Northern Territory and Tasmania - Birds and Mammals Small Group Tour 22 Oct-7 Nov 2019
The Top to the Bottom of Australia
We are once again partnering with NT Bird Specialists and are delighted to offer this tour which combines two wild areas of Australia.
From the North to the South, this will be a fantastic tour of contrasts.
Day 1. Tue 22 Oct 19. Arrive Darwin. Accom: Darwin
Day 2. Wed 23 Oct 19. Explore Darwin Accom: Darwin
Day 3. Thu 24 Oct 19. Fogg Dam to Mary River Accom: Mary River
Day 4. Fri 25 Oct 19. Mary River cruise to Kakadu National Park. Accom: Jabiru
Day 5. Sat 26 Oct 19. Kakadu Accom: Jabiru
Day 6. Sun 27 Oct 19. Kakadu, Yellow Water Cruise, Pine Creek. Accom: Pine Creek
Day 7. Mon 28 Oct 19. Pine Creek, Edith Falls, Darwin Accom: Darwin
Day 8. Tue 29 Oct 19. Darwin to Hobart. Accom: Hobart.
Day 9. Wed 30 Oct 19. Explore Hobart and travel Eaglehawk Neck. Accom: Eaglehawk Neck
Day 10. Thu 31 Oct 19. Pelagic birding. Accom: Hobart.
Day 11. Fri 1 Nov 19. Orange-bellied Parrot flight to South West Wilderness. Accom: Hobart.
Day 12. Sat 2 Nov 19. Hobart to Bruny Island. Accom: Bruny Island.
Day 13. Sun 3 Nov 19. Full day Bruny Island. Accom: Bruny Island.
Day 14. Mon 4 Nov 19. Bruny Island to Mt Field area. Accom: Mt Field/New Norfolk area.
Day 15. Tue 5 Nov 19. Mt Field area to Cradle Mountain area. Accom: Cradle Mountain area.
Day 16. Wed 6 Nov 19. Cradle Mountain area. Accom: Cradle Mountain area.
Day 17. Thu 7 Nov 19. Cradle to Launceston and depart. Accom: none.
B- breakfast; L- lunch; D-dinner.
Day 1. Tuesday 22 October 2019. Arrive in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.
Own arrangements for your arrival into Darwin today. Accommodation: Darwin (en suite rooms). Meals included: none.
Day 2. Wednesday 23 October 2019. Darwin and Surrounds – Urban birding & wildlife.
This morning you will be collected from your hotel for a full day of urban birding in varied habitats across Darwin by your NT Bird Specialist guide, Luke Paterson. An excellent start to the day can be found along Darwin’s rocky and mangrove-lined coastline, punctuated by pockets of dark and enclosed monsoon forest environments. These are great sites for the much-desired Rainbow Pitta, Australasian Figbird, Bush-stone Curlew, shorebirds and local population of Agile Wallabies. The George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens provide tropical landscaped open parklands and forest, where some of the bird species are habituated to humans (Orange-footed Scrubfowl), making for great encounters. The Top End’s largest owl (Rufous Owl) inhabits these gardens.
We visit a spring-fed monsoon forest pool for a picnic lunch, and to explore a thin strip of riparian vegetation along the pool for local birdlife, including Rose-crowned Fruit-dove and Azure Kingfisher, as well as Arafura File Snake, Barramundi, Black Flying Fox and Merton’s Water Monitor. The large eight metre tides determine our activities this day and can include visits to Casuarina Coastal Reserve to search tidal mudflats, mangroves and coastal monsoon vine thickets for shorebirds (Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Eastern Curlew, Terek Sandpiper), Red-headed Honeyeater and other mangrove specialists and Torresian (Collared) Kingfisher, Brahminy Kite. Accommodation: Darwin (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 3. Thursday 24 October 2019. Fogg Dam to Mary River.
This morning we will travel to Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve to view stunning wetland scenery and birdlife along the heritage-listed man-made dam wall on the Adelaide River floodplain before enjoying a bush breakfast on site. Fogg Dam is an absolute must for bird watchers visiting the Top End. Keep an eye out for Freshwater Crocodiles and Long Neck Turtle amongst the myriad of waterbirds, such as: Great Egret, Pied Heron, Royal Spoonbill, Wandering Whistling-Duck, White-browed Crake, and Comb-crested Jacana. Forest Kingfishers and many honeyeaters thrive in the paperbark lined floodplain. We will then transfer to Mary River during the afternoon. Enjoy birdwatching around the tropical landscaped gardens and bushland around the Mary River. Accommodation: Mary River (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 4. Friday 25 October 2019. Mary River cruise to Kakadu National Park (South Alligator and Jabiru Regions).
We will start the day with a Mary River Charter cruise before travelling to the World Heritage Kakadu National Park. As we pass through tropical savannah woodlands, keep your eyes peeled for the larger and less common macropod in the area, the Antilopine Kangaroo. Scan the South Alligator Region floodplains for Australian Bustard and Swamp Harriers, before stopping at the Ramsar-listed Mamukala Wetlands and bird hide (a great spot for Crimson, Double-barred and Long-tailed Finches and waterbirds) before checking into your hotel for two nights.
Accommodation: Jabiru township (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 5. Saturday 26 October 2019. Kakadu National Park (East Alligator and Jabiru Regions).
This morning we explore the northern reaches of the Arnhem Land Escarpment on a few short walks in monsoon forest pockets and sandstone outcrops bordering Arnhem Land (up to 2 km walk, easy). At Ubirr rock art site (1.5km easy-moderate walk) see incredible x-ray paintings, some thousands of years old and portraying extinct and living species and Aboriginal occupation sites. This area is great for sandstone and monsoon specialists such as Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Sandstone Shrike-thrush, Rainbow Pitta, Arafura Fantail, Dwarf Green Tree Frog, Black Flying Fox, Frill-necked Lizard and Wilkin’s Short-eared Rock Wallaby. Head back to your accommodation after lunch for a short rest period before bush birding around Jabiru township and lake in the heart of Kakadu. Key species include Bar-breasted, White-gaped, Dusky, Rufous-throated and Rufous-banded Honeyeater, Paperbark Flycatcher, Pink-eared Duck and Australasian Grebe. Partridge Pigeon is a regional specialty found here and Little Red Flying Foxes are more often than not dispersing on mass at dusk.
Accommodation: Jabiru (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 6. Sunday 27 October 2019. Kakadu National Park (Yellow Water and Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) Regions) to Pine Creek.
Prepare for a pre-dawn departure to embark on a two-hour boat cruise on the famous Yellow Water Billabong and South Alligator River. See expansive wetlands and floodplains glow in the morning light and view many of the thousands of resident water birds and reptiles that inhabit it during the daily dawn frenzy. Peruse the waterways for elusive birds such as Little Kingfisher, Black Bittern and Buff-sided Robin, as well as the iconic Black-necked Stork, Brolga and Rainbow Bee-eater. Golden Tree Snake, Northern Water Dragon and Saltwater Crocodile are found amongst introduced wild horse and Asian Water Buffalo. After a cooked buffet breakfast at Cooinda Lodge travel to Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) rock art site (1.5 km easy-moderate walk). This site is home to both extraordinary rock art, as well as home to the locally endemic White-lined Honeyeater, Banded-fruit Dove, Black Wallaroo and endemic plants. Spend the afternoon driving through southern Kakadu dotted with huge Cathedral Termite mounds and home to the Red Goshawk, Silver-backed Butcherbird and Dingo, to then arrive at Pine Creek. Ten species of parrots, including the endemic Hooded Parrot, Red-winged Parrot and Northern Rosella can be found around Pine Creek. Five common finch species breeding in the region, including the spectacular Gouldian Finch.
Accommodation: Pine Creek Township (en suite rooms Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 7. Monday 28 October 2019. Pine Creek and Adelaide River Regions to Darwin.
Spend the first part of the day exploring a variety of natural and man-made sites for finches and parrots around Pine Creek, including the famous and colourful Gouldian Finch and the always admirable, Frill-necked Lizard. Mighty Wedge-tailed Eagles and quaint Cockatiels may make an appearance too. Watch the drier environment lush up again as we travel in a north-westerly route to Darwin, stopping at Adelaide River township for a spot of birding in landscaped gardens along the way. Northern Fantail, Mistletoebird, Pied Butcherbird, Varied Lorikeet, Olive-backed Oriole and Buff-sided Robin are ones to keep an eye out for here.
Accommodation: Darwin hotel (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 8. Tuesday 29 October 2019. Darwin to Hobart.
Today is a travel day from the “top to the bottom” of Australia. However, there should be time to do some further exploring around Darwin before Luke delivers you to the airport. We will fly from Darwin to Hobart, Tasmania (based on the 2018 flight schedule, departure is likely around midday and arrival in Hobart approximately 20:30). Light meals will be served on the flight, but you may like to supplement those with some food from the airport en route (we will arrive in Hobart too late to have a formal dinner today). On your arrival you will meet your Tasmanian guide from Inala Nature Tours who will transfer you to the hotel.
Accommodation: Hobart Hotel (en suite rooms). Meals Included: B.
Day 9. Wednesday 30 October 2019. Hobart reserves and drive Eaglehawk Neck.
Today we begin our explorations of spectacular Tasmania by visiting several reserves in the Hobart area including Mount Wellington. This mountain, at a height of 1270m (around 4,150 feet), affords spectacular views of the city and surrounding landscape on a clear day. Here we will also take a walk through a fern glade with towering tree ferns where we have our first chance to see the endemic and rather shy Scrubtit as well as Tasmanian Scrubwren and the stunning Pink Robin. Further endemic highlights we will look for today include Green Rosella, Tasmanian Native Hen, Black Currawong and Yellow Wattlebird. In the early afternoon we will enjoy the scenic drive to Eaglehawk Neck. On arrival we will bird some of the areas of interest enjoying the spectacular sea cliffs and breathtaking scenery typical of the area. We may well see Yellow-throated Honeyeater as well as a range of more widely distributed species including White-bellied Sea Eagle and Black-faced Cormorant. The uncommon Cape Barren Goose is also a possibility here.
Accommodation: Hotel on Tasman Peninsula (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 10. Thursday 31 October 2019. Southern Ocean Pelagic.
This morning we will board a charter vessel (weather dependant) making our way into the vastness of the Southern Ocean in our quest for pelagic birds. High species diversity and the nearness of the continental shelf have earned Tasmania an international reputation as an excellent place to see pelagic species. Not long after we depart Pirate’s Bay we will encounter Short-tailed Shearwater in considerable number as well as our first albatross species. This is one of the finest places on the planet to see a diversity of albatross and Wandering, Black-browed, Shy, Southern Royal and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses are all possible. With land still in sight we will reach the continental shelf and begin to berley off the back of the boat. Possible petrels include Great-winged, the striking White-headed, Gould’s, and Mottled. Shearwater diversity is also good with Hutton’s, White-chinned, Buller’s, Sooty, Short-tailed (common in Tasmanian waters) and Fluttering Shearwater all possible. Wilson’s, Grey-backed and White-faced Storm Petrels and Fairy Prion are also regularly seen. There are often surprises in store, and with 30 plus species possible in these waters, there is bound to be something new for everyone. Mammals we may encounter include Australian Fur-seals, Hump-backed Whale and Bottlenose Dolphin. After what is sure to be a rewarding pelagic we will make our way back to Hobart arriving in the early evening.
Accommodation: Hobart Hotel (en suite rooms). Meals Included: B, L, D.
Day 11. Friday 1 November 2019. Orange-bellied Parrot excursion: flight to South West Wilderness.
This morning we will leave civilisation behind us and embark on a spectacular flight (weather dependant) to Tasmania’s remote South West World Heritage area. Inaccessible by road and breathtakingly scenic, this is one of the most remote areas in Australia and is famed, not only for its unspoilt wilderness and clean air (arguably the cleanest in the world), but also for its birdlife. Today we have a chance to see one of Australia’s rarest birds, the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot. With no more than 50 left in the wild, this vivid parrot is teetering on the brink of extinction. Other specialties we hope to see are the elusive Eastern Ground Parrot, Striated Fieldwren, the delightful Southern Emu-wren, and the aptly named Beautiful Firetail. The area is also rich in history and we will learn of the fabled adventurers who braved this region in a bygone era. Depending on the mood and weather we may opt for some spotlighting after dinner in a Hobart reserve to search for Southern (Tasmanian) Bettong and Eastern-barred Bandicoot. Both of these mammals once had a healthy distribution in south-eastern Australia but are now rare on the mainland, and fortunately still occur in good number in parts of Tasmania. In our searching we may also encounter Tawny Frogmouth and if we are very fortunate, Masked Owl.
Accommodation: Hobart Hotel (en suite rooms). Meals Included: B, L, D.
Day 12. Saturday 2 November 2019. Hobart and Bruny Island.
Depending on our timing and conditions we may opt to start our day in reserves around Hobart or alternatively venture directly down to Bruny Island. Situated 40km south of Hobart, Bruny Island is separated from the Tasmanian mainland by the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and accessed by a vehicle ferry. The ferry trip takes approximately 15 minutes where one can enjoy some wonderful scenery and possibly Little Penguins or dolphins alongside the ferry. This afternoon we will visit Bruny’s southern coastline to view the second oldest lighthouse in Australia, and search for species such as Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Olive Whistler and Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo. Here we also have a chance to see the Tasmanian subspecies of Short-beaked Echidna, one of Australia’s two egg-laying mammal (montreme) species. After dinner tonight, we will visit the Little Penguin and Short-tailed Shearwater colony to view these species at their burrows.
Accommodation: Cottage style accommodation, Bruny Island (en suite cabins) Meals Included: B, L, D.
Day 13. Sunday 3 November 2019. Bruny Island.
Today we have a full day to explore Bruny and the variety of habitats found on the island; from coastal beaches, where there is a possibility of finding Hooded Plover, to rainforest areas where we will search for the endemic Scrubtit and Tasmanian Thornbill. We will also attempt to find all of Tasmania’s remaining endemic birds with Strong-billed Honeyeater, Dusky Robin and Forty-spotted Pardalote likely highlights. Most of these can be seen at the Inala Private Reserve, Tonia Cochran’s privately owned 1,500-acre sanctuary on south Bruny Island. If we are fortunate we may encounter the striking white morph Grey Goshawk and critically-endangered Swift Parrot that regularly occur on the Inala Reserve. We will also take time to enjoy the interesting flora of the area, including Tasmanian endemic species and relics from the ancient Gondwanan Supercontinent. We will enjoy another night trip tonight for the chance to see a range of Tasmania’s nocturnal marsupials (including Eastern Quoll and “normal” as well as golden morph Bennett’s Wallaby and Brush-tailed Possums) in addition to searching for Tawny Frogmouth and Morepork (formerly Tasmanian form of the Southern Boobook).
Accommodation: Cottage style accommodation, Bruny Island (en suite cabins). Meals Included: B, L, D.
Day 14. Monday 4 November 2019. Bruny Island to Mt Field area.
This morning we will depart Bruny early for Mount Field National Park. This area is an excellent back up site for our endemic target species, notably Scrubtit and Black Currawong, and is also a great place to experience a range of habitats from fern gullies with waterfalls, to alpine heathland and cool temperate rainforest boasting some of the tallest Eucalyptus in Australia. Today we have our first chance of seeing the bizarre Platypus, the other species of Australian monotreme. In the late afternoon we will make our way out of the park to a nearby settlement where we will overnight.
Accommodation: Mount Field area (en suite rooms). Meals Included: B, L, D.
Day 15. Tuesday 5 November 2019. Mt Field area to Cradle Mountain area.
This morning we will leave the Mt Field area and travel north to Cradle Mountain National Park. While today is largely a travel day we will enjoy some lovely scenery and stop en route to bird and stretch our legs. There will also be an option to visit a wildlife Sanctuary where some of Tasmania’s rarer mammal species can be seen. We will arrive at our accommodation near the National Park in the late afternoon. This accommodation has been chosen as it offers a chance of seeing one of Australia’s most threatened and charismatic mammals in the wild and at close range. Having become increasingly rare this is one of the only places left where one has a reasonable chance of seeing Tasmanian Devils. Here the owner places meat down for the devils at dusk and, with any luck, they will come in to feed after dark. Spotted-tailed Quolls also come to the verandas to feed and this is an excellent opportunity to view and photograph these elusive creatures.
Accommodation: Lodge near Cradle Mountain (en suite cabins). Meals Included: B, L, D.
Day 16. Wednesday 6 November 2019. Cradle Mountain area.
Today we have a full day to explore Cradle Mountain. This is a good area to search for Tasmania’s endemic bird species like the retiring Scrubtit, Black Currawong, Tasmanian Thornbill and Tasmanian Scrubwren. In addition to the great birding we will enjoy some of the interesting plants found here. Notable are ancient rainforest species and Gondwana relics such as Pencil and King Billy Pines, Myrtle and the famous Fagus (Nothofagus gunnii) which is Tasmania’s only deciduous tree. This is also a good area to view Common Wombat and if we are fortunate we may see Platypus. If time permits we will visit the replica of “Waldheim”, the home of the Austrian Gustav Weindorfer, whose love of the area inspired the establishment of the national park. Tonight, we have another chance to see Tasmanian Devil at our accommodations.
Accommodation: Lodge near Cradle Mountain (en suite cabins). Meals Included: B, L, D.
Day 17. Thursday 7 November 2019. Launceston and depart.
This morning we travel to Launceston after breakfast where you will be able to connect with a flight of your choosing to one of the capital cities. If time permits we will visit some wetlands en route where there is a chance to view several wetland species including Purple Swamphen, Australian Shelduck, Black-fronted Dotterel and Little Grassbird. Please note that flights from Launceston should be made from around 13:00 as the guide will deliver those clients there around midday. The guide will then be traveling back to Hobart and there is therefore scope to deliver clients to Hobart airport around 15:00 for flights from 16:00 onwards for domestic flights and from 17:00 for international flights. Alternatively, we can organise an additional night in Hobart for you at the end of the tour at an additional cost if that is your preferred option. Meals Included: B.
Group size: 5-8 participants and 1 guide for each section
Tour Price: AUD$9,995 per person twin share. Single supplement: $1,840
Inclusions: 16 nights en suite accommodation, specialist guiding and transport for day and night tours as outlined above, all meals as outlined in the itinerary, activities outlined in the itinerary (including the South West flight and the pelagic cruise), National Park entry fees, Bruny Island ferry fares, GST (=VAT).
Exclusions: international or domestic Australian airfares* (except the South West flight as mentioned above), activities and meals not specifically listed in the itinerary, airport transfer on day 1, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and expenses of a personal nature (snacks, travel insurance, internet, laundry, tips etc).
Meals and drinks: Breakfast generally consists of a continental style breakfast with cereal, fruit and yoghurt and tea/coffee. Full cooked breakfast is not generally offered at most locations. Lunch will generally consist of a packed lunch style meal eaten in the field, with sandwich/filled roll, fruit, and a drink. Dinner is usually two course and consists of several options for main with the choice of either an appetiser or dessert. Drinks (soft and alcoholic) are generally not included but at lunches and breakfasts juice may be made available.
The itinerary: Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline. Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to. The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.
The pelagic and the South West flight: Both of these activities are weather dependant we will do what we can to reschedule if the weather is not suitable.
Additional accommodation, touring and airfares can be organised on request. Please contact Inala Nature Tours at firstname.lastname@example.org.