Trip Type : Group Tour
Northern Australia tour

Northern Australia

Cheepers Birding
5.0 . Excellent
100%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
20 days
From: $ 6,585 $ 329 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Visits to Knuckey’s Lagoons and Howard Springs Nature Reserve
  • Explore Darwin visiting Holmes Jungle, East Point, Lee Point and Buffalo Creek and some bird watching includes.
  • Explore the Atherton Tableland which is an old volcanic plateau and a hotspot for birds
  • Enjoy Bird watching at Atherton Tablelands and visits to nearby Lakes Eacham, including Victoria's Riflebird, Superb Fruit-Dove and Many other beautiful birds
  • Have an Opportunity to cruise on the Daintree River looking for Mangrove and large-billed Gerygone, Shining Flycatcher
  • Drive to the wharf to board the Ocean Spirit for a relaxing cruise to Michaelmas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Opportunity to see endemic and species at Kakadu National park which is World Heritage listed

Short Description

During this extraordinary tour you will be watching incredible birds around Darwin and you will see species include Rainbow Pitta, Australian Pratincole, Eastern Yellow Wagtail . You will also have an opportunity to cruise on the famous Yellow Waters Billabong is the perfect start to the day with waterbirds are a great spectacle. Explore Kakadu National park  which is listed as World Heritage,which provides the opportunity to look for two of Australia's rarest raptors, the Greay Falcon, which has almost mythical status because it is so elusive, and the Red Goshawk and finally two full days of birding on the Atherton Tablelands where you will have an possibility to see Kangaroos as well.

Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Trip Type Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Darwin
End City Cairns

Trip Includes

  • Lodging
  • Meals as indicated
  • Expert bird guide during the entire trip
  • Services of two Cheepers! Tour guides (Jim and Cindy Beckman)
  • Private transportation during tour
  • Transfers to and from airport
  • All entry fees to reserves on the itinerary
  • Fees for all activities listed on the itinerary
  • Pre-trip gift package and post-trip photo collection on flash drive or dvd

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Itinerary

Day 1:

Accommodation:  Free Spirit Resort

We have planned for participants to arrive in Darwin a day before the official tour begins to allow time for a day of rest following the long flights from the US.   This will allow you some time to acclimate to the time zone change and rest thoroughly in order to be fresh for the first day of birding.  Because flight schedules and arrival times will vary, no meals are included for this day.  You will be picked up and transported to the hotel upon your arrival at the airport in Darwin.

Day 2:  Darwin

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Free Spirit Resor

We will start our birding with visits to Knuckey’s Lagoons and Howard Springs Nature Reserve, with some other areas time permitting.  Possible species include Rainbow Pitta, Australian Pratincole, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Wood Sandpiper, Green Pygmy Goose, Yellow White-eye, Red-headed Honeyeater and Mangrove Grey Fantail.

Day 3:  Darwin

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Free Spirit Resort

We will tour the local area  around Darwin visiting Holmes Jungle, East Point, Lee Point and Buffalo Creek.  Birds likely to be seen include Arafura Fantail, Northern Fantail, White-gaped Honeyeater, Forest Kingfisher, Rainbow Pitta, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Restless Flycatcher, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Emerald Dove, Lemon-bellied & Shining Flycatchers, Red-headed Honeyeater, Green-backed Gerygone, Gray Whistler, Red-winged Parrots, and several species of finches. In the mangroves at Buffalo Creek, Common Sandpiper are found and the rarely seen Chestnut Rail is possible.  Large-tailed Nightjars frequent the area at dusk.  Various seabirds and waders are also possible. We will visit the Botanical Gardens to look for Rufous and Barking Owls.

Day 4:  Fogg Dam And Transfer To Kakadu National Park

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Anbinik Kakadu Resort

After breakfast we will drive to Fogg Dam with its spectacular diversity of water birds, including Comb-crested Jacanas, Black-necked Storks, Magpie Geese, Straw-necked and Glossy ibis, Pied Herons, Plumed and Wandering Whistling Ducks, Green Pygmy Geese, Whiskered and Caspian Terns, and Brahminy Kites.  Both Saltwater and Freshwater Crocodiles are found here.  A boardwalk on the edge of the lake is a good place to find the endemic Rainbow Pitta, as well as Little Kingfisher, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Shining Flycatcher, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, and Broad-billed and Lemon-bellied Flycatchers.  Along the Amhem Highway we will stop at a small waterhole for Crimson, Long-tailed, Double-barred, and (if we are very lucky) Gouldian Finches.  A stop at Adelaide River should produce Mangrove Golden Whistlers and along the route we should find Black-faced Woodswallow, Marsh and Spotted Harriers, Black-shouldered Kites, Nankeen Kestrels, and Black-breasted Buzzards.  Many other species are possible along this route, including Red-backed Kingfishers and Zitting Cisticolas.  The first planned stop in World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park is Mamukala Wetlands, where the numbers of water birds can be spectacular.  We'll make a stop at the Bowali Visitors Center before going in to the town of Jabiru to check in to our accommodation, Lakeside Caravan Park, which is owned by the local Aboriginal people.  After dinner, we will look for Barking Owls. 

Day 5: Kakadu National Park

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Anbinik Kakadu Resort

A dawn cruise on the famous Yellow Waters Billabong is the perfect start to the day.  The early flights of the waterbirds are a great spectacle and this is an opportunity to get close to and photograph huge numbers of birds.  Large saltwater Crocodiles are also a feature of this cruise.  White-bellied Sea-Eagles have territories along the billabong, large numbers of Nankeen Night-Herons roam the banks, and Bar-breasted and Banded Honeyeaters live in the riverside vegetation, to name but a few.

The agenda for the remainder of the day is dependent on what roads are open, but will include internationally renowned Aboriginal art sites at Nourlangie Rock.  Birding highlights hopefully will include the endemic Banded Fruit-Dove, White-lined Honeyeater and Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon as well as Partridge Pigeon, Little Corella, Northern Rosella, Rainbow Pitta, Little Woodswallow, Great Bowerbird, and Sandstone Shrike-thrush.

Day 6: Kakadu National Park

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Anbinik Kakadu Resort

An early morning start at Nourlangie Rock and Angbangbang Billabong to provide the best chance of seeing the endemics and other species listed in day 4.  After a break in the middle of the day, we'll travel north to the Bardedjilidji walk and the art sites at Ubirr.  Sunset at Ubbir is a Kakadu tradition and a great way to finish the day.  Birding highlights include species previously listed and Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Long-tailed, Double-barred and Crimson Finches, Parperbark Flycatcher, White-winged Triller, and many many more.

Day 7: Kakadu National Park And Pine Creek

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation:  Pine Creek Railway Resort

Travelling south through Kakadu towards Pine Creek provides the opportunity to look for two of Australia's rarest raptors, the Greay Falcon, which has almost mythical status because it is so elusive, and the Red Goshawk.  Other raptors found in this area include Brown Goshawk, Australian Hobby, Black-breasted Buzzard, Whistling Kite, Collared Sparrowhawk, Black Falcon and Brown Falcon.  Masked Finches, Weebills, Black-tailed Treecreepers, Brown Quails, Brush Cuckoos, Black-eared Cuckoos, and Vairegated Fairy-Wrens are all possible at random roadside stops and at Bukbukluk.  If road conditions are suitable, a side trip to Gumlom Falls will provide the opportunity to see species that may have been missed elsewhere.  The rough escarpment country above the falls is renowned as the best location to see the locally endemic White-throated Grasswren, but recent fires in the area have made this more difficult.  We will, however, give it a go.

The little town of Pine Creek is a good location for Hooded Parrot, Varied Lorikeet, Cockatiel, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Northern Rosella, Red-collared Lorikeet, Diamond Dove, Striated Pardalote, Magpie Lark, Crested Pigeon, Crested Shrike-Tit, Owlet Nightjar, and Black-chinned, Blue-faced and White-throated Honeyeaters.  Goudian Finches can sometimes be found here as well.  The nearby sewage treatment plant is home to Australian Pratincole, Black-fronted Plover, Black-winged Stilt and Gray Teal while Chestnut-backed Button-Quail have been seen at the nearby cememtery.

Day 8:  Pine Creek And Edith Falls

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation:  Pine Creek Railway Resort

A very early start will be necessary today to go to the Edith Falls area to be ready for dawn at a location where beautiful Gouldian Finches and many other species come for a morning drink.  Red-winged Parrots, Hooded Parrots, Cockatiels, Rufous Whisstlers, Black-tailed Treecreepers, and Long-tailed and Crimson Finches are regular visitors to the waterhole.  We will spend the rest of the day at Ferguson River, Copperfield Dam, the water part, the cemetery and other locations nearby searching for species that have not been seen.

Day 9:  Pine Creek, Litchfield National Park, Darwin

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Free Spirit Resort

We will go back to Darwin via Adelaide River to look for the Silver-backed form of the Grey Butcherbird. which is endemic to the Northern Territory and Litchfield National Park.  Although Litchfield is not renowned for its birds, it is the only location we might see Emus and it is home to the spectacular magnetic termite mounds.  If we have time when we arrive in Darwin, we will visit locations where we can see species found in the area that we missed when we were in Darwin at the beginning of the tour.

Day 10: Cairns

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Bay Village Retreat

We will take an early flight to Cairns (Queensland) to begin the second part of the tour.  We'll spend the rest of the day around Cairns, including the Esplanade where we'll look for waders roosting on the high tide.  This famous birding location, only a minute walk from our hotel, is a hotspot for waders on their migrations to and from the northern hemisphere.  As it is winter, most of the migrants will be breeding in the Arctic, but there are always some individuals, usually juveniles, that winter in Carins.  Possible migrant species include Terek, Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpipers, Great Know, Gray-tailed Tattler, Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, and Red-necked Stints.  Resident species include Red-capped plover, Masked Lapwing, Australian Pelican, Royal Spoonbill, Striated Heron, Australian Pied Oystercatcher, Gull-billed Tern, Silver Gull, Collared Kingfisher, Beach Stone Curlew, and Eastern Great, Intermediate, Little and Eastern Reef Egrets.  In the adjacent mangroves and park land, we'll search for Yellow Oriole, Rainbow Lorikeet, double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Peaceful Dove, Mangrove Robin, and Yellow and Vaired Honeyeaters.   Cairns Centenary Lakes and the adjacent Botanic Gardens are also nearby, with rain forest, fresh water wetlands and salt water wetlands to explore.  Possibilities here include Orange-footed Scrubfow, 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 Honeyeaters, Hornbill Friarbird, Varied Triller, Australasian Figbird, White-breasted Woodswallow, Spangled Drongo, Leaden Flycatcher, Magpie-Lark, Metallic Starling, and Olive-backed Sunbird, to name just a few.  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 birder sot look for waders.  An after-dinner walk along the Esplanade is a good opportunity to see Bush Stone Curlews.

Day 11: Michaelmas Cay

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Bay Village Retreat

We will leave the hotel at 7:45 AM to drive to the wharf to board the Ocean Spirit for a relaxing cruise to Michaelmas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef.  The cay is a breeding site for a number of seabirds, including Common and Black Noddies, Greater Frigatebirds, Brown Boobies, Ruddy Turnstones, and an assortment of terns (Cresteted, Lesser Crested, Black-naped, Little, Sooty, and sometimes Bridled).  There will be a chance to snorkel on the reef, with gear provided.  Some snorkeling masks with prescription lenses and wetsuits are available.  If you are certified to scuba dive, you may do so at an additional cost.  There is a semi-submersible for underwater viewing for those who prefer to stay out of the water.  This is an all-day cruise with a substantial lunch served on board.

Day 12: Daintree Village

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation:  Red Mill House

After a final sweep along the Esplanade to see if any new waders have flown in overnight, we will drive from Cairns travelling north to Daintree Village where we will spend the next two nights at beautiful Red Mill House.  On the way we will visit the 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 species include Radjah Shelduck, Emerald Dove, Beach Stone Curlew, Pacific Baza, Brahiminy Kite, Black-winged Stilt, Pheasant Coucal, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Sacred Kingfishser, Lovely Fairy-Wren, White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, Torresian Crow, Fairy Martin, and Nutmeg and Chestnut-breasted Mannikins.

Day 13: Daintree River And Cape Tribulation

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation:  Red Mill House

Before a beautiful breakfast overlooking athe gardens at Red Mill House, we will 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 will criss the Daintree River by ferry and travel along the Cape Tribulation Road, visitint magnificent lowland rain forest 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, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Pied Currawong, Topknow Pigeon, and Silvereye.

Day 14: Julatten And Mt. Carbine

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Kingfisher Park

This is a busy day with extraordinary diversity of habitats from lowland tropical rain forest to dry savannah.  After an early morning walk down Steward Creek Road, we will drive up the coastal range on to the Tablelands to Julatten to check in at Kingfisher Park, a specialist birders' lodge.  We will stay for two nights so the itinerary will be determined by the weather.  If fine weather is forecast, we will spend the rest of the day having a complete change of habitat by travelling a relatively short distance 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 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, Lvoely Fariy-wren and Grey-headed Robin.

Back at Kingfisher park, Platypus can be seen in the creek and ther are many bird species in the lodge grounds, including Noisy Pitta, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Pied Monarch, Spectacled Monarch, Pale Yellow Robin, Gray-headed Robin, LIttle Shrike-thrush, and an assortment of Honeyeaters, including Graceful, McLeay's and Scarlet.  Before dinner we weill look for Barn Owls in a nearby park and after dinner we'll try spotlighting around the grounds for nocturnal birds and mammals.

Day 15: Julatten And Mount Lewis

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Kingfisher Park

As early as the light allows, we will drive up tot he high mountain rain forests of Mount 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, Bassian Thrush, Pale-yellow Robin, and Gaceful and Bridled Honeyaters.  We will come back down for lunch followed by a drive around the Julatten area looking for a range of open country species such as Red-backed Fairy-Wren, White-naped Honeyeater, Golden-headed Cisticola, Tawny Grassbird, Brush and Pallid Cuckoos, and any species we may have missed the previous day.

Day 16: Atherton Tablelands

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Chambers Wildlife Lodge

We'll start the day looking for Platypus if we haven't already seen them (or if you'd like to see them again).  We'll then visit a patchwork of farmland, rain forest, Eucalyptus forest, woodlands, grasslands, creeks, and lagoons in the region.  The Atherton Tableland is an old volcanic plateau and a hotspot for birds.  Red-tailed Black Cockatoos are conspicuous along the roadsides near Mareeba.  At Big Mitchell Creek, we'll look for the elusive White-browed Robin, and at Hastie's Swamp we'll search for a variety of wetland species including Black Swan, Eurasian Coot, Dusky Moorhen, Little Egret, Hardhead, Gray Teal, Pink-eared Duck, Australasian Grebe, Buff-banded Rail, Wandering and Plumed Whistling Ducks, and Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.  In the rain forests of Wongabel State Forest, Hypipamie National Park, and Malanda, we'll have the chance to see Victoria's Riflebird, Golden Bowerbird, Chowchilla, Eastern Whipbird, large-billed Scrub-Wren, Atherton Scrubwren, White-browed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, Eastern Spinebill, 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.

Days 17 & 18: Atherton Tablelands

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Chambers Wildlife Lodge

Two full days of birding on the Atherton Tablelands.  Early morning birding at the Lodge and visits to nearby Lakes Eacham, Lake Barrine, and the Curtain Fig should allow us to see lots of rain forest 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, Gray Shrike-Thrush, Red-backed Fairy-Wren, Noisy Friarbird, Tawny Grassbird, Red-browed Firetail, Australian Magpie and many others.  Great-crested Grebes live on Lake Barrine.  At dusk, there is a chance to see Eastern Grass-Owls and Black-shouldered Kites hunting over fields.  Tree Kangaroos are a possibility.

Day 19: Kuranda, Skyrail, Cairns

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Bay Village in Cairns

We will drive back across sthe Tablelands to Kuranda where you will atch the Skyrail, a gondola that takes you over the top of the canopy and provides one last chance to see the tropical rain forest birds.  On the way, we'll visit Davie's Creek national Park to look for White-browed Robin and Rufous Owl.

Day 20: Departure

Meals: Breakfast

You will be transported to the airport in Cairns for your flight home. 

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 6,585
Price Per Day: $ 329 per day
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  • Deposit Price: $ 1,000
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 800

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Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Intimate Group - 12 max

Cancellation Policy:

Cancellation should be made in writing (email or snail mail)

More than 6 months prior to departure – full refund of deposit

Between 4 and 6 months prior to departure – 50% refund of deposit

Less than 4 months prior to departure – No refund of deposit

If cancellation occurs after full payment is made, a refund will be given only if the vacant spot is filled.

Trip ID#:

NorAusChe

Trip Excludes

  • International airfare
  • Domestic flights within Australia (Darwin - Cairns)
  • Tips
  • Items of a personal nature, such as extra drinks, snacks, alcoholic beverages, laundry, souvenirs, etc.

Meals Included:

19 Breakfasts, 18 Lunches and 18 Dinners

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