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Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia

Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia

Sue Taylor
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: UNSW Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia
    Book Description:

    Where can you see 400,000 breeding pairs of rockhopper penguins? Where is the best place in Australia to observe Yellow Chats? And where is the only place in Australia you can have a close encounter with nesting Lesser Noddies? Well-known birder and author of How Many Birds Is That?, Why Watch Birds? and John Gould’s Extinct and Endangered Birds of Australia, Sue Taylor will make you want to pack your binoculars and hit the road, as she takes you on a tour of her top 100 Australian birdwatching sites: from suburban parks to remote off-shore islands.

    eISBN: 978-1-74224-648-2
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-3)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 4-7)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 8-9)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 10-11)

    It has been an absolute joy writing this book. What a wonderful excuse to go back through all my field notes and photographs, and to relive all the fun I had birding at all sorts of exciting places.

    So often I find myself writing about threatened and endangered species, worrying about the menace of foxes and feral cats. So much development occurs without due consideration of the long-term effects on the environment. I chide civilisation for its self-centred mismanagement of the countryside on a scale that only mankind could achieve. Then I rejoice when some land is protected in a...

  5. 1 Broome
    (pp. 12-13)

    Put simply, Broome is a tropical paradise. Located on the Kimberley coast in far north-west Western Australia, Broome is exquisitely remote. Eighty Mile Beach (which is actually 140 miles or 220 kilometres long), between Broome and Port Hedland, is the most important area for waders in Australia. South and east of Broome on the Indian Ocean, Roebuck Bay must be close behind. This is where the Broome Bird Observatory has been established, half an hour’s drive from the township of Broome.

    The first time I visited Broome was in 1982, when my husband Roger and I drove from Perth to...

  6. 2 Werribee sewage farm
    (pp. 14-15)

    Without a doubt, Victoria’s best birding spot is the Werribee sewage farm, officially known as Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant. We Melbirdians are so lucky to have this inspirational destination right on our doorstep.

    The farm is 35 kilometres from Melbourne along the Geelong Road and it takes just an hour to get there from the city. Interstate birders can fly into Avalon, hire a car, spend the day in the farm (which is very close to the airport) and fly home that evening. Perfect. The only drawback is that they must have a key. Or know a friendly Melbirdian....

  7. 3 Cairns
    (pp. 16-17)

    Several years ago, I was naive enough to believe some propaganda about proposed alterations to the Cairns Esplanade and the deleterious effect they were going to have on the birdlife. I wrote to the mayor of Cairns registering my objection. I received a polite reply, inviting me to come and make up my own mind when works were complete.

    I was last in Cairns in 2008 and I’m delighted to report that improvements to the Esplanade have been just that: improvements. Now the holidaying hordes congregate at the southern end, leaving the rest of the boardwalk for joggers and birders....

  8. 4 Macquarie Island
    (pp. 18-19)

    Macquarie Island is just a dot in the ocean, halfway between Australia and Antarctica. It rains every day and it’s always windy and often misty. The sand is black as it’s derived from dark basaltic rocks. There are no trees, just grasses and megaherbs.

    An island without trees doesn’t sound very attractive. But believe me it’s a very special place. I found it delightful and exhilarating. The penguins were captivating. Hundreds of thousands of them, some going about their business and ignoring me totally, some wanting to make friends. It was an unforgettable experience, truly the trip of a lifetime....

  9. 5 Chiltern
    (pp. 20-21)

    Chiltern is famous for Regent Honeyeaters and Turquoise Parrots, two most sought-after species. It is located just off the Hume Freeway, three and a half hours north of Melbourne. At the Chiltern Visitor Information Centre, you can pick up a free brochure entitledBird Trails of Chilternwritten by Barry Traill and published by the Chiltern Tourism Association. It will tell you where to look for Spotted Quail-thrush and Grey-crowned Babblers, and lists all the best birdy spots. Green Hill Dam is a must — this is where I saw my first Regent Honeyeaters. Two other dams, imaginatively called ‘Number One...

  10. 6 Lamington National Park
    (pp. 22-23)

    It’s worth going to Lamington National Park just for the Regent Bowerbirds. The spectacular black-and-gold males are common around O’Reilly’s Guesthouse, located in the middle of the park. Other birding highlights include Albert’s Lyrebird, Satin Bowerbirds, Paradise Riflebirds and, so they tell me, Rufous Scrub-birds. The less said about this reprobate the better.

    Lamington National Park is in the McPherson Range on the border of New South Wales and Queensland, 120 kilometres south of Brisbane. It comprises 20 200 hectares of subtropical and temperate rainforest. You can stay either at the aforementioned O’Reilly’s Guesthouse or at Binna Burra Mountain Lodge...

  11. 7 Mallacoota
    (pp. 24-25)

    Mallacoota has the advantage of beautiful bush birds, wonderful waterbirds, significant seabirds and showy shorebirds. Located on the far eastern tip of Victoria, Mallacoota sometimes attracts rare waders, such as the White Wagtail that turned up in 2005. What more could a birder want?

    Perhaps the best place to start is Captain Stevenson’s Point. Here you really need a spotting scope. There will be waterbirds on the sand spits below and in summer there’ll be waders, including Whimbrels and Eastern Curlews.

    There are always cormorants, teal, oystercatchers and Eastern Great Egrets. And while you’re busy searching the water below, Silvereyes,...

  12. 8 Julatten
    (pp. 26-27)

    Rog was sitting on the verandah. He called me over to see a Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo that had landed in a tree right in front of him. I hurried out, but inevitably, when I arrived, the bird had gone. Instead, I saw an Olive-backed Sunbird being escorted by two gorgeous Ulysses butterflies. How could I possibly complain about missing out on a cuckoo? We were staying at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, one of my very favourite places. Of course I love this spot. I’ve seen six lifers here (that’s a bird you see for the first time in your life – a...

  13. 9 Townsville Town Common Conservation Park
    (pp. 28-29)

    Watching Brolgas dancing is a breathtaking experience for anyone – you don’t have to be a birder. How such big birds can be so very graceful is astounding. And the Townsville Town Common is a great place to watch them.

    The second most obvious bird on the Common is the quirky Magpie Goose, so unusual ornithologists have placed it in a family all by itself. It has half-webbed feet, a strong hooked bill and an unusual knob on its head that grows larger as the birds age. Magpie Geese are breeding residents on Townsville’s Town Common; there are tens of thousands...

  14. 10 Wollongong pelagic
    (pp. 30-31)

    I can’t believe that an experience I dread so intently has not only made it onto my list of top birding sites, but has actually squeaked into the top ten.

    ‘Pelagic’ is an adjective meaning ‘pertaining to the open sea’. Birders incorrectly use this adjective as a noun, to mean ‘a boat trip out to sea looking for seabirds’. Every time I book to go on a pelagic, I am filled with childish enthusiasm. I’m sure that I’m going to see a Juan Fernandez Petrel or an Audubon’s Shearwater. I just know that there’s something special out there waiting for...

  15. 11 Darwin
    (pp. 32-33)

    Is any bird more beautiful than the Rainbow Pitta? When I think of Rainbow Pittas, I think of Darwin. There are other great birds around Darwin too. I think of Rufous Owls, Beach Stone-curlews and Lemon-bellied Flycatchers.

    Birders go to the Darwin Botanic Gardens looking for Rufous Owls. I shudder to recall how many times I visited the gardens before I was successful. And when I finally did see my Rufous Owl, I was surprised at how small he was compared with his big Queensland cousin. Same bird, different race. On unsuccessful owl hunts, I had to make do with...

  16. 12 Ash Island
    (pp. 34-35)

    Ash Island is a total misnomer. The ash trees that once grew here are no longer extant and it is no longer an island. Several estuarine islands were amalgamated for industrial development, and what is known as ‘Ash Island’ is the western end of Kooragang Island. It is located 12 kilometres west of Newcastle on the central New South Wales coast. Whatever you call it, Ash Island is a very special place for waterbirds. It is probably most famous for Eastern Yellow Wagtails, which turn up in February and leave in early March.

    I was very excited to learn that...

  17. 13 Lake Argyle
    (pp. 36-37)

    When you are in the eastern Kimberley, you must make time to visit Lake Argyle. About 40 minutes’ drive from Kununurra, the lake is of national significance for waterbirds. A breakfast boat tour is highly recommended.

    Birders come here to see Yellow Chats. You can see them elsewhere (Broome, Barkly Tableland, Derby) but, in my experience, you’ll get much closer views at Lake Argyle.

    This is a huge body of water – some 2000 square kilometres. It is Australia’s biggest lake. There are many islands with White-quilled Rock-Pigeons and Sandstone Shrike-thrush on each. When we did the boat tour, we were...

  18. 14 Kooyoora State Park
    (pp. 38-39)

    I love north central Victoria’s dry, open box-ironbark forest. And I love the huge granite boulders scattered throughout the landscape. Spectacular orchids decorate the countryside in spring and summer, and here you find some of Australia’s best birds, such as Crested Bellbirds, Gilbert’s Whistlers, Hooded Robins and Southern Whiteface.

    Kooyoora State Park, 205 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, is home to Melville Caves. Take the Calder Highway to Inglewood, turn west and Melville Caves is 21 kilometres further on. There aren’t really any caves. Just large cavities among the boulders, where the bushranger Captain Melville had his hide-out. High on the...

  19. 15 The Rock Nature Reserve
    (pp. 40-41)

    We found The Rock Nature Reserve quite by accident. We were on our way home from Wagga Wagga and just happened to notice it. You can’t miss The Rock itself. It stands proudly, the one rugged feature on a flat plain, clearly visible from a great distance.

    The township of The Rock has a thriving population of 1000, and a grandiose main street wider than any capital city boulevard I know. It’s on the Olympic Highway 25 kilometres south of Wagga Wagga, 96 kilometres north of Albury. The nature reserve is 3.5 kilometres west of the township and comprises 350...

  20. 16 Banyule Flats Reserve
    (pp. 42-43)

    Right smack bang in the middle of suburbia, Banyule Flats Reserve is about 13 kilometres from central Melbourne. If you are visiting Melbourne with restricted time, after you’ve been to Werribee, this is your next port of call. Apart from a couple of sports ovals and cricket nets, Banyule boasts a swamp, wetlands and some wonderful remnant bush along the Yarra River. The Banyule bird list includes 148 species, both waterbirds and bush birds.

    I discovered Banyule in October 2001 when a female Australian Painted Snipe turned up here. The Melway reference (32 F2) was on the internet immediately and...

  21. 17 Eaglehawk Neck pelagic
    (pp. 44-45)

    I hate pelagics and yet, remarkably, three have made it onto my top 100 birding sites. I’ve met some fascinating people on little boats out at sea. It’s as if, having endured such torture together, we have a common bond. Tasmanian pelagics are invariably very cold and the seas can be very rough. But you can see some wonderful birds off Tasmania that you are unlikely to see off the mainland. Birds like Broad-billed Prions, Grey Petrels and Southern Fulmars. Eaglehawk Neck is on Tasmania’s east coast, 80 kilometres east of Hobart. My boat of preference is thePauletta. Rohan...

  22. 18 Kakadu National Park
    (pp. 46-47)

    Think of Kakadu National Park, and waterfalls, crocodiles and Aboriginal rock art come to mind. Kakadu deserves a place in Australia’s top birding sites because the bird list contains nearly 300 species. All five of the Northern Territory endemics occur here. Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeons, White-lined Honeyeaters and Banded Fruit-Doves are easily seen on the Gunlom escarpment while you’re looking for White-throated Grasswren. Hooded Parrots are a possibility here too, although I found them easier at Edith Falls in Nitmiluk National Park near Katherine.

    Kakadu National Park comprises 20 000 square kilometres on the Arnhem escarpment and includes wetlands of international significance....

  23. 19 Houtman Abrolhos
    (pp. 48-49)

    I visited the Houtman Abrolhos islands to see Lesser Noddies, but I got a lot more out of it than just one tick. I was moved by the bloody history of the place, fascinated with wallabies adapted to drink salt water, impressed by an extremely large python and overwhelmed with the beautiful birds.

    The Houtman Abrolhos islands are located on the edge of the continental shelf 60 very rough kilometres west of Geraldton. Geraldton is 424 kilometres north of Perth. The Abrolhos comprise 122 islands scattered over 100 kilometres from north to south. They are in three main groups: Wallabi,...

  24. 20 Cheynes Beach
    (pp. 50-51)

    As pretty as a postcard, Cheynes Beach is the place to stay while you search for the three south-western endemic fiends: Noisy Scrub-bird (easy), Western Bristlebird (not too difficult) and Western Whipbird (impossible).

    Tawny Frogmouths nest in the Cheynes Beach Caravan Park and there are always Carnaby’s Cockatoos and Western Wattlebirds in the banksias. I’ve stayed there three times, because it’s a great base to visit Waychinicup National Park and Two Peoples Bay. The first time I stayed, White-breasted Robins were common, and I had the easiest and best sightings I’d ever had of Southern Emu-wrens; the second time there...

  25. 21 Christmas Island
    (pp. 52-53)

    Today when Australians think of Christmas Island they think of asylum seekers and tragic drownings. Not so long ago, when Christmas Island was mentioned, the first thought was of the remarkable annual red crab migration, when millions of bright red crabs move from the mountains to the sea to spawn. For birders, Christmas Island will always be special. There are 11 species you can’t see anywhere else in Australia, and so many vagrants that most birders manage a rarity when they visit.

    The first time I visited Christmas Island, I ticked seven lifers as we drove from the airport to...

  26. 22 Phillip Island
    (pp. 54-55)

    Phillip Island has more to offer than Little Penguins and koalas – although, frankly, that’s enough. It’s great for bush birds and waders and is one of the easiest places to see Cape Barren Geese. Rog and I had a holiday there in 1975 and I remember particularly admiring Restless Flycatchers in the cemetery and Hooded Plovers on the beach near Cape Woolamai. I remember, too, that everywhere we went we seemed to be accompanied by very friendly Grey Fantails. And I remember Little Penguins, dressed up in their dinner suits, crossing the roads dangerously at night.

    Located in Western Port,...

  27. 23 Terrick Terrick National Park
    (pp. 56-57)

    Terrick Terrick National Park – so good they named it twice. This park is situated between Mitiamo and Pyramid Hill in north central Victoria. Mitiamo is 222 kilometres north of Melbourne and 67 kilometres north of Bendigo; the park is 4 kilometres north of Mitiamo. It comprises one of the largest areas of unspoilt grasslands in Victoria, and is famous for being home to endangered Plains-wanderers. There are huge granite outcrops, lovely native woodlands and lots of wildflowers in spring.

    Last time I was there it was winter. As I drove in, a large flock of White-winged Choughs flew through the...

  28. 24 Daintree River cruise
    (pp. 58-59)

    I’ve done the Daintree River dawn cruise twice and I’m itching to do it again. Chris Dahlberg famously ran these tours for 18 years until Murray Hunt took over in 2011. Now they are called Daintree Boatman Nature Tours.

    Daintree is between Cairns and Cooktown in far north Queensland and is home to some exciting tropical birds. Every birder wants to see Great-billed Herons, Double-eyed Fig-Parrots and Little Kingfishers. Great-billed Herons are rarely seen and most sought after. They inhabit inaccessible mangrove swamps and, despite their size (well over a metre), when they stand perfectly still by the water’s edge...

  29. 25 Fogg Dam
    (pp. 60-61)

    Black-necked Storks wade through shallow blue water that is dotted with king-sized pink and white waterlilies – an interior decorator’s dream. Comb-crested Jacanas promenade on the lily pads. Pairs of Green Pygmy-Geese swim quietly among the lotuses, minding their own business. Fogg Dam is very picturesque.

    Located 70 kilometres east of Darwin in the lower Adelaide River catchment, Fogg Dam is accessed via the Arnhem Highway. The best time to visit is between late March and early October. I recommend the Woodlands to Waterlily Walk that takes you into the wetlands on a boardwalk. It’s easy walking, so you can allow...

  30. 26 Gluepot Reserve
    (pp. 62-63)

    Gluepot Reserve has been a Mecca for twitchers since the property was purchased in 1997 by Birds Australia (now BirdLife Australia). Even before Scarlet-chested Parrots were discovered nesting here in 2011, the reserve was a must-do on every serious birdwatcher’s itinerary. Birders hope to see endangered Black-eared Miners and the endangered eastern race of Regent Parrots, vulnerable Red-lored Whistlers and stately, vulnerable Malleefowl, as well as the most elusive Striated Grasswren.

    Gluepot Reserve is situated in remote, hot, South Australia. It is one and a half hours’ drive north of Waikerie on a good dirt road – well worth the effort,...

  31. 27 Iron Range National Park
    (pp. 64-65)

    Twitchers must go to Iron Range National Park to see Eclectus Parrots, Red-cheeked Parrots and Green-backed Honeyeaters. These birds are found nowhere else. There are lots of other great birds at Iron Range, such as entertaining Palm Cockatoos, tiny Yellow-billed Kingfishers, gorgeous Yellow-breasted Boatbills and stunning Black Butcherbirds.

    On the far north-east coast of Cape York, Iron Range National Park, or Kutini-Payamu as it is now known, comprises 34 600 hectares of spectacular rainforest, open eucalypt forest and endless empty beaches. The best time to visit is between June and September, as access can be impossible during the wet.


  32. 28 Gipsy Point
    (pp. 66-67)

    When I think of Gipsy Point, I think of Glossy Black-Cockatoos, Black Bitterns and Azure Kingfishers. I remember Nankeen Night-Herons, Whiteheaded Pigeons and Red-browed Treecreepers. I picture gorgeous Australian King-Parrots sitting in the morning sunshine and magnificent White-bellied Sea-Eagles soaring overhead. I can hear the endless monotonous coo of the Wonga Pigeon, and the chauvinistic whip crack of the male Eastern Whipbird, answered immediately, obediently, by the quiet submissive ‘chou chou’ of the female.

    Whenever I visit Gipsy Point, I take blue treasures and drop them conspicuously where a male Satin Bowerbird will be bound to spot them. It’s a...

  33. 29 Parrys Lagoon
    (pp. 68-69)

    In the far north of Western Australia, hot and dusty Wyndham does not leap to mind as the most desirable holiday destination. However, just south of Wyndham is a little bit of birdy heaven. It is a picturesque freshwater lake covered in water lilies and waterbirds, known as Parrys Lagoon. The water is so clear you can see the catfish and the barramundi swimming around – as well as the freshwater crocodiles. The catfish probably explain the presence of White-bellied Sea-Eagles. Just imagine a sheet of blue water, with shimmering reflections of adjacent vegetation, dotted with green water lilies with huge...

  34. 30 Kangaroo Island
    (pp. 70-71)

    Kangaroo Island boasts beautiful beaches, the cutest possible baby seals, spectacular orchids and a phenomenal bird list comprising 267 species.

    I went to Kangaroo Island to see the local race of Western Whipbirds (which I did easily) and the local race of Glossy Black-Cockatoos (which I heard but did not see). This could be explained by the fact that there are 2000 whipbirds, but only 240 glossy blacks.

    Kangaroo Island, comprising 4500 square kilometres, is Australia’s third largest island. It is located at the entrance to Gulf St Vincent in South Australia. The island has 509 kilometres of coastline, including...

  35. 31 You Yangs Regional Park
    (pp. 72-73)

    Ask any Melbourne birder where to see a Tawny Frogmouth and, chances are, they’ll say near the Park Office at the You Yangs. A pair has roosted there regularly for several years. And very beautiful they are too. This is also one of the most reliable spots around Melbourne to see elusive, endangered Swift Parrots.

    The You Yangs Regional Park is 55 kilometres south-west of Melbourne, off the Geelong Road via the

    township of Little River. The park features dry eucalypt woodland with lots of large granite boulders. The bird list includes most of my favourite dry country birds, and...

  36. 32 Hasties Swamp
    (pp. 74-75)

    The name Hasties Swamp is synonymous with Plumed Whistling-Ducks. They are abundant. Every dead tree and every strip of muddy bank is packed wingtip to wingtip with Plumed Whistling-Ducks. They can be noisy too. If they all decide to whistle at once, you’ll need to cover your ears.

    Hasties Swamp is 4 kilometres south of Atherton in far north Queensland. (Atherton is about 90 kilometres southwest of Cairns.) Last time I was there, I was delighted to see that there is now a large bird hide. There’s no need to go any further than that.

    Apart from the Plumed Whistling-Ducks,...

  37. 33 Mareeba Tropical Savanna and Wetland Reserve
    (pp. 76-77)

    Years ago, I was put off visiting the Mareeba wetlands by the publicity. Advertisements featuring that famous pommy botanist David Bellamy encouraged families to have a fun day out and enjoy canoeing on the wetlands. Among all that family fun, I couldn’t see that there’d be much opportunity for good birding. How wrong I was.

    The reserve is run by a non-profit community organisation. It is 14 kilometres from the Mareeba township, which is about an hour’s drive west of Cairns. The reserve is 2000 hectares, comprising wetlands and savanna grasslands. Hence the bird list features both Brolga and button-quail....

  38. 34 Knuckeys Lagoon
    (pp. 78-79)

    Knuckeys Lagoon doesn’t look much – a small swamp, some water, some grassland. In fact, it looks like a bit of water lying around in a paddock, which, I suppose, is precisely what it is. But it can provide some very good birding.

    It’s about 12 kilometres south-east of central Darwin, off McMillans Road, and you enter on foot. A popular roosting site for Magpie Geese and Pied Heron, Knuckeys Lagoon is home to Radjah Shelduck, Black-necked Stork and Combcrested Jacana. King Quail live in the grass along with Tawny Grassbirds and Horsfield’s Bushlarks. From September to December you can see...

  39. 35 Waychinicup National Park
    (pp. 80-81)

    The first time we visited Waychinicup National Park, we were struck immediately by the rugged coastal scenery. Then we noticed the extraordinary large number of goannas. Located 45 minutes’ drive east of Albany in the southwest of Western Australia, Waychinicup National Park comprises 6310 hectares of woodlands and heathlands, and incorporates the lower reaches and the estuary of the Waychinicup River.

    Waychinicup National Park lies within the Two Peoples Bay and Mount Manypeaks Important Bird Area. Specifically, the important birds are the endangered Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo, Noisy Scrub-bird, Western Bristlebird and Western Whipbird, and the critically endangered western Ground Parrot. These...

  40. 36 Cape York
    (pp. 82-83)

    It was a long hot walk to the bower of the Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, but it was worth it. The bird appeared almost immediately. It was November 1994 and Rog and I were visiting the tip of Cape York, the northernmost point of mainland Australia. In those days, there was no concern about the status of the Fawn-breasted Bowerbird. Today, ornithologists are concerned at the lack of reported sightings.

    On that first trip, Rog and I had great views of those hilarious clowns, Palm Cockatoos, went spotlighting for Papuan Frogmouths, admired pretty Northern Scrub-robins and saw (and heard!) extraordinary Trumpet Manucodes....

  41. 37 Kinchega National Park
    (pp. 84-85)

    Located 110 kilometres south-east of Broken Hill, Kinchega National Park is about as remote as you can get. It is 840 kilometres west of Sydney and you can sense every isolated kilometre. The park incorporates the Menindee Lakes system and the Darling River forms the eastern boundary. It is 443 square kilometres of river red gums, red earth and, in a good year, water. It used to be a pastoral property and the historic woolshed still stands – just.

    Here you can find waterbirds and woodswallows, parrots and pigeons, honeyeaters and raptors.

    After the ubiquitous Galahs and inquisitive Emus, the most...

  42. 38 Stockton Sandspit
    (pp. 86-87)

    Stockton Sandspit is the best site for waders in the Hunter Estuary. Many thousands of migratory shorebirds breed in the northern hemisphere in June and July, then fly 10 000 kilometres to make Stockton Sandspit their summer home. It is a phenomenal journey and these beautiful birds do it every year.

    It is both the number of birds and the number of species that make this place special. There are sandpipers, godwits and greenshanks, stints, knots and plovers, tattlers, turnstones and curlews.

    Even in winter the birding is good. Several non-migratory waders are resident all year round and breed when...

  43. 39 Comerong Island Nature Reserve
    (pp. 88-89)

    Comerong Island Nature Reserve is a top spot for migratory waders. The reserve is 660 hectares and comprises three different habitats: tidal mud flats, mangrove swamp and littoral forest. Accordingly, there are many waterbirds and bush birds as well as shorebirds.

    Comerong Island is located in the delta of the Shoalhaven River, 15 kilometres east of Nowra, 50 kilometres south of Wollongong. You can often walk to Comerong Island from Shoalhaven Heads as the river entrance is regularly blocked by sand. To get to Shoalhaven Heads, take Bolong Road from Nowra. In the Shoalhaven Heads car park, there are some...

  44. 40 Fitzgerald River National Park
    (pp. 90-91)

    Birders know Fitzgerald River National Park as the best place to see Western Whipbirds, and a good place to look for Western Bristlebirds. As long as you don’t have unrealistic expectations of actually seeing one, it is also somewhere to seek the elusive critically endangered western Ground Parrot.

    The park comprises 330 000 hectares of heathland, mallee and timbered gullies. Much of it is wilderness accessed only by foot. It is located 420 kilometres south-east of Perth on the central south coast of Western Australia, between the popular fishing townships of Bremer Bay and Hopetoun. Roads are closed when it...

  45. 41 Birdsville Track
    (pp. 92-93)

    The Birdsville Track traverses 517 kilometres from Marree in remote outback South Australia to Birdsville in southwest Queensland, and crosses both the Tirari Desert and the Sturt Stony Desert, some of the harshest country Australia has to offer. Yet the birding is terrific.

    This iconic track provides iconic birding. There are harsh stony plains just right for Gibberbirds and Cinnamon Quailthrush. There are arid open deserts perfect for Australian Pratincole and Inland Dotterel, with an occasional bluebush for Banded Whiteface to sit up on. Eyrean Grasswren favour canegrass covered sandhills, while Grey Grasswren prefer lignum surrounding swamps. Trees along the...

  46. 42 Green Cape (Ben Boyd National Park)
    (pp. 94-95)

    Birders know Green Cape because of its Ground Parrots, and I agree that even a remote chance of seeing Ground Parrots is a pretty good reason for travelling somewhere. But there are lots of other good birds at Green Cape too.

    Striated Fieldwrens, Beautiful Firetails and Crescent Honeyeaters are all common. If that’s not enough, you can stand on the cliffs and watch albatrosses soar below. You can see Australasian Gannets out at sea plunge-diving into the water, or perhaps a shearwater, or a White-bellied Sea-Eagle will fly by. Northern Giant-Petrels are sometimes seen here, more often from May to...

  47. 43 Kununurra
    (pp. 96-97)

    Kununurra must be the finch capital of Australia. Birders go there to see Yellow-rumped Mannikins, but there are also Zebra, Double-barred, Long-tailed, Masked, Crimson, Star and Gouldian Finches and Chestnut-breasted and Pictorella Mannikins. Last time I was there, there were Star Finches in a park right in the township! Double-barred and Crimson Finches are very common.

    Kununurra is 3040 kilometres from Perth in the far north-east of the Kimberley Region, quite close to the Northern Territory border. The town was established to service the Ord River Irrigation scheme and today the population is largely transient.

    However, many birds are resident....

  48. 44 Port Fairy pelagic
    (pp. 98-99)

    If you think that it’s difficult identifying Graceful from Yellow-spotted Honeyeaters, or Brown from Tasmanian Thornbills or distinguishing between the corvids, you may be amused to consider the differences between Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters. The textbooks may tell you that Sooties are larger with narrow pointed wings and a narrow neck, while Short-taileds have rounded wings and rounded heads, but personally I cannot discern any difference.

    Such are the joys of pelagic birding. You pay someone to give you a day’s discomfort, perhaps with the added bonus of being seasick, and have a very slight chance of seeing something rare...

  49. 45 Cumberland Dam
    (pp. 100-101)

    The landscape around Georgetown in north Queensland is harsh. It’s the sort of country where you expect to see Black Kites and Black-faced Woodswallows. The red earth is liberally scattered with termite mounds and straggly gidgee. Bustards and Brolgas stroll by looking quite at home. Twenty-four kilometres west of Georgetown, sitting incongruously in this austere terrain, lies Cumberland Dam, a little oasis in the wilderness.

    White water lilies decorate the blue water, making it even more enticing. The barren red earth goes right to the water’s edge; there is no softening margin of reeds or grasses to provide shelter for...

  50. 46 Barren Grounds Nature Reserve
    (pp. 102-103)

    The Barren Grounds Nature Reserve comprises over 2000 hectares of heathland, woodland and rainforest, high on the Illawarra escarpment. It is 120 kilometres from Sydney, 200 kilometres from Canberra. The reserve was created in 1956 because it is home to two endangered birds: the Eastern Bristlebird and the Ground Parrot.

    Honeyeaters are nomadic, flying north in summer and south in winter. My bird, in late March, was the vanguard of the southern movement.

    We returned the next day and were successful, seeing several bristlebirds, as well as an antechinus. The bristlebirds were running across the track seemingly wherever we looked,...

  51. 47 Port Augusta
    (pp. 104-105)

    Port Augusta, the so-called ‘Crossroads of Australia’, is at the head of Spencer Gulf, 322 kilometres north of Adelaide. The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden in Port Augusta is probably the easiest and most reliable spot to see a Chirruping Wedgebill. As you wander around among the eremophila, you’ll hear their distinctive chirrup before you see the neatly coiffed brown bird perched on top of a bush. This chirrup is the only feature that distinguishes him from his close relation, the Chiming Wedgebill, who, needless to say, chimes instead of chirruping. With their fetching stylish crests, they look like the...

  52. 48 Capertee Valley
    (pp. 106-107)

    Capertee Valley is 150 kilometres north-west of Sydney, or about three hours’ drive. It is advertised as the world’s second largest canyon, and the largest enclosed valley in the southern hemisphere, which seems a very odd claim to me. What matters is that it has great birding. It comprises eucalypt woodlands and Sydney’s famous sandstone cliffs.

    Birders visit the Capertee Valley in the hope of seeing a Regent Honeyeater. These are one of Australia’s most stunning birds; no illustration ever seems able to capture their true beauty. Their presence depends on flowering eucalypts. Regent Honeyeaters are critically endangered and have...

  53. 49 Mission Beach
    (pp. 108-109)

    Mission Beach is famous as the spot to see Southern Cassowaries. Orange-footed Scrubfowl scratch the leaves with their oversized colourful feet as I admire their glamorous coiffed crest. Wompoo Fruit-Doves make their extraordinary guttural call, which one of my all-time birdy heroes, the late Graham Pizzey, records is paraphrased as ‘bollocks are blue’. Gorgeous Olive-backed Sunbirds flitter around, adding a flourish of tropical extravagance, no less dazzling for being so common. On the beach, there’s a chance of frigatebirds flying over, or Beach Stone-curlews loitering with intent. Or there might be an Eastern Reef Egret or an Eastern Osprey.


  54. 50 Bunyip State Park
    (pp. 110-111)

    Can there be a more famous helipad in Victoria than the one in Bunyip State Park? Birders go to this helipad at dusk in summer and wait for White-throated Nightjars to appear. It’s that easy.

    Melbourne birders know Bunyip State Park for three reasons: first, there’s the famous helipad nightjar site; second, this is a beaut place to go spotlighting for Sooty Owls; and third, this is one of two places where there are still wild populations of Victoria’s critically endangered avifaunal emblem, the Helmeted Honeyeater.

    Helmeted Honeyeaters are a race of the common Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (they are slightly larger...

  55. 51 Serendip Sanctuary
    (pp. 112-113)

    You are bound to have fortuitous sightings in a place called Serendip. The name comes from ‘serendipity’, meaning ‘the unexpected discovery of something wonderful’. Perhaps you’ll see Beautiful Firetail, maybe a Pink Robin or an Eastern Koel, or even a Freckled Duck.

    This 250-hectare property of open grassy woodlands and extensive wetlands is located 60 kilometres south-west of Melbourne and 22 kilometres north of Geelong. It is run by Parks Victoria and is open every day except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Entry is free. The sanctuary breeds Brolgas and Australian Bustards, and aviaries house several interesting species.

    Serendip features...

  56. 52 Lake Gilles Conservation Park
    (pp. 114-115)

    The first time Rog and I visited Lake Gilles Conservation Park was in October 1998. I was looking for Blue-breasted Fairy-wren which, until then, in my ignorance, I’d always thought were restricted to the south-west of Western Australia. I’m delighted to report that we found the bird easily. A family was hopping around happily as soon as we stopped the car. That’s how I like birds to behave.

    I was there again in October 2011 to admire the Blue-breasted Fairy-wren once more. This time I had wonderful views of Rufous Treecreepers and Gilbert’s Whistlers, and found nests of Western Yellow...

  57. 53 Bruny Island
    (pp. 116-117)

    Bruny Island is famous among birders as the easiest place to see all Tasmania’s endemics. With the possible exception of the Scrubtit, which often takes a bit of effort to find, they are all easily seen. Not only that, many desirable birds which can be found on the mainland, are more easily seen on Bruny. I’m thinking of Crescent Honeyeaters, Pink Robins and Beautiful Firetails. And also Hooded Plovers, Kelp Gulls and Black-faced Cormorants. Endangered Swift Parrots migrate to Tasmania to breed in summer and are frequently seen here. The vulnerable Tasmanian race of Wedge-tailed Eagle is often seen on...

  58. 54 Wonga Wetlands
    (pp. 118-119)

    Highlights of my visits to Wonga Wetlands include a Great-crested Grebe in non-breeding plumage, Musk Ducks displaying, handsome Golden-headed Cisticola singing heartily, and once, an irruption of Brown Quail.

    Construction of the Hume Dam in 1919 stopped the natural flooding of the Murray River. Birds had nowhere to go. The Wonga Wetlands was created to rectify this error.

    The Wonga Wetlands is on the Corowa Road, 5.4 kilometres from Albury. The gates are open from 8.30 am until 4.30 pm on weekdays. Outside these times, you are welcome to go in on foot. The Wonga Wetlands covers 80 hectares of...

  59. 55 Cabbage Tree Creek Flora Reserve
    (pp. 120-121)

    In far east Gippsland’s warm temperate rainforest stands an isolated population of Australia’s most southerly, and Victoria’s only, native palm, the Cabbage Tree Palm. The nearest palms to this odd isolated population are 180 kilometres away at Bega in New South Wales. Hence we have the Cabbage Tree Creek Flora Reserve. Access is either from the Princes Highway, 22 kilometres east of Orbost, or from the Cabbage Tree–Marlo Road. There is a short loop walk, which is often very wet underfoot. The reserve provides a haven for many of our lovely temperate rainforest birds, such as Eastern Whipbirds, Superb...

  60. 56 Strzelecki Track
    (pp. 122-123)

    The Strzelecki Track no longer shares the romance of the Birdsville Track. Let’s face it, since the advent of the Moomba gas fields, the Strzelecki is so well maintained, you can drive from one end to the other in a conventional car. Nevertheless, it is home to some very attractive birds and it is part of being Australian to experience the outback.

    Many beautiful desert birds make their home along the Strzelecki Track. Birds such as Cinnamon Quail-thrush, Thick-billed Grasswren and Orange and Crimson Chats. Perhaps the track is most famous for Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, although these dear little creatures are...

  61. 57 Tower Hill State Game Reserve
    (pp. 124-125)

    To me, Tower Hill means Emus, koalas and kangaroos. And an opportunity to see many bush birds and waterbirds.

    Warrnambool is 264 kilometres west of Melbourne and Tower Hill State Game Reserve is 14 kilometres west of Warrnambool on the Princes Highway. The reserve is open 9 to 5 Monday to Friday and 10 to 4 on weekends and public holidays. Admission is free. This revegetated long extinct volcano is a real conservation success story. When planting began in the 1960s, the site had been denuded by overgrazing. Today vegetation is growing well and you can see the results as...

  62. 58 Tarra-Bulga National Park
    (pp. 126-127)

    Tarra-Bulga National Park in Gippsland, in eastern Victoria, is the place to go to see Pilotbirds. They hang around obligingly in the Bulga car park (note that this is not the Visitor Information Centre car park). Tarra-Bulga is also one of the easiest places to see Superb Lyrebirds. It used to be thought that you didn’t see Pilotbirds without accompanying lyrebirds. Indeed, the Pilotbirds were thought to be guiding the lyrebirds or piloting them around. Hence the name. Ornithologists are no longer quite so gullible, and Pilotbirds in the presence of lyrebirds are now thought to be hanging around for...

  63. 59 Barrington Tops National Park
    (pp. 128-129)

    It’s odd to think of rainforest and snow occurring in the same national park, and yet that’s what happens at Barrington Tops. This is one of the largest temperate rainforests on mainland Australia, located in New South Wales north of Newcastle near Gloucester. It’s a World Heritage Area. The highest point is over 1500 metres and yes, it can snow in winter.

    Birders go to Barrington Tops National Park in the hope of ticking the elusive Rufous Scrub-bird. I can confirm that there are scrub-birds present – I’ve heard them. I spent three days looking for them one September. It was...

  64. 60 Lord Howe Island
    (pp. 130-131)

    I loved Lord Howe Island. I’ve been there just once, in March 1996. The temperatures were perfect, the scenery was stunning, the people were friendly and the birding was excellent. I was excited to see the Woodhen, back from the brink of extinction, and fascinated at the way Providence Petrels responded to shouting. I remember colourful day lilies, lots of golden orb spiders and Sacred Kingfishers, and a couple of Pacific Golden Plovers on the airfield dressed up in their breeding best.

    But the bird that stole my heart, quite unexpectedly, was the White Tern. They fluttered above our heads...

  65. 61 Buffalo Creek
    (pp. 132-133)

    Buffalo Creek Buffalo Creek is probably the most unlikely birding site in this book. The spot I have in mind is actually a very popular boat-launching ramp with its associated car park, and on weekends there is a constant coming and going of cars, boats and fishermen. It is 18 kilometres north of Darwin, accessed via Lee Point Road and Buffalo Creek Road. It may not look much, but anywhere I’ve got a lifer is all right with me.

    Above the cacophony of boat launching, we heard the unmistakable raucous call of a Chestnut Rail. We looked in the direction...

  66. 62 Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
    (pp. 134-135)

    The bush is filled with fluty melodious calls of the Grey Shrike-thrush. Dressed most modestly, this bird makes up for his unassuming attire by his delightfully tuneful song. We should not take these glorious songsters for granted just because they are common.

    We are standing in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, 25 kilometres north of Sydney. I have two special memories of this place: the unexpected sighting of an Australian Brush-turkey, and a magnificent specimen of a flowering waratah. Silver Gulls squabble on the beaches of Pittwater and ducks and cormorants quietly enjoy the waters of the Hawkesbury River. We’re here...

  67. 63 Hattah-Kulkyne National Park
    (pp. 136-137)

    Birders know the Nowingi Track in Hattah-Kulkyne National Park only too well. Most of us have spent many hours traversing it, looking for Striated Grasswren and Mallee Emu-wren. The first Chestnut Quail-thrush we see is greeted with joy. The second is also welcomed warmly. By about the sixth, birders are silently wishing a few quail-thrush might be converted to grasswren.

    The township of Hattah is on the Calder Highway, about 480 kilometres north-west of Melbourne and about 70 kilometres south of Mildura. Entry to the national park is well signposted and about 4 kilometres east of Hattah. The park is...

  68. 64 Fivebough Swamp, Leeton
    (pp. 138-139)

    Leeton, in the New South Wales Riverina, is 550 kilometres west of Sydney. It is an interesting little town with striking art deco architecture. Of more interest to birders is the 400-hectare swamp on the outskirts of town.

    Here there is a good chance of seeing a crake – either Baillon’s, Australian Spotted or Spotless. There’s also a very good chance of seeing Brolga, Red-necked Avocets, Variegated Fairy-wren and Golden-headed Cisticolas. How’s that for a list of desirable, beautiful birds! There’s a slight chance you might spot a Zebra Finch.

    I saw Red-capped Robins (always a favourite), a Little Grassbird, an...

  69. 65 Little Desert National Park
    (pp. 140-141)

    When I was young, my parents took me to meet Keith Hateley at the Little Desert National Park. Keith was devoted to the survival and wellbeing of the Malleefowl and was delighted to show us his favourite pair of Malleefowl, Romeo and Juliet. We lay on the ground, perfectly still, only partly hidden by the scrubby mallee, with sticks poking into us and ants invading our private parts. We waited for a very long time and were eventually rewarded with the imperial presence of Romeo. He tended his mound, adjusting the temperature by adding or removing sand and rotting leaves,...

  70. 66 Sturt National Park
    (pp. 142-143)

    The first time we visited Sturt National Park, we ticked Bourke’s Parrot, Crimson Chat and Flock Bronzewing. The second time we visited, we ticked Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush. Of course, we were looking for Grey Grasswren and Grey Falcon, but we had no luck with either bird on either occasion.

    Sturt National Park comprises 340 000 hectares of desert and semi-desert, well stocked with Emus and red kangaroos. You must pay to enter the park. It is in the far north-west of New South Wales, 330 kilometres north of Broken Hill. The park is littered with isolated mesas, which the locals call...

  71. 67 Norfolk Island
    (pp. 144-145)

    When I think of Norfolk Island, I think of Norfolk Island pines and the mutiny on theBounty. The pines are beautiful – tall and regal. Lichen decorates them like Christmas tinsel. But I didn’t go there for the botany; I went there for the birds.

    Norfolk Island boasts five birds that cannot be seen anywhere else in Australia. And then there are seabirds. And there is always the possibility of a rarity.

    Norfolk Island is just 8 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide, making a total land area of 3855 hectares (which makes it about three times the size of...

  72. 68 Lake Cargelligo sewage treatment works
    (pp. 146-147)

    Lake Cargelligo is in central New South Wales, about 600 kilometres west of Sydney. I happened across it by accident on my way to Round Hill Nature Reserve. There was a large flock of Red-necked Avocets on the lake and Mulga Parrots flew by, so I stopped to have a look. The sewage works are south of the township near the showgrounds and can provide some exciting birding with possible sightings of Blue-billed Ducks and Peregrine Falcons.

    Flocks of Cockatiels wheel overhead as you admire Black-winged Stilts and Red-kneed Dotterels. Purple Swamphen strut around the shoreline and Willie Wagtails chatter...

  73. 69 Innes National Park
    (pp. 148-149)

    Without a doubt, the most exciting bird in Innes National Park is the Western Whipbird. This race, sometimes called the Mallee Whipbird, is paler than the Western Australian subspecies, and has slightly different markings on its throat. The call is quite different. The bird is supposed to sit up on a stick and sing its heart out. However, it is equally capable of skulking in the undergrowth and noiselessly and invisibly circling any birdwatching intruder.

    Innes National Park comprises 9415 hectares of coastal vegetation on the southern tip of the Yorke Peninsula, 300 kilometres west of Adelaide. Entry and camping...

  74. 70 Bool Lagoon Game Reserve
    (pp. 150-151)

    ‘You should have been here in No-wember’, said the ranger, with a thick European accent. This was many years ago, when my parents were visiting Bool Lagoon in South Australia. They were impressed with the large number of waterfowl, but the ranger felt compelled to point out that they weren’t seeing the place at its best. The previous November all the swans, geese, ducks, ibis, spoonbills and Brolgas had young. It must have been quite a sight.

    We visited in June 2012 and were told we were lucky that there was water in the lagoons – the place had been dry...

  75. 71 Wyperfeld National Park
    (pp. 152-153)

    What do you think is the most abundant bird in Wyperfeld National Park? Malleefowl might be the most interesting, and Splendid Fairy-wren might be the most gorgeous, but as to the most abundant, you might say Emu – there are lots of them and they are large and conspicuous. You could suggest Mallee Ringneck – they are both common and colourful. You might even say Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater – their loud, constant, gurgling calls draw your attention to them and make you think there are even more of them than there are. In fact, the answer is the Galah. These beautiful pink and grey...

  76. 72 Round Hill Nature Reserve
    (pp. 154-155)

    Round Hill Nature Reserve is famous among birders as the spot to see Redlored Whistlers in spring. It is an odd little patch of mallee right in the middle of New South Wales. It is about nine hours’ drive from Sydney and approximately 40 kilometres north of Lake Cargelligo.

    Round Hill and the adjacent Nombinnie Nature Reserve can be very hot. We were there in October 2009 and sadly, I did not see a Red-lored Whistler. I did see lots and lots of Red-capped Robins and Rufous Whistlers and millions of irritating sticky bush flies. Roger saw a snake, I...

  77. 73 West MacDonnell National Park
    (pp. 156-157)

    Spinifex Pigeons must be the funniest birds in West MacDonnell National Park. With their spiky hairdo and their flawless cinnamon plumage, they run from here to there with exaggerated self-importance. And then they run back again. I love them.

    If Spinifex Pigeons are the funniest, Dusky Grasswren must be the most sought after. Then, perhaps, come Western Bowerbirds and Black-breasted Buzzards.

    West MacDonnell National Park, west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, is renowned for spectacular scenery. The park is huge (250 kilometres long!) and incorporates many tourist attractions, such as King’s Canyon, Palm Valley, Simpson’s Gap, Standley Chasm...

  78. 74 Kalbarri National Park
    (pp. 158-159)

    Six hundred and forty-four kilometres north of Perth in Western Australia, the mighty Murchison River carves its way through multicoloured rocks. Kalbarri National Park embraces this gorge and altogether encompasses 183 000 hectares of pretty beaches with rugged cliffs, dramatic river gorges and extensive sand plains. The park boasts over 1000 species of wildflowers, including banksias, grevilleas, hibiscus, kangaroo paw and verticordia.

    When I was there 30 years ago, I paid 20 cents to put on earphones and hear recordings of birds in the park. I heard a Bush Stone-curlew, a Willie Wagtail, a Grey Shrike-thrush, a Rufous Whistler, a...

  79. 75 Lake Bindegolly National Park
    (pp. 160-161)

    A birding friend of mine saw a Grey Falcon at Lake Bindegolly. I didn’t. Nor did I see any Freckled Ducks which, by all accounts, are seen frequently. In fact, I didn’t see any ducks at all.

    Lake Bindegolly National Park is located 40 kilometres east of Thargomindah (or 145 kilometres west of Cunnamulla) in south-west Queensland. It is on the Bulloo Developmental Road, which tourist promoters like to dub ‘Adventure Way’. While the park is called Lake Bindegolly National Park, there are several lakes here: Lakes Bindegolly and Toomaroo are saline and Lake Hutchinson is freshwater. After heavy rain,...

  80. 76 Adelaide River Crossing
    (pp. 162-163)

    In 2009 when we travelled from Darwin to Kakadu, we stopped at the Adelaide River Crossing on our way there and on our way back. Both visits were very short and we didn’t walk far. We simply poked about in the mangroves. On both occasions we saw an Arafura Fantail and a Mangrove Golden Whistler, once a female, once a male. Little wonder the Adelaide River Crossing gets into my top 100 sites. Everyone remembers the hilarious jumping crocodile at the Adelaide River Crossing. But perhaps not everyone approves of tourist operators who think making crocodiles jump out of the...

  81. 77 Lakefield National Park
    (pp. 164-165)

    Many birders visit Lakefield National Park hoping for a Red Goshawk. I went there hoping for a Star Finch and a Red-chested Button-quail. I wasn’t disappointed.

    At over 5000 square kilometres, Lakefield is Queensland’s second largest national park. It is located in the middle of Cape York and it takes about six hours to drive here from Cairns. Being so large, it incorporates several different habitats: mangroves and mudflats, grassy plains, sandstone escarpments and huge rivers that contract to permanent waterholes during the dry season. Any one of these waterholes can be home to a crocodile or perhaps a Comb-crested...

  82. 78 Mitchell Plateau
    (pp. 166-167)

    Australian birders have always visited the Mitchell Falls for the Black Grasswren. Since the Kimberley Honeyeater has been split from the White-lined, birders now have two special reasons to visit. In fact, there are many reasons to come here.

    Located in the far north of the rugged remote Kimberley, the Mitchell Plateau cannot be accessed by standard 2WD. Conventional wisdom is that you need 4WD because of all the deep creek crossings. We flew in by helicopter. From our base in Kununurra, we flew to the Mitchell Plateau in a Piper Cherokee. It took 65 minutes. Then a short helicopter...

  83. 79 Rutherglen
    (pp. 168-169)

    We were scheduled to leave for a few days in Rutherglen, when I received a newsletter from one of the wineries. ‘Greetings from soggy Rutherglen’, it began. I shrugged and resigned myself to getting wet feet. In Rutherglen, some things you can do from the car and some things you must do on foot.

    For example, you must walk around Lake King. This lake beside the caravan park is always worth exploring. Rutherglen is the only place in Victoria I know where I can get White-breasted Woodswallows. In summer they cluster high up in the river red gums in the...

  84. 80 Katherine
    (pp. 170-171)

    I first visited Katherine in 1982. I loved it then and I love it now. Of course, it helps that my father was stationed there during the Second World War and liked it so much he named me ‘Susan Katherine’.

    On that first visit, I noted in my diary that the weather was perfect, although it was hot overnight. I photographed the bower of a Great Bowerbird, did a cruise up the gorge and saw peregrines nesting high up on the sandstone cliffs. I made an unsuccessful search for bustards, but did manage to see Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Dollarbirds, Black Kites,...

  85. 81 Abattoir Swamp
    (pp. 172-173)

    What immediately comes to mind when I ponder Abattoir Swamp is not the swamp at all. It is Red-winged Parrots flying through the trees, honeyeaters in the car park, and Brown Quail scurrying to hide underneath the boardwalk on the way to the bird hide. When I was there last, the melaleucas were flowering and Yellow, White-throated and Lewin’s Honeyeaters were making the most of it.

    Abattoir Swamp Environmental Park gives its address as Julatten and is located on the Mossman to Mount Molloy Road in far north Queensland. It can call itself an environmental park as much as it...

  86. 82 Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
    (pp. 174-175)

    Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is 40 minutes’ drive south of Canberra. It is 54 square kilometres of wetlands, grasslands and woodlands, with lots of walking trails. There is an entry fee, but I paid it willingly just to see the cute little rock wallabies sunning themselves on the rocky hillside.

    Eastern Rosellas watched us drive through the gate and a Laughing Kookaburra chortled. Rog parked the car and a pair of Masked Lapwings took a tentative step in the other direction. Pacific Black Duck and Grey Teal swam on a small dam in front of us, while Australian Wood Duck loafed...

  87. 83 Wilsons Promontory National Park
    (pp. 176-177)

    Beautiful Firetails hop among the dense coastal heaths and White-bellied Sea-Eagles soar on the thermals above. The sea is blue; the sand is white. Huge brown and orange granite boulders shelter little private coves where Hooded Plovers run safely on the beach. Emus roam the plains and Little Wattlebirds squawk in the banksias.

    Wilsons Promontory National Park is the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland. Known affectionately as ‘The Prom’, the park is located 250 kilometres south-east of Melbourne via the South Gippsland Highway. Tidal River is one of Australia’s best beaches. The park is popular for bushwalking, camping, stunning...

  88. 84 Cootamundra
    (pp. 178-179)

    Sporting fans may think of Cootamundra as Don Bradman’s birthplace, gardeners probably view it as the home of the Cootamundra Wattle, but I regard it as a pleasant birding spot and, in particular, a good place to see Superb Parrots.

    I’ll never forget sitting at a picnic table in Albert Park in Cootamundra, innocently eating my lunch and suddenly becoming aware that there were lots of parrots roosting quietly in the large deciduous trees overhead. I put down my sandwich and inspected the birds. They were Superb Parrots. And superb they were, both in name and in appearance. It’s always...

  89. 85 Cowra
    (pp. 180-181)

    Cowra is four hours’ drive west of Sydney in central west New South Wales. If you call into the Cowra Information Centre, you can watch the hologram about the Japanese prisoner-of-war breakout in 1944, and you can pick up a brochure giving you a local bird list and detailed directions about how to get to all the best birding spots.

    Much of the land around Cowra is used for agriculture, but there is untouched remnant bush in Rosenberg and Neville State Forests and good birding also along Back Creek Travelling Stock Reserve and the Wyangala State Recreation Area. There are...

  90. 86 Royal National Park
    (pp. 182-183)

    In one day’s birding in summer in Royal National Park it is easy to clock up over 100 species. That’s pretty good. And they’re good birds, too. Birds like Superb Lyrebirds, Beautiful Firetails, Southern Emu-wrens and Tawnycrowned and Scarlet Honeyeaters.

    Royal is Australia’s oldest national park, proclaimed in 1879, an astounding 22 years before the Commonwealth of Australia was founded. Located 31 kilometres south of Sydney, the park provides 16 000 hectares of wonderful wilderness. It comprises a variety of habitats accommodating a variety of birds. There are tall open forest, heathland, rainforest, sandstone gullies, wetlands, including mangroves and mudflats,...

  91. 87 Winton Wetlands
    (pp. 184-185)

    Winton Wetlands has a most impressive bird list and if I had witnessed a few of its very special sightings, there’s no doubt it would be higher on my list of 100 sites than number 87. I’m thinking of birds such as Regent Honeyeaters, Australian Painted Snipe, Grey-crowned Babblers, Freckled Duck, Brolga and Lewin’s Rail. All beautiful birds seen at Winton Wetlands, but, unfortunately, not by me.

    Winton Wetlands, in north-east Victoria on the Hume Highway between Benalla and Wangaratta, comprises 3000 hectares of swamp surrounded by red gum and box grassy woodlands. That’s why the bird list is so...

  92. 88 Sale Common State Game Refuge
    (pp. 186-187)

    Swamps are great places for crakes, rails, bitterns and snipe. Of course, there are also ducks, swans, pelicans and cormorants. And herons and gallinules.

    Sale Common State Game Refuge is 300 hectares, of which 70 per cent is swamp. The rest is river red gum woodland and grassland. Sale is 260 kilometres east of Melbourne at the junction of the Princes and South Gippsland Highways. The common is adjacent to the South Gippsland Highway, where signs direct you to the entrance in a side street. There is a boardwalk through the swamp, two bird hides, and an attractive walking track...

  93. 89 Bronzewing Flora and Fauna Reserve
    (pp. 188-189)

    Bronzewing Flora and Fauna Reserve must be one of Victoria’s best kept birdy secrets. It is absent from many maps. There are no signs or obvious entry points. It is located on the Sunraysia Highway south of Ouyen. (Ouyen is 441 kilometres north-west of Melbourne and 100 kilometres south of Mildura.) The reserve comprises sandhills vegetated with low mallee eucalypts. The track is sandy and can be steep. A 4WD is essential.

    It is a very special place for me, as it’s where I saw my first Black-eared Miner. The total population of Black-eared Miners is about 500 birds, found...

  94. 90 Rottnest Island
    (pp. 190-191)

    Quokkas and king skinks, beaches and bicycles – that about sums up Rottnest Island, south of Perth in Western Australia. It is a very pleasant place to spend a summer’s day birding, and there’s always a chance of a Red-necked Phalarope, a Little Ringed Plover or a Long-toed Stint.

    You can get to Rottnest by ferry, either from Perth or from Fremantle. I remember seeing Brown Skuas from the ferry. You’ll probably also see Australasian Gannets and Eastern Osprey that nest on the island. You might see shearwaters (Wedge-tailed or maybe Little if you’re lucky) or a Yellow-nosed Albatross in winter....

  95. 91 Mount Field National Park
    (pp. 192-193)

    Mount Field National Park has much to offer birders. Here you can see 11 out of the 12 Tasmanian endemics, missing out only on Forty-spotted Pardalotes. You are bound to see Tasmanian Native-hens, Green Rosellas, Yellow Wattlebirds, Tasmanian Scrubwrens, Tasmanian Thornbills and Black Currawongs; they are all very common. With a little effort, you should manage the three other honeyeaters (Yellow-throated, Black-headed and Strong-billed) and the pretty little Dusky Robin too. This is also a great place for other sought-after species like Crescent Honeyeaters, Pink Robins and Beautiful Firetails. In the wet forest, you may see shy BassianThrush or hear...

  96. 92 Mogareeka Inlet
    (pp. 194-195)

    The mouth of the Bega River on the Sapphire Coast of southern New South Wales is known as Mogareeka Inlet. It is situated 5 kilometres north of Tathra, five hours south of Sydney on the Princes Highway, or two and a half hours south-west of Canberra on the Snowy Mountains Highway. The Bega River mouth is closed to the sea more often than it is open, 92 Jim providing much local controversy about whether or not it should be dredged.

    Mogareeka Inlet is a pleasant place to look for waders, bush birds and waterbirds.

    Perhaps the most exciting species seen...

  97. 93 Booderee National Park
    (pp. 196-197)

    Apart from the many inviting beaches and coves, there are two spots I particularly like to go birding in Booderee National Park. One is the Botanic Gardens; the other is Telegraph Creek Nature Trail.

    Booderee National Park is on Jervis Bay on the south coast of New South Wales, between Nowra and Ulladulla. It’s about three hours’ drive from either Sydney or Canberra. Entry fees apply. Eastern Bristlebirds are often seen on roadside verges in the park, hopping about happily, evidently unaware of their endangered status.

    The Booderee Botanic Gardens are the only Aboriginal-owned botanic gardens in Australia. They comprise...

  98. 94 Fitzroy Falls (Morton National Park)
    (pp. 198-199)

    Rog sat outside the cafe reading his newspaper. I was standing about 10 metres away, on the track to the main lookout over Fitzroy Falls. Between us a Superb Lyrebird scratched away at the leaf litter, unaware of our presence. I admired his beautiful tail and stared at his huge feet and willed Rog to turn around. But Rog was concentrating doggedly on the news of the day.

    I stood there for several minutes, enthralled, until the bird moved on. Then I went over and told Rog what he’d missed. He smiled at me indulgently and resumed reading his paper....

  99. 95 King Island
    (pp. 200-201)

    My notes tell me that my one and only trip to King Island was wet and depressing. My memory is another thing altogether. I remember being delighted at seeing Scrubtits, which are classified as critically endangered on King Island. I remember a huge flock of White-throated Needletails (no doubt explained by the storms) and an hilarious agricultural show where locals competed in gumboot tossing.

    King Island, which has an area of 1100 square kilometres and a population of 1700, is located in Bass Strait off the north-west tip of Tasmania, about halfway between Tasmania and the mainland.

    Because of this...

  100. 96 Flinders Ranges National Park
    (pp. 202-203)

    The Flinders Ranges are better known for spectacular scenery than for great birdwatching. When I think of the Flinders Ranges, I think of dry creekbeds lined with ancient river red gums, dramatic rugged mountain ranges and half a dozen euros peering inquisitively through the morning mist over a hillside covered with spinifex. But there are good birds here too. Red-capped Robins and Mallee Ringnecks are common. Galahs are so abundant we take them for granted. A soaring Wedge-tailed Eagle is a breathtaking sight no matter how often you see it. Of course, there are always Emus, Australian Magpies and Australian...

  101. 97 Clem Walton Park, Cloncurry
    (pp. 204-205)

    Clem Walton Park, north of Cloncurry in far north-west Queensland, is a very pretty spot. I’ve only been here once, but I would gladly come again. The birds were wonderful. Among other things, I remember counting 34 Caspian Terns along with nine Great Crested Grebes at one large dam. To see a single Caspian Tern or Great Crested Grebe is always good – birders don’t expect to see either of these species in flocks.

    We started the day in Cloncurry, entertained by the raucous rasping and hissing from a multitude of Spotted Bowerbirds. Then we admired Cloncurry Parrots, which are a...

  102. 98 Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne
    (pp. 206-207)

    The 363-hectare site which makes up the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne is about one-third native gardens and two-thirds untouched remnant bush. Cranbourne is 43 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. The gardens are on the corner of Ballarto Road and Botanic Drive, about 500 metres past the racecourse. Entry is free and the gardens are open from 9 am until 5 pm every day except Christmas Day and days of total fire ban. If you walk to Trig Point Lookout, you’ll have great views of Melbourne, Mount Macedon, Western Port and Port Phillip Bay.

    This is the place to go to see...

  103. 99 Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve
    (pp. 208-209)

    Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve in the Australian Capital Territory is a good spot to look for snipe and crakes and rails. They like to feed around the edges of the water where they can escape into the reeds if danger threatens. Buff-banded Rails are often seen; the rarer Lewin’s Rail is here too. Baillon’s, Spotless and Australian Spotted Crakes are all on the list. Latham’s Snipe visit between August and February. The Australian Painted Snipe frequents these wetlands also. These fascinating birds have sex role reversal: she’s the more brightly coloured, he’s smaller and duller. This means that he’s the...

  104. 100 Alice Springs sewage ponds
    (pp. 210-212)

    Local birders may be upset to see the Alice Springs sewage ponds last on my list. But let’s face it, when you have 100 sites, one of them has to be number 100. Last July, I set out to revisit these ponds, but soon heard that the plant was closed. So I returned home. Had I made it, and managed to see, say, a Grey Wagtail, or a Swinhoe’s Snipe, there is no doubt that the Alice Springs sewage ponds would have rocketed up my list. As it is, I did not.

    The Alice Springs sewage ponds (otherwise known as...

  105. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-214)
  106. Index
    (pp. 215-222)
  107. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-224)