Australia is a vast continent boasting not only a handsome list of birds – over 800 species – but also a host of animals found nowhere else too. One of the great features of any kind of trip to Australia, is the sheer abundance of many of the birds and animals. Some of the most abundant bird species are also some of the most striking and colorful – with birds like Superb Fairywren, Rainbow Lorikeet and Galah being conspicuous birds in many areas, while animals like wallabies and kangaroos seem to be around every corner! The ease of which many of these species may be seen is often illustrated by the long species lists even in a short trip. In a few intense weeks in Eastern Australia you can expect to walk away with more than half the continents birds, and a healthy dose of mammals too. The size of the continent means that no one trip can do the country justice, and so for that reason we offer four different tours to Australia, three birding tours, and one photo tour. We outline further details on these tours below, although typically birders take either the Eastern Australia tour alone, or combine this with one other tour (most often the short Top End tour); while photographers are well-catered for with the Australia Photo Tour, which ensures photographers leave with a healthy selection of Australian birds such as electric-blue fairwrens, bowerbirds around their characteristic bowers, a swathe of parrots, as well as many other classic Australasian groups such as logrunners, pardalotes,honeyeaters, whistlers, woodswallows and fantails; and that’s not to mention a host of wallabies, kangaroos, and the chance to photograph wombats and platypus too.
Click a tour for a complete itinerary:
Which tour should I pick?
For birders looking to do one single tour in Australia the clear choice is our Eastern Australia: From Top to Bottom; this tour offers up more than half Australia’s birds in just under three weeks in the country. This includes representatives from all the major bird groups in the region, including emu, cassowary, megapode, penguin, albatross, native-hen, crane, bustard, plains-wanderer (an endemic, monotypic, family to Australia), cockatoo, frogmouth, owlet-nightjar, pitta, lyrebird, Australasian treecreeper, fairywren, thornbill, friarbird, honeyeater, boatbill, Australasian babbler, whistler, cuckooshrike, woodswallow, bird-of-paradise, and drongo! As well as this huge diversity of birds on this tour, are a variety of habitats too, as this trip takes in mudflats, mangroves, eucalypt woodland, tropical rainforest, temperate rainforest, mallee, mulga, and a number of wetland habitats too. Thus, if you are looking to pick up some of the quintessential Australian birds like emu, cassowary and bowerbirds, along with some of their most iconic mammals, like wallabies, kangaroos, platypus and koala, and leave with the biggest bird list of any Australian tour (packed with hundreds of country endemics), this is the tour to choose. It can also be easily combined with the short Australia’s Top End: Victoria River to Kakadu, where further endemics or specialties like Hooded Parrot, Purple-crowned Fairywren, and Gouldian Finch, can be found.
A short, nine-day tour is also offered, and confined to the Top End of Australia’s Northern Territory: Australia’s Top End: Victoria River to Kakadu This tour is rarely taken alone, as few people visit Australia just the once, and is therefore most frequently taken as an “extension” to the longer Eastern Australia: From Top to Bottom tour. While Eastern Australia delves into different habitats and landscapes, in many ways much of these do not fit the “classic” picture-postcard images of Australia. However, this Top End tour is designed to fill this gap. By visiting must-see sites like World-famous Kakadu National Park this tour gives you the quintessential Australian Outback, with sprawling red-desert vistas, and Aboriginal art galleries, which can be seen on a tour which also offers some very special endemic birds, not possible elsewhere, such as the electric blue Hooded Parrot, the Technicolor Rainbow Pitta, the adorable Purple-crowned Fairywren, and the multicolored Gouldian Finch.
Australia’s Great Channel Country (custom tours only) This custom tour visits the “parrot heartland” of Australia, and offers species either not possible or rare on either the Eastern Australia or Top End tours. Masses of parrots are possible, including Bourke’s Parrot, Budgerigar (very hit and miss elsewhere on our tours), Mulga Parrot, Pale-headed Rosella, Mallee Ringneck, Bluebonnet, and the outstanding Pink Cockatoo. Specialties that are also available in this region include Chestnut-breasted Quail-Thrush, Hall’s Babbler, and the odd Ground Cuckooshrike. This is a great custom tour for people who have already visited other parts of Australia, or simply wish to add this onto the longer Eastern Australia tour, to ensure they also visit some much less visited parts of Australia, where the birding is vastly underrated. While many bird tours visit Queensland, few bird tours visit this part of the state.
Australian Photo Tour One of the features of birding/natural history tours in Australia is the sheer abundance and approachability of the animals, making it a perfect fit for the nature photographer. This tour visits a vast area of Queensland, covering everything from Outback to tropical rainforest to tropical wetlands and tidal flats; and combines this with a visit to the island of Tasmania, famous for it’s abundant mammal-life as much as for its birds. Must-see avian photo subjects like Emu, cassowary, stunning fairywrens, and bowerbirds sittign alongside their namesake bowers await, along with a healthy list of some of Australia’s most famous mammals, including numerous wallabies and kangaroos, wombats and platypus. For way too long Australia as a photo destination has been neglected, in spite of the fact that it offers a myriad photo subjects only found there, and all photographed with the comparative ease of other more-established destinations like East Africa.
Australia Chilled Tour. If you are looking for a more relaxed experience, this trip may be right up your alley. The way the trip is designed, we have early starts and birding of a morning, but many afternoons can be relaxed. There are some easy days to start the tour with boat trips, then a few intense days with early starts to the outback and rainforest, but again with some downtime in the middle of the day and optional afternoon birding. When we get to O’Reilly’s we have some relaxed days out of the one lodge with options for the afternoon, or even spa facilities for those in need of a rub.
What about a custom tour?
As we have guides based in Australia, and many of our guides have a broad experience of the continent, we have become accustomed to setting up custom tours to this vast country. Australia is the 6th largest country on Earth, being equal in size the lower 48 of North America. Therefore, no trip of just a few weeks can possibly get it all, and for this reason we can arrange a custom tour to other areas like Inland Australia for some of the continent’s most sought-after species like Gray Falcon, Letter-winged Kite, Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, and Eyrean Grasswren. Alternatively, a short trip to Western Australia can offer more than twenty endemics found nowhere else, including such delectable birds as Red-eared Firetail, Red-capped Parrot, Rufous Treecreeper and Red-winged Fairywren. We frequently set up trips like this for people looking to add on the missing bits of the continent to one of our existing set departure tours, or for people who are returning to Australia for a specific target list. Please call our office for further details of these.