Brisbane to New South Wales: Coasts, Rainforests and Inland Woodlands
Brisbane is a gateway city to many special birds in the region. One of Australia's most dynamic cities in Southern Queensland, it is within easy reach of Lamington National Park and its Albert's Lyrebirds and Paradise Riflebirds but is also well placed to explore coastal headlands and heathlands around Evans Head, dry temperate woodlands near the border with New South Wales, waterbird-loaded wetlands too. By covering coast to inland, the bird list for this tour is varied and exciting, with fantastic possibilities including Emu, Turquoise Parrot, Little Lorikeet, Greater Bluebonnet, Albert’s and Superb lyrebirds, Regent and Satin bowerbirds, White-winged and Purple-backed fairywrens, and there is also a chance of roosting Powerful Owls or a Koala!
21 - 28 October ($AUD 7000)
Other Tour Information:
Length: 8 Days
Starting City: Brisbane
Ending City: Brisbane
Physical Difficulty: Easy
Max group size: 8 + 1 leader
Day 1: Arrival in Brisbane
After your arrival, the tour will begin with a meeting with the guide for dinner in the evening.
Day 2: Brisbane to Evans Head
The first day will focus on coastal sites near and south of Brisbane. Near the airport, we will visit Boondall Wetlands, an excellent coastal site on the outskirts of Brisbane. One part of it is carpeted in rich mangroves, which are home to Mangrove Honeyeater, Mangrove Gerygone and Torresian Kingfisher. We will be on the lookout for Forest and Sacred Kingfishers in the area too. Chestnut Teal often inhabit this area, as do Buff-banded Rails. Nearby wetlands offer up yet more waterbirds, like Plumed and Wandering Whistling-Ducks, Comb-crested Jacana, and Australasian Darter. Outside of the wetland are wooded areas, where Tawny Frogmouth are often nesting in this season, and Striped Honeyeaters and Leaden Flycatchers are a regular sight. Other species we will look out for in this area include Brown Quail, Tawny Grassbird, Pale-headed Rosella and Australasian Pipit.
Brisbane is an underrated birding city, and we hope to prove that by dropping in on a pair of roosting Powerful Owls, in a park that may also yield Koalas. In some years too, Square-tailed Kites are nesting around the city, and we will drop in on these if available. By the afternoon, we will depart south for Evans Head, a coastal town and beach resort, wedged in between Broadwater and Bundjalung National Parks. In the afternoon, we will explore the local coastal heaths, where Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, White-cheeked, Blue-faced, and Tawny-crowned honeyeaters, Little Wattlebird, and Southern Emuwren occur. The area also often holds good numbers of Scarlet Honeyeaters, and if we are fortunate, we may find one of the area’s Ground Parrots with a dusk visit. A single night will be spent in the resort town of Evans Head.
Day 3: Evans Head to Ballandean
On this day we will start at the coast, birding the heaths, remnant rainforest patches and coastal headlands around Evans Head, before heading inland to Ballandean, on the edge of Girraween National Park. Our targets for the morning will include Eastern Yellow Robin, Musk Lorikeet, Variegated Fairywren, Yellow-rumped and Brown thornbills, among others. We will also check out the seas if there is onshore wind, Australian Gannet are regular offshore and other seabirds can come in close to shore on these days too. The night will be spent in Ballandean.
Day 4: Girraween National Park
Girraween National Park straddles the state lines of Queensland and New South Wales, and sits within 200km of the Queensland coastline. Our birding in the park will focus on the western section, within Queensland. The park comprises temperate rainforest, heathland and temperate eucalypt woodland, interspersed with dramatic rocky outcrops of granite boulders. It is the scenery that attracts many here, but there are plenty of birds to keep us engaged. In the rainforests, we will seek the first of two lyrebirds for the trip, this the southern-most one, Superb Lyrebird, as well as Red-browed Treecreeper and Scarlet Robin at its edges. In drier woodlands we will be looking for different birds altogether, including Speckled Warbler, White-eared, Black-chinned and Yellow-tufted honeyeaters, Varied Sittella and White-browed Babbler, while heathy areas are home to Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, New Holland Honeyeater and Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo. The night will be spent in the nearby town of Ballandean.
Day 5: Ballandean to Inglewood via Lake Coolmunda
We will set out northwest towards Coolmunda Dam, a hotspot near the end of our route for the day. However, the drive there passes through excellent open areas for Brown Songlark, and also some open woodland for a wonderful variety of attractive species, like Diamond Firetail, Turquoise Parrot, and Brown Treecreeper. We will be on the lookout for soaring raptors too, Wedge-tailed and Little Eagles, both being present. The chief attraction this afternoon will be Coolmunda Dam, a large waterbody, home to a diverse set of wetland species, like ducks, grebes, herons, shorebirds, terns, cormorants and raptors. It also has a decent parrot list with Red-rumped and Red-winged parrots, Cockatiel, and Pale-headed Rosella all regular. Some of the most notable waterbirds include Black Swan, Pink-eared Duck, Hardhead Great Crested Grebe, and Yellow-billed Spoonbill. White-winged Chough and Apostlebird also occur in the dry country surrounding the dam. The night will be spent in nearby Inglewood.
Day 6: Mosquito Creek Road and Durikai State Park to Lamington NP
Inglewood lies in the Brigalow belt that spans the border of Queensland and New South Wales. Mosquito Creek Road lies on the Queensland side, and offers up a very long list of birds, including the national bird, Emu. Inland Queensland is noted for its abundance of colorful parrots, and this site is no exception, being great for seeing Greater Bluebonnets in particular. Dirt tracks are home to Squatter Pigeons and Brown Quail, and open areas hold finch flocks, sometimes including Zebra or Plum-headed finches among the more common species. More heavily-wooded sites are home to White-throated Treecreeper, Spotted Bowerbird, and the smashing Red-capped Robin. Even the rare Ground Cuckooshrike is seen with some regularity in the area. Aside from these sough-after species, two dapper “blue wrens” occur, White-winged and Purple-backed Fairywrens frequenting this area. After an early morning here, we push east towards Lamington, stopping off in an area of dry woodland at Durikai State Forest, where species like Painted Buttonquail, Southern Whiteface, five species of thornbill, Eastern Rosella, Little Lorikeet, Turquoise Parrot, Yellow-tufted, Yellow-faced, Fuscous, Black-chinned and Brown-headed honeyeaters, Jacky Winter, Dusky Woodswallow and Crested Shrike-Tit all roam the temperate woodlands. In the late afternoon, we will roll into Lamington National Park, for a two-night stay.
Day 7: Lamington National Park
With this full day and another morning to explore this famous park, we will have plenty of time on our hands to go after the many specialties of this gorgeous national park. We will be staying at the World-famous O'Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, a wonderful, birder-friendly lodging on the top of a rainforest carpeted plateau. Beneath the plateau edge, drier Dry Sclerophyll forest occurs. However, most of our focus will on rainforest birds. Logrunners scamper across the forest floor, while Green Catbirds whine and Paradise Riflebirds growl from the forest canopy. Perhaps the most famous bird of all at O Reilly’s is their logo bird, the black-and-gold Regent Bowerbird, which with Australian King-Parrots, Crimson Rosellas, and Satin Bowerbirds can often be found around the reception area. We may need to do some rainforest stalking to find one of the most vociferous birds in the area, the master mimic, Albert’s Lyrebird. As if that was not enough, other birds like Rose Robin, Noisy Pitta, Eastern Whipbird, Rufous Fantail, Wonga Pigeon, and Russet-tailed Thrush are merely supporting-cast members! The second night will be spent inside the park once again, when people can opt to search for Marbled Frogmouth or Southern Boobook after dinner.
Day 8: Lamington National Park to Brisbane
We will have another full morning to explore this fascinating area, before departing for Brisbane in the afternoon. Our exact departure time will be flexible, if we hear of anything staked out in Brisbane, be it a Koala, Square-tailed Kite nest, or Powerful Owl roost. The final night will be spent in Brisbane.
Day 9: Departure from Brisbane
There is no birding planned on this day, so you are free to leave when is suits you.
PACE: Moderate. This tour attempts to see as many bird species as possible as well as some great mammals, so early starts and full days in the field are the norm. Typical starts are between 5:00-5:30am. There will be some optional nighttime activities for mammals and birds on the nights of days 6 and 7, at Lamington. A few breakfasts may be taken in the field.
PHYSICAL DIFFICULTY: Easy. Most of the birding will be done from roads and mostly flat, well-maintained trails. You can expect to walk around 3-4 km (2-3 miles) per day on average. There are no high-altitude sites. Relative to many Australian tours, where great distances can be covered on good roads, this tour does not involve many long drives. Day 6 has the longest drive, of just over four hours, while three other days have drives between two and three hours. All of the drives will be broken up with birding stops.
CLIMATE: In temperate areas around Brisbane temperatures between 14°C/57°F and 34°C/75°F are expected. While this is timed for the dry season, some rain can occur at any time, all the same.
ACCOMMODATION: Good to very good throughout. All accommodations have private bathrooms, full-time hot water, and 24-hour electricity. Most lodges/hotels have wifi either in your room or at reception.
WHAT’S INCLUDED?: Accommodation from night of day 1 though to night of day 8; meals from dinner on day 1 to dinner on day 8; reasonable non-alcoholic drinks during restaurant meals; safe drinking water between meals; most hotels in Australia provide a kettle and tea and coffee; Tropical Birding tour leader with scope and audio gear from dinnertime of day 1 to the night of day 8; transfer by taxi to the airports at the start and end of the tour; ground transport for the group to all sites in the itinerary in a suitable vehicle driven by the tour leader; entrance fees to all birding sites mentioned in the itinerary; a printed and bound checklist to keep track of your sightings (given to you at the start of the tour – only electronic copies can be provided in advance).
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED?: Optional tips to the tour leader; international flights; excess baggage fees; snacks; additional drinks apart from those included; alcoholic beverages; travel insurance; excursions not included in the tour itinerary; extras in hotels such as laundry service, internet, minibar, room service, telephone calls, and personal items; medical fees (including any Covid tests needed); other items or services not specifically mentioned as being included.