sandy roads a 4WD is needed to explore, and these can be hired from the resort. Large goannas (varanids) are common on the island.




Day 7– Monday, September 20: Fraser Island/ Hervey Bay/ Cairns
Today you have the opportunity for a last morning whale watch (added expense), then return to the mainland on the 2pm ferry (or a little earlier at no cost on the whale boat) for your 6pm flight to Cairns via Brisbane, arriving at 10.20pm. Taxi to your hotel located on the Esplanade, with great views over Trinity Harbour and the Coral Sea. Immediately out of the hotel is the part of the Esplanade that first sees the dropping tide, and so the shorebirds for which the Esplanade is famous (it’s one of Australia’s prime shorebirding areas) first gather here, often just a few feet from your position – there’s even benches to sit on.        (*D)


Day 8 – Tuesday, September 21: Cairns/ Daintree/ Atherton Tablelands
High tide is at 8.22am this morning, meaning that the first shorebirds should start appearing about 8.45, and be plentiful by 9am. Spend daintree rever crocodileabout an hour picking out the many varieties present, including such US rarities as Curlew Sandpiper and a variety of stints. Pick up your rental car and head north to the Daintree River, where you take a 1.5 hour cruise to see the saltwater crocodiles that are common here, as well as other mangrove animals. Return towards Cairns, but at Mossman head up the range towards Julatten. You’ll have been traveling through rainforest, but a little way past Julatten the rainshadow effect of the mountains takes hold, and the environment changes to a much more arid one, with its attendant suite of dry country birds and other animals. Especially look for the large Wedge-tailed Eagle, with a winspan of over 2m, and the smaller Little Eagle among others. In Mareeba take a small road out to Granite Gorge, where rock wallabies have become acclimated to human presence, and can easily be seen. Ask at the kiosk about bower bird bowers, as there is usually an activrock wallaby and friende Great Bowerbird nearby. Dry country parrots such as the specatcular Red-winged Parrot and Pale-headed Rosellas are also usually here. Continue on south, passing a lagoon that usually has Osprey, Black Swans and other waterbirds, including Wattled Jacana. Look for possible bustards in the fields, and feeding Red-tailed Black Cockatoos in the bulloak trees. Eventually arrive at your accommodation for the next five nights, Chambers Ecolodge. This simple self-contained lodge is in the center of rainforest, and a wide variety of mammals and birds can be seen here. Especially look for the small Musky-Rat-kangaroo, the smallest and most primitive of living kangaroos. Seeing this is like looking back some 25 million years to the very start of macropod evolution. This evening pademelons, small rainforest wallabies, will come out onto the grassy areas, and you will likely be visited by Sugar Gliders.


Day 9 – Wednesday, September 22: Atherton Tablelands
This morning you meet Alan Gillanders, a local wildlife guide who will take you around the Tablelands today and tomorrow. As well as being a past teacher and National Parks volunteer ranger, Alan’s also the president of the Cairns branch of birds Australia. You’ll probably start looking for platypus, and may end the daylight doing the same thing. After dark Alan will take you out spotlighting for the many mammals that inhabit this rainforest, including endemic possums and tree kangaroos.


Day 10 – Thursday, September 23: Atherton Tablelands
Once again Alan will meet you for a full day out, which will include some of the drier and ecotonal areas nearby. As you have already had a day with Alan today will be tailored to your interests taking into account the areas visited and animals seen yesterday. One of the special animals of teh area is Boyd's Rainforest Dragon, which looks more like a basilisk that a typical agamid. The uncommon Striped Possum, more often located by its scratching than by sight, bears uncanny similarities in feeding behavior and digit anatomy to the Aye-aye.



Day 11 & 12 – Friday & Saturday, September 24 & 25: Atherton Tablelandsherbert river ringtail possum
These two days are free to continue your exploration of the Tablelands, now that Alan has shown you about and you are familiar with areas worthy of more time. At this time of the year some 900 Sarus Cranes and many Brolgas wheel into a small Crater swamp, and you should ensure you are here to watch this beautiful event, as the cranes come in often just 20 or 30 ft above head height, drop their legs and circle down to the swamp floor.


Day 13 – Sunday, September 26: Atherton Tablelands/Cairns
The high country and dryish waterways with flowering melaleucas is g a good place to look for honeyeaters, including the colorful Scarlet Honeyeater. Make your way back to Cairns today at your leisure, perhaps going down via the Palmerston Highway and the Mamu canopy walkway if you haven’t visited this before, which enables you to walk in the rainforest at treetop level. Arrive back in Cairns and your Esplanade hotel once again.



Day 14 – Monday, September 27: Great Barrier Reef
You are picked up this morning from your hotel (or you can walk, it's about ten minutes away along the Esplanade) to begin your 3 night/4 day Great Barrier Reef liveaboard on Spirit of Freedom. Over the next four days you will head north and dive and number of reefs, especially the Ribbon Reefs and the world-famous Cod Hole at Lizard Island. The Ribbon Reefs and Cod Hole are some of the best diving in North Queenlsand, and the company and divemasters know the area well; they have been diving here for over 20 years.       (L,D)




Days 15 & 16 – Tuesday & Wednesday, September 28 & 29: Great Barrier Reef
Continue your liveaboard on the Great Barrier Reef. In addition to the day dives night dives are also included during your time on board.     (B,L,D)





Day 17 – Thursday, September 30: GBR/ Cairns
You return to Cairns by flying from Lizard Island, and have the rest of the day free to catch up on laundry and take it easy. The flight will give you a new aspect of the reef not appreciated from at and below sea level.     (B)


Day 18 – Friday, October 1: Cairns/ Adelaide/ Kangaroo Island
Fly nearly the height of Australia today, first to Adelaide and then on to Kangaroo Island, where you will stay for the next five days and nights. Your first night is spent at Kingscote, as one of the features of the island is the breeding fairy penguins, but these are restricted to the east end of the island. Due to the high wildlife population, rental car companies don’t allow driving after dark, and as the best place to stay for wildlife is at the west end of the island, this single night stay enables you to watch the penguins come ashore at dusk, just a few minutes from your hotel.      (*L,*M)



Day 19 – Saturday, October 2: Kangaroo Island
koala You are picked up from your hotel by your guide and first visit the redgum forest along the Cygnet River valley to seek out koalas sleeping in the forks of the trees, then travel through some of the best wool-producing areas on the island to a conservation park on the north coast. Here walk through the habitat of Kangaroo Island Kangaroos, Tammar Wallabies and the endangered Glossy Black Cockatoo. For lunch enjoy a delicious seafood barbeque served with fine South Australian wines before heading to a colony of Australian Sealions. At Seal Bay Conservation Park a walk among Sealions on a beautiful sandy beach may reveal watching pups nursing or playing in the surf. Old bulls bear the scars of territorial disputes, as your guide explains when he discusses their unique breeding biology. In the afternoon visit Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park including D'Estrees Bay - where ospreys nest, and kangaroos come out late in the day to feed. On your return to Kingscote pick up your rental car and drive to your accommodation for the next four nights, Kangaroo Island Wilderness Resort, located adjacent to Flinders Chase National Park.    (L)



Day 20 – Sunday, October 3: Kangaroo Island
Flinders Chase National Park is a 74,000 hectare (190,000 acre) wilderness which covers the entire west end of the Island. First visit Rocky River Homestead - originally a small farm and now the Park headquarters, where there are guides to the island and it’s wildlife. This area is home to kangaroos, wallabies, possums, goannas, echidnas, koremarkable rocksalas, platypus and many birds including the rare Cape Barren Goose. At Cape du Couedic on the south-west tip is a New Zealand Furseal colony which is rapidly expanding. These animals can be observed at rest on the rocks or frolicking in the surf under Admirals Arch - a spectacular coastal grotto. On the headland above is Cape du Couedic Lighthouse which plays an important role in navigation. Further down the coast are the Remarkable Rocks, huge natural granite sculptures on the cliff top. Check with the ranger to see if the Short-tailed Shearwaters are nesting, as when they are they stream in their thousands along the cliff coast. Very interesting is the clifftop along the south coast. Due to the strong prevailing winds from the ocean, the forest miniaturizes as you get closer to the edge, eventually being just a few inches high. However, despite the harsh conditions, turn over the small flat rocks, as many geckoes and skinks, and even small snakes, take shelter under them.

echidnaDays 21 to 23– Monday to Wednesday, October 4 to 6: Kangaroo Island
You have these three days to continue to explore and discover the wildlife of the island, probably the best place in Australia to find Echidnas. As there are also platypus here (but often harder to see), you have the opportunity to see two of the world’s three living monotremes. Kangaroo Island Diving Safaris operates out of Western River on the north coast, and a day with them will give you the chance to see and perhaps interact with some of the 270 species of fish, as well as two species of sea dragons, seals – which are often very friendly – and dolphins.



kangaroos  in paddock

Day 24– Thursday, October 7: KI/ Adelaide
Today is your last day on the island. Late this afternoon return to the airport for a 6pm flight to Adelaide, where you overnight.




Day 25 - Friday, October 8: Adelaide/Melbourne/ Los Angeles/ Salt Lake City
You leave Australia today and fly to Melbourne, where you change to your mid-morning flight to Los Angeles. Due to the International Dateline you arrive back in Los Angeles early this morning, in plenty of time for you flight to your home city.     (*B,*L,*B)

B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner; M: Meal; S: Snack; * in flight meal



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