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OUTBACK QUEENSLAND & LORD HOWE ISLAND

Birdquest's Outback Queensland & Lord Howe Island birding tour reaches some parts of the island continent that other birdwatching tours never do! Our Outback Queensland & Lord Howe Island tour features the remote Cape York Peninsula of Australia's far northeast, the Mount Isa region and the arid far southwest of Queensland in search of a host of specialities that we see on no other tour. A wonderful finale is a visit to Lord Howe Island, situated far to the east of the coast of northern New South Wales, and home to the endemic Lord Howe Wood-hen and a wonderful set of seabirds including Masked Booby, Red-tailed Tropicbird, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Black-winged and Kermadec Petrels, White-bellied Storm Petrel, White Tern, Black Noddy and Grey Ternlet.

Friday 5th October — Tuesday 23rd October 2018
(19 days)


Lord Howe Island Extension: Tuesday 23rd October — Saturday 27th October (5 days)

Leaders: Josh Bergmark and a second Birdquest leader

Group Size Limit: 9 (12 on extension)

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

The rare and impressive Red Goshawk is a realistic target on this tour (Pete Morris)

The rare and impressive Red Goshawk is a realistic target on this tour (Pete Morris)

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 several 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 Outback Queensland, or in other words the vast interior of this huge state and the remote Cape York Peninsula, and wonderful Lord Howe Island that lies far to the east of the Australian mainland. Outback Queensland & Lord Howe Island is one of a series of classic Birdquests that between them cover every corner of Australia and achieve a level of coverage of its specialities that is unequalled.

During the first section of the tour we shall explore some wild, lonely country in the far north of Queensland, travelling up into remote Cape York as far as Iron Range.

Initially we will head north into the base of the remote Cape York Peninsula to look for a highly localized and much sought-after endemic, the endangered Golden-shouldered Parrot, as well as Red Goshawk and Black-backed Butcherbird.

Moving further north, we will reach Iron Range, a superb National Park that protects the largest remaining tract of rainforest on the continent. A host of fantastic specialities include Spotted Whistling Duck, Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus and Red-cheeked Parrots, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Marbled Frogmouth, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Tropical Scrubwren, Tawny-breasted and Green-backed Honeyeaters, Black-backed Butcherbird, Black-winged Monarch, Trumpet Manucode, Magnificent Riflebird, Yellow-legged Flycatcher, White-faced Robin and, most notably, three Cape York endemics; White-streaked Honeyeater, Frill-necked Flycatcher and Northern Scrub-robin.

After returning to Cairns, we fly to Mount Isa in far western Queensland, where we will be wanting to track down Carpentarian and Kalkadoon Grasswrens, the localized Cloncurry Ringneck and Spotted Bowerbird, as well as Spinifex Pigeon, Black-tailed Treecreeper and Spinifexbird.

Finally we will travel to the Winton region in west-central Queensland and then the remote Boulia region in southwestern Queensland, situated close to the even more remote Channel Country of the far southwest. Here we will be looking for the restricted-range Rusty Grasswren, Hall’s Babbler and Chestnut-breasted Quailthrush, as well as a wonderful supporting cast including the rare Grey Falcon, Inland Dotterel, Flock Bronzewing, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Orange Chat, Gibberbird, and the nomadic and unpredictable Pied and Black Honeyeaters. There is even a slim chance for the wonderful Letter-winged Kite.

In total contrast, the optional extension to Lord Howe Island offers the chance to visit a true ‘paradise island’ far from the madding world. What can we say about Lord Howe other than once you get there, you will know you made the right choice. The relaxed ‘island atmosphere’ on Lord Howe and its pristine nature are so blissful that you will not want to leave.

This dramatically rugged and beautiful island holds one of Australia’s least-seen endemics, the bold Lord Howe Wood-hen, and in addition a suite of seabirds that is worth the journey in itself. Here are breeding Masked Boobies, Red-tailed Tropicbirds, spectacular Black-winged Petrels, Flesh-footed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Brown and Black Noddies, Sooty Terns and gorgeous White Terns, not to mention the delightful Grey Ternlets. During a pelagic offshore we are likely to add Kermadec Petrel, White-bellied Storm-Petrel and perhaps White-necked Petrel.

Birdquest has operated tours to Australia since 1985.

Lord Howe Island Option: We can accept bookings for just the Lord Howe Island Extension (either as a short tour on its own or as a pre-tour extension to Eastern Australia.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The motels used range from good to medium grade. At Iron Range we will be staying in a large house at Portland Roads with several bedrooms, shared bathrooms and several people in each room. This is much the better option for visiting birders than staying in the ‘dry’ settlement of Lockhart River, with much better food provided by our hosts. Road transport will be partly by 4x4 vehicles and partly by minibus or cars and roads are mostly good, although we will spend some time on unsurfaced roads that are rough in places (particularly in Cape York).

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy but there are a few moderate grade walks.

Climate: In Queensland most days will be very warm or hot, dry and sunny but overcast conditions are not infrequent. Rain is unlikely but possible. It is rather humid near the coast. On Lord Howe Island conditions are changeable with periods of warm, dry and sunny weather alternating with cool, overcast and wet spells.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are good.

Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £5190, €6120, $6800 Cairns/Cairns. Lord Howe Island Extension: £1440, €1700, $1890 (Lord Howe/Lord Howe).

Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.

Flights to and from Lord Howe Island are not included and costs depend on the chosen flight routing.

Single Room Supplement: £598, €706, $783 (excluding Iron Range). Extension: £280, €330, $367.

Deposit: £550, €750, $850. Extension: £300, €400, $450.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.

Carpentarian Grasswren is an iconic species of the outback (Pete Morris)

Carpentarian Grasswren is an iconic species of the outback (Pete Morris)

The rare and fantastic Golden-shouldered Parrot is another major tour target (Pete Morris)

The rare and fantastic Golden-shouldered Parrot is another major tour target (Pete Morris)

We should have little trouble tracking down the huge Papuan Frogmouth (Pete Morris)

We should have little trouble tracking down the huge Papuan Frogmouth (Pete Morris)

The outback is the place to catch up with Australia's wonderful finches, including Painted Finch (Pete Morris)

The outback is the place to catch up with Australia's wonderful finches, including Painted Finch (Pete Morris)

... the gorgeous Star Finch (Pete Morris)

... the gorgeous Star Finch (Pete Morris)

... the smart Black-throated Finch (Pete Morris)

... the smart Black-throated Finch (Pete Morris)

Waterholes attract the iconic Budgerigar (Pete Morris)

Waterholes attract the iconic Budgerigar (Pete Morris)

... and if we are in luck the scarce Bourke's Parrot (Pete Morris)

... and if we are in luck the scarce Bourke's Parrot (Pete Morris)

We'll also see the localised Kalkadoon Grasswren (Pete Morris)

We'll also see the localised Kalkadoon Grasswren (Pete Morris)

The wonderful Spinifex Pigeon is not uncommon in the Mt Isa area (Pete Morris)

The wonderful Spinifex Pigeon is not uncommon in the Mt Isa area (Pete Morris)

The lovely Spotted Bowerbird is found in surprisingly dry environments (Pete Morris)

The lovely Spotted Bowerbird is found in surprisingly dry environments (Pete Morris)

Chestnut-breasted Quailthrush, another outback gem (Pete Morris)

Chestnut-breasted Quailthrush, another outback gem (Pete Morris)

The gaudy Crimson Chat will be much appreciated (Pete Morris)

The gaudy Crimson Chat will be much appreciated (Pete Morris)

We should cross paths with the stately Australian Bustard in northern Queensland (Pete Morris)

We should cross paths with the stately Australian Bustard in northern Queensland (Pete Morris)

Emus are attracted to waterholes in the arid interior (Pete Morris)

Emus are attracted to waterholes in the arid interior (Pete Morris)

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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