Queensland's Gulf of Carpentaria birding tour

16 MAY to 2 JUNE 2019



Pre-tour night 16 MAY 2019

Overnight: Cairns


Day 1

17 MAY 2019

Cairns to Georgetown

Leaving Cairns early, we'll spend most of the day travelling to Georgetown. We drive through the remnant rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands – always good for raptors. We'll be on the lookout for spotted harrier and grey goshawk and perhaps square-tailed kite. As we travel westward, the country becomes increasingly drier. The forests and woodland around Mt Garnet may yield such delights as apostlebird, red-winged parrot, cockatiel, red-tailed black cockatoo and with luck, the red-eyed form of squatter pigeon. Forty-Mile Scrub NP could produce little shrike-thrush, fairy gerygone; and the beautiful striated form of varied sittella.

Overnight: Georgetown


Day 2

18 MAY 2019

Georgetown to Karumba

Today we bird the dry tropical woodland around Georgetown – usually a good area for finches and in particular for the declining black-throated finch, as well as double-bars and masked finches. Also, here we could see banded and rufous-throated honeyeaters and the delightful diamond dove, as well as red-browed pardalote and the rare dark form of brown treecreeper. We then head northwest to Karumba, hopefully viewing the seriously cute spinifex pigeon along the way. Beyond Croydon we should also start seeing our first little woodswallows.

Overnight: Karumba


Day 3

19 MAY 2019

Karumba area

A great list of species is guaranteed today. This morning we'll do a boat trip in the Karumba mangroves seeking out the mangrove specialities including white-breasted whistler, red-headed honeyeater, mangrove grey fantail, mangrove robin and yellow white-eye, plus ospreys and Brahminy kites and check out the mudflats for waders. We'll spend the rest of the day birding the Karumba area where species should include brolga, sarus crane, jabiru and Australian pratincole, as well as bush and waterbirds and a good bag of raptors.

Overnight: Karumba



Day 4

20 MAY 2019

Karumba to Burketown

Today we travel west to Burketown in the heart of the Gulf Country. Birds we may encounter along the way include the highly nomadic pictorella mannikin, which can be in their hundreds one year and completely absent the next. The area can be good for raptors and we'll be on the lookout for black-breasted buzzard and square-tailed kite. Flock pigeon, known to vex birding guides, will be sought, and like pictorella mannikin can be present in big numbers some years and conspicuous by its absence the next.

Overnight: Burketown


Day 5

21 MAY 2019


This morning we bird the Gregory River. The Gregory is a picturesque river lined with pandanus and a good spot for the delicately hued purple-crowned fairy-wren. Other species we should see along the river include the buff-sided form of the white-browed robin, crimson and masked finches, the golden-backed form of black-chinned honeyeater, bar-breasted honeyeater, and perhaps an overwintering channel-billed cuckoo. Spotlighting tonight could produce boobook and barking owls and perhaps spotted nightjar.

Overnight: Burketown


Day 6

22 MAY 2019

Burketown to Cloncurry

We'll bird the Gregory River again this morning before moving on. We have another chance for flock pigeon and maybe an Australian bustard or two on the Mitchell grass plains as we cross the Leichhardt River floodplain. Later, further west in the tropical woodland we have a chance for varied lorikeet, spinifex pigeon and long-tailed and painted finches if the season has been favourable.

Overnight: Cloncurry


Day 7

23 MAY 2019

Cloncurry area

With much patience this morning we'll search for the denizens of the spinifex – the rufous-crowned emu-wren and spinifexbird. Painted finch and grey-headed and grey-fronted honeyeaters may capture our attention, and conditions being favourable, so will budgerigar, crimson chat and white-winged triller. We'll scan the cliffs for purple-necked rock-wallaby.

Overnight: Cloncurry area


Day 8

24 MAY 2019

Cloncurry to Mt Isa

Today we head to Mt Isa searching the creek lines for the uncommon Cloncurry race of the Australian ringneck. We may also connect with black-tailed treecreeper, as well as varied lorikeet and banded and rufous-throated honeyeaters if the bloodwoods are flowering. We'll check out the lakes around Mt Isa for jacana and green pygmy-goose, plus there's another chance for painted finch here should we need it.

Overnight: Mt Isa


Day 9

25 MAY 2019

Mt Isa area

Today we journey northwest of Mt Isa to seek out one of our most beautiful and least known grassswrens, the Carpentarian grassswren. This species, widespread in low numbers amongst the rocks and spinifex northwest of Mt Isa, was virtually unknown for most of the 20th century. It could take great cunning and know-how to secure good looks at this elusive species – or we may be lucky and fall over it! Other species possible here include spinifexbird, painted finch, grey-fronted honeyeater and owlet nightjar.

Overnight: Mt Isa


Day 10

26 MAY 2019

Mt Isa area

The Kalkadoon grasswren, a split from dusky, is on the agenda today. This species resides in the rocky hills around Mt Isa. We will spend what remains of the day checking out waterbirds and any waders that may be about at Lake Moondarra.

Overnight: Mt Isa


Day 11

27 MAY

Mt Isa to Winton

If we are still missing any birds around Isa we'll have a look for them before heading off to Winton. As we cross the Mitchell grass plains, east of Cloncurry, we'll be on the look out for the most nomadic of all the nomads, flock pigeon. If seasonal conditions are good, black falcon and spotted harrier could also be about.

Overnight: Winton


Day 12.

28 MAY 2019

Winton area

We will spend most of the day birding the Lark Quarry area south of Winton where our main target will be the recently split rusty grasswren Amytornis rowleyi. Other species possible here include rufous- crowned emu-wren, painted finch and we have a chance for grey falcon (pair seen 2016 & 2017).

Overnight: Winton


Day 13

29 MAY 2019

Winton to Hughenden

We will do some more birding about Winton where we have a chance for more nomadic birds such as plum-headed finch and ground cuckoo-shrike. Crossing more Mitchell grass plains we have more opportunities for flock pigeon, as well as bustards, brolgas and raptors.

Overnight: Hughenden


Day 14

30 MAY 2019

Hughenden to Lake Eacham

We leave the Mitchell Grass plains behind and head back into the tropical woodlands of the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range. Here we could see the rare blue-eyed form of the squatter pigeon and the declining white-rumped form of the black-throated finch, both residing in this vast tract of tropical woodland.

Overnight: Lake Eacham


Day 15

31 MAY 2019

Lake Eacham

Lake Eacham is situated in the heart of the Atherton Tablelands. We will be seeking the Atherton specialites such as golden bowerbird, tooth-billed bowerbird, spotted catbird, chowchilla, fernwren, Atherton scrubwren, mountain thornbill, Victoria's riflebird, Bower's shrike-thrush, grey-headed robin and Macleay's and bridled honeyeaters. After dark, we'll spotlight for lesser sooty owl and Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo.

Overnight: Lake Eacham


Day 16

1 JUN 2019

We'll continue to bird the Tablelands this morning for any species eluding us before travelling down to the Cairns lowlands where we spend the remainder of the day birding Central Lake, Cairns Botanic Gardens and the Esplanade. Birds today could include white-headed pigeon, barred cuckoo-shrike, varied triller, pied monarch, yellow-breasted boatbill, white-eared and spectacled monarchs, grey whistler, eastern whipbird, pale-yellow robin, yellow and varied honeyeaters and double-eyed fig-parrot. We plan to arrive back in Cairns in the late afternoon.

Overnight: Cairns


Day 17:

2 JUN 2019

Tour finishes after breakfast.


2019 cost: $8,380.00 AUD per person twin share

Single supplement: $1,190.00 AUD


Cost includes accommodation from pre-tour night to and including day 16; meals from breakfast first morning to breakfast post tour (day 17), guiding, land transport and park entry fees.


Tour leaders: Philip Maher & Patricia Maher