#2 Cape York Specials Tour 8-15 Sept 2022 ( Drive Up - Fly Back)

Tour date: 
Thursday, 8 September 2022 to Thursday, 15 September 2022
Duration: 
8 days
Price: 
AU$ 5,995 (per person twin share based on a min of 4 participants). Single supplement: AU$660
Highlights: 
Enjoy searching for specials and endemics in far north Queenland's top birding destinations: Iron Range National Park, Lakefield National Park and surrounds The rich diversity of species includes: Golden-shouldered Parrot, Red Goshawk, Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Magnificent Riflebird, Yellow-billed Kingfisher and many more!
Overview: 

This tour visits some of the most remote, bird-rich areas in Australia. In the country's far north eastern corner, the distinctive Cape York peninsula juts out into the tropical water of the Coral Sea and is home to the largest unspoilt patch of rainforest on the continent. This adventure includes 3 full days birding in the Iron Range National Park for a host of species found nowhere else in Australia including Palm Cockatoo, Frill-necked Monarch and White-faced Robin. We also explore the riches of Lakefield National Park where Golden-shouldered Parrot and Red Goshawk will be likely highlights. And we also bird in the area around Julatten, a region widely regarded for it's abundance of species. Simply put, this tour is hard to beat: it covers the highlight areas in this region and we travel at a comfortable pace. This tour is also one of our best sellers and you are welcome to join us on this next trip.

Start Location: 
Cairns QLD
Australia
Finish location: 
Cairns QLD
Australia

Inala Cape York Queensland
8 - 15 September 2022
(Drive up, fly back)

HIGHLIGHTS:

Enjoy searching for specials and endemics in far north Queensland’s top birding destinations: Iron Range National Park, Lakefield National Park and surrounds The rich diversity of species includes: Golden-shouldered Parrot, Red Goshawk, Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Magnificent Riflebird, Yellow-billed Kingfisher and many more!

OVERVIEW:

This tour visits some of the most remote, bird-rich areas in Australia. In the country's far north eastern corner, the distinctive Cape York peninsula juts out into the tropical water of the Coral Sea and is home to the largest unspoilt patch of rainforest on the continent. We begin this adventure birding the Iron Range National Park for a host of species found nowhere else in Australia including Palm Cockatoo, Frill-necked Monarch and White-faced Robin. We then move on to explore the riches of Lakefield National Park where Golden-shouldered Parrot and Red Goshawk will be likely highlights.  Simply put, this tour is hard to beat: it covers the highlight areas in this region, we travel at a comfortable pace and we have a maximum of 9 participants per tour with two Inala guides. Join us an unbeatable Cape York birding experience!

This tour has been designed to link with our Inala Gulf Country/Outback Queensland Tour 25 August – 8 September 2022.

ITINERARY OUTLINE:

Day 1. Thu 8 Sept 22. Arrive Cairns.
Day 2. Fri 9 Sept 22. Cairns to Musgrave.
Day 3. Sat 10 Sept 22. Musgrave-Lakefield National Park.
Day 4. Sun 11 Sept 22. Musgrave to Lockhart River.
Day 5. Mon 12 Sept 22. Lockhart River.
Day 6.  Tue 13 Sept 22. Lockhart River.
Day 7. Wed 14 Sept 22. Lockhart River.
Day 8. Thu 15 Sept 22. Lockhart River to Cairns, depart.

DETAILED ITINERARY

B- breakfast; L- lunch; D-dinner.

Day 1. (= Day 15 of Gulf Country/Outback Queensland Tour) Thursday 8 September 2022. Arrive Cairns.
Today we will arrive at Cairns to settle into our accommodation before a welcome dinner where you will meet your guide and the rest of the group. Own arrangements for flights, airport transfers and activities today. Those joining the tour from the Gulf Country/Outback Queensland Tour will return to Cairns today and join the rest of the group for dinner.
 Accommodation: Cairns (en suite rooms). Meals included: D.

Day 2. Friday 9 September 2022. Cairns to Musgrave.
This morning we commence our journey north through a vast area of tropical woodland. En route we’ll be on the lookout for species like Pheasant Coucal, Grey-crowned Babbler, Banded Honeyeater, Little & Black-faced Woodswallow, Silver-crowned & Little Friarbirds, White-winged Triller and Double-barred Finch. In the mid to late afternoon we will arrive in Musgrave on the edge of the spectacular Lakefield National Park. We will settle into our accommodations and if time permits enjoy some birding in the area. 
Accommodation:  near Musgrave (cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 3. Saturday 10 September 2022. Musgrave and Lakefield National Park.
Today we have a full day to explore the riches of Lakefield National Park and surrounds. Gallery rainforest, open tropical woodland, grasslands, and extensive wetlands, home to vast numbers of waterbirds, are the main habitats we will explore today. With a number of target species in mind we will make a pre-breakfast foray for one of our star birds of the trip, the stunning Golden-shouldered Parrot. Interestingly, this endangered and brilliantly coloured bird makes its nest in termite mounds, a landscape feature of this area. As with the Iron Range, this area is rich in species, many of which are only found (or easiest to find) here. Red Goshawk, Black-backed Butcherbird, Bar-breasted, Rufous-throated, Yellow-tinted and Scarlet Honeyeaters, Red-browed Pardalote, the distinctive Cape York race of Brown Treecreeper, Northern Fantail, Emu, Great Bowerbird, Pale-headed Rosella, Red-winged Parrot and Lemon-bellied Flycatcher are all species we may find. Finches are a feature here too, with possible species including the delightful Star Finch and Masked and Black-throated Finches. Wetlands species includes the likes of Magpie Goose, Green Pygmy-goose, Radjah Shelduck, Comb-crested Jacana and Wandering Whistling-duck. Not forgetting mammals we will be on the lookout for Antilopine Wallaroo, Agile Wallaby, and if we are fortunate, Cape York Rock Wallaby.
Accommodation: near Musgrave (cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 4. Sunday 11 September 2022. Musgrave to Lockhart River.
This morning we continue north and while we have a big drive today there will be plenty to see en route, and we will make regular stops for comfort breaks and birds. Passing through endless miles of great birding habitat, we will spend the day on the blandly named Peninsula Development Road, one of the most remote roads in Australia, and the only road connecting the settlements of Cape York to the rest of the country. This afternoon we will reach the fabulous Iron Range National Park via the rich heathlands of the Tozer’s Gap area. We will settle into our accommodations and if time permits enjoy some birding in the area. 
Accommodation: Lockhart River (en suite cabins).  Meals included: B, L, D.

Days 5 - 7. Monday 12, Tuesday 13 & Wednesday 14 September 2022. Iron Range National Park.
We have 3 full days to explore this rich corner of Australia. Our time will be spent searching for the many area specials, as well as several interesting mammals and reptiles. We will bird a diverse mosaic of habitats from verdant monsoon rainforest and tropical woodland, to wetlands and a variety of coastal habitats. The selection of birds is impressive with no shortage of outstanding species including two members of the Bird-of-paradise family - Magnificent Riflebird and Trumpet Manucode – and other showy species like the raucous Palm Cockatoo, Red-cheeked Parrot, Eclectus Parrot, Yellow-billed Kingfisher and Frill-necked Monarch. Additional range-restricted species include White-streaked, Tawny-breasted and Green-backed Honeyeaters, Yellow-legged Flycatcher, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Northern Scrub-robin and White-faced Robin. The area is also rich botanically, and several fig tree species are found here attracting frugivores like Wompoo, Superb and Rose-crowned Fruit-Doves, and the endearing Double-eyed Fig-parrot. Another regular, but often nocturnal, visitor to fig trees is the delightful Spotted Cuscus, an arboreal marsupial with woolly fur, and bizarre orange eyes. Other nocturnal mammals we may find are Striped Possum, Rufous Spiny Bandicoot and Sugar Glider, and we will be sure to spotlight for Rufous and Masked Owl, Marbled Frogmouth and Large-tailed Nightjar.
Accommodation: Lockhart River (en suite cabins as for last night).  Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 8. Thursday 15 September 2022. Depart Lockhart River for Cairns.
This morning we will depart Lockhart River on a flight to Cairns (flight included in tour cost). Make your own arrangements for your departure from Cairns.
Accommodation: none. Meals included: B.

PRICING AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Tour Price: 2022 price AU$ 5,995 per person sharing based on a minimum of 4 paying participants with one
specialist guide/driver in one vehicle and up to 9 people with 2 guides in 2 x 4WD vehicles.)
Single supplement: 2022 price AU $660

We would be pleased to offer a discounted price of $14,060 per person twin share ($1,000 off) plus $1,855
single supplement for participants who choose to join both Cape York and Gulf Country Queensland sections.

Price includes: All accommodation as per the itinerary, specialist guide and transport, the flight from Lockhart River to Cairns and meals, entrance fees and activities as mentioned in the above itinerary. (These prices are based on the current rate of GST and may need to be adjusted if there are significant changes.)

Price does not include: International and domestic airfares except the Lockhart River to Cairns flight, alcoholic beverages, snacks, internet, gratuities, laundry or other items of a personal nature.

Please note: 
Remoteness: Please note that for much of this tour we will be birding in a wonderful yet remote part of Australia. Most of the roads are unsealed and rough and travel will be in 4WD vehicles. If you have medical conditions or health concerns, it is important you make us aware of these in advance of this tour.

Click here for a separate online doc that answers many of the frequently asked questions about Small Group Tours

Inala’s Cape York # 1 Queensland Tour ( Drive Up - Fly Back ) Trip report 1-8 June 2021

Guided by Tonia Cochran and Steve Davidson
Written by Steve Davidson

The recent Inala Cape York Tour was a drive up and fly back affair for our team of intrepid and faithful participants. With a wet season that didn’t seem to want to end we were treated to unusual conditions on the Cape, the likes of which we hadn’t experienced in previous trips. However, the rainforest at Iron Range post-Cyclone Trevor is showing good signs of recovery, and we weren’t disappointed in the calibre of wildlife we encountered along the way.

Trip summary:

Day 1. Tue 1 June 21. Arrive Cairns.
Day 2. Wed 2 June 21. Cairns to Musgrave.
Day 3. Thu 3 June 21. Musgrave-Lakefield National Park.
Day 4. Fri 4 June 21. Musgrave to Lockhart River.
Day 5. Sat 5 June 21. Lockhart River.
Day 6.  Sun 6 June 21. Lockhart River.
Day 7. Mon 7 June 21. Lockhart River.
Day 8. Tue 8 June 21. Lockhart River to Cairns, depart.

Day 1 Tuesday 1 June 2021 involved the logistics of arrival in Cairns and the group meeting and getting acquainted and settling into our accommodation. Some of us arrived together from Mt Isa on our Outback Queensland tour. The afternoon allowed a bit of sneaky birding along the Esplanade, with 2 Black-necked Storks, Australian Swiftlets and a lone Eastern Curlew the highlights, followed by a beautiful dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Day 2 Wednesday 2 June 2021 and we were on the road, leaving Cairns relatively early after breakfast and making our way over the Kuranda Range toward Mareeba, driving onto the mighty Peninsula Development Road (PDR), and then stopping for lunch further on at Palmer River Roadhouse. Here in the tropical savannah woodland surrounds we started racking up a few birds, with Forest Kingfisher, Great Bowerbird, Grey-crowned Babbler, Apostlebird, Australasian Darter, Bar-shouldered Dove and Blue-faced Honeyeater all lending themselves well.

Butterflies were in abundance too and we enjoyed stonking looks at Blue Argus, Chocolate Argus, Orchard Swallowtail and Yellow Albatross.

Further north along the PDR we stopped for our first Black-backed Butcherbird – one of several birds found only here on Cape York Peninsula and in Papua New Guinea. Also here were Red-browed Pardalote, White-throated Honeyeater and Little Friarbird. At the end of a pretty epic drive, we made it into Musgrave Roadhouse where we were booked to stay for two nights. After dinner it was early to bed as tomorrow, we had another day packed full of goodness…

Day 3. Thursday 3 June 2021. With a quick coffee & muesli bar we left camp pretty jolly early this morning as we needed to be at a particular site just after dawn for one of the specialties of the Cape, if not the entire continent – the beautiful and endangered Golden-shouldered Parrot. With increasingly fragmented habitat and a shrinking population, this bird has become harder to find over the years, however the owners at Artemis Station, as always, came up with the goods. Right at first light we saw a small party of first and second-year birds led by a fine pair of adults.

Heading east into the wilds of Lakefield National Park we soon picked off some of the specials of the area in the tropical woodlands, wetlands and vast open grasslands Lakefield is famous for, including Black-throated Finch, Diamond Dove, Green Pygmy Goose, Comb-crested Jacana, Azure Kingfisher, Red-backed Fairywren, Bar-breasted Honeyeater, Brolga, Star Finch, Dollarbird and a pair of day-roosting Papuan Frogmouth that showed well. However, the bird of the day had to go to the incredible Red Goshawk spotted by none other than the inimitable Tonia Cochran herself, late in the day whilst on our way back to Musgrave. A true highlight of the tour, this bird gave us incredible walk away views, and topped off an amazing day.

Day 4. Friday 4 June 2021 was a bit of a driving day, but as always, we needed to stop for birds, plants and all manner of critters along the way. In our first hour we had Freshwater Crocodile and a hulking Yellow-spotted Monitor under the belt, and a bit further up the road a dainty Two-lined Dragon. At Archer River, a stroll down to the lagoon gave us a big flock of Spotted Whistling-ducks, even with ducklings, as well as Plumed Whistling-duck, Radjah Shelduck and Eastern Cattle Egret. Turning off the PDR onto the Lockhart River Road was an adventure in itself, punctuated by endless creek crossings and dips, as well as fording the mighty Wenlock & Pascoe Rivers en route to the Iron Range itself. We stopped briefly to here in the strange, other-worldly heathlands to view Mt Tozer and the surrounding peaks, before dropping down into the vast sea of lowland rainforest that comprises Iron Range National Park, and our base for the next four nights.

Days 5 to 7 inclusive. Saturday 5- Monday 7 June 2021. Situated as we were at the brilliant Iron Range Cabins near Lockhart River township, meant we could radiate outwards in various directions to see the variety of habitats and ecotones in this region, consisting of primary lowland rainforest, vine scrub, tropical woodland, beaches & mudflats and some tropical wetlands. Primarily the focus was on finding the specialties of the Iron Range NP that occur in Australia only here on this part of Cape York, as well as having wider ranges in PNG and parts of Indonesia.

Over the course of the four days, we managed great views of Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Magnificent Riflebird, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Yellow-legged Flyrobin, Frill-necked Monarch, White-faced Robin, Green-backed Honeyeater, Tropical Scrubwren, Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, Graceful Honeyeater, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, White-eared Monarch and brief fly-over views of Red-cheeked Parrot. A very distant Trumpet Manucode gave us exceedingly poor views, and Northern Scrub-robin remained resolutely stubborn, being heard on several occasions but refusing to show.

A supporting cast of birds like Spectacled Monarch, Lovely Fairywren, Shining Flycatcher, Pacific Reef-heron, Wompoo Fruit-dove, Fairy Gerygone – the distinctive northern ssp personata,

Little Bronze-cuckoo, Brown Goshawk – northern ssp didimus, Dusky Myzomela, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Australian Brush-turkey – the distinctive Cape York ssp purpureicollis, Green Oriole, Grey Whistler, Leaden Flycatcher, Olive-backed Sunbird, Red-browed Firetail – the beautiful northern ssp minor, Mistletoebird and Rufous Shrike-thrush all added to the allure. Mammals included better-than-normal looks of a few flying foxes, with Black and Little Red Flying-foxes seen wonderfully well feeding in low blossom on two occasions.

We struck a rich vein with reptiles here too, the absolute highlight being the two Green Tree Python we saw one night, a first for every one of us including the author, and an amazing experience to see this incredible animal. Other snakes included Orange-naped Snake, Brown-headed Snake and Spotted Python, and skinky things like Littoral Snake-eyed Skink and Rainbow Skink were also pretty cool. The former lives on rocks and in the wrack right on the waterline, often scrambling out of the way of the breaking waves…

On the plant front, the outright winner was finding several Tropical Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes mirabilis)- thanks Jude! - and several other carnivorous plants including Utricularia ssp (bladderworts-all in flower!) and Drosera petiolaris (sundew) at Tozer gap. Tonia and Liz in particular, were beside themselves with joy at seeing these amazing plants in the wild.

Day 8. Tuesday 8 June 2021. This morning we headed to Iron Range airport for our departure flights back to Cairns and beyond. Liz, Bron and Jude co-piloted with Tonia as she drove the second vehicle back to Cairns while Steve continued with another group who arrived on the incoming flight.

As usual Iron Range NP and the surrounding areas do not disappoint, and this trip was another example of how fortunate we are to have this incredible place to explore. However, excellent company and great rapport with the participants also goes a long way toward creating a successful tour, and the author cannot remember such a well-rounded, engaged and co-operative group. 

We finished the tour with 165 species of birds, and 15 reptiles.

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