I visited Australia for the first time both before and after a trip to PNG. Firstly, I spent 5 full days in June birding with Tom Tarrant in the Brisbane region, staying at Tom's house in Dayboro - a very pleasant and easy way of learning to identify Australian birds. We saw about 200 species, half of which were new to me. Then I spent 7 days around Cairns, before taking 3 days to drive south, via Townsville, to Mackay. Throughout this second period, except the first day, which had some influence on the itinerary and birding-time, and a major influence on where we stayed (as those who know me will realise). Finally, I had 24 hours around Sydney.
Sites in Australia are well-documented and so there is little point in me giving details other than for a few "new" features I noted. Neither do I have the time now to give a full log of my days. However, the following points may be of interest:-
1. The visit was in the austral winter: the climate was excellent, the best time of year for Queensland, but a few of the birds were missing, eg Paradise-Kingfisher and flycatchers, and others such as owls, Bristlebird and Noisy Pitta, quiet and difficult to detect.
2. Car hire was from Budget, the cheapest of the majors and fine, but more expensive (A$61 a day) than with local companies in Cairns such as Jolly Frog (from $45 a day, fax 070 31 1452) or Sam's (from $35 a day, fax 070 31 1206). The ceapest deals tend to be booked up early at this time of year (which is peak season in Queensland).
3. All the accommodation in Queensland was excellent: Coral Tree Inn, Cairns (popular) A$75 a double, fax 070 31 3064; Kingfisher Park Lodge, Julatten $85 a double (with self-catering facilities), or camp cheaply, tel 070 94 1263; Kookaburra Lodge, Yungaburra $45 a double, tel/fax 070 95 3222. You can also stay at John Squire's Cassowary House in prime birding habitat with Cassowary and Red-necked Rail in the garden - $85 (?), fax 070 93 7629. At Kingfisher Park you get free birding info and evening guided tours; John Squire will give info but charges for guiding; John Crowhurst (tel 514194) on Cairns Esplanade also gives free info and will possibly go out with you when he is free; Andy Anderson, tel/fax 070 32 3387, is a good professional guide at Cairns and may have stake-outs, eg for owls and Papuan Frogmouth.
4. In the past Barrier Reef trips were taken to Michaelmas Cay and Green Island. This combination is no longer available commercially, the alternative being Michaelmas Cay and Hastings Reef. We did this on MV "Seastar II" for the relatively cheap price of A$45 and were fully satisfied - book a couple of days ahead, eg through the very helpful Cairns Tourist Information Centre (who also handle car retals), 99 Esplanade - fax 070 51 9682.
5. We did Chris Dahlberg's Daintree River cruise - 2+ hours for $25, daily - a pleasant way to see crocadiles and some good birds including Great-billed Heron and Little Kingfisher. Kingfisher Park Lodge will book it for you. There is a ferry across the river at Daintree and by all accounts the route north to Cooktown is fairly spectacular, but 4-wheel drive is necessary; Cooktown is the southernmost limit of a number of Cape York specialities.
6. I drove from Cairns to Yungaburra at first light on the Atherton Highway and stopped after 82km around the highest point of the road through the Gillies Range. Birding was good along the roadside, with Chowchilla, Fernwren, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Wampoo Fruit-Dove, Bower's Shrike-Thrush and Tooth-billed Catbird. I also found Townsville Environmental Park to be worthwhile, despite all the water having been dried up for years (rendering the hides useless), with Painted Button-Quail, Brolga, Little Kingfisher, Great Bowerbird, Jacky-winter, Hooded Robin, Black-faced Woodswallow, White-winged Triller, Brown Songlark, and Plum-headed and Zebra Finches.
(a) Brisbane region, South Queensland
June 10 Samsonvale (Dayboro)
11 Mount Glorious and Mount Nebo (Brisbane Forest Park)
12 Mount Glorious, Wivenhoe Dam, Helidon stockyard, Broadwater Lake (Dalby), Atkinsons Dam
13 Brisbane city: Sherwood Forest Park, Doboy / Murarrie, Lytton, Manley harbour, Lota, Slaughter Falls, Mount Coot-tha, Bell Miner Grove, Mount Nebo
14 O'Reilly's, Lamington NP
15 Bullocky Rest (Samsonvale Dam), Nudgee Beach (Brisbane airport); flight to Port Moresby.
(b) Daintree - Townsville, North Queensland
July 14 Atherton Tablelands: Gillies Range, Lake Barrine, Lake Tinaroo, Lake Eacham, Cathedral Fig Tree; Edmonton, Cairns (Mangrove boardwalk); night at Kookaburra Lodge, Yungaburra
15 Atherton Tablelands: Lake Tinaroo, Bromfield Swamp, Crater NP, Lake Eacham, Big Mitchell Creek, Pickford Road (Mareeba); Kookaburra Lodge
16 Centenary Lakes, Cairns, Julatten; night at Kingfisher Park Lodge, Julatten
17 Kingfisher Park, Mount Lewis, Abbattoir Swamp, Mount Malloy, Mary Farms, Mount Carbine, Kingfisher Park
18 Daintree River, Port Douglas, Cairns; night at Coral Tree Inn
19 Michaelmas Cay and Hasting's Reef (Great Barrier Reef); Coral Tree Inn
20 Black Mountain Road (Kuranda), Pickford Road, Lake Tinaroo; Kookaburra Lodge
21 Hasties Swamp, Herberton, Crater NP, Bromfield Swamp, Licuala Forest (Mission Beach), Townsville; night at Sea Gulls Resort
22 Townsville Environmental Park, Magnetic Island; Sea Gulls Resort
23 Townsville Environmental Park, Cape Hillsborough NP; night in Mackay
(c) Sydney region, New South Wales
July 24 Flew to Sydney, arriving ; drove north up Route 1, stopping at "overlook" south of Gosford turn, Cockle Bay Nature Reserve, Gosford and Norah Head; night at Hostel on Glebe Street, Sydney.
25 06.30-11.30 Royal National Park; flight to Buenos Aires.
Names in bold type are new sp. for JH, in brackets are heard only.
Southern Cassowary, Australasian Grebe, Hoary-headed Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-browed Albatross, Fairy Prion, Great Frigatebird, Australian Gannet, Brown Booby
Little Pied Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Australian Darter
Australian Pelican, Plumed Whistling-Duck, Wandering Whistling-Duck, Magpie Goose
Black Swan, Green Pygmy-goose, Maned Duck, Grey Teal, Chestnut Teal, Pacific Black Duck
Australian Shoveler, White-eyed Duck/Hardhead, Pink-eared Duck, White-faced Heron
Little Egret, Pacific Reef-Egret, Intermediate Egret, Pacific Heron, Great-billed Heron, Great Egret
Cattle Egret, Striated Heron, Glossy Ibis, Australian Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis, Royal Spoonbill
Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Black-necked Stork, Osprey, Pacific Baza, Australian Kite
Square-tailed Kite, Black-breasted Kite, Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Brahminy Kite
White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Swamp Harrier, Spotted Harrier, Grey Goshawk, Brown Goshawk
Collared Sparrowhawk, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Falcon, Australian Kestrel, Australian Hobby
Peregrine Falcon, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Australian Brush-turkey, Brown Quail, [Blue-breasted Quail], Painted Buttonquail, Red-necked Crake, Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Sarus Crane, Brolga, Australian Bustard, Comb-crested Jacana, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel
Far Eastern Curlew, Common Greenshank, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone
Great Knot, Rufous-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Bush Thick-knee, Beach Thick-knee
Pied Oystercatcher, Sooty Oystercatcher, White-headed Stilt, Australian Pratincole
Asian Golden-Plover, Red-capped Plover, Double-banded Plover, Red-kneed Dotterel
Black-fronted Dotterel, Masked Lapwing, Silver Gull, Kelp Gull, Whiskered Tern
Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Great Crested-Tern, Black-naped Tern, Common Tern, Bridled Tern
Sooty Tern, Brown Noddy, Black Noddy, Feral Pigeon, White-headed Pigeon, Spotted Dove
Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Emerald Dove, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon, Peaceful Dove
Bar-shouldered Dove, Wonga Pigeon, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Superb Fruit-Dove, Topknot Pigeon
Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Australian King-Parrot, Red-winged Parrot, Crimson Rosella
Pale-headed Rosella, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Galah
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Little Corella, Cockatiel, Rainbow Lorikeet, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet
Little Lorikeet, [Brush Cuckoo], Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, [Australian Koel]
Pheasant Coucal, Barn Owl, Southern Boobook, Tawny Frogmouth, [Australian Owlet-Nightjar]
White-throated Nightjar, Austln/White-rumped Swiftlet, Azure Kingfisher, Little Kingfisher
Laughing Kookaburra, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Forest Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher
Sacred Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater, White-throated Treecreeper, Red-browed Treecreeper
[Albert's Lyrebird], Superb Lyrebird, Spotted Catbird, Green Catbird, Tooth-billed Catbird
Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Great Bowerbird, Red-backed Fairywren, Superb Fairywren, Variegated Fairywren, Lovely Fairywren, Spotted Pardalote, Striated Pardalote
Rock Warbler, Fernwren, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, White-browed Scrubwren
Atherton Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren, Speckled Warbler, Buff-rumped Thornbill
Mountain Thornbill, Brown Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Yellow Thornbill
Striated Thornbill, Weebill, Fairy Gerygone, White-throated Gerygone, Large-billed Gerygone
Brown Gerygone, Mangrove Gerygone, Brown Honeyeater, Dusky Myzomela, Scarlet Myzomela
Graceful Honeyeater, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Lewin's Honeyeater, Bridled Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Varied Honeyeater, Mangrove Honeyeater, Yellow Honeyeater
Fuscous Honeyeater, White-plumed Honeyeater, Macleay Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater
White-throated Honeyeater, Little Friarbird, Helmeted Friarbird, Noisy Friarbird, New Holland Honeyeater, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Striped Honeyeater
Regent Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Bell Miner, Noisy Miner
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Little Wattlebird, Red Wattlebird, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
Jacky-winter, Red-capped Robin, Rose Robin, Hooded Robin, Pale-yellow Robin
Yellow Robin, White-browed Robin, Grey-headed Robin, Varied Sitella, Crested Shrike-tit
Grey Whistler, Golden Whistler, Rufous Whistler, Bower's Shrike-Thrush, Rufous/Little Shrike-Thrush, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Logrunner, Chowchilla, Grey-crowned Babbler, Eastern Whipbird
White-winged Chough, Apostlebird, Willie-wagtail, Grey Fantail, Rufous Fantail
Spectacled Monarch, Leaden Flycatcher, Restless Flycatcher, Shining Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Spangled Drongo, Torresian Crow, Australian Raven, Paradise Riflebird
Victoria's Riflebird, White-breasted Woodswallow, Black-faced Woodswallow, Grey Butcherbird
Pied Butcherbird, Black Butcherbird, Australasian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Magpie-lark
Olive-backed Oriole, Green/ Yellow Oriole, Green Figbird, Ground Cuckoo-shrike
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Yellow-eyed Cuckoo-shrike, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
White-winged Triller, Varied Triller, Olive-tailed Thrush, Metallic Starling, Common Starling
Common Myna, Barn Swallow, Welcome Swallow, Tree Martin, Fairy Martin, Silver-eye
Golden-headed Cisticola, Australian Reed-Warbler, Tawny Grassbird, Little Grassbird
Australasian Bushlark, [Rufous Songlark], Brown Songlark, House Sparrow, Red-browed Firetail
Plum-headed Finch, Zebra Finch, Double-barred Finch, Chestnut-breasted Munia
Australasian Pipit, Mistletoebird, Olive-backed Sunbird