Prices, Dates & Details:
Two departures in 2021 on these dates:
14 to 17 March
11 to 14 September
Minimum age for this tour is 13 years. Parties with younger children may request a private tour.
Location: Cairns, Queensland
Duration: 4 Days, 3 nights with optional 5th day Full Itinerary here
Group Size – Maximum 10 adults Minimum 6 adults
Departs: 14 March and 11 September 2021. Departure from Cairns Qld. Plan to arrive, at the latest, the day before departure. Private tours can be arranged anytime from March to end September. Depending on Covid-19 restrictions other departures are planned for February 2021 but with different highlights.
Returns: 17 March or 14 September to Cairns. Plan to depart the day after the tour returns unless you take the optional Day 5.
Note: this conservation experience is run in partnership with local operators FNQ Nature Tours. We highly recommend this professional and conservation-minded operator, so even if you can’t join us on this one-off experience, please consider booking a nature or birding trip with them.
North Queensland Wildlife
The rainforests, savannahs and wetlands of North Queensland are very rich in birds, mammals and reptiles.
On this tour we are likely to see:
MAMMALS: Platypus, Spectacled Flying-fox, Agile Wallaby, Mareeba Rock-wallaby, Musky Rat-Kangaroo, Red-legged Pademelon, Green Ringtail, Sugar Glider and possibly Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo. Read about some of the mammals of FNQ here.
REPTILES & FROGS: Boyd’s Forest Dragon, Freshwater and Saltwater Crocodiles, Eastern Water Dragon, Spotted Tree Monitor, Australian Scrub Python and/or Jungle Carpet Python and perhaps a Frill-necked Lizard. White-lipped Tree Frog, Green-eyed Tree Frog, Green Tree Frog are all possible.
BIRDS: Forest, Azure and Little Kingfisher, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Metallic Starling, Brolga, Wompoo Fruit-dove, Yellow Honeyeater, Spectacled & Pied Monarch, Bower’s Shrikethrush, Chowchilla, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Great-billed Heron, Barred Cuckooshrike, Olive-backed Sunbird and possibly a Southern Cassowary, Sarus Crane, and Grey-headed Robin.
All Echidna Walkabout’s tours include opportunities to help the conservation of wildlife and to ensure the natural environment that supports wildlife remains healthy. Read more about what we do here.
We also work to improve understanding of the impacts of climate change and other human-induced changes to our environment. We aim to ensure that wildlife thrives in Australia and elsewhere in the world. Citizen Science can play a significant role to provide scientists with data. Here is one example that relied heavily on Echidna Walkabout’s research carried out on our tours in the You Yangs near Melbourne, Victoria. The news from this story continues to resonate around the world.
This Quolls & Birds of Far North Queensland tour offers opportunities to experience and document threatened wildlife in a near pristine environment doing the following:
Spotted-tail Quoll Survey: Working alongside and assisting AQC scientists understand the conservation needs of these endangered native Australian carnivores.
Bird surveys: On all our walks we will monitor and document all birds we observe and upload our sightings to eBird. This citizen science database is heavily used by scientists and land managers.
For the whole trip, you are helping wildlife: your Wildlife Guide records all species seen and uploads this data to online atlases for wildlife conservation purposes. All observations of reptiles, mammals and butterflies will be submitted to iNaturalist.
These activities are completely optional, no obligation and take up very little time. All guests who provide their email address will receive a certificate of thanks, and will be provided with use of all equipment necessary to perform the tasks.
What to bring:
Strong walking shoes or boots, outdoor clothing to suit variable weather conditions (please check weather forecast for accurate predictions), sun hat, rainproof coat, small torch (flashlight), insect repellent, min 15+ sunscreen, daypack and 1 litre re-usable water bottle. Camera and binoculars are recommended. You should also bring swimming gear.
As space is limited please keep luggage to 1 duffel bag OR 1 backpack OR 1 small suitcase per person.
Drinking Water: Tap water is completely safe and drinkable and available at the accommodation on this trip, and a large fresh storage is carried on board the vehicle each day. We recommend you bring a re-usable water bottle which we can refill during the day. If you don’t like to drink tap water we highly recommend you bring a filter to reduce plastic waste.
Full interpretation by an experienced Wildlife Guide, all transport, meals and accommodation as described below and entry fees.
Notes: Wildlife and natural history notes will be provided to guests at beginning of this tour
Expert Wildlife Guides: Echidna Walkabout’s Wildlife Guides are recognised as some of the best in Australia. Our Wildlife Guide training program ensures that all Guides have an in-depth knowledge of the wildlife and environments you will see.They are friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about wildlife – some of them have over 20 years experience working with wild animals, several are volunteer wildlife carers and rescuers and most have travelled extensively throughout Australia and the world.
Many hours of wildlife research work precede the tour to ensure that you see and learn about native wildlife in its natural environment. Guides carry mobile phones which link them to other Wildlife Guides and to emergency services. Guest safety is of paramount importance to us.
Accommodation: 1 night at Daintree Eco-lodge, 2 nights at Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodge are included. Rooms are twin share or double.
Boat Cruise: two boat cruises are included in the price.
Meals on tour: All meals are included unless stated otherwise. NB Vegetarian, gluten-free, pork-free or other food preferences should be noted at the time of booking. Some meals are carried on board the vehicle, or ordered in advance. We can only cater for allergies and special food preferences that we are informed of in advance.
Easy walking: Although this tour is mostly vehicle based, most of the day is spent outside the vehicle on a number of easy, flat terrain, bushwalks so that you can get close to nature. Passengers must be able to walk unassisted at least 3km (2miles) on uneven dirt surfaces to ensure wildlife sightings. There may be up to 3 walks of this duration during each day.
Transport: In our comfortable air conditioned vehicle.
Latest News from FNQ
An article about ecology, life history and distribution of Dasyurus maculatus, why they are declining and what to do about it.
High on a mossy branch, the bird watched me bumbling about on the rainforest track below. The light in a far North Queensland tropical rainforest is both brilliant and muted. You walk in near darkness, peering into shadows, to be dazzled by a beam of pure white...
a list of some native mammals we are likely to see and help on a new conservation trip to far North Queensland.
Explore Far North Queensland, a tropical haven of ancient rainforests, savannah and woodlands with an abundance of Australian wildlife and plants.
The Daintree Forest is 1200 square kilometres and believed to be 180 – 135 million years old, the oldest continually-surviving tropical rainforest in the world.
Get exclusive access to the Forever Wild Tropical Wetlands Shared Earth Reserve, a landscape of old growth savannah woodlands, lakes, swamps and creeks.
Contribute to a conservation and research project surveying threatened Spot-tailed Quolls at Danbulla or Mt Lewis NPs.
This tour is run in partnership with local operator FNQ Nature Tours who shares Echidna Walkabout’s mission to help nature while enjoying it.
Day 1 – Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation, Great Barrier Reef Drive
Head north from Cairns on the scenic Great Barrier Reef Drive. Learn about unique habitats and observe the changes in biodiversity as we get closer to the Daintree tropical rainforest, part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The Daintree is an ancient tropical rainforest spanning 120,000 hectares, the largest tropical rainforest in Australia.
We walk the Jindalba nature trail, for magnificent scenery and plentiful wildlife. We search for Southern Cassowary, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Spectacled Monarch, Spotted Catbird, Pale-yellow Robin & Boyd’s Forest Dragon.
Lunch – WHET Restaurant set in tropical jungle with a casual atmosphere.
Our second walk for the day follows the pretty Oliver Creek. This walk passes through a range of fascinating plantlife including a stunning hollowed-out strangler fig, a cluster of giant fan palms, some paperbark and pandanus trees, before opening into diverse and interesting mangroves. This rainforest to mangrove ecotone is incredibly diverse. We have a chance of spotting Azure Kingfisher, Shining Flycatcher, Black Butcherbird, Mangrove crabs, Golden Orb Spider and Boyd’s Forest Dragon.
We highly recommend a swim in the azure waters of Emmagen Creek before dinner.
Dinner – we’ll dine tonight at eco-friendly Heritage Lodge.
After dinner check in at nearby Daintree Eco-Lodge, situated in the heart of magnificent rainforest.
Accommodation: Daintree Eco-lodge
Meals included: Lunch & dinner (Breakfast not included)
Day 2 – Crocodiles on the Daintree River, Forever Wild Shared Earth Reserve
We start early to maximise our wildlife viewing on the Daintree River. A short drive of 30 minutes will have us at our cruise location.
Private Daintree Cruise
Cruise the Daintree River with the dawn light, spotting wildlife on a quiet, clean solar electric boat with zero impact on the environment. On this private two hour cruise photograph wild Saltwater Crocodiles, Green Tree Pythons, Spectacled Flying-Fox and birds including Great-billed Heron, Pacific Baza, Papuan Frogmouth, Large-billed Gerygone, Olive-backed Sunbird and possibly Noisy Pitta, Black Bittern or Barred Cuckooshrike.
Lunch – at the Highlander Tavern, located in the mountains of the Port Douglas Hinterlands
We spend the afternoon on the Forever Wild Shared Earth Reserve. Here we will survey for birds, including the threatened Black-throated Finch. Sightings of Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Grey-crowned Babbler, White-throated Gerygone, Yellow Honeyeater, Red-backed Fairywren, Great Bowerbird, Pale-headed Rosella, Red-winged Parrot, Black-necked Stork (Jabiru) and Brolga are likely, and possibly even Sarus Crane! The reserve is also home to Agile Wallabies, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Common Wallaroos, some spectacular dragonflies including Graphic Flutterer and Scarlet Percher, and even the famous Frilled (Frill-necked) Lizard!
Check in at Chambers Wildlife Lodge for two nights. Hidden in 1200 acres of Lake Eacham’s highland rainforest in the beautiful Waterfalls and Crater Lakes district of the Atherton Tablelands, and pioneers in eco-tourism. The lodge focusses on birdwatchers, wildlife enthusiasts, naturalists and photographers.
Accommodation: Chambers Wildlife Lodge (2 nights)
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 3 – Spot-tailed Quoll Research
Work alongside expert quoll researchers Justin McMahon and Alberto Vale, checking camera traps, documenting food sources and locations of Spotted-tailed Quolls. We will be entering research locations not accessible to the public. The chance of seeing quolls is very low (they are nocturnal, and we will be there in daytime), but our participation in the study will provide valuable data and funding. You will learn so much about them on the day that your chances of seeing them in future are increased. Alberto and Justin are the region’s leading experts on Spotted-tailed Quolls. Their research has resulted in 8 publications in the last 2 years.
About Spot-tailed (Tiger) Quolls:
- The Spot-tailed Quoll Dasyurus maculatus is one of the largest carnivorous marsupials in the world,
- Spot-tailed Quoll subspecies gracilis of North Queensland is now critically low and at real risk of extinction,
- This subspecies of quoll is genetically distinct from other Tiger Quolls, and has suffered an estimated 20% loss of geographic range in recent years,
- Recommended conservation actions for this subspecies include rigorous monitoring at known sites, surveying for unknown populations, and relocations into historic sites,
- We will be working with researchers and a not for profit that are taking action on the recommendations.
About the Australian Quoll Conservancy (AQC)
The Australian Quoll Conservancy are a new not for profit, active in North Queensland and Victoria. They use non-invasive monitoring methods and aim to increase awareness of the quoll species of Australia, all of which are threatened.
How does this trip contribute to Quoll Conservation? See above, and also:
- This portion of the tour is not-for-profit with ALL proceeds going directly to AQC.
- Extra contributions are welcomed; a thermal imaging camera and new computer GPS system are needed.
- You will also gain exclusive access to social media images and content as a result of your visit. Your Guide will provide more information.
Back to Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodge. Take a rest in preparation for the night walk or explore the beautiful surrounds of Chambers Wildlife Lodge. There are several walks available at the Lodge where you might find birds such as the Eastern Whipbird, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Peaceful Dove and Australian Brush Turkeys.
A wildlife tour in Far North Queensland is not complete without a night walk to experience the overall diversity of wildlife in the Wet Tropics. Seeing wildlife in the daytime is just the start – most mammals and some reptiles have adopted a nocturnal lifestyle to avoid the heat of the day in the tropical climate. Observations may include the Lemuroid Possum, Green Ringtail Possum, Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo, Green-eyed Tree Frog, Leaf-tailed Gecko or perhaps Platypus. We will also be on the lookout for signs of Tiger Quolls!
Accommodation: Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodge (2nd night)
Meals included: breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 4 – Lake Barrine, Yungaburra & Cairns
Optional birding at famous Hasties Swamp. This large seasonal wetland is famous amongst birders for its range of resident and migratory birds. Over 260 species have been recorded. With a large bird hide, you will have excellent waterbird viewing and photography opportunities. Sightings may include Magpie Geese, Comb-crested Jacana, Intermediate Egret, Plumed Whistling-duck and possibly Latham’s Snipe. Bush birds could include Scarlet, Brown & White-cheeked Honeyeater and many others.
After Hasties Swamp we take a walk at Lake Barrine. Several walks are available offering great wildlife and bird watching opportunities, varying from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Birds such as Bower’s Shrikethrush, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Pied Monarch and Chowchilla are regularly seen, and occasionally a Southern Cassowary. Reptiles could include Eastern Water Dragon, Spotted Tree Monitor, Boyd’s Forest Dragon and Eastern Saw-shelled Turtle. Musky Rat-Kangaroo and Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo are also possible. Afterwards, we will toast our wildlife spotting achievements over some local tea or coffee at the famous Tea House.
We take a cruise on the lake to spot reptiles such as Jungle Carpet and Australian Scrub Pythons, Saw-shelled or Macquarie Turtles, Australian Long-finned Eels, archerfish and birds including Australian Swiftlet and White-bellied Sea-Eagle.
Lunch is included at the Tea-House – food options are many and the view is pretty special too!
Nearby, at Yungaburra, we take a walk to a special spot to search for Platypus. This is a great chance to get a good photo of this difficult subject. This location is also home to a family of Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo. We will be making a donation to a charity that cares for injured tree kangaroos. We will also visit an ancient fig tree.
1630 Return to Cairns – Drop off in Cairns or at the airport.
Accommodation: not included
Meals included: Breakfast, morning tea, and lunch
Day 5 – Optional Great Barrier Reef Tour
Get picked up from your accommodation in Cairns and join your group for a day out on the reef to explore one of the 7 wonders of the natural world and World Heritage Area by boat.
Note: This itinerary is subject to change without notice and is dependent on weather, road and sea conditions, fire and on the regulatory requirements of Government(s) and/or its Agencies eg, National Parks Service. Activities may also be modified or curtailed dependent on the health of participants and the ability or otherwise of sub-contractors to provide activities. We will not provide compensation to participants who are unable to undertake activities described in this itinerary or who become injured or sick during the journey. Nor will Echidna Walkabout reimburse monies for any activities that are modified or cancelled as a result of all or any of the above. The same proviso is in place if, due to vehicle or boat breakdown or for any other reason, we are unable to meet your scheduled flights or other ongoing activities.