From Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean to the rainforests of Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, Australia is home to an abundance of dazzling bird species. These 10 top bird spots will guarantee an unforgettable wildlife experience and satisfy even the most avid of twitchers.
Mount Lewis, Julatten, Queensland
Tucked away in the hinterland behind Port Douglas, and less than an hour and a half from Cairns, the rainforest-clad Mount Lewis sits above the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village of Julatten. Part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, the area is famous among birdwatchers for its spectacular birds including Victoria's riflebird, a type of bird-of-paradise, blue-faced parrot-finch, and the golden bowerbird.
Top birds: golden bowerbird, tooth-billed bowerbird, blue-faced parrot-finch, pied monarch, southern cassowary (pictured).
Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria
A wastewater treatment plant may not be everyone’s idea of a good time but for generations of birders, the “Farm” on Melbourne’s western outskirts is as close to heaven as it gets. In drought years, hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and other wetland birds gather on the vast area of ponds, and coastal lagoons to produce an amazing wildlife spectacle.
Top birds: orange-bellied parrot, Australasian bittern, Lewin’s rail, freckled duck, curlew sandpiper.
Broome Bird Observatory, Broome, Western Australia
Roebuck Bay is one of the most important sites for migratory shorebirds in the world. Spectacular flocks can be seen from BirdLife Australia’s Broome Bird Observatory, along with a colourful array of bush birds such as red-collared lorikeets, great bowerbirds and the rare yellow chat.
Top birds: yellow chat, white-breasted whistler, eastern curlew, Asian dowitcher.
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Kakadu truly lives up to the hype. Only two hours from Darwin, Kakadu’s sandstone escarpments, vast tropical woodlands and wetlands are teeming with thousands of magpie geese and other waterbirds memories. A boat cruise on Yellow Waters will bring you close to black-necked storks, comb-crested jacanas and majestic white-bellied sea eagles.
Top birds: magpie goose, great-billed heron, white-throated grasswren, partridge pigeon, comb-crested jacana (pictured).
Lamington National Park, Queensland
The idyllic Lamington National Park, an hour from Coolangatta, is a beautiful rainforest home to a profusion of exceptional birds, including very tame parrots and bowerbirds at the park’s two lodges. The scenery is superb and while at times very rugged, many of the walks through the lush forests are well maintained and allow for a gentle stroll.
Top birds: regent bowerbird, satin bowerbird (pictured), paradise riflebird, Albert’s lyrebird, marbled frogmouth.
Gluepot Reserve, Waikerie, South Australia
The mallee country that covers BirdLife Australia’s Gluepot Reserve feels it’s in the middle of the outback, yet it is only a four-hour drive from Adelaide Airport. Close to 200 bird species have been recorded, including some very-hard-to-find mallee birds that are rapidly declining across their range such as the black-eared miner and striated grasswren.
Top birds: Major Mitchell’s cockatoo (top image), regent parrot, malleefowl, black-eared miner, striated grasswren.
Lord Howe Island, NSW
This far-flung South Pacific paradise offers some of the most memorable birding experiences. With no natural predators, its birds are extremely tame. The unique Lord Howe Woodhen will feed at your feet while, overhead, flotillas of beautifully ethereal White Terns and many other nesting seabirds fly by.
Top birds: Lord Howe woodhen, white tern (pictured), providence petrel, red-tailed tropicbird.
Bruny Island, Tasmania
Boasting much of its original vegetation and a strikingly beautiful coastline to boot, Bruny Island offers birders the chance to tick off all of Tasmania’s endemic birds in a truly blissful setting. It provides great viewing of bush birds such as the tiny yet endangered forty-spotted pardalote and seabirds such as the short-tailed shearwaters (muttonbird).
Top birds: forty-spotted pardalote, swift parrot, pink robin, little penguin, short-tailed shearwater.
Capertee Valley, New South Wales
A three-hour drive over the Great Dividing Range from Sydney, the Capertee Valley is one of the best (and last remaining) places to see the critically endangered regent honeyeater and a whole suite of threatened woodland birds such as Swift and Turquoise Parrots.
Top birds: regent honeyeater, rock warbler, swift parrot, plum-headed finch, turquoise parrot.
Two Peoples Bay, Albany, Western Australia
Only a few minutes from the major coastal town of Albany, this little gem of a nature reserve is home to some of the nation’s most threatened species, including two species that were rediscovered after long being thought to be extinct – noisy scrub-bird and Gilbert’s potoroo, a gorgeous small kangaroo
Top birds: noisy scrub-bird, western bristlebird, red-eared firetail, western spinebill, Carnaby’s black cockatoo.
The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is on between 22 and 28 October.