This post is brought to you in partnership with Australian Wildlife Journeys. But our opinions remain our own, and we will never compromise the integrity of our responsible travel mission.
The continent of Australia (a.k.a. “the Land Down Under”) is legendary for its wildlife.
Dangerous critters like crocodiles and venomous snakes get a lot of press, but there are also cuddly critters such as kangaroos, koalas, and quokkas.
But let’s not forget that the continent is also home to an incredible array of native and endemic Australian birds that should excite birdwatchers all around the world.
With habitats ranging from lush tropical rainforests and temperate riverine ecosystems to the hyper-arid interior deserts, the birds of Australia are diverse and fairly easy to find.
Many common Australian birds are exotic to visitors. Everyday Australian native birds include Pink Cockatoos, laughing Kookaburras, and Rainbow Lorikeets. Water birds like the Australian Ibis and the Australasian Swamphen are fun to spot as well.
The Australia bird guide has some familiar names, including 11 species of Australian owls and an Australian Bush Turkey. There are over 20 different species of Australian pigeons, some of which are incredibly vibrant!
In other words, birdwatching in Australia can be a rich experience for amateur bird enthusiasts, and a highly rewarding trip for serious birders with a checklist to fill out.
Read on for our guide to 7 incredible trips centered around watching birds and other Australian animals, which was created in partnership with Australian Wildlife Journeys, a collective of local eco-tour operators.
Birdwatching in Australia Guide
- Bremer Bay
- Eyre Peninsula
- Far North Queensland
- Kakadu National Park
- Mungo National Park
- Murray River
- Tasmania Mt Field National Park/Cradle Mountain National Park
1. Birdwatching in Bremer Bay
Bremer Bay, which is home to the underwater Bremer Canyon, has the distinction of being one place in Australia where visitors can regularly encounter Orcas (a.k.a. Killer Whales).
There are loads of other aquatic mammals to see there, including three types of dolphins, three types of whales, Australian Sea Lions, and New Zealand Fur Seals.
The area is also an amazing place for pelagic bird watching in Australia. Local birds like Flesh-footed Shearwaters and Great-winged Petrels are commonly seen.
As for migratory sea birds, there are a number of albatross species, including the Yellow-nosed, Black-browed, Shy, Amsterdam, and Chatham Albatross.
Experienced guides can help with Australian bird identification challenges, recognizing behaviors that are peculiar to each bird species in order to ID them.
For example, Storm Petrels tend to patter across the top of the water as if walking on it, giving them the nickname “Jesus birds.”
Naturaliste Charters offers an 8-hour Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expedition, with an eye out for large mammals as well as seabirds.
Every tour is led by an accredited marine biologist, and Orcas are spotted a whopping 95% of the time!
2. Birdwatching in Eyre Peninsula
When you think of coastal Australia, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Great White Sharks and Humpback Whales (not to mention the Great Barrier Reef).
But let’s not forget the hundreds of Australian bird species that can be seen there, particularly along the Southern Eyre Peninsula.
The Eyre Peninsula is the seafood hub of Australia, with prize catches like Green-lipped Abalone, Scallops, Prawns, and Oysters. It’s also got big fish and sea mammals, plus some 270 species of Aussie birds enjoying all this aquatic bounty.
The shrublands, coastal dunes, sandflats, salt marshes, and clifftops of the Eyre Peninsula are home to sea birds such as Osprey, White-bellied Sea Eagles, as well as various other raptors. There are also myriad ducks, cormorants, and oystercatchers.
Further inland, birds such and Parrots, Blue-breasted Fairy Wrens, Emus, Western Yellow Robins, and more find their homes in the bushes and rocks.
Australia Coastal Safaris hosts 3-day, 2-night tours known as the “Southern Eyre Peninsula Birdwatching” charter.
These tours also include Mikkira Station, where Australian birds and wild Koalas are plentiful, as well as a trip to Coffin Bay for fresh oysters and a wildlife cruise.
3. Birdwatching in Far North Queensland
Far North Queensland is home to the world’s oldest rainforest, which is protected as Daintree Rainforest National Park.
It also has some serious natural beauty in the Atherton Tablelands, Crater Lakes, and Cape Tribulation.
Birds of Australia highlights in this region include Fruit Doves, Bowerbirds, Kingfishers, Riflebirds, Parrots, and Cockatoos. The area is also home to the endangered Southern Cassowary.
In addition to birds, Northern Queensland is an all-around winner for spotting wildlife. It has the most mammal diversity on the continent, not to mention Saltwater Crocs, Boyd’s Forest Dragons, crazy frogs, and electric blue Ulysses Butterflies.
FNQ Nature Tours offers a 10-hour Tropical Wetlands Birdwatching expedition to Shared Earth Reserves on Cape York.
It has some 5,000 acres of lakes, swamps, creeks, and old-growth savanna woodland with more than 450 bird species, which is more than half the total number of Australian bird species!
4. Birdwatching in Kakadu National Park
Located in the Northern Territory of Australia, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is the second largest of all national parks in Australia.
These parklands are still largely owned by the Aboriginal people, and are home to 19 different clan groups. This region has been occupied by Aboriginal people for more than 65,000 years.
The park maintains an impressive concentration of over 280 species of birds in its estuaries, wetlands, woodlands, and rainforest. About one-third of Australia’s bird species can be found here.
Iconic species you may see during your visit include Magpie Geese, Black-necked Storks, Brolga, Wandering Whistling Ducks, Azure and Forest Kingfishers, White-bellied Sea Eagles, and more.
Rare species such as the endangered Gouldian Finch, Red Goshawk, Partridge Pigeon, Hooded Parrot, and Rainbow Pitta are other highlights to look for in the park.
Lords Kakadu & Arnhemland Safaris features three-day, two-night private charters for their Kakadu Birding Tour. It explores floodplains, paper bark swamps, savannah woodlands, monsoonal rainforests, and river mangroves for primo bird spotting.
5. Birdwatching in Mungo National Park
Mungo National Park is part of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Region.
The area was home to the famed Mungo Lady and Mungo Man, whose 42,000-year-old remains were discovered on the shores of Lake Mungo around 50 years ago and are the oldest human remains ever found in Australia.
Part of New South Wales, this huge slice of the Aussie Outback is teeming with Kangaroos and Emus, the National Bird of Australia.
The red sand dunes, ecosystems surrounding the Murray and Darling Rivers, and arid landscape around Lake Mungo are home to a very special collection of wildlife and birds.
Pink cockatoos in this area can steal the show, as they move about in huge flocks. There are also several species of parrots, including Mulga, Red-rumped, Blue-bonnets, and Mallee Ring-necked Parrots.
The endemic Chestnut-crowned Babbler is another avian highlight. Meanwhile, raptors like the Wedge-tail Eagle are keeping an eye out for lizards basking on the rocks below.
Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours hosts 4-day, 3-night Private Mungo Outback Journeys around the Murray-Darling River and Lake Mungo ecosystems.
Travelers also get a chance to help keep track of Australian birds and other wildlife by recording encounters for Citizen Science wildlife conservation efforts.
6. Birdwatching in Murray River
Stretching over 2,500 kilometers (1,550+ miles), the Murray River is Australia’s longest.
It runs through the southeastern corner of the continent, starting in the Australian Alps and forming the border between Victoria and New South Wales.
The river’s ecosystems center around floodplains and riverine forests, and the place is practically teeming with wildlife.
Endemic Australian animals like Wallabies, Wombats, Kangaroos, Koalas, and Echidnas are all found along the banks of the river.
As with most waterways, birds also love the Murray River. Australian Pelicans, Black Swans, and Royal Spoonbills are some great water birds to spot. Other avian species spotted there include Parrots, Honeyeaters, Rainbow Bee-eaters, and Kites.
Murray River Trails has an amazing Murray River Safari that allows visitors to explore the river and see its wildlife. Tours include canoeing the backwaters, guided walks, an outback drive, and a pontoon cruise.
The hub for the trip is a luxury houseboat, where guests enjoy upscale catered dinners and local Australian wines.
7. Birdwatching in Tasmania (Mt Field National Park/Cradle Mountain National Park)
For serious birdwatchers, birding tours of Australia should really include a trip down to Tasmania.
The terrain (getting to alpine) and climate (there’s an ice cap!) shifts so dramatically here that more than 60% of the area’s animals are found nowhere else in the world!
Of the 260+ species of birds on the island, there are 12 Australian birds endemic to Tasmania.
This includes three types of Honeyeaters, the Scrubtit, the Tasmanian Scrub Wren, and the Tasmanian Thornbill. The Tasmanian Native Hen is a wild version of domestic hens, and the Green Rosella is a uniquely Tasmanian parrot species.
Tasmania also has a denser collection of wetlands than any other Australian state.
That means there are plenty of water birds to see, including Pied Oystercatchers, White-faced Herons, Pacific Black Ducks, and more.Along the coastline, Black-browed Albatross and even Penguins are possible sightings.
Mt Field is home to 11 of the uniquely Tasmanian bird species. The Wild West tour includes a trip to Cradle Mountain National Park, as well as exploring the alpine region and west coast.
Birding in these wild locations offers the opportunity to see hundreds of Australian bird species, so you’ll have plenty of time behind the binoculars! -by Jonathon Engels, featured image via Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours