Inala’s Pilbara and Shark Bay,
Western Australia Ancient landscapes, birds and mammals
15-29 August 2021
Itinerary prepared by Inala Guides Steve Davidson and Frank O’Connor, Inala Nature Tours 30 June 2020.
Join us on an extensive and thorough tour of this vast region, taking in a wide variety of habitats such as spinifex-covered ranges, rocky gorges, mangroves, mulga and extensive mudflats. The scenery throughout the Pilbara and Shark Bay regions is incredible, and of course there is some unique wildlife.
Targets include Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Western Grasswren, Striated (Pilbara) Grasswren, Western Bowerbird, Grey-headed Honeyeater, Black-chinned (Golden-backed) Honeyeater, Grey Honeyeater, Spinifexbird, Rufous Fieldwren, Dusky Gerygone, Spinifex Pigeon, Flock Bronzewing, Mangrove Robin, Mangrove Golden Whistler, White-breasted Whistler, Painted Finch and with a bit of luck – Grey Falcon. Mammals feature as well and we will be target Red Kangaroo, Common Wallaroo (Euro), Black-flanked Rock Wallaby, Rothschild’s Rock Wallaby, Dugong, Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Finlayson’s Cave Bat, Kaluta and Pilbara Pebble-mound Mouse.
The Pilbara also contains some of the world's oldest surface rocks, including granites that are over three billion years old ancient fossilised remains of stromatolites (the earliest fossil evidence of life on earth), and aboriginal rock art. And we cannot forget the famous Red Dog, whose statue we will also visit on this tour.
We are also very excited to include a trip to Dirk Hartog Island – seldom offered on itineraries due to the difficult of organising logistics. Here you will see specialities such as the black and white form of White-winged Fairywren, isolated subspecies of Southern Emu-wren and Western Fieldwren.
Day 1. Sun 15 Aug 21. Arrive Port Hedland.
Day 2. Mon 16 Aug 21. Port Hedland to Tom Price via Munjina.
Day 3. Tue 17 Aug 21. Tom Price area.
Day 4. Wed 18 Aug 21. Karijini National Park- Tom Price.
Day 5. Thu 19 Aug 21. Tom Price to Exmouth.
Day 6. Fri 20 Aug 21. Exmouth area.
Day 7. Sat 21 Aug 21. Exmouth to Denham
Day 8. Sun 22 Aug 21. Shark Bay area. Denham
Day 9. Mon 23 Aug 21. Dirk Hartog Island. Denham
Day 10. Tue 24 Aug 21. Shark Bay to Carnarvon.
Day 11. Wed 25 Aug 21. Carnarvon to Onslow.
Day 12. Thu 26 Aug 21. Onslow to Karratha.
Day 13. Fri 27 Aug 21. Karratha area.
Day 14. Sat 28 Aug 21. Karratha to Port Hedland.
Day 15. Sun 29 Aug 21. Depart Port Hedland.
B- breakfast, L- lunch and D-dinner.
Day 1. Sunday 15 August 2021. Arrive Port Hedland.
Most flights arrive at Port Hedland in the morning on weekends and fly through Perth (best flight based on the August 2020 Qantas timetable is QF1816 departing Perth at 08:15 and arriving Port Hedland at 10:20). For those who are keen, there should be time for a bit of birding around town for more familiar species like Galah, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Torresian Crow, Zebra Finch, Brahminy Kite and Rainbow Bee-eater before we settle into our accommodation. We will have our welcome dinner tonight where we will discuss the plan for the rest of the tour.
Accommodation: Port Hedland (en suite cabins). Meals included: D.
Day 2. Monday 16 August 2021. Port Hedland to Tom Price via Munjina (410km).
We will leave Port Hedland and head inland this morning. Along the way we will check any ephemeral pools, or pools in creeks to look for Painted Finch, Spinifex Pigeon, Red-browed Pardalote, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Bar-shouldered Dove, Crested Bellbird and nomadic species such as Budgerigar, Cockatiel, and Pied & Black Honeyeaters, etc. There is an area of mulga north of Munjina which we will stop at if we have time, but there is better mulga at Shark Bay later in the tour. After lunch we will drive along Munjina Road and Hamersley Road (near Hamersley Gorge) looking for Grey Honeyeater, Spinifexbird, Rufous-crowned Emuwren, Striated (Pilbara) Grasswren.
Accommodation: Tom Price (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 3. Tuesday 17 August 2021. Tom Price area.
The morning we will be exploring the Mt Nameless area, where a very early start is required to find the target – Striated (Pilbara) Grasswren in the extensive stands of Spinifex of this area. Also here are Spinifexbird, Rufous-crowned Emuwren, Black-chinned (Golden-backed) Honeyeater, Grey-headed Honeyeater, Grey-fronted Honeyeater, Western Bowerbird, Spinifex Pigeon, Australian Ringneck (a much smaller form in the Pilbara) and Little Woodswallow plus others such as Brown Quail, Common Bronzewing, Hooded Robin, Purple-backed Fairywren and Western Gerygone. We will have a quick look at the Tom Price Water Treatment Plant before lunch hoping for Black-tailed Native-hen and Red-kneed Dotterel. In the afternoon we will visit Hamersley Gorge and nearby areas, which is partly sightseeing, but we will try for all the key targets, plus some woodland along a couple of creek-lines. We will also visit a nearby Lake to look for a variety of species including Star Finch, Mistletoebird, Crimson Chat. Spotlight in the evening (or one of the evenings) for Spotted Nightjar and Barking Owl.
Accommodation: Tom Price (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 4. Wednesday 18 August 2021. Karijini National Park - Tom Price.
We will spend a full day today doing the loop around the majority of the gorges in Karajini NP. This area provides some habitat for birds such as Chiming Wedgebill, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Black-tailed Treecreeper, White-winged Fairywren and Redthroat plus a few of our major targets. This will also provide some amazing sight-seeing opportunities. Another chance for Spotted Nightjar in the evening if needed. Accommodation: Tom Price (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 5. Thursday 19 August 2021. Tom Price to Exmouth (600km).
This is a travel day as we will have a long drive, but there will be opportunities for birding along the way. Raptors are always possible, and we will keep an eye out for species like Spotted Harrier, Australian Hobby, Square-tailed Kite, Black-breasted Buzzard and the exceedingly scarce Grey Falcon. Other species we have a good chance of seeing today include Cockatiel, Budgerigar, Crimson Chat, Star Finch and Australian Bustard. After dinner we will take a night drive in search of nocturnal critters. Accommodation: Exmouth (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 6. Friday 20 August 2021. Exmouth area.
In the Exmouth area and on the Cape Range we will look for Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Rufous Fieldwren, Western Bowerbird (Cape Range subspecies) and Grey-headed Honeyeater. We will also look for Banded Lapwing, some shorebirds, some mangrove species, terns and Wedge-tailed Shearwater. Mammal-wise, we should also have good views of Black-footed Rock Wallaby, the very reddish-looking western morph of Euro, and Red Kangaroo. Perentie (Varanus giganteus) will be the main reptile target but quite a few other reptiles are possible. The afternoon will be spent closer to Exmouth at the harbour, sewage ponds and golf course. After dinner there will be another opportunity to take a night drive in search of nocturnal critters.
Accommodation: Exmouth (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 7. Saturday 21 August 2021. Exmouth to Denham (700km).
Today is another travel day but again there will be opportunities for birding along the way and the road is sealed for this section. More chances for Australian Bustard, Spotted Harrier, Australian Hobby, Square-tailed Kite and Black-breasted Buzzard. We will be driving through areas that we will return later in the trip, so we will only stop if we see something or for a rest break. Optional spotlighting in the evening for nocturnal critters, mostly geckos.
Accommodation: Denham (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 8. Sunday 22 August 2021. Shark Bay area. Denham.
Today we will explore the fascinating Shark Bay region, including the coastal town of Denham, Peron Peninsula and the famous Monkey Mia. Here we will have a great chance of seeing the locally common Western Grasswren, as well as getting up close and personal with inshore Bottlenose Dolphins. Other birds in the coastal shrublands and shoreline here include Emu, Rufous Fieldwren, Southern Scrub-robin, White-browed Babbler, Crested Bellbird, White-backed Swallow, Pacific Gull and Eastern Reef Egret. Malleefowl has been re-introduced into the area as well. We will join a cruise from Monkey Mia to look for Dugong.
Accommodation: Denham (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 9. Monday 23 August 2021. Dirk Hartog Island. Denham.
Targets today will be the black and white form of White-winged Fairywren, isolated subspecies of Southern Emu-wren and Western Fieldwren, plus the chance to visit a relatively inaccessible predator-free island and learn about the conservation efforts to restock it with small mammals (the return to 161 project).
Accommodation: Denham (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 10. Tuesday 24 August 2021. Shark Bay to Carnarvon (350km).
We will start the day visiting the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool. There are also chances here for Chiming Wedgebill, Orange Chat, White-winged Fairywren, Redthroat and Black-eared Cuckoo. There are excellent areas of mulga where we will look for Australian Ringneck, Mulga Parrot, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Slaty-backed Thornbill, Southern Whiteface, Crested Bellbird, Red-capped Robin, Hooded Robin, Varied Sittella, Dusky Woodswallow, Purple-backed Fairywren and a chance of Bourke’s Parrot. After a stop (lunch probably) at the Overlander Roadhouse we will continue north towards Carnarvon. We will stop for raptors and if the conditions are good Pied Honeyeater, Black Honeyeater, Crimson Chat, Masked Woodswallow and Little Buttonquail. We will make a detour to New Beach to look for Redthroat, Orange Chat, Spotted Scrubwren, Slender-billed Thornbill, Dusky Gerygone, Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo and Black-eared Cuckoo. If there is time when we reach Carnarvon, we will visit the golf course to look for Slender-billed Thornbill and Banded Lapwing.
Accommodation: Carnarvon (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 11. Wednesday 25 August 2021. Carnarvon to Onslow (500km).
We will visit the sewage ponds and local Nature Reserve to look for terns, waterbirds and Star Finch before we head north. We will look for birds of interest especially if we find some flowering Grevillea wickhami or Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsonia formosa). Mostly birds that we have already had a chance for, but better chances for Painted Finch, Crimson Chat, Little Buttonquail, Horsfield’s Bushlark, Rufous Songlark and Brown Songlark. We should have time to visit the mangroves and the beach front at Onslow.
Accommodation: Onslow. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 12. Thursday 26 August 2021. Onslow to Karratha (450km including diversions).
We will visit the Old Onslow Townsite and the mouth of the Oakover River. Our main target is Flock Bronzewing. We will see a variety of waterbirds including Brolga and Black-necked Stork. We should see Blue-winged Kookaburra, Zebra Finch and we have good chances of Pictorella Mannikin. Again we will look for activity depending on the conditions. After lunch we will head to Karratha / Dampier and stop at a location on the Maitland River to look for Barking Owl, Brown Quail, honeyeaters and finches. In the late afternoon we will go to the Burrup Peninsula to look for Rothschild’s Rock Wallaby, Spotted Nightjar and hopefully Finlayson’s Cave Bat emerging at dusk. We will stop at the sculpture of Red Dog.
Accommodation: Karratha (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 13. Friday 27 August 2021. Karratha area (200km).
We will spend the morning in the Karratha area visiting the mangroves to look for Beach Stone-curlew, shorebirds, terns, Mangrove Fantail, Dusky Gerygone, Mangrove Golden Whistler, White-breasted Whistler and possibly Spotted Nightjar. We will visit the sewage ponds to look for waterbirds, finches, Brown Quail, Horsfield’s Bushlark (the reddish Pilbara form) and then head for Roebourne for lunch. In the afternoon we will visit Point Samson and Cossack. These are of historical interest, but we will also look for Mangrove Robin in particular. We will head back to Karratha. We can optionally look again for nocturnal birds and mammals.
Accommodation: Karratha (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 14. Saturday 28 August 2021. Karratha to Port Hedland (300km).
We will travel to a local dam and spend much of the morning in that area looking for waterbirds (including Great Crested Grebe), Star Finch, Little Woodswallow, Red-backed Kingfisher, Western Bowerbird, Red-browed Pardalote, Spinifex Pigeon among a good variety of species. We will head back to Roebourne for lunch and then head towards Port Hedland. We will stop at the Sherlock River which should have an extensive pool of water. We will briefly stop at Whim Creek to look for Painted Finch, Spinifex Pigeon and Grey-headed Honeyeater coming to drink at a leaky pipe. When we arrive in Port Hedland, we will visit the South Hedland sewage ponds where there should be a good variety of species and chances for some shorebirds and waterbirds. We will then continue to Port Hedland, arriving late afternoon.
Accommodation: Port Hedland (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 15. Sunday 29 August 2021. Depart Port Hedland.
We will visit the town ovals at dawn to look for some new species. We should also have time to visit Six Mile Creek for some final birding before the tour ends, and we will make our connecting flights back to Perth and then home (best flight option based on the August 2020 Qantas schedule is QF1815 Port Hedland to Perth 11:05-13:15 so we would arrive at Port Hedland airport by 10:00am).
Accommodation: none. Meals included: B.
Group size: 3 people with one specialist Inala driver guide or 6 people with 2 driver/guides.
Tour Price: AU$11,050 per person sharing for a minimum group size of 3 people
Single supplement: AU$1,485.
Price includes: 14 nights’ accommodation, specialist guide and transport, meals, entrance fees and activities as mentioned in the itinerary and GST. Also includes ferry fare, local guides, transport, and lunch on Dirk Hartog.
Price does not include: Airfares, gratuities, alcoholic beverages, snacks, internet, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.
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. Some 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. This doesn’t necessarily preclude you. We just need to be well-informed.
Luggage: We won’t have a huge amount of room for lots of luggage on the trip and will need to restrict the luggage to one soft sided duffle bag 2-3 ft long or similar per person plus a day pack/camera/binoculars etc that can be carried in the vehicle with you. We are trying to avoid hard sided suitcases which don’t pack well in the back of 4WDS. We’ll need to carry other stuff like water which I think is more important than too many clothes.