Australian Natural Adventures

Wildlife, Nature & Soft Adventure Tours

Custom Australia, New Zealand & Pacific tours and travel




Fully guided wildlife and birding tour Australia, North & South

October & November 2011


Australian Natural Adventures is pleased to announce our 2011Wildlife & Birding tour to Australia. This fully guided tour covers a wide variety of habitats within Australia to enable us to cover as many species of birds, mammals and reptiles as possible. In the north we'll explore the wetlands and escarpments of Kakadu, the tropical savanna just its south, and the rainforests, reef and outback of tropical Queensland. In southern Australia eucalyptus forest and heath on Sydney's sandstone will reveal a variety of birds, including lyre-birds, and we've included a pelagic trip here as well. The open forests and deserts of Victoria are a little-known cornucopia of mammals and birds, from koala to Major Mitchell Cockatoo. In the Southeast is a completely different set of species, both animal and plant, including the tall wet eucalypt forests that are home to a number of mammals including several gliding possums. We'll also be stopping to see Hairy-nosed Wombats in South Australia.


mareeba rock wallaby



(species mentioned are just some of the likely ones each day)

Day 1 - US / In Flight
We depart our hometowns for Los Angeles, where we board our 10.30pm Qantas flight for 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 - LIS / Sydney / Darwin
We arrive in Sydney, Australia at 7am, pass through customs and immigration, and transfer to the domestic terminal for our flight to tropical Darwin, arriving at 1.45pm. After settling in to our hotel we can look around Darwin - the Botanic Gardens are delightful, and/or do a little local birding. This evening we join the Darwin locals' habit of a meal of fish and chips while watching the sun set over the Arafura Sea.            (*B,*L,D)

Day 4 - Darwin / Kakadu
We head out early this morning to Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve, where we expect to see a range of wetland birds including Black-necked Stork, a variety of egrets, whistle-ducks, kingfishers, Blue-winged Kookaburra, and Brolga. A special search will be made for Rainbow Pitta in the monsoon forest. Fogg Dam likely has the highest concentration of the bemagpie geeseautiful Water Python, due to the large numbers of breeding wetlands birds which provide a steady food source. We expect to see these, as well as dragon lizards, Green Tree Snakes, Agile Wallabies and probably Little Red Flying Fox. The prettily yellow-spotted Merten's Water Monitor may also be seen here. From Fogg we continue across the Adelaide River - we'll make a stop to look for Saltwater Crocodile and Mangrove Golden Whistler - and then the extensive Marrakai floodplains. As it's the dry season, expect to see hundreds of whirling Black and Whistling Kites seeking the grasshoppers and other small prey disturbed by small grass fires. The remaining water concentrates the wildlife here, and we'll stop at several billabongs where Magpie Geese and often gather in large numbers. Late afternoon finds us at Ubirr Rock, home to superb Aboriginal Rock Art, and one of the most scenic views in the park. Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow, your guide, is an adopted member of the Aboriginal Kunwinjku people, and will give us her special knowledge and insight of the meanings and history of these paintings and the Aboriginal people. Resident here are Short-eared Rock Wallabies, living among the ledges of this sandstone outcrop; looking down over the edge usually results in nice views.        (B,D)

Day 5 - Kakadu / Pine Creek
We continue to explore Kakadu. We make an early start at Nourlangie, before the tours arrive, hoping to see the uncommon and often elusive Black Wallaroo, a sandstone escarpment endemic. There are several bird endemics also found here including Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon and White-lined Honeyeater. Once again Denise will be combining her birding expertise (she did write the book on Top End birds, after all), general fauna knowledge (she wrote a book on that as well) and her Aboriginal knowledge (yes, another book there as well). After Nourlangie we take the famous Yellow Waters billabong cruise, which always results in great, and often very close, views of a range of water and wetland birds such as Comb-crested Jacana, Radjah Shelduck and Little Kingfisher. Usually Saltwater Crocodiles float to the surface, and sometimes the smaller Freshwater Crocodiles. We continue south through Kakadu, seeking out the fauna found here. Hawks - Grey Goshawk, Brown Falcon - and parrots - Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Northern Rosella, lorikeets - are likely to be in our purview today, but we'll also be looking for other species, such as the small spotted tree monitor, and perhaps see dingo. Another monitor, the Sand Goanna, will likely waddle into view during the day; it's likely to race off on two legs at high speed once we disturb it, though. There's a good variety of interesting plants, unusual insects such as the rather tasty green ants, and the paperbark trees that are so photogenic in the evening sun. The end of the day finds out out of the Park at a small motel. Lights here may reveal insectivorous bats, and like the previous night we'll spend a bit of time outside with lights looking for nocturnal mammals and birds, especially the unusual Rock Ringtail Possum.        (B,L,D)

Day 6 - Pine Creek / Darwin
The southern end of Kakadu and the Pine creek area are transitional areas leading to the drier country to the south. Here we find such beauties as the rare Hooded Parrot, amazingly colored Gouldian Finch, and the almost fluorescent Red-winged Parrot. This is also a good area for Antilopine Wallaroo, the largest of its group, and Frill-necked Dragon. Turtles should be seen in a couple of local waterways. We head up The Track towards Darwin, stopping along the way at some of Denise's favorite spots, and where serendipity provides us with sightings to follow up. Tonight is free to discover some of Darwin's cosmopolitan restaurants.        (B,L)

Day 7 - Darwin area
Darwin is a rich area for wildlife in its own right, and today we benefit by Denise's long residence here to seek out the best areas. Mangroves and monsoon forest are two habitats of special interest, and we'll spend time in both of these. Collared Kingfisher, Red-headed Honeyeater, Great-billed Heron, Chestnut Rail, Mangrove Robin, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, and four species of flycatchers should be just of our day's bag. The harmless (and homely) White-bellied Mangrove Snake will be sought in the mangroves, and other reptiles looked for include the small Children's Python and Northern Water-dragon. We'll likely drop into one of several good sites such as, yes, the local sewage works, good for beauties such as Pink-eared Duck. For those a bit birded out there are good opportunities in Darwin to find quality Aboriginal and other locally made souvenirs. Tonight we share a "farewell to the Top End" dinner, recounting our time here and farewelling our guide and new friend, Denise.         (B,L,D)



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