Cape York Tour & Gulf Country Outback Queensland Tour
Final. Prepared by Steve Davidson and Tonia Cochran, Inala Nature Tours, 7 February, 2018
As our usual 2019 Inala Cape York trip is already fully booked, we are pleased to be able to offer places on this co-promoted tour package which combines Cape York with a tour to the Outback Queensland Gulf country. You are welcome to join one or both sections:
TOUR LEADERS: Steve Davidson and Tonia Cochran, Inala Nature Tours.
Itinerary OUTLINE FOR BOTH SECTIONS:
GULF COUNTRY SECTOR (14 July – 28 July 2019):
Day 1. Sun 14 Jul 19. Arrive Cairns.
Day 2. Mon 15 Jul 19. Cairns to Georgetown.
Day 3. Tue 16 Jul 19. Georgetown to Karumba.
Day 4. Wed 17 Jul 19. Karumba.
Day 5. Thu 18 Jul 19. Kurumba to Burketown.
Day 6. Fri 19 Jul 19. Burketown to Boodjamulla National Park.
Day 7. Sat 20 Jul 19. Boodjamulla National Park.
Day 8. Sun 21 Jul 19. Boodjamulla National Park to Mount Isa.
Day 9. Mon 22 Jul 19. Mount Isa area.
Day 10. Tue 23 Jul 19. Mount Isa area.
Day 11. Wed 24 Jul 19. Mount Isa to Winton.
Day 12. Thu 25 Jul 19. Winton area.
Day 13. Fri 26 Jul 19. Winton to Charters Towers.
Day 14. Sat 27 Jul 19. Charters Towers to Cairns.
Day 15. Sun 28 Jul 19. Depart Cairns.
CAPE YORK SECTOR (27 July – 5 Aug 2019):
Day 1 (= Day 14). Sat 27 July 19. Arrive Cairns.
Day 2. Sun 28 July 2019 Jul 19. Cairns to Julatten.
Day 3. Mon 29 Jul 19. Julatten area.
Day 4. Tue 30 Jul 19. Julatten to Musgrave.
Day 5. Wed 31 Jul 19. Musgrave-Lakefield National Park.
Day 6. Thu 1 Aug 19. Musgrave to Lockhart River.
Day 7. Fri 2 Aug 19. Lockhart River.
Day 8. Sat 3 Aug 19. Lockhart River.
Day 9. Sun 4 Aug 19. Lockhart River.
Day 10. Mon 5 Aug 19. Fly Lockhart River to Cairns. Depart Cairns.
GULF COUNTRY OUTBACK QUEENSLAND SECTOR:
B- breakfast; L- lunch; D-dinner.
Day 1. Sunday 14 July 2019. Arrive Cairns. Arrive Cairns and own transfer to the Cairns airport hotel by 18:00 for group welcome dinner. Accommodation: Cairns (en suite motel rooms). Meals included: D.
Day 2. Monday 15 July 2019. Cairns to Georgetown. This morning we will depart towards Georgetown. Birds we’ll hope to see en route include Red-tailed Black-cockatoo, Apostlebird, Cockatiel, Spotted Harrier, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Emu, Brown-backed Honeyeater, Dollarbird, Brown Treecreeper and White-throated Honeyeater. Accommodation: Georgetown (en suite motel rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 3. Tuesday 16 July 2019. Georgetown to Karumba. This morning we’ll have a look around a dam near Georgetown which is famous for the finches that come to drink early morning. Here we hope to connect with Black-throated, Masked, Plum-headed (rare), Zebra and Double-barred Finches, as well as Pictorella & Chestnut-breasted Mannikins and the very rare Gouldian Finch if we’re really lucky. Other woodland birds here include Rufous-throated, Yellow-tinted, Banded, Bar-breasted, Grey-fronted and Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Varied Lorikeet, Pale-headed Rosella, Red-browed Pardalote, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Brown Treecreeper, Spinifex Pigeon, Diamond Dove, Paperbark Flycatcher and Black-chinned Honeyeater. Waterbirds may include Black Bittern, Comb-crested Jacana, Green Pygmy-goose, Hardhead, Plumed Whistling-duck and Australasian Grebe. From here we will drive west from Georgetown along the Savannah Way, looking to see birds like Sarus Crane, Brolga, Black-necked Stork, Australian Pratincole, Emu, Weebill and White-browed & Masked Woodswallows. Accommodation: Karumba (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 4. Wednesday 17 July 2019. Karumba. We’ll explore the extensive mangroves and swampy grasslands in Karumba today. The habitat here holds a few species we won’t have connected with yet including White-breasted Whistler, Mangrove Golden Whistler, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Yellow White-eye, Mangrove Gerygone, Mangrove Grey Fantail, Arafura Fantail, Red-headed Honeyeater, Mangrove Robin and Rufous-throated Honeyeater. In adjacent grassland flats there are Sarus Crane, Tawny Grassbird, the rare Zitting Cisticola, and the difficult to find Star Finch, which is more tied to fresh water environments around Karumba. Along roadsides and in wetlands and open habitats between Karumba and Normanton we have the chance of Australian Bustard, Australian Pratincole, Radjah Shelduck, Glossy Ibis and the possibility of an over-wintering Oriental Plover or two. At night we’ll try to locate one of the resident pairs of Barking Owl. Accommodation: Karumba (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 5. Thursday 18 July 2019. Karumba. Karumba to Burketown. After a morning birding around Karumba we'll set off again, this time heading for Burketown, and of course we will stop to bird along the way. Birds: Brolga, Sarus Crane, Red-backed Fairy-Wren, Black-breasted Buzzard, Red-browed Pardalote, Striated Pardalote (black-headed race uropygialis), Ground Cuckoo-shrike, Little Woodswallow, White-throated Gerygone. Accommodation: Burketown (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 6. Friday 19 July 2019. Burketown to Boodjamulla National Park (Lawn Hill). It's only 207 km from Burketown to Adel's Grove but it will probably take at least 5-6 hrs to travel as the road is quite rough. Along this section we'll see similar birds to yesterday, but there will be a range of sought-after specialties at Boodjamulla NP, and we'll base ourselves here for the next two nights. Birds we will aim to see here include Purple-crowned Fairy-wren, Buff-sided Robin, Sandstone Shrike-thrush, Long-tailed & Crimson Finch, Silver-crowned Friarbird, White-gaped Honeyeater, Pictorella Mannikin, Varied & Red-collared Lorikeet, Northern Fantail, Azure Kingfisher, Little Woodswallow and Paperbark Flycatcher. Accommodation: near Boodjamulla National Park (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 7. Saturday 20 July 2019. Boodjamulla National Park. We will spend a full day of birding around this prime location, looking for the aforementioned species, plus others like Northern Rosella, Red-winged Parrot, Great Bowerbird, White-throated, Grey-fronted, Grey-headed, Black-chinned (Golden-backed race laetior), Brown and Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters, Variegated & Red-backed Fairy-Wrens, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and the possibility of the very rare Grey Falcon. Accommodation: near Boodjamulla National Park (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 8. Sunday 21 July 2019. Boodjamulla National Park to Mt Isa. After a final morning's birding in Boodjamulla NP we'll commence our journey to the somewhat more arid country around the mining town of Mt Isa, where we'll be based for the next three nights. We'll need a bit more time here to search for the regional specialties, the hardest of which are the Kalkadoon and Carpentarian Grasswrens. Accommodation: Mount Isa (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 9. Monday 22 July 2019. Mount Isa area. Today we'll commence our search for the region's specialties with one of the harder to find birds - the Kalkadoon Grasswren. This is a tough and possibly arduous task, so we will need to set out early before the heat of the day kicks in. The Kalkadoon Grasswren occurs in Spinifex-clad hillsides strewn with large boulders so some nimble-footedness will help here. With some luck we can see them singing from atop a boulder. Also here, may be Grey-headed Honeyeater, Diamond Dove, Red-backed Kingfisher and Little Woodswallow. At around midday we'll head back to town for lunch, after which we will drive to a nearby Lake to look for a range of aquatic and woodland birds like Wandering Whistling-Duck, Glossy Ibis, Black-necked Stork, Intermediate Egret, Pacific Black Duck, White-eyed Duck, Black-tailed Treecreeper, Painted & Long-tailed Finch, Pictorella Mannikin, Bar-breasted Honeyeater, Varied Lorikeet, Little Friarbird and Rainbow Bee-eater. Accommodation: Mount Isa (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 10. Tuesday 23 July 2019. Mount Isa area. Our target today will be the critically endangered Carpentarian Grasswren, and in order to see this bird we'll need to drive north west of Mount Isa to a well-known location for this increasingly difficult to find species. We'll try in several locations along the route and with some good fortune will have found the bird before the heat of the day kicks in. Other species here include Grey-headed Honeyeater, Painted Finch, Hooded Robin and Square-tailed Kite. Travel back to Mt Isa for lunch plus some more birding in the region. Additional chance of Kalkadoon Grasswren if needed. Accommodation: Mount Isa (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 11. Wednesday 24 July 2019. Mount Isa to Winton. With a bit of time up our sleeves we can bird the morning around Mt Isa to look for any birds we may be missing, and after lunch will head towards Cloncurry. Birds we can expect to see today include Australian Ringneck (local race macgillivrayi, "Cloncurry Parrot"), Varied Lorikeet, Cockatiel, Little Corella, Galah, Budgerigar, Ground Cuckoo-shrike, Emu, Little Crow, Apostlebird, Spotted Bowerbird, White-plumed Honeyeater and Black Falcon. Accommodation: Winton (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 12. Thursday 25 July 2019. Winton area. We will visit a nearby National Park and have the whole day to look for a few species associated with Spinifex grasslands. We are on the edge of a range of species here that rely on this habitat type. Birds we are searching for today include Spinifexbird, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Spinifex Pigeon, Hall’s Babbler, Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush, Painted Finch, Black Honeyeater, Pink-eared Duck, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Yellow-throated Miner, Mistletoebird, Black-tailed Native Hen and Red-browed Pardalote. Accommodation: Winton (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 13. Friday 26 July 2019. Winton to Charters Towers. Today will involve a bit of travelling as we make our way back towards Cairns, however we can stop for birding en route. Accommodation: Charters Towers (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 14 (=Day 1 Cape York sector). Saturday 27 July 2019. Charters Towers to Cairns. Today we will continue our journey back to Cairns, stopping for birds en route. Tonight at dinner, we will farewell those who are departing on the Gulf Country sector of the trip and welcome those arriving on the Cape York sector (see below). Accommodation: Cairns (en suite rooms). Meals included: B L D.
Day 15. Sunday 28 July 2019. Depart Cairns. For those taking only the Gulf Country sector: Depart Cairns with no activities arranged for today. Accommodation: none. Meals Included: B
CAPE YORK SECTOR:
B- breakfast; L- lunch; D-dinner.
Day 1 (= Day 14 above). Saturday 27 July 2019. Arrive Cairns Airport and own transfer to the Cairns hotel in time to meet the group at 18:00 for a welcome dinner and briefing on the tour. Accommodation: Cairns (en suite rooms). Meals included: D.
Day 2 (= Day 15 above for those continuing onto Cape York). Sunday 28 July 2019. Cairns to Julatten. There is plenty to see in and around Cairns. A wealth of tropical habitats here supports one of the richest assemblages of birds and wildlife in Australia. Not far from the town centre are the Botanical Gardens with adjoining wetlands and conservation areas, offering a fine mix of water and bush birds. Australian Brush Turkey, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Superb and Wompoo Fruit-Doves, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Australasian Figbird, Black Butcherbird, Green Oriole, the stunning Noisy Pitta and Lovely Fairy-wren may all been seen here as might Spectacled Flying Fox. In the wetlands of the area we will search for Comb-crested Jacana, Radjah Shelduck, Green Pygmy Geese, White-browed Crake and the handsome Crimson Finch. Nearby mangrove habitat is home to Mangrove Robin, Shining Flycatchers and the odd-looking Beach Stone-Curlew. This afternoon we will travel to our accommodation at Julatten. Accommodation: Julatten (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 3. Monday 29 July 2019. Julatten area. Today will be a full day exploring the Julatten area. Birds here include Golden Bowerbird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Chowchilla, Bridled Honeyeater, Mountain Thornbill, Fernwren, Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Grey-headed Robin, Atherton Scrubwren, the rare and localised Blue-faced Parrot-finch, Red-necked Crake, Noisy Pitta, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Graceful, Yellow-spotted, Brown & Dusky Honeyeaters, Leaden Flycatcher, localised North Queensland race of Bassian Thrush, Grey-headed Robin, Yellow Oriole, Spangled Drongo, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Little Shrike-thrush, Emerald Dove, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Cicadabird, Red-browed Finch, Papuan Frogmouth & Pale-vented Bush-Hen. Accommodation: Julatten (en suite cabins as for last night). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 4. Tuesday 30 July 2019. Julatten to Musgrave. This morning if time permits, we will travel up the famous Mt Lewis Road and search for some high-altitude rainforest specialists such as Golden Bowerbird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Chowchilla, Bridled Honeyeater, Mountain Thornbill, Fernwren, Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Grey-headed Robin, Atherton Scrubwren and Blue-faced Parrot-finch. We will then travel to Musgrave, our home for this evening. Accommodation: Musgrave (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 5. Wednesday 31 July 2019. Musgrave-Lakefield National Park. This morning we will try to catch up with some of Cape York’s open woodland birds, one of which is found nowhere else - the Golden-shouldered Parrot. We will meet a cattle station owner who should be able to connect us with a number of these incredibly beautiful birds on her property. Also in the region are Black-backed Butcherbird, Pheasant Coucal, Grey-crowned Babbler, Banded Honeyeater, Little & Black-faced Woodswallows, Silver-crowned & Little Friarbirds, the very rare Red Goshawk (maybe nesting with any luck!), Black-breasted Buzzard, Masked, Double-barred & Black-throated Finches, Great Bowerbird, Diamond Dove, Bar-breasted, Banded, Rufous-throated, Rufous-banded & Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters, Red-browed Pardalote, Varied Sitella and White-throated Gerygone. Mammal possibilities include Antilopine Wallaroo, Agile Wallaby, and if we are really fortunate, the Cape York Rock Wallaby. Accommodation: Musgrave (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 6. Thursday 1 August 2019. Musgrave to Lockhart River. Today will be mostly a day of travel but we will do some birding towards Lakefield National Park hoping to pick up any birds we might be missing (such as Red Goshawk) before heading north. Our target for this evening is Lockhart River in the Iron Range National Park. Accommodation: Iron Range (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.
Days 7-9. Friday 2 Saturday 3, Sunday 4 August 2019. Lockhart River, Cape York Peninsula. Iron Range National Park contains the most extensive example of lowland tropical rainforest remaining in the country, and its avifauna is indicative of a time when Australia and Papua New Guinea were connected during the last Ice Age and we will spend 3 days exploring this amazing area. There are around 18 species of bird restricted to Cape York Peninsula that have more extensive distributions in PNG, and it’s these we will be concentrating on whilst we are here. These birds are as follows: Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Green-backed, Tawny-breasted and White-streaked Honeyeaters, Northern Scrub-robin, White-faced Robin, Yellow-legged Flycatcher, Tropical Scrubwren, Frilled-necked Monarch, Trumpet Manucode, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird and the incredible Magnificent Riflebird. Other specialties in this region are almost as good, with birds like Southern Cassowary, Spotted Whistling-Duck(rare), Double-eyed Fig-parrot (race marshalli), White-eared Monarch, White-browed Robin, Sooty & Bridled Terns, Common Noddy, Great Frigatebird, Rose-crowned Fruit-dove, Forest Kingfisher, Grey Goshawk, Eastern Reef Egret, Beach Stone-curlew, Grey Whistler, Pacific Baza, the small northern race of Brown Goshawk and Pied Heron. Red-headed Honeyeater, Striated Heron, Large-billed Gerygone, Mangrove Robin, Varied Honeyeater and Little Kingfisher can be found in the Mangroves in the coastal areas. A night drive with spotlight may reveal Marbled & Papuan Frogmouths, Rufous Owl, Large-tailed Nightjar, Spotted Nightjar and Masked Owl.
There are a few mammal specialties here as well with the chance of Spotted & Common Cuscus, Striped Possum, Northern Quoll, Red-cheeked Dunnart, Rufous Spiny Bandicoot, Red-legged Pademelon and Cape York Melomys. At night we may be lucky enough to see some of the tube-nosed and blossom-feeding bats around Portland Roads, as well as flying foxes of various species. Some encampments of Little Red and Black Flying-fox can number literally in the millions. Accommodation: Iron Range (en suite cabins). Meals included: BLD each day.
Day 10. Monday 5 August 2019. This morning you will travel to Lockhart River airport and transfer to your flight to Cairns (currently scheduled to depart Lockhart River and 10:35 and arrive back in Cairns at 12:05 (alternative 14P:15- 17:00). The guides will say goodbye to you here as they will need to drive back to Cairns in the vehicles over the next two to three-day period. Own arrangements on your arrival at Cairns airport you for your transfer to your onward flight or please contact us if you would like us to make further accommodation reservations for you. Accommodation: none. Meals Included: B
PRICING AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Please contact us for pricing and further information
Price includes: All accommodation as per the itinerary, specialist guide and transport, the flight from Cairns to Lockhart River (on Cape York sector) and meals, entrance fees and activities as mentioned in the above itinerary.
Price does not include: International and domestic airfares except the Cairns to Lockhart River flight on the Cape York sector, alcoholic beverages, snacks, internet, gratuities, laundry or other items of a personal nature.
- 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 usually 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.
- 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.