This is a trip designed to appeal to anyone who loves and appreciates nature, and enjoys getting out there to actively explore, discover and experience new destinations. With the cosmopolitan town of Cairns as our base, we’ll traverse Northern Queensland, an area world-renowned for its diversity of wildlife and birds. We’ll explore the regions surrounding Cairns with our local guide, including Atherton Tablelands, where the Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Agile Wallaby and the adorable Mareeba Rock Wallaby may all be seen. We’ll also keep an our eye out for birds like the stunning Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, the Lovely Fairy Wren, Royal Spoonbill and Black Swan along the way. We’ll make a special effort to see one of the country’s, and indeed the world’s, most unusual creatures, the Duck-billed Platypus!
We will spend two nights at the oasis of Kingfisher Lodge, famous for the unique Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, and we’ll no doubt find the massive Australian Bustard as we bird the nearby scrubland. En route back to Cairns, we’ll have the magical experience of birding the Daintree River by boat at dawn. Within the first week, you will have explored the jungles, wetlands, and dry scrublands of this unique region, likely adding Sarus Cranes and Laughing Kookaburras to our list, and with luck, the very rare Southern Cassowary.
But on this trip, we’ll do more than just bird... You will also experience the magical realm of the most extensive coral reef ecosystem in the world, the Great Barrier Reef. We will spend three days and two nights on the reef, on a certified live-aboard dive boat, complete with private sleeping berths and a full galley. We will snorkel (or SCUBA, if you wish) several of the finest reefs, where Sea Turtles, Giant Clams and a myriad of reef fish abound.
Before leaving Queensland, we’ll also have the rare opportunity to go behind the scenes at a local Bat Rehab Center to learn about the important conservation work done there, and to see incredible Flying Fox Bats up-close and personal. You’ll have free time in the time charming village of Kuranda to peruse the handicraft markets, visit a Butterfly Garden, the Aviary or the Venom Zoo, before we board the Sky Rail, for a spell-binding yet educational journey through the jungle canopy.
The main trip ends with two nights in the beautiful city of Sydney, where we’ll bird the Botanical Gardens on our way to see the famous Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. We’ll also enrich our Australian experience with a tour of the wonderful Australian Museum, which has fascinating exhibits on both the cultural and natural history of the land down-under.
This trip is designed to thrill the avid naturalist and novice naturalist alike, and to give everyone a well-rounded, first-hand experience of Australia.
We hope you’ll join us on this incredible journey through one of the most enchanting countries in the world, and experience a part of Africa that few ever have.
Arrive in Cairns, Queensland. We'll explore the area in and outside the city, looking for birds and wildlife, as well as visiting attractions such as the Cairns Aquarium and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
From our lodge on the dry side of the mountains, we'll venture out to the Mareeba Wetlands, the Atherton Tablelands, and the Eucalyptus scrub habitats of Mount Carbine. These places harbor amazing marsupials and birds.
Today we'll explore the Daintree River by boat, looking for Saltwater Crocodiles and interesting birds. After lunch, we'll enjoy some free time strolling the town of Port Douglas.
A visit to the village of Kuranda, where we'll have the morning to peruse Handicraft Markets for souvenirs and/or visit Kuranda’s many attractions including a butterfly garden, an aviary, a venom zoo, and a bat rescue fascility. In the afternoon, we'll get fitted for wetsuits in preparation for the Great Barrier Reef.
Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. We'll have many opportunities to swim among fantastic coral formations and the beautiful fish that call the reef home.
This is a free day in Cairns with several optional activities: birding, sea kayaking, a scenic train ride, or hiking.
We'll fly south to Sydney and have about two days to explore this vibrant city. We'll visit the Sydney Opera House and the Australian Museum, with options for other activities and exploring on your own.
Many of us will continue on to Tasmania for the extension trip. We'll say our farewells to those who are heading home today.
COST of MAIN TRIP: $4,195
COST of EXTENSION: $1,995
START DATE: November 10, 2019
DURATION: 14 days
GROUP SIZE: Up to 14
TRIP FOCUS: Birding and Wildlife
A true lover of the natural world, Steve Robertson has been a student of nature his entire life. First, as a little boy, who caught every creature he could for the mini zoo he kept in the garage, then later as an adult, leading scientific research expeditions into some of the most remote regions of the world, searching for rare species in such places as Tasmania, Madagascar and the upper Amazon Basin. With degrees in Wildlife Biology, advanced biology & education, Steve has worked in the field of Environmental Education for over 30 years. From 1998 to 2017, he served as the Education Director for the Audubon Society of Portland, creating a number of innovative programs including International Ecotours, a program that has won hundreds of accolades from around the country. During his time with Audubon, Steve personally designed and led Ecotours to over 20 countries, spanning six continents.
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