Inala Pilbara & Shark Bay, Western Australia Tours
Ancient Landscapes, birds and mammals
Pilbara Tour 18 – 27 May 2022
Shark Bay extension 27 May – 1 June 2022
Itinerary prepared by Inala Guides Steve Davidson and Frank O’Connor, Inala Nature Tours, August 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 offer a Shark Bay extension which includes a trip to Dirk Hartog Island – seldom offered on itineraries due to the difficulty 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.
ITINERARY OUTLINE FOR MAIN PILBARA TOUR:
Day 1. Wed 18 May 22. Arrive Exmouth.
Day 2. Thu 19 May 22. Exmouth area.
Day 3. Fri 20 May 22. Exmouth to Karratha via Onslow.
Day 4. Sat 21 May 22. Karratha to Port Hedland.
Day 5. Sun 22 May 22. Port Hedland area.
Day 6. Mon 23 May 22. Port Hedland to Tom Price.
Day 7. Tue 24 May 22. Tom Price area.
Day 8. Wed 25 May 22. Karinjini National Park, Tom Price.
Day 9. Thu 26 May 22. Tom Price to Exmouth.
Day 10. Fri 27 May 22. Exmouth and depart or Day 1 of Shark Bay Extension.
B- breakfast, L- lunch and D-dinner.
Day 1. Wednesday 18 May 2022. Arrive Exmouth.
Arrive in the mid-afternoon , (best flight based on the current May 2021 Qantas timetable is QF1642 departing Perth at 12:35 and arriving Exmouth at 14:35-flight not included in price) with hopefully time for those who are keen for some birding around town before we settle into our accommodation. The most obvious birds will be White-plumed Honeyeater, Yellow-throated Miner, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Torresian Crow, Zebra Finch, Brahminy Kite and Rainbow Bee-eater. There should be Banded Lapwing on the main oval or golf course and possibly Emu. We will have a welcome dinner and chat about the tour this evening. Accommodation: Exmouth (en suite cabins). Meals included: D.
Day 2. Thursday 19 May 2022. Exmouth area.
Today we will explore the peninsula around Exmouth and the Cape Range and start with a visit to the mangroves at Turquoise Bay and Yardie Creek. Birds include a chance of the mangrove species like Mangrove Golden Whistler, Mangrove Fantail and Dusky Gerygone. Nearby we’ll look for Rufous Fieldwren, Western Bowerbird (Cape Range ssp), Grey-headed Honeyeater, etc. and we will try hard for Rufous-crowned Emu-wren in Cape Range NP. We should get good views of Black-footed Rock Wallaby, plus the very reddish-looking western morph of Euro. Red Kangaroo are also in the area. Perentie (Varanus giganteus) would be the main reptile target but quite a few other reptile species are possible. The afternoon can be spent closer to Exmouth at the harbour, sewage ponds, golf course, etc. We will have dinner in town and then check the roads again after dark for nocturnal critters.
Accommodation: Exmouth (en suite cabins) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 3. Friday 20 May 2022. Exmouth to Karratha via Onslow (700kms).
We will head away from the North-west Cape region today and move north-east to Onslow, then Karratha. Near Onslow we will be looking for Flock Bronzewing, Painted Finch, possibly Pictorella Mannikin, Brolga, Black-necked Stork and a variety of water birds. En route we will look for Spotted Harrier, Australian Hobby, Budgerigar, Cockatiel, Rufous Songlark, Brown Songlark and Horsfield’s Bushlark. If the Grevillea wickhami is in flower then Crimson Chat, Black Honeyeater, Pied Honeyeater, Black Honeyeater and Masked Woodswallow. Near Karratha we will stop at a place on the Nullagine River hoping for Barking Owl, Brown Quail, Blue-winged kookaburra, Pictorella Mannikin and Pheasant Coucal. During the late afternoon we will check in to our accommodation in Karratha, after which we’ll head out to the Burrup Peninsula on dusk to look for Rothschild’s Rock Wallaby, Spotted Nightjar and Finlayson’s Cave Bat emerging from caves for their night.
Accommodation: Karratha (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 4. Saturday 21 May 2022. Karratha to Port Hedland (300kms).
After breakfast we will briefly visit Back Beach to check for some shorebirds (including a chance of Beach Stone-curlew) and then the wastewater treatment plant (Painted Finch, some waterbirds, Horsfield’s Bushlark, maybe Brown Quail) before travelling to the Point Samson & Cossack areas north of Roebourne for mangrove species including Mangrove Robin, raptors, reptiles, etc. and then travel back through Roebourne heading for Port Hedland. We will stop briefly en route to look for Painted Finch, Spinifex Pigeon and Grey-headed Honeyeater coming into some leaking water. We will also stop at the Sherlock River where we should find 40 or more species with good chances of Painted Finch, Black-tailed Native-hen, Red-kneed Dotterel, Brolga, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Red-browed Pardalote and Brolga. Our destination this evening is Port Hedland where we will spend the next nights. Accommodation: Port Hedland (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 5. Sunday 22 May 2022. Port Hedland area.
Before breakfast we’ll check out the town oval and racecourse at dawn. At Six Mile Creek we’ll look for shorebirds out on the mudflats and mangrove specialties such as Mangrove Golden Whistler, Canary White-eye, White-breasted Whistler, Dusky Gerygone and Bar-shouldered Dove. From outside the fence of the South Hedland Water Treatment Plant we will see a selection of waterbirds. In the afternoon we can check out the De Grey River area or a bit of woodland along Quartz Quarry Rd for woodland birds. If we’re up for a bit of spotlighting after dinner we’ll look for owls, mammals and reptiles. Accommodation: Port Hedland (en suite cabins) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 6. Monday 23 May 2022. Port Hedland to Tom Price via Munjina (410kms).
We’ll leave Pt 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, Diamond Dove, Crested Bellbird and nomadic species such as Budgerigar, Cockatiel, and Pied & Black Honeyeaters, etc. We will have lunch at Munjina before heading to some mulga country in search of Grey Honeyeater, Spinifexbird, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren and a chance of Striated (Pilbara) Grasswren. Accommodation: Tom Price (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 7. Tuesday 24 May 2022. Tom Price area.
This morning we will explore 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 Emu-wren, Black-chinned (Golden-backed) Honeyeater, Grey-headed Honeyeater, Grey-fronted Honeyeater, Western Bowerbird, Spinifex Pigeon, Australian Ringneck (smaller form in the Pilbara) and Little Woodswallow plus others such as Brown Quail, Common Bronzewing, Hooded Robin, Purple-backed Fairywren and Western Gerygone. At some point we will visit Kings Lake to look for a variety of species including Star Finch, Mistletoebird, Crimson Chat, Black-tailed Native-hen, etc. We will also check the Tom Price Water Treatment Plant. In the afternoon we have the option to visit scenically beautiful Hamersley Gorge and nearby woodland and creek-lines, where we will try for all the key targets. We will spotlight in the evening (or one of the evenings) for Spotted Nightjar.
Accommodation: Tom Price (en suite cabins) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 8. Wednesday 25 May 2022. Karinjini National Park. Tom Price.
We will spend a full day visiting most of the gorges in Karajini NP which contains but some habitat for birds such as Black-chinned Honeyeater, Black-tailed Treecreeper, White-winged Fairywren and Redthroat, plus a few places for our major targets. Accommodation: Tom Price (en suite cabins) as for last two nights. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 9. Thursday 26 May 2022. Tom Price to Exmouth (600kms).
Today is mostly a travel day, as we have a long drive to return to Exmouth, but there will be opportunities for birding along the way. Raptors are always possible, and we’ll keep an eye out for species like Australian Bustard, Spotted Harrier, Australian Hobby, Square-tailed Kite, Black-breasted Buzzard and the exceedingly scarce Grey Falcon. In the afternoon we’ll arrive in Exmouth where if time allows, we can do some final birding before our farewell dinner this evening.
Accommodation: Exmouth (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 10. Friday 27 May 2022. Exmouth and depart (for those not joining the Shark Bay extension).
After breakfast you will make your own way to airport for your departing flight (best flight based on the current May 2021 Qantas timetable is QF1643 departing Exmouth at 11:25 and arriving Perth at 13:20-flight not included in price). Accommodation: None (incl on extension). Meals included: B.
Group size: 3-4 people with one specialist Inala driver guide or 6-8 people with 2 driver/guides.
Estimated Tour Price (Pilbara section only): AU$7,400. Single Supplement: AU$1,100.
Price includes: 9 nights’ accommodation, specialist guide and transport, meals, entrance fees and activities as mentioned in the itinerary and GST (based on current rate of 10%). Price does not include: Airfares, gratuities, alcoholic beverages, snacks, internet, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.
SHARK BAY EXTENSION
This optional extension takes in the world-famous and spectacular Shark Bay region and includes chances of dolphins, charismatic grasswrens, Dugongs and Dirk Hartog Island high on the agenda.
ITINERARY OUTLINE FOR SHARK BAY EXTENSION:
Day 1 (= Day 10 of main tour). Fri 27 May 2022. Exmouth to Carnarvon.
Day 2. Sat 28 May 2022. Carnarvon to Denham.
Day 3. Sun 29 May 2022. Shark Bay area.
Day 4. Mon 30 May 2022. Dirk Hartog Island.
Day 5. Tue 31 May 2022. Denham to Carnarvon.
Day 6. Wed 1 June 2022. Carnarvon to Exmouth and depart.
Day 1. Friday 27 May 2022. Exmouth to Carnarvon (365kms).
For those who have opted to extend their travels with us, we will leave Exmouth after breakfast and head south, birding en route as we make our way toward Carnarvon. We’ll stop in at Coral Bay to look for a variety of terns like Roseate, Bridled and Lesser Crested Terns, and have lunch at Minilya Bridge Roadhouse.
Birds of prey should be in evidence, and hopefully we’ll connect with species like Brown Goshawk, Black Falcon, Black-breasted Buzzard and Wedge-tailed Eagle. As we head south after lunch, we’ll travel to a Point on the shore to look for terns, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, oystercatchers, etc. We should also have time to visit a nearby beach which represents the southern range of mangrove species such as Torresian (Collared) Kingfisher, Mangrove Golden Whistler and is a good location for a variety of shorebirds
Accommodation: Carnarvon (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 2. Saturday 28 May 2022. Carnarvon to Denham (330kms).
We will bird around the Carnarvon area this morning where our main target will be Slender-billed Thornbill. We will also visit the mangroves and mudflats near town to look for Dusky Gerygone, White-breasted Whistler, Mangrove Fantail and shorebirds such as Lesser Sand Plover, Eastern Curlew, Great Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey-tailed Tattler, Terek Sandpiper, and maybe Broad-billed Sandpiper. Common Redshank and Asian Dowitcher have been occasionally recorded here. Wetlands and the sewage treatment plant in town may yield birds like Musk Duck, Red-kneed Dotterel, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Hoary-headed Grebe. After lunch we’ll hit the road again, making our way to Denham and our accommodation for the next three nights.
Accommodation: Denham (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 3. Sunday 29 May 2022. Shark Bay area.
Today we’ll explore the fascinating Shark Bay region, including the coastal town of Denham, Peron Peninsula and the famous Monkey Mia. Here we’ll have a great chance of seeing the range restricted Western Grasswren, as well as getting up close and personal with Inshore Bottlenose Dolphins. Other birds here in the coastal shrublands and shoreline include Emu, Rufous Fieldwren, Southern Scrub-robin, White-browed Babbler, Crested Bellbird, Pallid Cuckoo, Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Black-eared Cuckoo, White-backed Swallow, Pacific Gull, Eastern Reef Egret, Fairy Tern and Eastern Curlew. Malleefowl has been re-introduced into the area as well. Terrestrial mammals feature well in the region, with several successful re-introduction programs having taken place. Species such as the Greater Bilby, Brush-tailed Bettong (Woylie), Rufous Hare-Wallaby (Mala) and Banded Hare-Wallaby have been re-wilded in the Francois Peron National Park but we are unlikely to see them as access is not possible after dark. Accommodation: Denham (en suite cabins) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 4. Monday 30 May 2022. Dirk Hartog Island.
Today we are booked on a boat trip out to the remote Dirk Hartog Island, where we will take part in a guided tour for the morning exploring the southern part of the island. In the sand dunes and coastal scrub we’ll look for the range-restricted Black & White form of White-winged Fairy-wren (ssp. leucopterus), the Dirk Hartog Southern Emu-wren, (ssp hartogi) and the Dirk Hartog Rufous Fieldwren (ssp hartogi). Whilst on the boat we will also have our best chance to see Dugong in the sea-grass meadows of the sheltered waters around the island, as well as Green & Loggerhead Turtles, Eastern Osprey, White-bellied Sea-eagle and a number of terns and shorebirds hopefully. Lunch will be included on the tour, after which we’ll head back ashore and bird the area again for the remainder of the day.
Accommodation: Denham (en suite cabins) as for last two nights. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 5. Tuesday 31 May 2022. Denham to Carnarvon (330kms).
Today we will bird our way back to Carnarvon. We will visit the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool. Orange Chat has been seen in the samphire near the caravan park and there is an excellent area of mulga at the turnoff where we will look for Crested Bellbird, Red-capped Robin, Hooded Robin, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Inland Thornbill, Southern Whiteface, Slaty-backed Thornbill, Mulga Parrot, Bourke’s Parrot, Chiming Wedgebill. This is the northern limit of Dusky Woodswallow, Australian Raven and Western Yellow Robin and we will look for Little Buttonquail. Closer to Carnarvon we will search for nomadic birds such as Orange Chat, Pied Honeyeater, Black Honeyeater, White-fronted Honeyeater and Masked Woodswallow.
Accommodation: Carnarvon (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 6. Wednesday 1 June 2022. Carnarvon to Exmouth and depart (365kms).
On this the last morning of the tour we will get an early start look for woodland birds east of town with the possibility of Bourke’s Parrot, Black-tailed Treecreeper, Black-eared Cuckoo, White-plumed Honeyeater, Hooded Robin or Spinifex Pigeon there in eucalypt woodland and adjacent shrublands. We can look for birds at their northern limit such as Silvereye and Dusky Moorhen. We will then head north, arriving in Exmouth in time to make the mid-afternoon flight to Perth (best flight option based on the May 2021 Qantas schedule is QF1643 Exmouth to Perth 15:15-17:10).
Accommodation: none. Meals included: B.
Group size: 3-4 people with one specialist Inala driver guide or 6-8 people with 2 driver/guides.
Estimated tour Price (Shark Bay section only): AU$4,575
Single supplement: AU$440
Estimated discounted tour price for both sections: AU$11,200 per person twin share (which represents a saving of AU$775 per person). Single supplement: AU$1,485
Whole Tour Price includes: 14 nights’ accommodation, specialist guide and transport, meals, entrance fees and activities as mentioned in the itinerary and GST (based on current rate of 10%). 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.
• Additional accommodation in Perth: We can also organise accommodation in Perth at the start and finish of each section of the tour as required. Please enquire about pricing.