Eastern Australia: Blue Mountains, Cairns & O’Reilly’s November 2022

Limosa’s birding tour to Eastern Australia has all the ingredients for a classic wildlife trip to ‘Down Under’. Featuring a host of Australian endemic birds and mammals, it is a journey that will start in historical Botany Bay and the beautiful Blue Mountains around Sydney. We will then travel North to Cairns, where we thrill to the bird-rich rainforests of tropical North Queensland and the marvels of the Great Barrier Reef with the special magic of three nights at famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Lodge, in the scenic Green Mountains above Brisbane.

Isolated from the rest of the world’s landmasses for over 60 million years, evolution in Australia has taken a very separate path. The continent’s two mammal groups, the kangaroos, wallabies and other marsupials, plus egg-laying monotremes such as the Duck-billed Platypus, are rightly famous and we have been lucky enough to see the latter on all our previous trips to Eastern Australia. Just as remarkable, however, is that almost half of Australia’s regular bird species are found nowhere else – a greater proportion of endemic birds than any other country in the world.


Journeying from the Southern temperate zones up into the Northern tropics, our birding tour commences in Sydney, where a brief visit to Botany Bay followed by an easy bird walk in beautiful Royal National Park should provide an excellent introduction to the birds of southeast Australia.


In the New South Wales Southern Uplands, the famous Barren Grounds heathland should be near the peak of its spring wildflower displays. The range-restricted Eastern Bristlebird and Pilotbird frequent this habitat and we will also make a special effort to find the scarce Eastern Ground Parrot, a seldom seen species that is active only at daybreak and dusk. Moving on into the beautiful Blue Mountains and Capertee Valley, Turquoise Parrot, Superb Lyrebird and Diamond Firetail are among a range of specialities to watch for, along with flocks of rowdy and impressive Yellow-tailed and Glossy Black Cockatoos.


Leaving Sydney, we fly North to Cairns, one of Australia’s top birding spots. Shorebirds are outstanding along the Waterfront with everything from Great Knot to Beach Thick-knee and we will then continue inland to try for the elusive Southern Cassowary and superb Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher before searching the bird-rich jungles of the Atherton Tablelands for the likes of Golden Bowerbird, Tooth-billed Catbird and the iridescent Victoria’s Riflebird.


A dawn cruise on the Daintree River may reward us with Little Kingfisher and Great-billed Heron, whetting our appetites for a fitting finale to our stay in tropical North Queensland: a trip out to savour the marvels of Michaelmas Cay and the Great Barrier Reef, with breeding seabirds and amazing marine life.


Flying South from Cairns to Brisbane, our tour concludes with three nights at the incomparable O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, where the birding is simply superb! Red-necked Pademelons (a small relative of the wallabies) forage on the lawn and well-stocked feeders attract immaculate Regent and Satin Bowerbirds, along with crowds of colourful Crimson Rosellas and Australian King Parrots.

Our resident Aussie guide Peter Taylor joined the Limosa team in 2008 and has since led all of our Australia tours. Join us for the very best of Eastern Australia on this classic birdwatching tour of ‘Down Under’.

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