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Outback Queensland

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Tour Details

I you are interested in birding the dry interior of western Queensland this 10 night /11 day tour offers a good range of dry country species including three grasswrens! During the dry season when there is little standing water in the bush, the dry country birds are drawn to any water source. At this time of year, this is generally limited to the dams put in for cattle. It is possible to see large flocks of parrots including Budgerigars, Little Corellas and Galahs and a variety of finches  coming in to drink and also roosting in the nearby trees. Starting in Mt Isa where you will explore the local area looking for Kalkadoon and Carpentarian Grasswrens. You will then travel south by road giving you an excellent chance to view the wide open spaces of the dry, Outback Queensland cattle country and a chance for the Striated (Rusty) Grasswren.

Departure & Return Location

Mt Isa

Departure Time

As arranged at time of booking

Price Includes

  • Guide/Driver
  • Transport in an air conditioned 4WD vehicle
  • Entrance fees & permits
  • 10 nights accommodation
  • Meals as per itinerary

Price Excludes

  • Personal drinks and snacks
  • Phone and internet charges
  • Anything not covered above
  • Flights to and from Mt Isa the cost of which will depend seat availability at the time of purchase.

Complementaries

  • Complimentary Water in the vehicle
What to Expect

We suggest your bring with you:

  • comfortable covered walking shoes - while there are no major hikes during this tour there will be some walking on potentially rough paths
  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirt and long trousers - Outback plants are often rather scratchy
  • Lightweight raingear
  • Jumper or sweatshirt particularly in winter when temperatures drop considerably at night
  • Hat
  • Sunblock
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera and binoculars

Difficulty

This is not a strenuous tour and clients need to be of only a moderate level of fitness. There will be some walking over rough terrain but distances are not great. Most of the birding will be done in the early morning and late afternoon as even in winter the central part of the day can get very hot,

Accommodation

Accommodation is in motel type rooms with private bathrooms.

Extras

Boulia hosts some serious camel races every July and this Outback extravaganza can added to the trip if required for those who would like to make the most of their stay in the Outback.

Itinerary
Map

Day 1 Arrive in Mt Isa

This is the arrival day and everyone will fly into Mt Isa meet the guide and transfer to hotel. If time allows some afternoon local area birding can be undertaken.

Day 2Search for Carpentarian & Kalkadoon Grasswrens

Today will be spent further afield in the spinifex areas looking for the Carpentarian and Kalkadoon Grasswrens to the north of the town. These have very strict habitat conditions and a fire passing through can be disastrous and in the past has had a really bad effect on the local grass wren population . Spinifexbirds and Black-tailed Treecreepers inhabit the same areas as the Carpentarian Grasswren and we will also be looking for Yellow Chat, Black-tailed Treecreeper, Varied Lorikeet and Long-tailed Finch amongst the local birds.

Day 3Mt Isa birding

Another full day birding the Mt Isa area and slightly further afield towards Cloncurry. We will be looking for Rufous-crowned Emuwren, Cloncurry Ringneck, Spotted Bowerbird, Pictorella Mannikin and more.

Day 4Travel to Boulia

After breakfast we will start our journey south to Boulia. This Outback town is the capital of the Channel Country which gives rise to the big rivers which flow south and west into Lake Eyre. It is situated on the banks of the Burke River which was named after the explorers who passed through this way on the ill-fated trip to the Gulf.

From Mt Isa to Boulia is normally a journey of about 4 hours but we will break it up stopping for any interesting birds we can find birding along the way. Dusky Grasswren will be a possibility. This is true Outback country, an arid landscape with stony hills and stunted brush. It is home to birds such as Emu, Wedge-tailed Eagle , Australian Bustard, Cockatiel, Spinifex Pigeon, Variegated Fairywren and Red-browed Pardolote and a variety of finches. Boulia township itself, is a great area for Budgerigars and some years we have had flocks of thousands coming into the dams around the town. On other years they have still been present but not in such great numbers. Dusk and dawn are the best times for birding here and the middle of the day can be spent relaxing in the pool, visiting the town museum or exploring the local area. The dams around the town act as magnets to dry country birds when there is little standing water elsewhere.

Day 5Boulia area birding

The day will be spent birding the local dams and exploring the surrounding area at dusk and dawn. Boulia is famous for its Budgerigars. Other specialities of the area include Australian Bustard, Spinifex Pigeon, Variegated Fairywren and Red-browed Pardalote, Galahs and Little Corellas and can often be seen, sometimes in large numbers. Dusk and dawn are the best times for birding here and the heat of the day can be spent relaxing in your room or by the pool .

Day 6Travel to Winton

After spending the early morning around Boulia we will head east to Winton. This journey of nearly 5 hours will take place during the heat of the day. Late afternoon birding around Winton will give us a chance to familiarise ourselves with the local area and hopefully pick up the Cloncurry Ringneck. Also in the area are Spinifexbird, Rufous-crowned Emuwren, Hall’s Babbler, Black, Pied and Rufous-throated Honeyeaters, Hooded Robin, Crested Bellbird, Red-browed Pardalote, Rainbow Bee-eater, Restless Flycatcher and, if we are very lucky Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush. Winton is the dinosaur capital of Australia and the local dinosaur museum is well worth a visit.

Day 7Opalton birding

An early start today as we head off to Opalton to look for the Striated (Rusty) Grasswren. This is proposed as a distinct species from Striated Grasswren and has a very limited distribution. This species is most active early in the morning and in the cool of the late afternoon so an early arrival is necessary. In the past it has been possible to stay in small cabins there but this option has now disappeared and the only alternative to driving down from Winton is camping. Although only about 100km from Winton the drive to Opalton can take longer than expected due to road conditions.

Close to Opalton is Lark Quarry. This is the site of what originally appeared to be the world’s only record of a dinosaur stampede with fossilized footprints of what was thought to be about 150 two legged dinosaurs fleeing from a predator. While it is now thought they could just be footprints laid down over time, there are around 3300 of them so they are still impressive and worth visiting if we have time.

Day 8Opalton and/or Bladensberg National Park

Today there could be a second chance to make the drive down to Opalton for the Rusty Grasswren if necessary but otherwise spend the day in the Bladensberg National Park. An area of rugged scenery with grassy plains and river flats with river red gums, clay pans, rocky scarps and gidgee woodlands this is about 30 minutes from Winton. Red kangaroos can be seen on the open Mitchell grasslands while Eastern Greys can be found in the lower creeks and Wallaroos on the mesas. Emus, Australian Bustards, Hall’s Babblers, Spotted Bowerbirds, Spotted Harriers and Singing Bushlarks can all be seen and if you are lucky Painted Firetails and Rufous-crowned Emuwrens can be found in the Spinifex, while Rufous-throated Honeyeatersare seen along the creeks. Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush has also been seen in the park. Yellow Spotted Monitors and Spiny knob-tailed Gecko’s are also in the park.

Day 9Winton/Bladensberg area

A final day exploring the Winton/Bladensberg area. Bladensberg National Park is well worth a second visit and time can be set aside for a visit to the Dinosaur Museum if people want it.

Day 10Return to Mt Isa & onward flights

Today we drive slowly back to Mt Isa up the Landsborough Highway stopping to bird at various likely looking spots along the way. It is about a 5 hour drive with no stops. We will be back in Mt Isa in time foo fly out on evening flight. For some people it may be necessary to overnight in Mt Isa.

Photos