Northern Endemic Tour
13 Day Tour
6 birdwatchers maximum
Cairns – Iron Range – Musgrave – Kingfisher Park Birdwatcher’s Lodge (Julatten) – Yungaburra – Mission Beach – Cairns (Fly/Drive)
This tour covers the most important key areas of North Queensland with the chance of seeing all endemic birds on one tour.
Iron Range is our first destination, and this National Park is one of the most important birding locations in Australia. Eclectus Parrots, Red-cheeked Parrots and Green-backed Honeyeaters are only found in this region, plus the other endemic birds of upper Cape York, which also occur in New Guinea. It’s a must for every birdwatcher at least once.
We then travel south and spend some time around Musgrave and Lakefield National Park, where Black-backed Butcherbird, Golden-shouldered Parrot, Star Finches and many more are the highlights. There is also the chance to see the Red Goshawk, Australia’s rarest Raptor.
The Wet Tropics World Heritage area between Cooktown and Townsville is one of the best and most famous birding regions in Australia. 14 species of birds are endemic to the highland and lowland rainforests, which receive the highest rainfall of the Australian mainland. That accounts for its natural beauty, clear creeks with Platypus and a large number of endemic frogs and possums.
The tour starts in the morning in Cairns with the flight to Lockhart River (Iron Range). You will be met at about noon at the airstrip and the birdwatching starts. We have no set itinerary for the days at Iron Range, but we visit the rainforests, woodland, mangroves and coastline. On most days we go birdwatching in the early morning, relax over lunch and go out again in the late afternoon and sometimes spotlight after dinner.
We stay at a private house with 4 bedrooms on a hill at Portland Roads, overlooking Weymouth Bay and the mangroves. The accommodation is solar powered with diesel generator back-up, hot water and a million-dollar view .
Accommodation: Portland Road / Iron Range
Day 5 – 7
Today we leave for Musgrave via Coen. We stay three nights at Musgrave to look for the Golden-shouldered Parrot, which is present all year around, plus many other birds of that area including Black-backed Butcherbirds, Masked, Star and Black-throated Finches.
Lakefield National Park has numerous lagoons and rivers, which add different birds to the bird list. At night we spotlight for Barn, Barking, Boobook and Grass Owls, and we often encounter Spotted Nightjars and Papuan Frogmouth.
Accommodation: Musgrave Station/Roadhouse
In the morning we visit an area, where the Red Goshawk was previously seen and reported nesting. After a few hours we depart Musgrave and travel via Laura to Julatten, where we arrive mid afternoon.
Julatten and the Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge is in the northern part of the Tablelands. This spot is well known for its bird life and the rooms are surrounded by lush rainforest with birds present at your fingertips.
Accommodation: Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Julatten
We leave Julatten very early and drive down to the coast. On the Daintree River we take the well-known River Cruise with Murray Hunt (formally Chris Dahlberg’s tour), who specialises in tours for birdwatchers.
Highlights are Great-billed Herons and Little Kingfishers, and it’s not uncommon to see 40 species of birds. In the afternoon we spend more time in the surrounding area, and at night we look for nocturnal birds.
Accommodation: Kingfisher Birdwatchers Lodge, Julatten
Day 10 – 11
Early morning local birdwatching, and weather and road condition permitting we visit nearby Mt Lewis, which offers the chance of Blue-faced Finches. These Finches are best seen between January and May, but Mt Lewis is generally a great birdwatching location.
Afterwards we drive to the southern part of the Tablelands and stay at Yungaburra. Places like Lake Barrine, Mt Hypipamee and Hastie’s Swamp are the spots for the endemic highland rainforest birds and many others. At night we look for Rainforest Possums with possible nocturnal birds always on our minds.
Most birding locations in this region are between 700 and 1000 metres above sea level, so temperatures can be 10 degrees Celsius lower than coastal Cairns and Mission Beach.
Accommodation: Yungaburra Park Motel, Yungaburra
After an early morning excursion in the local rainforests we move to Mission Beach on the coast.
The Cassowary is our main objective in the lowland rainforests at Mission Beach, the stronghold for this endangered species. Several times we walk in the lowland rainforests with its spectacular Fan Palms, where Noisy Pittas and White-eared Monarchs are other target species.
Accommodation: Rainforest Motel, Mission Beach
After some more birding in the morning leave Mission Beach and travel north towards Cairns. Depending on time we’ll visit Eubenangee Swamp and/or other places. Depending on time and tides we may visit the Esplanade and then you’ll be returned to the accommodation of your choice. The tour ends in the late afternoon.