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The Gulf Country

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Tour Details

A short trip over the Divide and through the dry country to the Gulf of Carpentaria where some very different species can be found. We visit the dams of Georgetown where a variety of finches, parrots and honeyeaters are amongst the birds that come to drink at dawn and dusk during the dry season when there is little water to be found elsewhere. From here we travel over to Normanton where there are some interesting wetlands before heading to Karumba, a small town on the south eastern side of the Gulf. Long renown as a destination for fishermen it is also a good venue for birders and a cruise out into the mangroves can be very rewarding.

For those with more time a longer trip which includes visits to places such as the Undarra lava tubes,  Cobbold Gorge- a real oasis in the Outback or the old mining town of Chillagoe with its spectacular caves can be arranged 


Tour Price

Price on application

Departure & Return Location


Departure Time

As arranged at time of booking

Price Includes

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

Price Excludes

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


  • Complimentary water in the vehicle.
What to Expect

By crossing the northern end of the Great Dividing Range we come into a very different avifauna than is found in the Wet Tropics around Cairns. Suddenly we are out of the rainforests and into  dry cattle country. The dominant colours change from variations of green to variations of brown and the landscape becomes flatter and the horizon widens as we enter what is often described as “big sky country.” Our first destination is the dams around Georgetown where a variety of parrots, pigeons, finches and other bush birds come to drink in the cooler part of the day. From there we head over to the wetlands and mangroves of the Gulf region around Normanton and Karumba.  A boat trip out into the mangroves  at Karumba allows us a good chance of species we are unlikely to see elsewhere. Most birding is done in the cooler parts of the day and the hotter central part can be spent cooling off in the hotel swimming pools.

We suggest you 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- just as some rainforest plants can be rather scratchy as can the grasses and scrub of the Outback
  • Lightweight raingear
  • Jumper or sweatshirt particularly in winter as nights can get surprisingly cold inland
  • Hat
  • Sunblock
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera and binoculars


This is not a difficult tour and is suitable for anyone with a moderate standard of fitness. Transport is in an air-conditioned vehicle. While the days can be hot even in the  middle of the austral winter, nights can be cool to cold.


Accommodation is in local motels with ensuite bathrooms.


Day 1Travel to Georgetown

After meeting your guide you will drive up through the rainforests of the Tablelands above Cairns and over the Divide to Georgetown stopping at various birding sites along the way. Once over the Divide you have left the lushness of the Wet Tropics behind and are into the dry cattle country and have your first chance of Emu and were will be watching out for them and other Outback birds such as Ground Cuckooshrike. You will arrive in Georgetown in time for a late afternoon visit to Cumberland Dam. This is often a good place to look for Budgerigars, Cockatiels, Zebra, Masked and Black-throated Finches. Red-backed Kingfisher plus water birds such as Magpie Geese and both Green and Cotton Pygmy Geese which are also often seen here..

Day 2Exploring the Georgetown area

The cooler parts of the day will be spent birding and exploring the area around Georgetown with visits to one of the local dams at both dusk and dawn. Apart from the parrots, finches and waterbirds mentioned previously specialities of the area include Australian Bustard, Spinifex Pigeon, Variegated Fairywren and Red-browed Pardalote.

The heat of the day can be spent relaxing in your room, by the pool, exploring the local area or visiting the town museum.

Day 3Georgetown to Normanton

After another morning at the dams we will head over to Normanton. There are places we can stop off to bird along the way and a number of wetland areas around Normanton that are worth a visit. During the summer “Wet” months flocks of Sarus Cranes which have wintered on the Tablelands come here to breed. However by about May, as it cools down, they start to return to the Tablelands and the big flocks are soon gone from this area. Normanton became a major service centre when gold was discovered on the Norman River and is now the administrative and government centre for Carpentaria shire.

Day 4Normanton to Karumba

On leaving Normanton we drive through an area of coastal wetlands r way to Karumba. Brolga and Sarus Cranes, Red-necked Avocet, Marsh Sandpiper and Zitting Cisticola are amongst the birds that are often found here.

Day 5Full day around Karumba

Today we have a full day birding around the small fishing town of Karumba. A highlight will be the boat trip out into the mangroves for some speciality species such as Mangrove Fantail, Mangrove Robin and White-breasted Whistler. In the evening we can relax and watch the sunset over the mangroves while eating a meal of fresh cooked local seafood.

Day 6Return to Normanton & fly to Cairns

After breakfast we leave Karumba and drive back to Normanton where you will say goodbye to your guide and take your flight back to Cairns.