If somebody tells you Queensland is for the birds, you’d better believe it. Much of the tweeting done in the state is not on the internet, it’s in the bush and rainforest.
Australia’s sunshine state, with habitats which range from desert and savannah to temperate and tropical rainforest, mangroves and mulga, is a birdwatchers paradise. Some 815 bird species call Australia home, with more than 630 of them found in habitats across Queensland, including 22 species of birds which can only be found in that state.
It’s not surprising then that Queensland offers a range of opportunities for both passionate and part-time birdwatchers. The wide range of tweet spots for bird watching generally fall in national parks and one place close to the hearts of many Queenslanders is O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, located in the Gold Coast Hinterland. The wildlife retreat has been offering bird feeding and guided bird walks for decades and hosts Australia’s longest running birding event, O’Reilly’s Bird Week, annually held in November since 1978.
The 37th annual Bird Week, held from November 2 – 9 this year, will feature a number of guest speakers, along with local guides including Tim O’Reilly, Glen Threlfo, Ian Gynther, Bill McDonald and Duncan Fowler. The daily exploration of habitats in beautiful Lamington National Park is a must for everyone from passionate birdwatchers to keen bushwalkers and casual strollers. And it’s very much a family affair.
O’Reilly’s guesthouse is set in the midst of world-heritage listed rainforest and you won’t have to walk far to see some of the more than 160 species of sub-tropical birds which live there, including regent and satin bowerbirds, green catbirds, crimson rosellas and king parrots, Lewin’s honeyeaters, eastern spinebills, fairy wrens and brush turkeys.
In the deeper rainforest you can see the more elusive Albert’s lyrebird, noisy pitas, paradise riflebirds, the Rufous scrub bird and the olive whistler. Add to that list longrunners, yellow-throated and white-browed scrubwrens, whipbirds, golden whistlers, eastern yellow robins, black-faced monarchs, Rufous fantails and rose robins. Birdwatching by day, you can spot predators of the air including the grey goshawk, collared sparrowhawk, peregrine falcon and the wedge-tailed eagle and on a guided night walk, nocturnal hunters including the tawny frogmouth and boobook owl, the marbled frogmouth and sooty owl.
Other top spots for bird watching in Queensland include:
Lady Elliot Island
This beautiful little island on the Southern Great Barrier Reef was once mined for guano and is home to species including the bridled tern, buff banded rail, crested tern, red-tailed tropic bird and the white-capped noddy.
A breeding and nesting sanctuary on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, the island is closed for a month every year due to the explosion in the bird population. Here you will see a profusion of bird and marine life, everything from nesting turtles to a wide variety of birds including black noddy terns and wedgetail shearwaters.
Located in Crater Lakes National Park near Mareeba in Tropical North Queensland, Lake Eachman is home to more than 180 species of birds, including the ever-present Australian brush turkey and more elusive species like grey-headed robins, Victorian riflebirds and Eastern whipbirds.
Wongaloo Conservation Park
This 1770 hectare wetlands near Giru, 30 minutes south of Townsville, known as the Cromarty Wetlands, is a magnet for brolga and magpie geese. The former cattle station, which adjoins the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, is part of one of the largest wetland complexes in eastern Australia.
Whitsunday Islands National Park
The Whitsunday Islands are a popular habitat for a wide variety of breeding and predatory birds. Here you will find migratory waders on the waters’ edge, curlews above the high-tide mark and scrub fowl and bush turkeys further inland.
Conway National Park
Also in the Whitsunday region, Conway National Park east of Proserpine is Queensland’s largest area of lowland tropical rainforest outside of Tropical North Queensland. It is home to the continent’s largest mound-building birds, the Australian brush turkey and the orange-footed scrub fowl.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast is a Queensland family institution, where families flock to have photos taken of the kids with parrots and lorikeets perched on their heads and shoulders. The longstanding interactive bird experience now includes a world-class free flight bird show.
Eungella National Park
Eungella, in the Mackay Hinterland region, is most noted as a popular park in which to spot the elusive platypus but it is also home to some impressive birdlife. Some 225 bird species live here, including the rare Eungella honey eater.
Located in Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland, Binna Burra Lodge is home to beautiful bird species including the bee-eater, white browed scrub wren, king parrot, kookaburra, rainbow lorikeet and crimson rosella.
Lake Bindegolly, west of Cunnamulla in Outback Queensland, is home to 195 species of birds including swans, pelicans and the threatened freckled duck. In the scrub country around the lake you can spot parrots, galahs, cockatoos, honeyeaters and fairy wrens.
Currawinya National Park
Also in Outback Queensland’s south-west region, Currawinya National Park is home to more than 200 species of birds, including the Major Mitchell cockatoo and a variety of waterbirds including migratory waders.
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