The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Australia & The Pacific Islands


Friday 26th September – Saturday 11th October 2025

Leader: to be announced

16 Days Group Size Limit 8


Birdquest’s Australia’s Northern Territory birding tours feature the vast landscapes of the remote Northern Territory. Our Australia’s Northern Territory birding tour focuses on the ‘Top End’ (the far north of the territory) and the ‘Red Centre’ deserts and hills 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 localities in this fascinating part of Australia.

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.

Our Australia’s Northern Territory birding tour has been specifically designed to concentrate on the many endemic specialities of the Northern Territory region. Australia’s Northern Territory is one of several classic Birdquest tours that between them cover every corner of Australia and achieve a level of coverage of its specialities that is unequalled.

Our Australia’s Northern Territory birding tour begins deep in the ‘Red Centre’ of Australia, at the remote but famous town of Alice Springs. Here 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 seeing 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 view of this spectacular place. Sandhill Grasswren (sometimes split from Rufous Grasswren) can often be found in the area.

The second part of our Australia’s Northern Territory birding tour takes in the northern, tropical part of the territory. We will start off at Darwin at its northern extremity. 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 the Arnhem Land escarpments, we will see beautiful eucalyptus trees, striking rock formations and magnetic termite hills, 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. There is even a chance for the rare Red Goshawk.

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.

We will reach our farthest southwest in the Northern Territory 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, Star Finch and hopefully Yellow-rumped and Pictorella Mannikins.

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

David Kowalick is one of Australia’s leading bird tour guides and a great person to travel with.

Birdquest has operated Australia birding tours, including the Northern Territory, since 1985.

White-throated Grasswren Extension: 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 hike 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 before the tour starts. This is likely to involve three or four 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 during our Northern Territory birding tour 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 during our Northern Territory birding tour are good.


  • Searching for the enigmatic Grey Honeyeater and the lovely Redthroat in the mulga woodland around Alice Springs
  • Tiptoeing through the knitting-needle-like spinifex grassland in search of Spinifexbird, Dusky Grasswren and Rufous-crowned Emu-wren
  • Meeting a Western Bowerbird at his intricately constructed bower and discovering what his favourite colour is
  • Tame Spinifex Pigeons and Black-flanked Rock Wallabies among the Ghost Gum Trees in the spectacular red sandstone landscape of the MacDonnell Ranges
  • Searching for Sandhill Grasswrens and nomadic White-fronted, Black and Pied Honeyeaters not far from Uluru (Ayer’s Rock), one of the world’s most iconic landmarks
  • The enigmatic Inland Dotterel, gorgeous Orange Chats and majestic Red Kangaroos on the gibber plains of the Red Centre
  • The spectacular Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo and other Outback stars such as Ground Cuckooshrike, Banded Whiteface, Chiming Wedgebill and the furtive Cinnamon Quail-thrush
  • A genuine Aussie Outback experience, with charismatic roadhouses, road trains and ‘roos galore!
  • The awesome Rufous Owl peering down at us from its daytime roost
  • Other avian delights of the tropical Top End around Darwin, including Chestnut Rail, Rainbow Pitta (the ‘tamest pitta in the world’) and the demonic Black Butcherbird
  • Crazy-looking Beach Thick-knees alongside the first returning migrant shorebirds, including Oriental Plover and Great Knot
  • The enormous and sinister Saltwater Crocodile at a safe distance in true ‘Crocodile Dundee’ country
  • The trio of Arnhem Land endemics, Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Black-banded Fruit Dove and White-lined Honeyeater in a wild landscape of rocky escarpments and quiet eucalypt groves
  • The awesome Australian Bustard, lovely Hooded Parrot and much coveted Gouldian Finch in the Katherine region
  • Stunning Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens, White-quilled Rock Pigeons plus a veritable bonanza of finches at waterholes along the dry bed of the Victoria River


  • Day 1: The tour starts this evening at Alice Springs.
  • Days 2-3: Alice Springs region. The Red Centre.
  • Day 4: Drive to Erldunda.
  • Day 5: Erldunda and Uluru region. Overnight Erldunda.
  • Day 6: Drive to Alice Springs and flight to Darwin.
  • Days 7-8: Darwin region.
  • Day 9: Drive to Arnhem Land.
  • Days 10-12: Arnhem Land & Katherine region.
  • Day 13: Drive via Victoria River to Timber Creek.
  • Day 14: Timber Creek, then return to Katherine.
  • Day 15: Katherine, then return to Darwin.
  • Day 16: The tour ends this morning at Darwin.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

Tipping is not customary in Australia.

We also include this flight: Alice Springs-Darwin.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)

2025: provisional £5260, $6740, €6140, AUD10190. Alice Springs/Darwin.

Single Supplement: 2025: £810, $1040, €950, AUD1580.

Thie single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in Australian Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

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.


Australia’s Northern Territory: Day 1  Our Australia’s Northern Territory birding tour begins this evening in Alice Springs, where we will spend three nights.

(Even if you are arranging your own international flights, we will be happy to arrange your Australian internal flight to Alice Springs on request.)

Australia’s Northern Territory: Days 2-3  Situated almost at the geographical centre of Australia, Alice Springs (or ‘Alice’ as it is typically referred to) has become an important administrative and touristic centre in the midst of the starkly beautiful desert scenery of the Northern Territory’s  ‘Red Centre’. Deep gorges (known as ‘gaps’) cut through the orange sandstone of the MacDonnell Ranges, whilst in the dried-out watercourses, the gleaming white trunks of the eucalypts contrast in spectacular fashion with the dark green foliage, the orange rocks and the intensely blue sky. Between the ranges are areas of savanna and, of particular interest for birdwatchers, tough and spiny spinifex grassland.

Bird density is not very high in this desert country, but there is a good variety of species, many restricted to the interior of Australia. Specialities that we will be focussing on include Spinifex Pigeon, Bourke’s Parrot (a crepuscular species that comes to waterholes to drink at dusk), the pretty little Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Dusky Grasswren (one of the easier grasswrens to see!), Redthroat, the superb Western Bowerbird (hopefully we will be able to watch a male displaying at its bower), Spinifexbird and Painted Firetail. We will also spend time in a favoured area of mulga woodland looking for the uncommon Grey Honeyeater. If we are in luck, we will also see one or more of the nomadic honeyeaters that turn up in the Alice region from time to time, which include White-fronted, Pied and Black.

Amongst other interesting species that we should see are the powerful Black-breasted Buzzard, Australian Ringneck (of the form zonarius, formerly split as Port Lincoln Parrot), Mulga Parrot, White-winged Fairy-wren, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Grey-headed and White-plumed Honeyeaters, Hooded Robin, Crested Bellbird, Little Woodswallow, Little Crow and the handsome White-backed Swallow. With luck, we will find Slaty-backed Thorntail or Ground Cuckoo-Shrike. The rocky gorges also provide a home for the restricted-range Black-footed Rock Wallaby.

Likely species of wide distribution include Black and Whistling Kites, the impressive Wedge-tailed Eagle, Little Eagle, Collared Sparrowhawk, Brown Falcon, Nankeen (or Australian) Kestrel, Spotted, Peaceful and Diamond Doves, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon, the magnificent Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (whose flight action is reminiscent of a Black Kite’s), Galah, Red-backed and Sacred Kingfishers, the beautiful Rainbow Bee-eater, the marvellous Splendid and Variegated Fairy-wrens, Striated and Red-browed Pardalotes, Weebill, Western Gerygone, Inland and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Spiny-cheeked and Singing Honeyeaters, Yellow-throated Miner, Grey-crowned Babbler, Red-capped Robin, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Rufous Whistler, Willie Wagtail, the strange Australian Magpie-Lark, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, White-winged Triller, Black-faced Woodswallow, Pied Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Fairy Martin, Australasian Pipit, Zebra Finch and Mistletoebird.

It may be possible to visit a wetland area where likely additions include Pink-eared Duck and Black-tailed Nativehen, as well as Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes, White-faced Heron, Black Swan, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, Hardhead, Eurasian (or Common) Coot, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Masked Lapwing, Red-kneed Dotterel, Red-capped and Black-fronted Plovers, White-headed Stilt, the lovely Red-necked Avocet and Whiskered Tern.

Australia’s Northern Territory: Day 4  After some final birding around Alice Springs we will head south, travelling along the famous Stuart Highway that crosses the empty heart of Australia, to Erldunda for a two nights stay. We will arrive in time for some initial exploration.

Australia’s Northern Territory: Day 5  Around Erldunda we will search the desert habitats, including the stark, stony ‘gibber’ plains, for the handsome Inland Dotterel, the spectacular Major Mitchell’s (or Pink) Cockatoo, the nomadic Budgerigar, Chiming Wedgebill, the handsome Cinnamon Quail-thrush, the gorgeous Crimson and Orange Chats, and the localized Banded Whiteface. Other new species here are likely to include Southern Whiteface and White-browed Babbler.

From Erldunda, we will head westwards to the vicinity of Uluru (or Ayers Rock) so that we can set eyes on this famous landmark. The rock progressively changes colour during the course of the afternoon, although at sunset itself the rock usually appears quite dull, contrary to popular mythology. Formed about 500 million years ago during the Cambrian era when central Australia was a huge inland sea, Uluru, the world’s largest monolith, soars dramatically out of the flat desert landscape of the ‘Red Centre’. At 349m (1145ft) high and nearly 6km (3.6 miles) long it looks big enough at the surface, but astoundingly it is thought that only a tiny portion is visible above ground and that below the surface it may extend as much as 5km (3 miles) deep!

For thousands of years, the area has been sacred to the Pitjantjatjara, Yunkantjarjara and Ngaanyatjara tribes. Their relationship to the land is a complex one conditioned by their belief that before the ‘Dreamtime’ the earth was flat and featureless. Then it spawned creatures that looked like animals but thought like humans. The adventures and journeys of these creatures changed and formed the landscape, creating a three-dimensional record of the ancestors of present-day Aboriginals. For these people the stand of desert oaks to the southwest of Uluru are the Liru, or poisonous snake men, sneaking up on their enemies the Kunia, or carpet snake men. The pockmarks on the southern face of the rock record the spears thrown by the Liru and the deep ridges on the top are the tracks made by the Kunia as they fled. Europeans only discovered the monolith in 1872, after which it was named in honour of the then premier of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers.

Our main target this afternoon is the oweni form of the Rufous Grasswren, which is sometimes split as Sandhill Grasswren. We also have another chance for nomadic honeyeaters. We even have a good chance of encountering the amazing little Thorny Devil, Australia’s most charismatic and spectacular lizard., which likes red sandy areas where it moves along very slowly in search of tiny black ants.

Australia’s Northern Territory: Day 6  After a chance to catch up on a few desert birds we might have missed earlier on our travels, we will drive back to Alice Springs and catch an early evening flight to Darwin for a three nights stay.

Australia’s Northern Territory: Days 7-8  The Darwin area offers excellent birding, with some local specialities. Here, at the northernmost tip of the Northern Territory, there is a pronounced monsoon climate, with a heavy rainy season from about November to April. Instead of the parched desert country typical of most of the territory, the vegetation here is rich and varied. Eucalypt savanna is the dominant habitat, but to this one can add sandy beaches, mangroves, creeks and marshes.

Amongst the specialities that we are likely to encounter during our visit are Raja (or Radjah) Shelduck, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, the gaudy Red-collared Lorikeet, the huge Blue-winged Kookaburra, Forest Kingfisher, the gorgeous Rainbow Pitta (often quite unafraid of people here!), Large-billed Gerygone, Helmeted Friarbird, Rufous-banded and Red-headed Honeyeaters, Northern Fantail, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Mangrove Robin, Brown Whistler (sometimes treated as a distinct species from the Grey Whistler of northeast Queensland), Black Butcherbird and Yellow White-eye. With a bit of luck, we will see a Chestnut Rail at one of the mangrove creeks and a Rufous Owl at a daytime roost.

More widespread species we are likely to encounter include Australian Pelican, Australian Darter, White-necked and Pacific Reef Herons, Eastern Cattle, Great, Little and Intermediate Egrets, Striated Heron, Glossy, Australian White and Straw-necked Ibises, Magpie Goose, Pacific Baza, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Australian Hobby, Brolga, Buff-banded Rail, Comb-crested Jacana, Ruddy Turnstone, Eastern Curlew, Eurasian Whimbrel, Grey-tailed Tattler, Marsh Sandpiper, Australian Pratincole, Pied Oystercatcher, Grey (or Black-bellied) Plover, Lesser Sand (or Mongolian) and Greater Sand Plovers, Silver Gull, Gull-billed, Greater Crested, Lesser Crested and White-winged Terns, Bar-shouldered and Emerald Doves, the noisy Little Corella, the raucous Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Red-winged Parrot, Pheasant Coucal, Little Friarbird, Blue-faced, White-gaped Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Spangled Drongo, Yellow Oriole, Australasian Figbird, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, White-winged and Varied Trillers, White-breasted Woodswallow, Grey Butcherbird, Torresian Crow, Tree Martin, Horsfield’s Bushlark , Tawny Grassbird, and Crimson and Double-barred Finches.

We should also find one or two of the less common species such as Australian Pied Cormorant, Red-backed Buttonquail, Caspian Tern, Brush Cuckoo, Little Bronze Cuckoo and White-breasted Whistler, and quite likely two or three of the shorebirds that are scarce at this season, such as Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Terek and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Great Knot, Red-necked Stint and Sanderling.

Australia’s Northern Territory: Day 9  Today we will head for Arnhem Land for a four nights stay (spending two nights at each of two locations). We will make a stop for Mangrove Golden Whistler along the way.

During the afternoon we will visit the quiet waters of a beautiful creek. The creek is fringed with tall trees and luxuriant vegetation. Huge Saltwater Crocodiles can be seen basking in the late afternoon sun, or occasionally launching themselves with awesome speed into the deep waters. Here we are likely to encounter such waterbirds as Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, Pied Heron, Nankeen (or Rufous) Night Heron, Royal Spoonbill, the spectacular Black-necked Stork, Australian Swamphen, Azure Kingfisher and great numbers of Magpie Geese, Plumed and Wandering Whistling-Ducks, and Green Pygmy Geese. We should also see Shining Flycatcher and there is a good chance for the uncommon Little Kingfisher.

Australia’s Northern Territory: Days 10-12  Arnhem Land is a wild tract of country. This region, part of the ‘Top End’ of the Northern Territory of Australia, has been inhabited by Aborigines for thousands of years. The steep sandstone escarpments that rise high above the sea of eucalyptus woodland and grassland studded with impressively large magnetic termite hills are good habitat for three Top End endemics, Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, Black-banded Fruit Dove and White-lined Honeyeater, while other specialities include the red-faced form of the Partridge Pigeon (also endemic to the Top End), Bar-breasted Honeyeater and Arafura Fantail.

We will look for the lovely but rare and localized Hooded Parrot at favourite drinking and feeding sites. The beautiful but rare Gouldian Finch also regularly comes to waterholes, and we may be treated to a large gathering of these colourful little birds. Masked Finch is also likely here. Other northern specialities we are likely to encounter include Northern Rosella, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Paperbark Flycatcher and Masked Finch. There is even a chance of an encounter with the magnificent Red Goshawk, one of Australia’s rarest raptors.

We will also visit an area of dry woodland to look for Chestnut-backed Buttonquail and the localized Black-tailed Treecreeper.

Towards evening, Agile Wallabies emerge from their daytime hiding places and after dark, we should find Australian Owlet-nightjar.

Other species we are likely to encounter in the Arnhem Land and the Katherine region include Spotted Harrier, Brown Quail, Varied Lorikeet, Cockatiel, Pacific (or Australian) Koel, Barking Owl, Tawny Frogmouth, Large-tailed Nightjar, Dollarbird, Great Bowerbird, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Green-backed Gerygone, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Yellow-tinted, White-throated, Banded, Rufous-throated and Dusky Honeyeaters, Varied Sittella, Leaden and Restless Flycatchers, Jacky Winter, Olive-backed Oriole, the curious Apostlebird, Rufous Songlark, Golden-headed Cisticola and Long-tailed Finch.

We also have a chance for Great-billed Heron and, if we are lucky, the scarce Square-tailed Kite and the very rare whitei form of the Crested Shriketit (which is sometimes split as Northern Shhriketit) during our stay in this exciting area.

Australia’s Northern Territory: Day 13  Today we will journey westwards to remote Timber Creek for an overnight stay. We will be keeping a lookout en route for the huge Australian Bustard and we will also stop at the Victoria River, one of the few reliable sites for the very attractive but rare and endangered (through overgrazing by livestock) Purple-crowned Fairy-wren. At dusk, we will go out in search of Barking Owl and Spotted Nightjar.

Australia’s Northern Territory: Day 14  Around Timber Creek we will be on the lookout for Buff-sided Robin, the uncommon Grey-fronted Honeyeater and the lovely Star Finch. We should also find Crested Pigeon, Banded Honeyeater and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, and we also have a fair chance for Pictorella and Yellow-rumped Mannikins. During the afternoon we will drive back to Katherine for an overnight stay.

Australia’s Northern Territory: Day 15  After some final birding in the vicinity of the town of Katherine we will head back to Darwin for an overnight stay.

Australia’s Northern Territory: Day 16  Our Australia’s Northern Territory birding tour ends this morning at Darwin.

(We will be happy to arrange your Australian internal flight out of Darwin on request, should you not be taking an international connection from there.)


by David Kowalick

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