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NORTHERN AUSTRALIA

Australia Birding Tours: our Northern Australia bird watching holiday features the vast landscapes of the remote Northern Territory. Our Northern Australia birding tour focuses on Arnhem Land in the ‘Top End’ and the ‘Red Centre’ deserts around Alice Springs, two of Australia’s most evocative and scenic regions as well as great birding areas in their own right. During our comprehensive search for the region’s specialities we will explore a series of additional localities stretching from Darwin to the Western Australian border.

Tuesday 18th September — Wednesday 3rd October 2018
(16 days)


Leaders: Josh Bergmark and a second Birdquest leader

Group Size Limit: 9

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations

The stunning Rainbow Pitta is a Top End highlight (Mike Watson)

The stunning Rainbow Pitta is a Top End highlight (Mike Watson)

Australia, the smallest continent or the largest island on earth, depending on how you like to look at it, has been cut off from the rest of the world for more than sixty million years and as a result has evolved a remarkable and unique flora and fauna. The birdlife has followed its own evolutionary path and Australia has more endemic bird species (over 300) than any other country and many bird families which are entirely restricted to it or which do not extend beyond Australasia.

Australia’s immense geographical area means that it is simply impossible to see the great majority of its endemic birds during a single visit of just a few weeks, so it is far more sensible to regard the island continent as a place where one should make two or more visits. Superb, mostly easy, birding combined with good travelling conditions make for an unforgettable experience.

This exciting tour has been specifically designed to concentrate on the many endemic specialties of the northern region of Australia. Northern Australia is one of several classic Birdquests that between them cover every corner of Australia and achieve a level of coverage of its specialities that is unequalled.

Our journey begins deep into the ‘Red Centre’ of Australia, at the famous town of Alice Springs in the remote Northern Territory, where we will enjoy some good birding in the MacDonnell Ranges as we explore the dramatic sandstone gorges, mulga woodland and areas of thorny spinifex in search of Bourke’s Parrot, White-browed Treecreeper, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Dusky Grasswren, Western Bowerbird, Spinifexbird, Grey Honeyeater and other specialities of interior Australia. Nomadic honeyeaters, such as White-fronted, Pied or Black, can sometimes be seen around Alice or indeed anywhere we visit in the ‘Red Centre’.

Further south, around Erldunda, we will look for the handsome Inland Dotterel, the spectacular Major Mitchell’s (or Pink) Cockatoo, Banded Whiteface, Chiming Wedgebill and Cinnamon Quail-thrush.

A stay in the ‘Red Centre’ would not be complete without a visit to the dramatic and mysterious Ayers Rock (or Uluru), the largest monolith on earth, so we will round off our travels in the southern part of the Northern Territory with a short visit to this spectacular place. Sandhill Grasswren (a proposed split from Striated) can often be found here.

The second part of our journey takes in the northern, tropical part of the Northern Territory. We will start off at Darwin at the northern extremity of the territory. Here we will explore a diverse array of habitats that are home to Radjah Shelduck, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Chestnut Rail, Red-collared Lorikeet, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Rufous Owl, Rainbow Pitta, Black Butcherbird and many other great birds. Further into the interior are billabongs teeming with waterbirds and huge crocodiles.

Amidst the wild grandeur of Arnhem Land we will see ancient Aboriginal rock paintings and magnetic anthills, not to mention such exciting specialities as Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Partridge Pigeon, Black-banded Fruit Dove, White-lined Honeyeater, Sandstone Shrikethrush and Arafura Fantail.

Elsewhere in the Katherine region we will be looking for Chestnut-backed Button-quail, the lovely Hooded Parrot, Northern Rosella, Black-tailed Treecreeper and the superb Gouldian Finch. There is even a chance for the rare Red Goshawk.

We will reach our farthest southwest at remote Victoria River and Timber Creek, situated not that far from the border with Western Australia. Here we will be wanting to see the stunning little Purple-crowned Fairy-wren, as well as the huge Australian Bustard, Buff-sided Robin and Star Finch.

Northern Australia offers a marvellous combination of great birding, including numerous specialities, and some of the best scenery on the continent.

Birdquest has operated tours to Australia since 1985.

White-throated Grasswren Option: This attractive bird used to be seen in areas quite close to roads, but after a catastrophic decline in numbers owing to too much burning by humans, seeking it out now requires a trek into one of its last haunts and camping. If there are enough participants wanting to look for the grasswren, we will lay on a special extension in Arnhem Land before the tour starts. This is likely to involve five extra days. Cost will depend on numbers. Please be sure to inform us at the time of booking if you are interested in this extension.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/motels are of good or medium standard throughout. Road transport is by minibus/passenger van or car and roads are mostly good (even the dirt roads are mainly well graded).

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but occasionally moderate (including one fairly short but steep uphill hike).

Climate: Warm or hot, dry and sunny (although it can get very cool at night and in the early morning in the interior). While overcast conditions are not infrequent, there is only a low probability of rain. It is generally rather humid near the coast.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good.

Can be taken together with: OUTBACK QUEENSLAND & LORD HOWE ISLAND

Tour Price: £4690, €5530, $6140 Alice Springs/Darwin. Single Room Supplement: £750, €885, $983. Deposit: £600, €720, $780.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes this flight: Alice Springs-Darwin.

Base prices for this tour are in Australian Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = AUD 1.770, €1 = AUD 1.500 and $1 = AUD 1.350.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Few birds impress more than the Lilac-crowned Fairywren (Mike Watson)

Few birds impress more than the Lilac-crowned Fairywren (Mike Watson)

The increasingly rare Partridge Pigeon can still be found on this tour (Mike Watson)

The increasingly rare Partridge Pigeon can still be found on this tour (Mike Watson)

The delightful Gouldian Finch can be found around waterholes (Mike Watson)

The delightful Gouldian Finch can be found around waterholes (Mike Watson)

Common but stunning: Blue-winged Kookaburra (Mike Watson)

Common but stunning: Blue-winged Kookaburra (Mike Watson)

The vivid Crimson Chat is found in the dry interior (Mike Watson)

The vivid Crimson Chat is found in the dry interior (Mike Watson)

The splendid Western Bowerbird survives in surprisingly arid environments (Mike Watson)

The splendid Western Bowerbird survives in surprisingly arid environments (Mike Watson)

Saltwater Crocodiles - best seen from a boat!! (Mike Watson)

Saltwater Crocodiles - best seen from a boat!! (Mike Watson)

A visit to the very special Uluru (Ayer's Rock) will be a highlight for many (Mike Watson)

A visit to the very special Uluru (Ayer's Rock) will be a highlight for many (Mike Watson)

The rare Hooded Parrot will be a target in the Katherine area (Mike Watson)

The rare Hooded Parrot will be a target in the Katherine area (Mike Watson)

Another Top End rarity is the bark-stripping Northern Shriketit (Mike Watson)

Another Top End rarity is the bark-stripping Northern Shriketit (Mike Watson)

The nomadic Budgerigar is always great to see (Mike Watson)

The nomadic Budgerigar is always great to see (Mike Watson)

The impressive Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (this is a female) is always a wonderful sight (Mike Watson)

The impressive Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (this is a female) is always a wonderful sight (Mike Watson)

Even the raucous Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is great to see (Mike Watson)

Even the raucous Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is great to see (Mike Watson)

Barking Owl is usually fairly easy to see on the tour (Mike Watson)

Barking Owl is usually fairly easy to see on the tour (Mike Watson)

Hopefully we'll get great views of the impressive Beach Thick-knee (János Oláh)

Hopefully we'll get great views of the impressive Beach Thick-knee (János Oláh)

Migrant Oriental Plovers begin to arrive at the end of September (Mike Watson)

Migrant Oriental Plovers begin to arrive at the end of September (Mike Watson)

We should come across the smart Pallid Cuckoo during our adventures (Mike Watson)

We should come across the smart Pallid Cuckoo during our adventures (Mike Watson)

Mangrove Robin is a target in the mangroves around Darwin (Mike Watson)

Mangrove Robin is a target in the mangroves around Darwin (Mike Watson)

Two butcherbirds restricted to northern Australia are Black Butcherbird... (Mike Watson)

Two butcherbirds restricted to northern Australia are Black Butcherbird... (Mike Watson)

... and the recently split Silver-backed Butcherbird (Mike Watson)

... and the recently split Silver-backed Butcherbird (Mike Watson)

The smart Black-banded Fruit-Dove is a scarcity that we have a great chance of finding (Mike Watson)

The smart Black-banded Fruit-Dove is a scarcity that we have a great chance of finding (Mike Watson)

Although plentiful, the Common Bronzewing is still a lovely bird (Mike Watson)

Although plentiful, the Common Bronzewing is still a lovely bird (Mike Watson)

The smart Black-flanked (or Black-footed) Rock Wallaby is localized to the red centre (Mike Watson)

The smart Black-flanked (or Black-footed) Rock Wallaby is localized to the red centre (Mike Watson)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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