Australia

Blue Mountains, Cairns & O'Reilly's

A 19-day, small group birdwatching tour to Eastern Australia

Running in November, 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 take you from the beautiful Blue Mountains around Sydney, north to Cairns, where we thrill at the bird-rich rainforests of tropical North Queensland and the marvels of the Great Barrier Reef. The trip then concludes with the special magic of three nights at famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Lodge, in the scenic Green Mountains above Brisbane, so join our resident Aussie expert Peter Taylor for this exceptional Eastern Australia birdwatching tour!

Tour Dates & Prices

Thu 3rd November 2022

Mon 21st November 2022

  • Contact Us

Tour Cost: 19 Days from £5995 excluding flights

Deposit: £1000Single Supp: £995Land Only: £5995Group Size: 7Leaders:  Peter Taylor
Enquire about this tour

What's Included?

  • Limosa Tour Leader
  • 15 nights at comfortable hotels and wildlife lodges in Eastern Australia
  • All main meals included with drinking water provided during the day
  • Minibus transport
  • Two great boat trips: Daintree River and the Great Barrier Reef
  • All local guide fees, excursions, permits, entry fees, tour-based tips and taxes
  • Limosa checklist of birds

Cost Excludes

Flights, Insurance, Aussie eVisitor visa, drinks, airport meals, snacks and other personal expenses

View or Download Tour Info Pack

Notes

The Land Only Tour Cost is the amount you will pay Limosa.

For international flight details, we recommend that you contact Sacha Barbato who is a highly experienced independent travel agent working under the ATOL bonding of Travel Counsellors. Sacha’s contact details are as follows: sacha.barbato@travelcounsellors.com and 01603 360099

Limosa Holidays and Sacha have agreed which flights are most suitable for each trip and we encourage you to book through him as you then have support if there are any problems such as flight cancellations or delays.

Sacha will also be advised by Limosa when the trip is a confirmed departure and in many cases can hold flights for you until then.

Tour Highlights

  • Everything from cockatoos and currawongs to kangaroos and Duck-billed Platypus
  • Southern Cassowary, Golden. Satin and Regent Bowerbirds, Albert’s and Superb Lyrebirds seen last time
  • Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Noisy Pitta and Victoria's Riflebird
  • Early morning birding cruise on the Lower Daintree River
  • The beautiful Blue Mountains, north to the rainforests of tropical Queensland
  • Day trip to Michaelmas Cay and the Great Barrier Reef
  • The special magic of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Lodge with daily ‘muggings’ by parrots and rosellas!
  • Small group tour with a maximum of 7 participants
  • Expertly led by Limosa’s resident Australian bird guide and naturalist, Peter Taylor

Outline Itinerary

  • Depart UK for Sydney

  • Morning arrival in Sydney. We head to Royal National Park. Jamberoo (2 nights)

  • Barren Grounds, Fitzroy Falls and Minnamurra Rainforest Centre

  • We explore the beautiful Blue Mountains visiting the Three Sisters, Blackheath and Megalong Valley. Katoomba (2 nights)

  • Bird specialities of Lithgow and Capertee Valley. Glen Davis (1 night)

  • We return to Sydney and fly north to Cairns, in tropical North Queensland. We look for waders along Cairns’ famous waterfront. Cairns (2 nights)

  • Full day trip to Michaelmas Cay and the Great Barrier Reef

  • We head into the Atherton Tablelands and visit the Lake Eacham crater lake. Evening looking for Duck-billed Platypus. Chambers Rainforest Lodge, Lake Eacham (2 nights)

  • We visit Centenary Lakes, Cattana Wetland and Redden Island. Mossman (1 night)

  • We enjoy an early morning birding cruise on the Daintree River and explore Daintree National Park and Mt Lewis. Kingfisher Park (2 nights)

  • Return to Cairns and fly to Brisbane and head up into the lovely Green Mountains to experience the magic of O'Reilly's. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (3 nights)

  • We depart Brisbane, arriving in the UK the next day.

Overview
Itinerary
Trip Info
Trip Reports
Satin Bowerbird Australia East Kevin Elsby.jpg
Hard to miss at O'Reilly's, the handsome male Satin Bowerbird loves to adorn its bower with bright blue objects © Dr Kevin Elsby, wildlifeontheweb.co.uk

Isolated from the rest of the world's landmasses for over 60 million years, evolution in Australia has taken a very separate path. Whilst 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, just as remarkable 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 to Eastern Australia tour commences in Sydney, where a visit to beautiful Royal National Park should provide an excellent introduction to the birds of this island contintent.

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 make a special effort to find the scarce Ground Parrot - a seldom seen species that is active primarily at daybreak and dusk. Climbing up into the beautiful Blue Mountains and Capertee Valley, Turquoise Parrot, Superb Lyrebird, Diamond Firetail and the endangered Regent Honeyeater are among a range of specialities we will look for along with flocks of rowdy and impressively big Yellow-tailed and Glossy Black Cockatoos.

Leaving Sydney, we next fly north to Cairns. This is one of Australia's top birding spots and the shorebirds, for example, are outstanding on the Waterfront, with everything from Great Knot to Beach Thick-knee.

Our visit to tropical North Queensland will include a trip out from Cairns to enjoy the marvels of Michaelmas Cay and the Great Barrier Reef, with amazing breeding seabirds and spectacular marine life.

We will also explore the bird-rich forests of the Atherton Tablelands for the likes of Golden Bowerbird, Tooth-billed Catbird and the iridescent Victoria’s Riflebird, as well as looking for Southern Cassowary and the amazing Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher.

On another day, we plan to take a cruise on the Daintree River where the possibilities include Little Kingfisher and Great-billed Heron, before flying south to Brisbane where our tour concludes with three nights at the incomparable O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. The birding at this well-known location is simply superb and well-stocked feeders (not to mention inattentive birdwatchers with food in their hands!) attract immaculate Regent and Satin Bowerbirds, along with crowds of colourful Crimson Rosellas and Australian King Parrots. With wallaby-like Red-necked Pademelons foraging on the lawn, it should be a spectacular end to our holiday.

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

Galah Australia East Rupert Pye.jpg
The subtle pastel pinks and greys of the gorgeous Galah, a widespread species in New South Wales © tour participant Rupert Pye

This tour can easily be incorporated into your own private visit to Australia. For those who would prefer to travel out early and rest up a little ahead of the tour or make their own arrangements to stopover in Australia or elsewhere before or after our tour, this should be easy to achieve and our recommended flight agent will be able to assist you. Please contact our office for further details.

Days 1 - 3
FLY UK-SYDNEY: ROYAL NATIONAL PARK
Our birdwatching tour to Eastern Australia commences with a flight to Sydney where we arrive on the morning of Day 3.

We will be met on arrival by our guide Peter Taylor and head for the Royal National Park which is the second oldest in the world and offers a gentle but excellent introduction to Australian birdlife. Avian specialities could include Rainbow Lorikeet, Red-browed Finch, Australian Magpie, New Holland Honeyeater and the dazzling Superb Fairywren.

Other exciting birds we should find in this massive park include raucous Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and gaudy Crimson Rosellas, along with numerous honeyeaters, wattlebirds and thornbills. We are likely to hear the astonishing whip-crack of the Eastern Whipbird from deep within the undergrowth, whilst regal White-bellied Sea Eagles soar overhead. Night Jamberoo

Day 4
BARREN GROUNDS & MINNAMURRA RAINFOREST
Our birding begins in earnest today with a visit to Barren Grounds, where we have a chance of finding the remarkable Ground Parrot.

This highland area above the coastal escarpment is similar to a European heathland and should be nearing the peak of its wildflower displays. Some of the special birds we will look for include Eastern Bristlebird, Pilotbird and Southern Emuwren.

Nearby is the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre, where we can follow the boardwalks through a range of rainforest environments and, with luck, may catch sight of Superb Lyrebirds that forage through the leaf litter on the forest floor.

Also present are Large-billed Scrubwrens, the aptly named Top-Knot Pigeon and Green Catbird that genuinely does miaow!

We plan to return at twilight when the uncommon Ground Parrot becomes active and we might even be fortunate enough to see a Common Wombat or hear a Greater Sooty Owl. Night Jamberoo

Days 5 - 6
THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
Leaving Jamberoo, we head north towards the Blue Mountains, with our first planned stop being at the spectacular Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park. Here we will hope to see flocks of rowdy Glossy and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, as well as Gang-gang Cockatoos and a host of smaller birds such as Beautiful Firetail, Leaden Flycatcher and Eastern Yellow Robin.

After spending the night at Katoomba, the following morning we plan to explore around Mount Victoria, Blackheath and Katoomba, where we hope to find some of the specialities of the region, including Superb Lyrebird, Rock Warbler and Satin Flycatcher.

We will then head down through lush rainforest to the open woodlands of the Megalong Valley where White-winged Choughs, a myriad of honeyeaters species and White-throated Treecreeper can be found. Satin Bowerbird also occurs in this region and this will be the first of several chances to find a bower, where we will hopefully also seeing the ‘owner’ in attendance, guarding his display of bright blue treasures. Two nights Katoomba

Day 7
CAPERTEE VALLEY, GLEN DAVIS
We will leave the Blue Mountains heading for Capertee, with intended stops at the Lithgow Sewage Ponds and Lake Wallace. Here there are chances of Blue-billed, Pink-eared and the very unusual Musk Duck amongst a good range of waterfowl.

The Capertee Valley is a stronghold for a number of rare bird species and the fabulous variety of specialities could include the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater. Other possibilities include Turquoise Parrot, Diamond Firetail, Hooded Robin, Speckled Warbler, Little Lorikeet, Black-chinned, Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, White-browed Babbler and many more.

After lunch, we will continue to explore the valley, arriving at a waterhole in the late afternoon to watch an array of honeyeaters, parrots and pigeons coming for their afternoon drink. There could also be good numbers of Eastern Grey Kangaroos, with Red-necked Wallabies and Wallaroos also possible as the setting sun turns the majestic cliffs golden red.

Our accommodation is at Glen Davis where we stay in a historic hotel, which has been beautifully renovated with amazing views of the towering escarpments of the Wollemi National Park. Not all rooms have private facilities but the hotel is in such a magnificent setting that we think it is more than worth it. This is also the only way to experience sunset and sunrise in the valley and it gives us more chance of seeing kangaroos! Night Glen Davis

Day 8
FLY SYDNEY TO CAIRNS, CAIRNS WATERFRONT

Today is mainly a travel day, so after an early walk around historic Glen Davis, we return to Sydney where we catch an early afternoon flight north to Cairns, in tropical North Queensland.

This is often considered to be at the centre of one of Australia's very best birding area and depending on our flight schedule, there may be time for a quick visit to the famous Cairns waterfront after we arrive. This is a splendid place for waders and the possibilities include Terek and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Grey-tailed Tattler, Great Knot and both Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers. Night Cairns

Day 9

PELAGIC BOAT TRIP TO MICHAELMAS CAY & THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
We will take a cruise to the largest continuous stretch of coral on earth: the Great Barrier Reef. Passing Black-naped Terns, which appear gleaming white against the tropical blue sea, we plan to go ashore on Michaelmas Cay, a sandy islet crammed with breeding seabirds. There should be good numbers of Sooty Terns and Brown Noddies and with Brown Boobies and Great Frigatebirds overhead, this is a truly magical place.

Despite all the wonderful birds, the chance to snorkel over the reef or to view the vast range of underwater life from a glass-bottomed boat may be the ‘ultimate experience’ for some.

It will certainly be with great reluctance that we leave this window on to another world of multicoloured fish, corals and noddies and return to the mainland for dinner and a second overnight stay in Cairns. Night Cairns

Days 10-11

ATHERTON TABLELANDS, LAKE BARRINE AND LAKE EACHAM

Leaving coastal town of Cairns behind us, we will make the easy drive up into the Atherton Tablelands and visit the crater lakes of Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham. This rich volcanic area harbours some of the best rainforests in Australia where the trees are festooned with epiphytic ferns and mosses and mighty birdwing butterflies flit through the shady understorey. There will be enormous strangler figs draping their roots over their host trees and the birds we will look for include Tooth-billed Catbird, the aptly named Golden Bowerbird and beautiful Wompoo Fruit Dove.

We stay at a superbly situated lodge located amidst pristine rainforest, where iridescent Victoria's Riflebirds display and Red-legged Pademelons graze on the lawns.

We plan to go spotlighting after dark to look for nocturnal mammals and birds but will also have a chance of seeing the shy and elusive Duck-billed Platypus, as it swims out along a favoured stream at dusk. Two nights Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodge

Day 12

CENTENARY LAKES, REDDEN ISLAND, CATTANA WETLANDS & MOSSMAN

We plan to start our day with a visit to Centenary Lakes which can be highly productive for a range of honeyeaters. We will also hope to find Orange-footed Scrubfowl which can sometimes be seen scratching about for food on the tangled forest floor.

Just north of the city, Redden Island, is a jewel of a reserve comprising mangroves, beaches and eucalypt woodlands. The lovely Rose-crowned Fruit Dove and Little Bronze-cuckoo are possible and we have a good chance of finding the huge but secretive Great-billed Heron.

We also intend to visit Cattana Wetlands, a man-made system of interconnected pools where we may find our first Green Pygmy-geese as well as flocks of Metallic Starlings and Helmeted Friarbirds.

We then head up the coast to our accommodation in Mossman. Night in Mossman

Days 13-14

DAINTREE RIVER CRUISE AND KINGFISHER PARK, JULATTEN

We begin with an early morning cruise on the Lower Daintree River which is a wildlife experience not to be missed. Our focus will primarily be on looking for Great-billed Heron, Papuan Frogmouth and Little Kingfisher but we may also see the massive Saltwater or Estuarine Crocodiles which frequent this river……..

After breakfast, we cross the Daintree River and search the forest on the northern side for the elusive and entirely unpredictable Southern Cassowary before heading inland towards our next destination, Kingfisher Park, at Julatten.

Named after the beautiful Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher that breeds in the grounds, Kingfisher Park is a comfortable retreat set within a patch of remnant rainforest. Boasting a remarkable list of birds, the likes of Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Lesser Sooty Owl, Emerald Dove, Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill are among more than two hundred species which have been recorded at or around the lodge.

Accommodation at Kingfisher Park is in comfortable but simply furnished cabins, each with a veranda looking out over the rainforest grounds. We spend two nights at this superb wildlife spot! Two nights Julatten

Days 15 - 17

FLY CAIRNS-BRISBANE, O’REILLY’S RAINFOREST RETREAT

We depart Cairns around lunch time on a flight to Brisbane. Leaving the heat of Queensland’s Gold Coast lowlands behind, we are soon climbing into the cooler upland rainforests of the bird-rich Lamington National Park where we will spend three nights staying at the world famous O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat in the beautiful Green Mountains.

With its fine network of forest trails, O’Reilly’s offers excellent opportunities to see a whole range of rainforest specialities including Noisy Pitta, Green Catbird and Australian Logrunner.

This is wonderful bowerbird country, with the stunning black and gold Regent Bowerbird a fitting emblem for the lodge and the dark blue Satin Bowerbird that loves to adorn its bower with bright blue objects. Both species can be ridiculously easy to see at O'Reilly's as they often visit the feeding areas and may even perch on you!

It is almost impossible to avoid getting 'mugged' by hordes of colourful Crimson Rosellas and Australian King Parrots during the day and always make sure you keep any food items firmly under wraps!

Two of the local rainforest specialities are Albert's Lyrebird and Paradise Riflebird and we will hope to find both of these.

At slightly lower elevations, O’Reilly’s dry eucalypt forests hold a wealth of new species including the almost surreal Glossy Black Cockatoo and the delightful Whiptail Wallaby.

After dark, we may also get an opportunity to see Sugar Gliders and there are good chances of Red-necked Pademelons.

The “O'Reilly's experience” is simply fabulous and richly deserves its reputation as one of the world's best birdwatching lodges.

After three fabulous nights here, we are confident that you will agree with us that there is no finer place to finish our classic Eastern Australia tour! Three nights at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat

Day 18
RETURN TO BRISBANE, FLY TO UK
Following an early breakfast, we bid a reluctant farewell to O'Reilly's Rainforest Lodge and wind our way back down through the Green Mountains to Brisbane.

Bidding a final goodbye to Peter, we begin our journey back to the UK.

Day 19
ARRIVAL IN UK
Arrival back in the UK, where our birdwatching tour to Eastern Australia concludes.

Rainbow Lorikeet Australia East Rupert Pye.jpg
Hang about!... Rainbow Lorikeets are not only very beautiful but incredibly noisy, too! © tour participant Rupert Pye

WHAT TO EXPECT
A comprehensive 19-day, small group birdwatching tour to Eastern Australia. After visiting the beautiful Blue Mountains at Sydney, we fly north to Cairns to discover the rainforests of tropical North Queensland and the seabirds and sights of the Great Barrier Reef. Mix in the magic of famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Lodge, in the Green Mountains above Brisbane, plus a host of Australian endemic birds and mammals, and you have the best of 'Oz' on this classic Eastern Australia tour!

November is the ideal time to visit Eastern Australia. The climate is tropical in the north (Cairns to Brisbane), where it is hot and sunny all year round (25-33C/77-91F). It can be humid at times, especially at the coast, although it is typically cooler and more pleasant early and late in the day in the hills, as well as further south with temperatures in Sydney ranging from 16-23C (61-74F). November is one of the driest months of the year but some rain is possible over the coast and hills.

Some wonderful photographic opportunities on this tour (ie birds, mammals, butterflies and scenery), especially at places such as O’Reilly’s Rainforest Lodge.

BIRDS
270-310 species

MAMMALS
15-25 species

ACCOMMODATION
We stay at a varied selection of comfortable Aussie hotels, motels, lodges and cabins. All rooms are en suite except for our one night at lovely Glen Davis and two at Kingfisher Park, where all bedrooms are separate but some bathrooms may be shared with another room.

MEALS
All main meals are included in the tour price, commencing with lunch following arrival in Australia on Day 3 and concluding with breakfast on Day 18. Aussie food is good!

WALKING
Easy walking, no more than a mile or two at any one time. Sturdy thornproof walking shoes or boots with corrugated soles for grip are recommended.

TRAVEL
Due to the pandemic, it is proving extremely difficult to predict future flight prices and schedules, especially when a trip is scheduled for beyond the period when flights can be booked. As a result, we have taken the decision to price our holidays as excluding flights.

To keep the process as simple as possible for our clients, however, we are now working closely with a dedicated agent at Travel Counsellors who will be able to advise you on which flights we are recommending for each holiday and he will be able to book these for you.

GROUND TRANSPORT

By Toyota minibus or similar.

Private coach transfers to and from O’Reilly’s, where our birding excursions are on foot and/or in O’Reilly’s own 'wildlife bus'.

BOAT TRIPS
Our tour cost includes two ‘must-do’ boat trips: a dawn wildlife cruise on the Daintree River, and an all-day pelagic visit to Michaelmas Cay and the Great Barrier Reef (North Queensland).


TOUR EXTENSIONS  
Should you wish to extend your visit to Australia before and/or after our tour, this is easy to do. Internal flights are nowhere near as expensive as they once were and although Limosa does not offer 'tailormade' arrangements, Limosa Managing Director Chris Collins has spent many months exploring Australia and is happy to share his knowledge with you, so please don’t hesitate to call us.

Tour Gallery

View a gallery of images for this tour below, click on an image to view as full size with caption

Ask About This Tour

If you have any questions about this tour or wish to be added to our Wait List, please enter your details here and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Alternatively, contact us by email or phone. We look forward to hearing from you!

Or complete the contact form and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.

* = required field